Last Sunday, Amy did not want to wear her boots to the woods (it has been very wet of late) she wants to wear her canvass shoes. On Monday she did not want to wear the school skirt I gave her to put on for school. On Tuesday Amy decided she would rather not wear tights to school any more. Following a week of arguing about what is appropriate to wear when and the subsequent huffing and stomping, I tell Amy from now on she can choose her own clothes in the morning.
At this point I’d just like to say that there is not a clothes dictatorship in our house. The girls do generally choose their own clothes on non school days. (My husband will be raising his eyebrows now and I will admit to a sometimes disproportionate response to my children not wearing the clothes that they desperately couldn’t live without a week ago!! But this is an entirely different matter.) However on a school day, to save time, I usually provide the clothes in pile downstairs following breakfast.
Yesterday Amy decided to wear short white socks to school. It is currently unseasonably cool for April. Today Amy is wearing tights!
Learning through experience is more powerful than doing what you’re told. We were reflecting on our experiences as adoptive parents this week in a parenting session as part of Amy’s DDP therapy. We recalled the training sessions provided by our adoption agency, the research we did prior to committing to the adoption process, the discussions with our social worker who said “adopting one child is like having two children, adopting two is like having four”. (In my nervousness at this point I joked that we didn’t really have the space for four children. She didn’t laugh.) However I don’t think we really believed that the legacy from our children’s early years would have such a big impact day in day out.
I personally thought life would settle down and after a year or so we would develop our own natural style of parenting and family life. However 3 and half years in and with 18 months of therapy I think we finally realise that we will constantly need to consider and adjust our responses to tantrums and strops and comments designed to push our buttons. And through each new stage of their lives we need to remember the small, delicate and insecure little people we first met and see their experiences, their ups and downs, through these vulnerable eyes.
Maybe there is more room in all our lives for learning through experience and I’m going to try doing a little less telling and a little more wondering.