Then the Penny Drops
Then the penny drops and I figure it all out. Sometimes I am really slow, like painfully slow at realizing the obvious and even though other people point it out to me I still don’t really get it.
Let me back up, things have been hard here for awhile, some of it is my kids behaviour, some of it was winter, some of it was my depression and some of it was just that lately life was not quite what I had thought it would be. I was lulled into this false sense of security with my boys and around December things started to fall off the rails with them and things have been really hard ever since.
They have both come so far and I thought that things would just keep getting better, that the healing would continue and that it would all be good. Then it stopped being good, in fact it got really hard and as a certain small girl started to attach to me, to actually love me I realised that the boys only are still insecurely attached. That was a big moment for me. It is normal for humans to give and receive love, it is part of taking care of one another and it was not until I started to be loved by Ramona that I realised that the relationship I have with the boys is much different.
You can google insecure attachment if you want to learn more about it but what it means is that they both still struggle with trusting that I am going to meet their needs, keep them safe and that they will be loved unconditionally. Neither of them is very good at understanding that love is a reciprocal thing that is both given and received. They are both stuck in the stage of toddler/preschooler where it is normal and appropriate for it to be all about you and what you need. They are unable to realise that the needs of the people around them might be impacted by their behaviour and choices. They both often go straight to a tantrum just like a toddler when they do not get there way. There is nothing quite like a 12 year old having an actual stomp your feet and scream your head off tantrum to remind that something is not right in their brain.
We have had the boys for 5 years his July and we are sill having the same conversations about boundaries, personal space, sharing, talking, not hitting, etc that were having when they were 6 and 8. When I say the same conversations I do mean the very same ones.
Calvin is still unable to maintain a relationship with kids his own age, when we go out he gravitates towards the younger children and will happily play tag or in the sandbox for hours on end. I have no problem with his this but other kids are starting to wonder about his behaviour. Kids his own age whom we have known for years will no longer really associate with him because they are maturing and moving on to being teenagers and he is not. Calvin is unable to understand that other people have emotions and that his choices affect how other people are feeling.
Fudge is a different story, there are other factors at play for him and in many ways the profound neglect he suffered as an infant has and will continue to affect his daily life. That being said he has made huge strides in his attachment to me and unlike Calvin he feels remorse and tries to make things better after he makes a mistake. I have some of the best apology letters from him because he although he has cognitive issues that effect his impulse control and other aspects of his daily life he genuinely wants to be in relationship with people even if it scares him to death because he so very afraid of losing the people he loves. He works at having friends and although he struggles with being socially appropriate he wants, and is mostly able to maintain superficial friendships with his peers.
And although I try not to compare my kids it is really hard because parenting Ramona is so different.
Ramona has been here a year, her ability to understand when she crossed the line, ask forgiveness and change her actions amazes me. She is empathetic towards others when they are in pain and tries hard to make amends when she has wronged someone. She gets that she makes poor choices and can talk about how her choices effected the outcome of a situation. She is attaching to both P and I and actually desires to be loved and accepted by us as her parents. Now that being said she does rage, tantrum and manipulate every single situation and without her meds I can barely contain her. She struggles with friendships, sharing and tries to control everything but I expect that from her and things are getting so much better and she grows and feels safe here.
So the other day when I realised that Ramona was loving me, that she was genuinely concerned for my well being I had to stop and have a little cry because I have never felt that from the boys in the same way. To be honest I am not sure that they are able to love in the same way. Not because they do want to but because the damage done to them as little kids means that their brains are not wired the way they should be. I know that, I understand that, but my heart often forgets because I pour myself into these kids everyday. I do everything I can and when there is nothing in return it hurts, it hurts because being loved is a normal part of relationships and it makes me so sad that they are still having such a hard time loving and being loved.
- J. (who blogs at Stellar Parenting)