It’s Friday morning. Jackie is at school already. Ivy woke up early too. It’s a warmer morning than usual. I am enjoying a slow start of the day, as I didn’t rush out the door; my parents offered to drive Jackie to school this morning. Such a gift!
Ana’s visit is enthusiastically anticipated by Ivy. She talked about her coming over since yesterday. She is now counting the minutes till her arrival. We read a book to pass the time. Ivy reads from Pandora, a few times. I film her once, for posterity. I believe Ivy loves to feel the center of attention occasionally. She knows Ana comes for her, Jackie is not home, and she will have the center stage. Which is true. Occasionally, all kids need to have adults who give them undivided attention, who came to see just them. Usually grandparents provide this service of undivided attention and love.
It’s like having an old friend visit. We entered the adoption world 5 years ago. Ana visited Jackie when she was younger than Ivy. We chat about the kids, life, and Ana has a unique experience of learning about our long term adoption journey and our ongoing conversations with Jackie, and well as how they impact our conversations with Ivy at her level of understanding.
Ivy is very coherent even with her age appropriate gaps of speech; and talks about kindergarten and books and stories and her relationship with Jackie, as well as her little friends from the neighborhood. She is sweet even when she rambles. She says she liked it when she was younger because I didn’t scold her at all then. And than she told me not beat her. Ana and I both wait. There is silence. Ivy moves on to another topic. I feel the ground under my feet is shifting. What the heck? I don’t even threaten them with these words. And I can count on one hand the pats on the bum she got for whatever stubborn disrespectful attitude. With forewarned explanations.
Ana’s response is kind and wise and balanced. I feel embarrassed. On one hand I am curious about Ivy’s actual perception of our disciplining, on the other, I am fighting back the gut reaction to correct her words.
Whenever we disconnect and they misbehave and I react with frustration, even when i just raise my voice, the pangs of guilt used to crush me. Looking back at the past two years, pushing the family away, in cold separation from me, because I didn’t want to overreact, felt more hurtful, less effective, safe on my scoresheet of disciplining but not really connecting or loving.
Ana says she understands disciplining, but if it’s fueled by anger I should talk to someone. A very wise approach.
Oh man, being under the microscope of professionals, talking with your kids regularly, it really keeps us on our toes, with what we say, how we say it, perception and reality. I never filter or control what my kids say. I love to hear what’s deep inside their heart, their memories, fears, longing. I let them talk it out and often they can easily hurt my feelings. And then I do a reality check of my own contribution as well as wellness, and where I draw my validation from. What my own actions and words reflect.
I’m beginning to feel more myself as I can admit my shortcomings with more ease, with courage, accepting the momentary discomfort and reaping the benefits of connection.
I asked Ivy afterwards when did she asked me not to beat her, and what she meant by that. She giggled. I asked her to recollect when or how I beat her. She said she was upset when I turned her around and spanked her bottom once. “Why did I do that?” I ask her. “Because I scratched my sister on purpose” she recollects. “Was the consequence fair or unfair?” I press on. “Fair but I didn’t like it” she says.
I’m glad to be able to reason with my kids. I love them greatly and I don’t want to fuel anger in their little hearts. What I remember of my disciplining is the sense of fairness or the few occasions when I felt my parents reaction was Unfounded or unfair. I make a conscious decision to parent well, and I feel I fail sometimes. Most often my guilt is exacerbated by the unrealistic views or amount of unfiltered opinions and information we have access to or are bombarded by in the media. The moment I take a long break from the noise outside, and focus on my inner peace, the well-being of my family, trying to take what’s good and filter out the nonsense, that’s when I find my peace, my joy, my long lasting serenity.