Twenty-one months after arriving home with Dimples, I finally called our caseworker and she shared something with me that makes a lot of sense. Children who have trauma/attachment difficulties (we can’t separate the two) are doing hard work when they are home with their parent. It is likely that when Dimples is home, on a deep level she is constantly thinking, “Is my Mom going to leave me? Is my Mom going to die? Does my Mom love me? Does my Mom love me as much as she loves my sisters?” There is an elevated feeling of anxiety. Although it may not seem to make sense, by sending Dimples to school, she is getting a break from the hard work of attachment and her mind and body are both very busy while she is gone.
While still in Ethiopia, we had an interpreter tell Honeybee about homeschooling. She was very surprised to learn that in America some children don’t attend school. She was not happy about it, but we assured her that our family loved it, it was fun being home together, we loved learning together, etc. I will say that she tried to enjoy it, but with the language challenges and some other educational issues, school was very slow for her. Often she would say, “I go school Mom, please?”
I have come to understand that for Honeybee, school provides a structure that feels familiar. After living in an orphanage nearly her entire life, she is comfortable being in a group that moves together from one activity to the next. Although I was very sad to put her in school, I knew it would be tremendously difficult for Honeybee to watch Dimples go to school without her.
For the first time in my life, I am packing lunches for my children, doing homework after school, helping them make valentines for parties, and volunteering to read in the classroom. After nearly three weeks, it still feels very, very strange, but we have peace about this plan for our girls. We don’t know what the future holds, we only know that this is what we plan to do for this school year. We’ll reevaluate at the end of the year.
My life feels very different now that I am homeschooling one in high school, one in junior high, and two in elementary school. The younger three are playing together and are happy and relaxed, which absolutely delights me. One morning, shortly after the girls began school, I looked in the family room and saw Boo and Eby playing quietly with the wooden train set. I realized that I hadn’t seen anything like that in a very long time. Boo is playing with dolls again and reading up a storm.
I find myself feeling hopeful and much more relaxed. When the girls get home, I am ready for them, with hugs and kisses, a big snack, and delight over the work they show me. They each enjoy telling me about their day and reading to me.
We are still figuring out how to manage “re-entry”. Some days we do it well, and others are not so good. We want to help Dimples learn how to regulate herself, how to calm herself, and how to interact positively, and those are hard tasks for her. I’ll have more to write about that soon.
Best of all, the girls LOVE school. They are so happy and excited. Dimples made me a card that says, “I love you, Mommmy. Thank you for putting us in school. Thank you very much.”
As always, I am attempting to strike a balance between being open and transparent in an effort to help other families, and protecting my children’s privacy. If you find yourself thinking that we made the wrong decision, please know that you only have a tiny bit of the big picture. That being said, we are open to helpful suggestions and are profoundly grateful for prayers as we navigate this complicated journey.
I have more to share and hope to get to it soon. I also have gotten some more great questions that will be coming up.