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Adoptive Parenting Columnist Heidi Hess Saxton
The "Prayer of Abandonment" for Adoptive Parents
Father, we abandon ourselves into your hands,
We do not ask for guarantees; no parent can.
We are ready to offer our daily "yes,"
We love you, Lord, and offer ourselves to you,
The Piano Lesson
He was a study in concentration. Fingers curled and head bent over the keys, Christopher pointedly ignored my admonitions to look at the music instead of his hands. A few measures into “The Birthday Song,” he got to the part where he was supposed to play with both hands at once.
Big pause. Dramatic intake of breath. Clunk.
“Double check your left hand, Buddy. The fingering isn’t quite right.”
Eye roll (when did THAT start?) and another deep breath. Clank.
I sat next to him and saw that he needed to move his left hand down two keys. “Here, like this.”
He whips his hand away, angry and frustrated. “UHMMMMN!” he grunted, folding his arms for emphasis. “I’m DUMB. STUPID. I can’t DO this.”
“Sure you can! Just try again. I’ll get it … just like you got all the other pieces of music in the book. You’re almost ready for Book Two!”
But he wasn’t listening. Instead he threw himself on the floor. “I don’t WANT to go to the lesson tonight. I’m always so TIRED. I want to stay HOME.”
Clearly, my son was in need of some downtime. He had gotten up early that morning to finish his homework, had a full day of school, and now was trying to cram three days of practice into the hour before we were to leave for his lesson. Christopher wanted nothing so much as to sit back and watch an episode of Scooby Doo.
Was this what an eight-year-old’s life is supposed to be like? Was it his medicine? Our unrealistic expectations? The normal rantings of an overtired second grader? What’s a mom supposed to do?
I typed a note to his piano teacher, wondering if perhaps we should discontinue lessons. Her response was heartfelt …
And so, I chalked up the drama to an overtired kid, and made a mental note to give him some down time the next day. I picked him up from school at the normal time, and he was elated because he had won some glittery glue sticks for “treasure box.” He got home and immediately set to work, making me an elaborate card with hearts and swirls. Next thing I knew, he was screaming and throwing markers. Apparently the gold-gray was leaking. “Christopher! Calm down! What’s the matter…?”
And then I saw it. The white spindle rocker in his room, that I used to use to rock him to sleep, was lying on its side. Suddenly a light went on. The overtiredness. The overreactions. The low self-confidence.
He was eight. I had been warned about what happens to kids at certain development milestones … and “eight” was a big one for some kids. Their brains were growing, developing new synapses. Processing abstractions in ways that were not possible even a year ago.
Gently I called to him, and had him sit next to me. “What can I do to help, Sweetie? What would make you feel better?”
“Pokemon. I wanna watch Pokemon.” I hate Pokemon, but I clicked channels until I found what he wanted. I helped him find his favorite jammies, and left him with a Popsicle while I went to bake the pizza.
An hour later, he was a different kid, relaxed and ready for bed. I tucked him in with our customary kisses (Eskimo, butterfly, and “buffalo”). Then, I tickled his ear. “You know something, Christopher? No matter what is going on in your life … no matter what you’re feeling or thinking, you can always tell me about it. Because no one in the world loves you more than your dad and I do.”
“And my birth parents?” Chris responded.
“You’ve been thinking about them, haven’t you?”
“That’s normal. And it’s OK. You can talk to us about your birth parents, too. You’re getting bigger, and your growing and learning to think about things in new ways,” I continued. “Sometimes you’re going to need more time to think, time to be still. And because I love you so much … I’m going to try hard to remember that.”
Have you encountered high-stress situations with your grade-school kids? How did you handle it? If you’re willing to share your experience, come over to “Mommy Monsters” and weigh in on the conversation: http://mommymonsters.blogspot.com/2008/05/tips-for-helping-your-child-cope-with.html
Copyright 2008 Heidi Hess Saxton
2037 W. Bullard #247
Fresno, CA 93711
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