1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion or excitement
2. lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting
3. stoicism or freedom from emotion of any kind
-New World Dictionary, 2010
I don't know why I never used this word before. Etienne has plenty of passion, emotion and excitement for stomping his feet, jumping headfirst onto the couch and knocking things over. He has a ton of interest and concern in undoing the toilet or his brother's Lego inventions. Trust me, there is a lot of emotion toward getting dessert at missional community. Except all that excitement and emotion vanishes with anything Daddy or Mama say or do. There isn't an ounce of feeling toward the 9 (not exaggerating) layers to protect the mattress from pee every night.
The apathy is clearly a coping mechanism. What kid wouldn't learn to be apathetic towards adults when the only grown ups he knew for so long where an occasional American volunteer or a nun force feeding him? Apathy protects a little heart from rejection, loneliness and loss.
My brain keeps telling my heart this. But my heart is exhausted with efforts to prove myself to this child. I am angry and frustrated. Writing it down makes it sound so selfish, I know. At the end of the day, I don't think that this child could get more attention even if he were an only child with two parents. His need to be included and to have all eyes on him all the time is overwhelming.
Learned behaviors are learned because of the outcome that they lead to. Destruction or deliberate disobedience leads to lots of attention. Consequences to actions don't really matter when apathy is a coping skill. Ryan and I don't get anywhere with our responses. Again, my brain knows that the RAD response is to pull him in closer, to ignore the terrible behavior and to go over-the-top with praise for good choices. But HELLO! this is real life. Sometimes you have to react for the sake of the rest of the family.
The problem is, I am human. I get tired; and lately, really angry. Sometimes I really don't like Etienne. I force myself to go through the mommy motions with him because even though I want go crumble onto the pantry floor, he is mine. Forever and ever.
The thing about this roller coaster is the perspective. Don't get me wrong, parenting my other children is the most rewarding, heart wrenching, fulfilling job ever. But loving them is easy. Loving Etienne is not always. I think about how I am constantly wrestling with sin yet my Father still pulls me in and loves me. He doesn't quit on me and He is constantly whispering you are mine, you are loved, you are my greatest work. And I keep on doing the same stupid things. And He keeps on loving me. That is perspective.
More than lying or breaking my candles into a million pieces or misplacing every flip flop I own, I despise apathy. My constant prayer (God, just overwhelm E with the security of Your love) will fix this in His time. Remembering this doesn't undo my exhaustion but it renews my hope.