You didn't think I was done, did you? Nope, I have tons more to say on this topic and will likely keep revisiting it or not, who knows!
Previous posts in this series:
Just remember, the purpose of this series is to convey our experiences parenting a newly adopted 3 year old from Ethiopia and is not meant to be taken as expert advice!
Part 3: Celebrate the Small Milestones
My 4 year old son was the one to point it out. Just last week, we pulled into the driveway after picking him up at preschool, I opened the backdoor of the car to let him and his 3 year old sister out, and he said, "Mom! She stopped crying! She already stopped crying! Usually when we get home she's still crying!"
I had to think on it for a second because it was hard to focus on anything positive amid my annoyance. Our new 3 year old, home for about 2 months at this point, had thrown a huge fit at his school because she couldn't play on the playground. The playground has often been a point of contention with our new daughter. You see my 4 year old son's classroom opens right out on the playground, so Little Girl sees it each weekday and some days after school it is opened for families to play on and some days (like when some children stay for and extended lunch bunch day) it is closed.
Today was a playground closed day, I'd given Little Girl a heads-up about this fact before we even walked into the school yard, "Hey Sweetheart, no playground today."
However as we waited outside the classroom to pick up her brother, she wanted to play and I couldn't let her. So the fit began. I had to hold her crying, tantruming self right there outside the classroom with several other parents looking on. Thankfully his teacher had mercy on me and let my son out first even though I was not first in line and we were able to make a fast break outta there.
But still, I was embarrassed, annoyed, irritated with her behavior. And frustrated that we were still at the point of her throwing such fits whenever she didn't get her way!
I had to wrestle her into her carseat and drive the 4 minute drive home with her screaming and kicking the back of my seat. Lovely.
And, this little scenario has happened several times these past 2 months. Sometimes because she doesn't get to play on the playground, sometimes because she just decides she doesn't want to be buckled into her car seat. So, it made the whole repetition all the more frustrating. And at times like that it's tempting to get discouraged, to think things are never going to get better. That the hurdles of beginning to parent a child later in the game than newborn are just insurmountable.
But, my little 4 year old guy was right.
I had to take a deep breath and step back to see it.
She had quit crying in the 4 minute drive home this time. And her fits when we first brought her home from Ethiopia lasted 20 or 30 minutes some times!
I was flooded with amazement at just how far we had come and then other things began coming to mind, all the ways God has already worked healing in our little girl.
So, my advice to other parents in the trenches is to celebrate the small (well, big to you) milestones. Constantly be looking for forward progression in areas of behavior. From day to day it can seem that there is no progress, but look back a few weeks, months. Is it better? High-fives all around! Make cupcakes! Celebrate! Praise God for the progress and be encouraged that more is likely just around the corner.
And to bring some humor to the subject, now that the crying and screaming is subsiding, here's what Little Girl's fits have graduated to. She lays on the floor silently pouting.
But, little girl is no dummy. That floor is hard. The pout soon moved to the comfort of the couch!
She does pouting like nobody I've ever known!
By the way, I didn't take these pictures just to poke fun at her on my blog, we've been talking a lot lately about emotions (well, on a 3 to 4 year old level) she and I, so I can help her better manage hers. So, we make happy, sad, mad faces at each other for fun and I snapped those pictures to be able to show her and talk later when she wasn't upset about that feeling.
The next day she thought the pictures were funny and perfectly imitated her own pouting face!
Find more Thankful Thursday here.