Wednesday, January 4, 2012
(un)happy new year
From what I can tell, Z is trying to show the year 2012 who's boss. And so far? I think he's winning.
OK, so it probably has nothing to do with the calendar changing from December to January, but the change in Z's behavior marked. Remember my post last month about how happy he was? Well, he rang in the New Year with the biggest tantrum we've seen since our first week together in Ethiopia. Only now he is 10 months older and has that much more strength and stamina, plus the vocabulary to throw in a few barbed words with the screams. The good news is that we have 10 months of parenting this boy under our belts, and we knew what he needed (though it took him a full hour to be convinced). What did he need? He needed to know that we're not leaving, we're not quitting, we're not giving up. He can scream, cry, thrash, and hurl ugly words all he wants: we're still here. During our time in Ethiopia with him and in the first week or two at home his fits would end when he wore himself out to utter exhaustion and fell asleep mid-scream. But our New Year's morning rager ended with him resting on my lap, letting me feed him bits of string cheese, pausing to nuzzle his head into my neck. For the moment, he was reassured and relaxed.
The past few days since then haven't held any major tantrums, but Z has been restless and touchy, struggling through mealtimes and waking up in the night. There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for this -- we've been off-schedule with the holidays and school breaks, there's been so much going on, we just returned from a week visiting Mimi & Grandpa three time zones away, and maybe that's all there is to it. He's confused by the strange schedule, he's overtired from traveling, he's adjusting to the transition back to home.
We're on the cusp of becoming Z's longest placement. I only have approximate dates for when he was moved from place to place, but if the information I have is correct then the longest he has ever lived in one place is around 10 or 11 months. Adoption literature suggests that even very young children can be subconsciously aware of these time intervals, and may display regressive behaviors around those times. Is this happening with Z? I have no idea. If anything its probably the combination of lots of changes happening at an inopportune time. But just in case, I am going to do my best to meet these behaviors with extra compassion for my little guy. More than anything, I want him to feel safe and loved and secure -- I want him to know that we are not just a placement: we are a family.