Yesterday was a hard day. One of the hardest days yet...maybe the hardest. Actually, the morning went all right and we're getting into a routine, but Seth A. had a whack of major tantrums from about 2:00 through 9:00pm...with a few ten-minute breaks and a break for supper and play time. It's really wearing to endure all of that screaming: piercing shrieks; heart-wrenching sobs; pathetic whimpers. I was hit, kicked, bitten, clawed, spit on, and the target of flying objects. Lots of fun.
It's the hardest being alone when all three kids are screaming or having issues. Though frankly, even if only one is screaming, I can't leave any of the others alone with each other. Ever. We're just not at that point yet, so there's trouble within seconds of my leaving any one, two or three of them alone. Just yesterday morning, while peacefully playing with lego on the boys' bedroom floor, I thought, hmm, this is great...everyone's getting along, we're all feeling restful and happy; I'm just going to run down to the laundry room and get Lizzie S.'s sheets so I can re-make her bed while we're up here. Big mistake. I had barely gotten to the main level of the house when the screaming started. Seth A. and Lizzie panicked because I'd left them, and were screaming "mommy, mommy...," and Matthew voluntarily undertook to 'help' me by shutting the bedroom door so that the younger kids couldn't leave while I ran for the laundry. I never made it to the laundry room, and it took almost twenty minutes for everyone to calm down after that fifteen-second sojourn. Lizzie S.'s bed didn't get made until later.
By late afternoon, Seth A. was on his fourth or fifth major tantrum of the day. He had scrambled under his bed so that I couldn't hold him, or look at him, and so that he didn't have to look at me. So I brought the other kids into the boys' bedroom and we pulled out some lego and crafts to work on, while he raged and screamed on and on and on. Whenever he took a breath, I talked to him and told him it would be ok. When he finally quieted (about 45 minutes later) down to an occasional whimper, I lay down on Matthew's bed and let Matthew and Lizzie climb on to me; they pulled up my shirt and proceeded to give me wicked mouth farts on my stomach - you know the ones...where they blow onto skin and create disgusting noises?? This is one of the kids' odd, all-time favourite things to do and I have to say that having a large and soft stomach actually comes in handy for this sole purpose, because it makes incredibly terrible noises and because a three-year-old child can actually bury her whole face into a soft stomach! Anyway, my hope was that Seth A. would be enticed out from under the bed by all of the laughter.
Well, he did creep out from under his bed, but sadly it wasn't to join in the fun. The poor little lad went to the closet to get the bag in which we had packed all of his post-court gifts (the one we left for him). That fabric bag and the things that filled it when he was still in Ethiopia are amongst his few prized possessions and just yesterday morning he finally started to unpack it and place things onto the shelving unit beside his bed that is his to store/display things on. Just yesterday morning he started to unpack that bag of treasures...trusting enough that we wouldn't touch them on his shelves. And now, hours later, while the other kids blew noises on my stomach, that beloved little five-year-old collected his bag and carefully and doggedly proceeded to put everything into it that he had just put onto his shelving that morning. He then picked up the craft that he had completed in the morning and placed on the shelf, looked at it for a moment, and then put it back...I think he chose to leave that one because it came from his new mom/home. Anyway, he put all of the stuff in, sealed up the velcro at the top, slung the bag over his shoulder, and headed out of the bedroom and down the stairs. I truly think he thought that this was it: he was leaving, and going - I don't know where he thought he was going...back to the Transition House?? It just broke my heart to watch him.
I made some excuse with the other two kids to get up from Matthew's bed, and I went to the top of the stairs with them to watch where Seth A. was going. He left his bag at the front door, and disappeared into the kitchen. We three then went downstairs and I was able to distract Seth A. enough to have him appear to forget about his plans.
But the intention was there. The desire to leave. I don't know how far he would have proceeded without his beloved sister, and maybe that's what stopped him - I have no idea. But that just tells me that, no matter how well things are going in the scheme of things, we have a long way to go yet. He still thinks that, ultimately, he's on his own and has to take care of himself. And frankly, with less than two weeks under his belt with his new family, and having lost one family already, why should he trust us/me any more than this?
Last week, when we went to see our doctor for the kids' general physical exam, the resident who first examined the kids (after we'd been home for less than 36 hours) was puzzled about why I thought the kids might experience trauma as a result of being adopted...she thought they were lucky. I get that response quite a lot, to be honest. But let me just say (as I did to her) that when a child has lost everything, every. thing. that they held dear in life, it's their worst nightmare come true. The biggest fear children have in life is that they will lose the attachment and security and love that comes from their parents. And our kids' nightmares came true. It's no wonder Seth A. finds it tough to make it through a series of tantrums (with new, strange mommy alongside) and still not understand that we'll be here for him in good times and bad...he has already experienced that this cannot be true. If I were him, I think I'd be packing my bags, too.