Monday, December 30, 2013

"Which team are you on?"

   Four years.  Tonight the balloon lady at a popular "kids eat free" night asked Etienne how long he had been home.  I hate answering that question.  It's so long.  It's as long as the Olympics cycle, it's a presidential term.  It's a lifetime.  And it's such a horrible answer to how long my son has been home.
     Four years should be long enough, right?  Surely, the majority of this kid's memories are of his parents loving on him.  He can't readily spit out kinyarwandan and he no longer hugs strangers.  So things are cool than?  Hardly.
     I reexamined vigilant last post.  The other battle that we've seen more than ever is argumentative, blatant "You are wrong and I'm not" behavior.  Lemme explain.  At lunch time I gave everyone a choice of soup or a sandwich.  Etienne requested a cold sandwich.  I let him help make it.  Cold cuts, cheese, chilled mayo (d'uh).  I set it in front of him.  He touched it.  Then he said, "That's not really cold. I'll have soup."   Or when he snapped all of his brother's glow-in-the-dark necklaces, then screamed "I DID NOT BREAK IT. I SNAPPED IT."  Then there was the "I didn't punch Zeke, I smacked him."  Etc, etc.  All. Day. Long.
     I guess I am complaining.  I know, I know.  He's not breaking furniture or putting holes in drywall. ("Kara, he's so much better then he was a year ago").  A year ago, he never screamed at me.  A year ago he did not find every little fight, argument or literal interpretation of my words.  A year ago, I didn't have this little fear sneaking in that one day he will get too mad at me.
     Tonight we hit a breaking point.  I know that the lack of strict routine during holiday break is difficult for most families ("It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again..."). My son had decided to get himself out of the tub without washing and pushed me away as I tried to turn him back again.  I reminded him that I needed to see him scrub himself.  He argued that he could do it himself and he already did (he hadn't).  It escalated from there.  He screamed and pushed me.  A lot.  He's really strong.  I lifted him back into the tub to just scrub the stinky parts, then let him scream.  I had to close the door and leave.  As my wise hubby says, to not engage him.  Later, I returned and I tried to remind him that it's harder to make good choices when we are tired.  More screaming that he's not tired.  More pushing me.  So I left him.  I told him if he wasn't tired, tonight I wouldn't make him go to bed.
     It's the least attached parenting choice I could have made.  I know it.  My other kids needed me to read and snuggle and pray with them.  So we did our thing and he did his own thing in his room.  Later, I snuck in and I could hear him praying "I don't want to be on sin's team."  As I type that, I cry all over again.  I went to my son and I laid my head on his chest and I sobbed.  He cried too (this is really, really good).  He didn't apologize.  That's okay.  I told him I was afraid when he got angry, that he is stronger than me.  I told him that no matter how mad he gets, no matter how big and strong he is, I won't stop chasing him.  I can't stop chasing his heart.  I told him that even if he never, ever trusts me in my lifetime, God has bound us to one another.  We prayed together for a long time.  I asked him if next time, when we started to fight, if we should have a code word.  He suggested asking him which team is he on? when he is yelling.  So that is our plan for now.
     I am not here to complain.  I am here to share for the other parents out there.  It has been four years.  Four years feels like a lifetime and only a moment.  Click here to a read a professional's explanation of RAD; because sometimes we have beautiful, healthy days.  And sometimes we have ugly, long long weeks.
      I am not looking for pity or a casserole.  I just want to explain this healing, it's a long road.  There is a song, originally by John Mark McMillan, that has become me and E's lifesong:

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions
Eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me

And oh, how He loves us, oh

Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us

     So tonight I am laying next to E on his floor.  I've read some verses of Isaiah to him, our own little tradition in these four years.  And I think of all the mamas in the bible.  Hannah.  Sarah.  Women that waited and waited and waited on the Lord for their child.  I thought that I had quit waiting for my E to be mine four years ago, when I first held him in my arms.

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