Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Countdown Catchup

We don't have internet access at home right now.  It's annoying, but it's not the end of the world.  I like the coffee shop I walk to at the end of the day, and it turns out that I like getting work done somewhere that is not my house.  It also turns out that I like having work to do that is unrelated to suffering through the battle for control that is raging in our house right.  Which, again, is annoying, but not the end of the world.  I'd much rather work through the issue of who's in charge now as opposed to post Ethiopia.  Which is not to say that I've got rose-colored glasses on regarding Zinashi's adjustment once Elvie is with us, but she is learning a lot of lessons the hard way right now, and I doubt she'll forget anytime soon.  I do my best to keep it light, but oh, man is it ever hard to watch her dig herself deeper and deeper into a hole.  I won't lie to you; I have asked her more than once why she is trying to make life hard for herself.  Cliche mom lines: turns out they are just so darn appropriate sometimes.

We've gone through all our previous adoption training afresh for this adoption, and one thing stands out to me, which is the part of one training video in which the instructor says, "You should try to avoid power struggles as much as possible.  But if you do get into one, you need to win, and you need to do it quickly."  Unfortunately, quickly isn't possible with the world's most stubborn child, but I do win, every single time.  Who's in charge?  I am.  That's right.  Can I get a high five?  Or maybe a low five?  Probably low five is better since I'm too tired to hold my arm up for the high five.  And don't hit it too hard; I've already been kicked today.


We are behind on our countdown, aren't we?  Here you go:

countdown to ethiopia, 17 days
Seventeen days to go, and still not a morning person.  I really hope Elvie isn't a morning person either.  It would make life so much simpler.

You'd think that today went really well, based on this photo.  In fact, it started out going swimmingly.

countdown to ethiopia, 16 days
Sixteen days to get this level of cooperation and good mood to last all day.  Can we do it?  I hope so.

Today was a rough one, but we're going to make it.  In sixteen days, we'll be in the air, winging our way to Elvie.  If I wind up exhausted every single day, it won't matter.  I won't be able to sleep by then anyway.  What's the difference?


  1. I imagine that no matter how exciting it may be for Zinashi... looking forward to meeting her baby sister, she is likely also picking up on the added stress that you and Jared are experiencing. And then reacting to it in her own way. Hang in there. There will be lots of adjustments over the next few months, but despite some recent bumps in her bahvior, I'm sure Zinashi knows how well she is loved and will settle down once some of the uncertainty settles.

  2. Not sure if this is helpful, but I am currently reading a book called "Honey I wrecked the kids." I'm just getting to the part about how to navigate power struggles - the premise is that children misbehave because certain needs aren't being met (4 crucial C's - connect, capable, count, courage). I also don't know how it compliments attachment issues, but it might compliment attachment parenting styles more than simply "win the power struggle." Here's a link to the book:


  3. I follow Bonnie Harris, Connective Parenting on FB. Here is a link to her website. http://www.bonnieharris.com/

    She has published a book about why kids push our buttons. Zinashi is not trying to make life difficult. She is having a problem. Something is out of balance. As her parent, you should be working with her and trying to communicate with her about what is causing it to happen. Many of her behaviors that are "naughty" are actually probably developmentally appropriate and only a problem because you perceive it to be a problem. In a power struggle with my own child, I have never "won". Have I gotten the result I want? Yes. But during that have I connected with my child and shown him compassion for whatever is causing him to be out of sorts, no. Kids don't act naughty just because they want to be bad. They want to be good. When they are acting naughty it is important to try to understand why.

    I know you have a million things going on right now, but I suggest buying one of her books and following her on FB because she posts daily little nuggets to ponder and think about. Especially because Zinashi is adopted and has experienced trauma in her life, the most important thing isn't training or winning or showing her who's boss, but a real connection with her that shows she can trust you with her most vulnerable feelings and you will accept her and love every part of her. Even those parts that make living with her difficult. You will find a way to see how her stubbornness, perceived as a negative character trait in a child, will benefit her in life. And even when the answer is no and she must accept it, you will find a way to say no respectfully. Bottom line, you are her parent and you deserve respect, but she deserves as much respect as you.

    Bonnie's concepts are difficult to fully appreciate, especially in the moment with your naughty child (like my child purposefully made as big a mess with his milk as he could last night and the last part was made with me standing over him watching and asking about the mess). He knows he is not supposed to do that. I don't have to tell him. He didn't do it on purpose because he wanted me to be mad. That was his way of communicating that something is off balance in his life. There were definite consequences of the behavior. But I didn't punish him. Putting him in a time out teaches him only that I don't care why he made a mess but just don't want him to do it. What I really need to do is get down to the bottom of what is going on for him. That's what will help him feel loved and respected and will resolve his unruly behavior.

    When you are seeing red, it's hard to follow her concepts. Plus, her concepts are so different from the way we were raised. But I have to tell you that it has made so much of a difference of how I perceive my son's behavior. I don't always say the right words, but understanding is beginning to dawn. I recommend checking it out. And power struggles, I don't even get into them. Because no one wins in a power struggle.

    Good luck. Parenting is a tough business.

  4. You will get through. Trying times are only in our lives to take us to the wonderful times.

  5. We're going through a period of power struggles in our home, too. And you're right- there will definitely be a period of adjustment and jealousy when Elvie comes home (we had one when Miles joined our family). But you'll get through it. And someday you'll all be better for having gone through it and having done the hard work now. At least that's what I keep telling myself... :)

  6. Thanks for the advice and encouragement, everybody. I want to clarify that when I talk about winning power struggles, I don't mean making Zinashi do just what I want or not recognizing her issues and needs. What we're working on is a basic message of competence, that she doesn't need to control situations to be safe, that as her parents, we can handle anything she needs help with. In her feelings of insecurity, she is checking to see if we still mean what we say and if we are in charge. She is testing very basic stuff, like if she can throw a fit and get a different lunch or if she must go to sleep at night. When I win these power struggles, we're actually both winning. She's confirming that I'm still in charge; that's a GOOD thing, but exhausting nevertheless. And it's hard to watch her struggle to make appropriate choices. I've done a lot of holding of a screaming child lately, a lot of calmly saying, "I'll sit here with you until you are ready to make a good choice. I'm your Mami, and I love you, and I want to help you." That takes an extraordinary amount if physical strength and patience, so when I say I want a high five, that's what I'm talking about.

  7. You deserve a high five. You've always parented with compassion and competence, and I'm sure that is as true now as it ever was.

  8. Ummm hmmmm, yep. Transitions or changes here mean my son (3.5 y/o) totally acts out. He is pushing me away to confirm that 1. I am not going to abandon him no matter how hard he pushes and 2. I am in charge. I get what you are talking about with winning battles. I know here that if I don't win, my son feels he is in charge, which is pretty terrifying if you are three because it means your mom has abandoned you or at least abandoned the role of parent.

  9. You can totally get a high five. You and the Mister are fabulous parents, and I am so impressed with both how in tune you are with Z's needs (those she can express and those she can't) and how you repeatedly/confidently meet them. Transitions are tough, for everyone involved. You're coming off the transition of moving/changing jobs and entering the transition of expanding your family. Everyone releases the stress of transitions differently. You're truly doing a fabulous job, and I simply can't say enough positive things about you three.


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