This morning Bee came downstairs as she got ready for school. Russ and I were sitting together on the sofa, and called to her to come sit with us. Her face was stony and eye contact non-existent. I could see that she was considering ignoring us, so we repeated our request, and then scooted apart to make room for her to sit between us.
She sighed, plunked down on the cushion, and tried hard to look like we were inconveniencing her. The night before had not ended particularly well, and she was waiting for the bomb to drop. We put our arms around her and began to be silly, kissing her on the cheek, calling her our sweet baby, and being playful. At first, she was stiff, then a tiny smile began to break through. She said, “You guys are so weird,” – the ultimate compliment from her.
Then I sang a little to her, “…stuck like glue, you and me baby we’re stuck like glue.” We all laughed and she left the house with a little smile on her face.
We’re on a little roller coaster ride with Bee these days. How hard it is to be a “family girl” when you didn’t have one for so long. And those pesky adults – why do they think they are worthy of respect. Let me tell you, this is nothing like orphanage life.
Bee came to me seeking forgiveness after school on Tuesday for something that had happened that morning; I hugged her and forgave her. Then she said, “But I know I’m going to have a consequence.” I explained that there would be one, but it might be a little different than she expected. Our plan was to keep her close for a little while, to spend more time helping her grow, and give her an opportunity to regain some trust that had been lost.
We’re working hard to get that essential balance of nurture and structure. Fortunately, we’re getting a great opportunity to watch it in action at Dimples’ school. We can’t duplicate the environment here, but there are aspects of it that can be transferred to real life. One of those is keeping a struggling child close. It also means that when one child is struggling, they aren’t allowed to go off with the other kids out of our line of vision. That’s when disrespectful talk, grumbling about parents, and other destructive things can happen. A couple of nights ago, that meant one child going to bed in our room, another in hers, and the last one doing homework downstairs until the other two were asleep.
This is similar to “time in” but it can last for a number of days, depending on how well the child accepts our support and allows herself to be parented. Truth be told, spring break is coming and Bee has been making lots of plans with friends that may not happen. She has some special adults in her life that she will probably visit, and we may have a friend here, but we’ll just have to wait and see.In the meantime, I’m thinking of projects (both work and fun) that we can do side-by-side.
Bee is doing great, she has come so far; we need to keep our focus and stick with her in the process. We’re four and a half years in, and working hard on helping her be a “family girl” and that’s okay because we’re “stuck like glue.”
Question: What activities have you found to be fun and/or bonding with your older children and teens?