Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Hurdle Cleared!

The toddlers' class at church made these adorable little gifts for the fathers this Sunday.  This is noteworthy to us for several reasons. First, Li'l Empress has discovered the joy of creating with sticky stuff.  For those of you who know me intimately, you know kid-crafting is So I'm really glad that she gets this outlet in her little class each week.

But the second reason this is so noteworthy, and most exciting for all of us, is that Li'l Empress HAS a little class to go to each week. Yes, I said it. HER class. She's gained a new level of confidence and now goes to the "Rockin' Tots" class every Sunday morning. LadyBug goes along, providing a transitional "security blanket" person for her little sister. It's working out beautifully on so many levels!  Li'l Empress is learning that we will always come back for her. She's learning how to tune out the different background and white noises of that environment with lots of room for safely failing and grace to re-try. LadyBug is learning how to serve her sister. The teachers are learning more about how to meet Li'l Empress's needs for face-to-face instruction. And Momma gets to sit through whole worship services AND sermons, with nary an interruption. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. And it's been several consecutive weeks of successful separations from Mommy and Daddy on Sunday mornings. Woot! Woot!

I've said to quite a few folks over the last 6 or 8 months that her reluctance and anxiety over being left in her toddler class seemed to be the last "big" attachment issue we've experienced with her. NOT to say that she has successfully conquered all of those developmental milestones that mark healthy attachment along the way. That would be foolish and arrogant of us to assume. I know that there will be re-visits to some of these stages, looking and feeling different as she grows and continues to experience life along the way. But this seems like it was a little hump she couldn't overcome.

The panic and racing heart, the "different" cry that would pour out of her. The clinging arms and uncertain glances around the room. Those of you who have faced this kind of separation anxiety in any of your kids, you know what I mean. Those things all kept cropping up every time we'd try again and again to leave her in class. Or the nursery where she always felt so comfortable. Seeing me depart a room  (anywhere but home or a family member's home) has regularly been scary for her. With consequences that often would last a long couple hours after the separation! I really tried so hard to be patient and consistent and unconditional with her over this one thing. I don't mind admitting it was hard and some Sunday afternoons I'd feel so frustrated with her lack of progress, with my own impatience, with my exhaustion from the emotions of it. The Boss was great at reminding me that she's done such amazing things in all her other areas of connecting and gaining that sense of security. He was also great at reminding me that our plan was a good one and that she wouldn't need us this way forever.  I'm so glad he was patient when I couldn't be!

I know she still has the hurdle of releasing LadyBug and handling class on her own, but looking back on it, I'm pretty confident that it won't last as long as the previous stage. And even if it does, LadyBug is enjoying being that hero to her sister. I can't help but think that even if LadyBug is missing some of her own, age-specific class time with her friends, she's gaining MILES in relationship-building with her sister. And with those little tykes who are becoming her sister's friends. (She's rather enjoying the attention and adoration of the other tots in the room, I've noticed!)

Another hurdle has been cleared. Another milestone marked. The original picture used for Daddy's little stickered picture frame showed us just how grown up our Li'l Empress is becoming. When I look at this picture, I don't see very much of that scared, chubby little baby girl who couldn't look me in the eye back on that beautiful September morning in Xian. I see a little girl. A bright, engaging, stunning, and love-able little girl. Smiling into the camera for her Daddy. And I'm beyond words when I look ahead to what God has for her as we clear life's hurdles together!


Stephanie said...

Sniff...sniff. Li'l Empress has come a long way. She is such a beauty and has changed so much.

Aus said...

Way to go Lil E!! I'm very impressed!! So many things we miss with out kids - thanks for noting something that we parents all to often take for granted! Our 7 YO adopted daughter is spending this week with her big sister (24) away from home. It is the first time that Boo has been away from us overnight since she got here. It's a huge step for her!!

Hugs - aus and co.