Mama S here. It has been over a month since P moved in with us and it is clear… the honeymoon is over.
What is the honeymoon? It is just as you would expect. A period of time where everyone is on their best behaviors – parents and kiddos alike- I think that this happens so that people can bond and gear up to to love each other when things get harder and real personalities come out.
What does that look like in our situation? Well, that depends on who you ask. In our house, when it’s just the three of us, that is regular sassy pre-teen behaviors with a lot of conversations about right and wrong and even more conversations about our past. When friends are over it quite a few conversations about respect and how we act when there are others around. *for some odd reason, P gets “showy” around other people and comes across as rude and domineering* At school, that’s a whole different animal completely. Last year was a hard year for P and that is rolling into this year. Imagine if you (your child) had not done any work for the first few school years and then landed in middle school. Compound a personality that gets defiant and aggressive when they don’t understand something, something doesn’t come easily, when redirected to appropriate behaviors, and when others in the class don’t act as *she* thinks they should and you end up with quite a few notes from the teacher, breaks to another classroom, and perplexed parents.
I got to chatting with P about school and the hard times that she is having and came up with an idea. She needs to know that we are in her corner, that we support her and will have her back when she needs it while we push her to try. In keeping that in mind, I write her little cards that she can pull out and read each day at school. Some are inspirational quotes, some are letters from Mama A and myself, some are a combination of both. I add these to her book bag and when she is having a “hard time” she can go to her book bag and read them. We have done this for a few days and have seen good results. We will keep trying.
P is not the only one that is out of the honeymoon. Mama A and I are also out of that. We have lost our patience a time or two and have had to take away privileges on quite a few occasions. We are firm but fair. As my mom says- we mean what we say and we say what we mean. We follow through on our words and we set clear boundaries. Some have said that we are “strict parents”. To that I say, you don’t know what is going on inside our house. You don’t know the heartbreaking conversations that we have every day. You don’t see how much better P responds to clear and firm boundaries. You don’t see that we are showing P that we are the parents, that she is a kiddo and that we will keep her safe and secure. You don’t see how she gets with a fun sized pack of m&ms and how she loses control of her body and mind. All you see are our firm guidelines and make comments. If you have questions, please feel free to ask (when P is not around), otherwise, please trust that we are doing the best we can for our little lady. Things are different than they were with your kids simply due to the fact that P has had a different life than your kids had. We are all doing our best. Please trust us and support us the best you can as well, knowing full well that we can’t tell you 1/3 of what is going outside when we see you.
All in all things are going well. She is a really great kid that is trying to figure things out and, while we have misses along the way, we are making great strides in outlining boundaries and acceptable behaviors. Are there moments when I need to take a break and turn the radio on for a break? Sure. There will always be those moments. The thing is, when that happens we circle back later to chat about why a break was needed and what we can do differently next time.
Lastly, a huge shout out to Mama A. Just last night she took P out of the house so I could have a few hours to recharge my batteries that greatly needed the recharge. She is the most wonderful wife a person could ask for and the only person I could imagine navigating the landmines of foster care with. This is huge. Anyone considering becoming a foster parent- locate your supports. You will need to lean on them- more often than you will think you need to. To our other supports- our parents, siblings, close friends- know that we say prayers for all of you all the time. Your love and support has helped us when we just want to cry and we appreciate when you let us talk for way too long about the successes we are celebrating. We do not take for granted the love and support you are offering and feel blessed to have you in our lives. Thank you for listening to us, feeding us, and taking P when we need a night out. As we move past the honeymoon and into more difficult waters we will need you more than ever.
All the love,