Zinashi has been having a rough go of it lately. I think that's how I want to say it. Because at the end of the day, she is sweet and snuggly, and no, she doesn't want to try again to sleep all night in her own bed, she wants to snuggle in the big bed like always.
Adopting a child who is old enough to remember what happened to them that led to their entrance into your family, but still so young that it is all infinitely more confusing than it is for an older child, is not without its heartbreaking trials. We've had many, many days lately of outright refusal to do reasonable household chores. We've had fears exaggerated to the degree that there was wailing and clinging over a deck of trivia cards. It has been frustrating and maddening, and I've been at my wits end more times than I can count. I've been patient some, but mostly I've gotten more frustrated than is reasonable. Because nothing, and I do mean nothing, was working to motivate her to do the simplest tasks I asked her to do.
The mark of a strong-willed child is that the child will accept whatever consequences come her way in order to do what she wants to do. The child weighs the options, get their way and face a consequence, or acquiesce and get a reward, and the child decides it's worth it to face the consequence so they can do as they wish. I saw this today. She was willing to give up her butterfly wings, which are currently her very favorite possession, in order to call the shots. She felt the need for control so acutely that she was willing to give up everything and make both Elvie and me suffer in order to have it.
She wasn't doing it because she is a mean-spirited child. She wasn't doing it because she is a spoiled brat who is used to getting her way all the time. She is a good girl, a thoughtful girl, a girl with amazing character. She was misbehaving because she has hurt in her past. Because two years ago a series of major decisions were made about her life, and she had absolutely no say in the matter. She didn't choose to leave her first home, and she didn't choose to spend six months in group care, and she didn't choose Jarod and me as her parents. These choices were all made for her. Big choices, which led to huge changes. And there was nothing she could do about any of it. And she remembers that.
So when I ask her to clean up the toys in the office, or use the bathroom before we go out, or get ready for rest time, it's not a huge mystery why she refuses. It's because she can. It's because for one moment, she can say the no that she wanted to say so many times when it really mattered, and she can actually not do the thing she doesn't want to do. She can grab the control over her life that she so desperately wanted to have when everything that mattered to her was stripped away. It makes so much heartbreaking sense. We are coming up on the second anniversary of becoming her new family, and so much of what she experienced is rising to the surface.
People look at me with doubt sometimes when I talk about parenting differently to respect Zinashi's hurt. I don't know why. I don't understand how a person can evaluate what she lost and think that she should just be fine with it, that there should be no lasting effects because she's in a loving family now. She was in a loving family before, and look what happened. Would you lose your fear if you were her? Or would you maybe, just maybe, get a little desperate when you remember what happened?
I would get a little desperate. I would get a lot desperate. And that is what I want to remember every single day as her mother. That this isn't about the task I'm asking her to do. It isn't about me or about Jarod or about Elvie or about anyone else. It's about loss. It's about heartbreak. It's about pain. I am her mother, and may heaven help me to fight hard to do everything thing I can to heal her broken heart every single day.