Saturday, August 28, 2010

She's Got Skillz - Part 5

This is it. I promise. This is the last rambling of how we (I?) worked through the process of deciding to send Li'l Empress to pre-school at the tender age of three . . .  Not to say that I won't post a follow-up or two detailing just how she's handling the changes. Or how I'm handling the changes, too.  :) Cuz I know you are all dying to know how marshmallow Mommy is going to handle dropping of her little princess. . .  The blogs are FULL of teary mommas and grinning, back-pack clad kiddoes. Why be any different?!  :)

I was telling you about the issues I've been able to identify that make Li'l Empress's separation anxiety different than, say, my four older bio kids' experiences. While this list is not exhaustive, and might not even be true for any other family going through similar pangs, it's what I am working through and feeling as I'm praying through the journey and ministering to my daughter. I'd love to hear what you guys who have struggled with these kinds of anxieties have experienced... I'm sure your journey and process will help me think and improve my skills at attending to my daughter's heart.

First, I have to continually remember that the noise levels and changes of environments are NO. SMALL. ISSUE. for her. Or for any other child with any degree of hearing loss. For now, while she's on this tremendous learning curve about her environment, changing those environments is a big deal to her. Her Hearing Support teacher and the Speech therapist have been telling me this from the get-go, and seeing it play out in her ever-expanding world is proving their words to be very true.

Second, I need to remember that, while adoption does not DEFINE her, it certainly cannot be discounted when discussed in the context of her sense of security and confidence. Most of the three year-olds with whom she is interacting have had three full years to build trust and confidence that Mommy will come back. That Daddy is a safe place for me to land. That home is permanent.  Li'l Empress has yet to reach the two year mark of that journey. And it IS a journey.

Finally, I regularly remind myself that I didn't push the separation from Mommy with the other kids when they were this age. Baby BlueEyes and Dr. D both really struggled to stay for a full morning in their respective classes, even up through Kindergarten. And sometimes, I'd have to leave Baby BlueEyes in the nursery of our local co-op to teach my American Literature class while he was screaming as if a limb was being torn off one layer at a time. In fact, many times, I would show up early to his room just to give us both time to settle in and calm ourselves before my class. I've always tried to be of the mindset that the more my kids handle these developmental milestones at their pace and their comfort level, the more confident they would feel. And the more confident they would feel, the better it would "take."

However, in the midst of all of these factors, I'm also seeing that on many levels, Li'l E might need a nudge or two stronger than Dr. D or BBE needed. I have to figure out when it is okay to assure her of my love and my return and then walk away. I have to get a balance of when to "push her" to the next level of getting "off the edge" of her emotions and when to let her feel it all and be comforted in the settling. In fact, this recognition of that necessary nudge is one of the biggest reasons that I was able to come to the decision to send Li'l E to pre-school this fall. I don't really know yet what exactly tipped the scales for The Boss. But when I have spent those times thinking and praying and researching, I just kept coming back to one big factor. While I could work really hard to provide and supply all the same things that pre-school will provide for her academically and therapuetically (in terms of listening skills), this "nudge" could only be accomplished in this season in this way.

It's a humbling thing, to come to the recognition that your three-year old needs something you can't give her. I mean, I've had this revelation many times, over the years of parenting the five kids God has given us. I've learned it in many different forms. But each time I learn it, I'm still humbled. And not just a little startled. Startled at the degree to which I must have somehow thought I could handle this one on my own. Startled that I haven't fully learned yet just how much I need Him for wisdom on this journey. Startled at how slow I must be, how dense I am to think that the last time I learned the lesson wasn't enough.

Conversely, or maybe in tandem, I am also grateful to learn that I can't do this all for her. I'm grateful that she has the opportunity to learn from others, along-side others. I'm grateful that there are resources out there to help us with these "necessary nudges."

But most of all, I'm so humbled and grateful that the Lord is her best parent. Her ultimate parent. I get to be the vessel through which He parents her, when I'm cognizant of my proper role and status in His eyes, that is! It takes the burden off my frail shoulders and keeps it where it belongs. His shoulders are big enough to bear it all and when I keep this mindset, I remember that the outcome lies in His hands. He knows the process I've been through to come to this point and He's using it to better equip me to parent her.

Hopefully in that process, I'm also learning skills that will help me parent the other four more effectively. And maybe even help me to be a better, more supportive friend to the moms around me who might be struggling with a part of their journey.

He created her. He loves her even more than The Boss and I ever possibly could, and He will work out in her the things which He needs to do for her growth and maturity. He has a plan for her life, and I'm grateful I can be a part of it. Even if I'm a little slow on the uptake and tend to over-think every step of the way. He knows that about me, just as He knows how scary it is for Li'l E to see me walk away from her. He will cover it. I'm counting on it.

So, on Wednesday, Li'l Empress will start pre-school at the tender age of (JUST NEWLY) three.  Sigh. It still feels incredibly young to start this educational environment. It still makes me tremble to think of dropping her off for 6 hours a week away from me. I think I'd better make sure there's a box of tissues under my driver's seat. I have a feeling I'm going to need them!


Cindi Campbell said...

Mia started preschool at our local Baptist preschool one morning a week at 2 1/2 and then 3 mornings a week at 3 1/2. She has been in speech thereapy since 2 yrs. old when we realized that she would not repeat anything we would say (Or even Dora for that matter) and has had speech therapy for a moderate to severe speech delay. Said all that to tell you that we heard her sing her first song after going to preschool a few weeks and then i knew it was in her best interest to continue to go to preschool and that she would learn so much from being in that loving, structured and fun enviroment. It was hard to walk her in and then pick her up later but she LOVED it. She will love it and you will be me!
Naomi starts next week 3 mornings now at the same preschool and she is soooo excited. To help the transition with her we have been attending AWANA at the same church and she is in the Cubbies class. I leave her in her class and help in another class and then come back to get her. She is getting used to the idea I will come again to get her. Marissa had some of the anxiety I hear you are having with your sweetie and I can say it does get better especially when they can tell you how they are feeling. Marissa has come a long way with her meltdowns . I feel for ya. Blessings, Cindi

Virginia said...

I will pray for you and your journey. You posts are thought provoking and generate much thought needed for my journey this year with and 11 yr old and a 5 yr old boy that's the equivalent of having 3 kids in one.

Aus said...

Morning GM - This was a great series of posts - both for and about you - and for others who are walking down that same path (or at least a path right near yours!)

You have articulated some really great thoughts....and I think you are 'spot on' in particular to our adopted kids.

Look - we all have 'wounds' - all of us - they come from living in an imperfect world. But our adopted kids have a couple extra - the largest of which are the loss of their bio parents (from whatever reason). This 'factor's in' - and it shows itself all the time! All three of our adopted had what we came to call the 'two step rule' - if mom got more than 'two steps' away wailing could commence! We got through that - but it took time...the Lil E will be the same way.

But I'm confident that however difficult this might be - that she will still cope and exceed all your expectations....she's like that - ya know?

hugs - aus and co.