They say that "sorry" is the hardest word but for me, the hardest word sometimes is "patience".
In some way Christopher is a normal, high-energy, inquisitive little boy. Sometimes I forget he has a long trauma history and when I'm tired or frustrated ... or both, I lose my patience.
I know all parents yell and I don't get upset with myself for raising my voice when Christopher ignores my requests to pick up his toys. I hear parents at the YMCA yelling at their kids to listen all the time.
But there are times when Christopher's fears drive his behaviors but I don't realize it and then feel terrible when I yell at him.
For example, we've had a terrible time with going to bed. Christopher simply won't sleep in his own bed all night by himself. My social worker had told me that I needed to be firm about this so I would battle with him every night, bringing him back to his bedroom after he hops out, time after time after time.
One Monday night a few months ago, Christopher quietly got out of bed, went into the pantry, opened a container of sugar and proceeded to throw the sticky crystals all over his bedroom. I was in my own bed down the hall but heard the noise, went into his room, saw the mess and went ballistic.
I had no choice but to put Christopher into my bed while I cleaned the mess up, which of course is what he was trying to achieve (my kid is scary smart). When I was done cleaning (45 minutes later) though I was exhausted and furious. And he got an earful from me.
When I'd calmed down, I finally asked him why he did this. At first he just shrugged. But after I pressed him, he said that he was afraid he was going to be taken away again. I asked him why. After all, Christopher had been living with me for a year and a half and had been officially adopted. He knew this. So why was he still acting out?
Apparently Christopher had been thinking about his last foster home and how he thought they were going to be his forever family too. He loved his foster mom so much and was heartbroken when she gave him away. He was only there for six months but that was enough to create the bond and he's been hurting about that event ever since he came to live with me. Even two years later, the pain is still there.
Yes I felt terrible now. This poor kid is hurting and here I am getting upset with him. I was so glad he told me what was going on with him so that I could hug him and nurture him and make him feel safe and loved though.
For the record, I don't even bother with trying to put him to bed in his own room anymore. I just can't handle the battles anymore. I figure at some point he's going to feel secure enough to sleep on his own but until then I just let him stay with me. We'll make the transition to his own room when he feels ready I guess.