Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How Do You Teach Someone Who Doesn't Want To Be Taught?

I think that I've figured out one of the main issues with Kaleb and me. 

When you have kids, one of your biggest obligations is to teach them how to effectively live in this world.  How to be a good person.  How to cope with those that aren't.  From the beginning, we've taught Lizzie, Antwan, and William how to consider people's feelings, respond kindly, and do the right thing.  For the most part, it's worked. 

When Lizzie tells Antwan something, he will respond with "That's cool, Lizzie."  (Instead of ignoring or announcing that he knew the information already.)  When he doesn't like something that I give him to eat, he will say, "Thank you for making this Mommy, I just don't really like it.  (Instead of crying and shoving it away.)   I'm most proud of that one because Antwan is like me when hungry.  Awful. ;)  William had lunch with a student with Autism at school, last week, when the other kids shunned him.  (There are no words for how proud this makes me.)

They are not perfect, but they honestly try to be good people.  Most of the time... ;)

Then, there's Kaleb.  Now, I'm not saying that he's a bad person.  Far from it.  But, he's certainly not looking to be taught the ways of the world from his loving mom and dad.  He thinks he knows better than Brian and he thinks that I'm a total idiot.

Why do I think that he thinks that I'm an idiot?  Here's why.

He was watching Top Gear.  They were pretending to be bank robbers and put panty hose over their heads.  Kaleb asked, "Why did they put panty hose on their heads?"

Now, I was in the middle of something, something stressful, and I took the low road and said, wearily, "I don't know."

At this point, Kaleb turned around, looked, and said, "Oh, I thought you were, Daddy.  It's ok, Mommy, I didn't expect you to know."

The worst part was that he wasn't being rude.  He was just being sincere. 

Of course, I did know and I'm not an idiot.  But, that is what he thinks.

I'm told that this is normal.  But, it kind of sucks.

So, as we try to teach Kaleb how to live in this world, be a good person, and everything else; he just tries to prove us wrong.  Because he knows better.  Sometimes, I continue to argue my point.  And, sometimes, I give up.  But, when I give up, I know that means that I'm doing him a disservice.  He is going to struggle in the world and he's going to teach the younger three bad habits.

It's stuff like this.

On the way home from band.

Kaleb -"People shouldn't ask me questions if they don't want me to tell them the truth.  A girl sat by me and asked me who was prettier.  Her or another girl."

Me - "Please tell me that you didn't say the other girl."

Kaleb - "Yeah, she's prettier. I'm not going to lie."

This led to yet another conversation about the difference between lying and saving people's feelings.  (We've had this conversation, each time that one of his little brothers or sister have asked him a question like "Do you like my new socks?")  This came with the added topic of how insecure teenage girls are.  Because, they really, really are.  I would know.

He just kept saying, "She shouldn't have asked me.  She shouldn't have asked me."

Sigh.  I sigh as I write, I sighed as I talked.

Then, there's our conversation, last night, about sharing his items in the video game.  Yes, he got to the special place in the game world, first, and, yes, that means that he got everything for himself; but the right thing to do is share.  Don't forget that you're playing with younger kids.  (It's not fair!  It's not fair!  I got them first.  I share all the time.)

"Be the bigger person."

"Ok, so I'm a bad person!"

"I didn't say that."

"You said, be a good person!"

"No, I said, be the bigger person."

I think that's when he left the room. 


He does do nice things.  He does share.  He, sometimes, goes along with my directions like saying "That's cool" when Lizzie shows him something that she thinks is cool.  But, I always feel like he's just appeasing me.  Just trying to keep ticked off Mommy at bay.

How do I teach him to feel it?  How do I teach him to instinctively consider a classmate's feelings?  To want to share with his siblings, just because he loves them?

I've often heard that when kids get to their teenager years, it's "too late."  Well, I know that can't be true.  It just can't be.  But, I, also, know that if he doesn't want to be taught, he won't be.

So, there you go.  I know what the problem is.  And I know what bothers me. I'm just fuzzy on what to do about it.

I guess for now, I'm just going to just stick to that whole keep trying thing.  

I'll just keep swimming. :)


Saturday, August 16, 2014

He Has One Mom---Me.

Sometimes, I'm jealous of people with biological children.  Not because I wish that I had biological children instead of my (adopted) children.  But, because I sometimes wish that I could wave a magic wand and make my kids biological. 

Occasionally, I get tired of having to explain my family to the well-meaning masses.   When I said that we were fine with any race, I didn't realize that would mean that we would live our lives on display to a certain extent.  Having said that, we are still fine with any race and regret nothing.  But, the fact that I can't swim with my kids at the YMCA without someone inquiring about whether they are brothers and sister is, well, weird.

But, truth be told, I don't really care.  That's not what I'm upset about.  I'm upset that I share my title with someone else.  A woman who cared so little about my children that she took drugs, received no prenatal care, and didn't go through the necessary steps to get them back.  Yeah, I have anger towards her.

It's probably very different for those who have positive relationships or feelings towards their children's birth mother and that can be a wonderful thing.  Sharing pictures or stories.  Telling your child how selfless their birth mother was; I respect that, I really do.  But, this birth mother didn't make a loving choice, she made a selfish one, repeatedly.  And, I can't respect that. 

Last night, Kaleb relayed a story about how William had announced to the neighbors that he had drugs before.  I'm not sure if it was a kid or an adult and I don't think I really want to know.  Kaleb was pointing out that he would rather William not broadcast their history and he has a point.  It's tricky, balancing William's right to tell his story if he wants to and his siblings' rights to not have all of their business known.  But, as important as that is, it's not the point of the story, this is.

Kaleb said "William said that he had drugs before, that our mom had taken drugs."

All I heard was, "our mom." 

Me, in a weak, soap opera scene-worthy voice, "Did he say that?  Did he call her mom?"

Kaleb confirmed and Brian (I am so glad that Brian was home!) immediately called William out from his room to talk to him about it.  He knew what he was going to say, we both knew this moment would come,  but not so soon and not in this way.  

Brian, gently, told him that his mom had taken him to a birthday party today, had fed him lunch, etc, etc.  He gave him some appropriate words to use for her, like "birth mother," and "biological mother."  But, he told him that I was mom.   William said that he had slipped up and that he was sorry.  Although, an apology wasn't really necessary, it was nice that he said it, anyway.  Brian hugged him and sent him back to bed.

This is what he told me, anyway, because I was in the bedroom crying like a baby.

Now, maybe I should deal with it better.  But, if we all know anything about me, we know that I'm the emotional sort.  My emotions caused me (along with Brian) to head down this adoption road in the first place.  And, it's my emotions that caused me to dramatically repeat over and over that "It's not fair!" when Brian came in to hug me.  So, what are you gonna do?

It gets tiring when people ask about "mom" and "dad" and I have to face the knowledge that they don't mean us.  Or when they ask if my kids are brothers and sister.  It's a slap in the face.  It's a reminder that someone else gave birth to them and if things had gone a little differently, we may never have been their parents.  We had to earn that right after someone else had lost it.  But, we did earn it.  We did.  And, that makes it my job to take care of them, love them, and protect them.  

And, someday, that might include protecting them from her.  If I can.  I know that someday they might want to meet her.  And, even though, that is totally understandable; I know that I will be back in the bedroom, crying like a baby.  And, I admit that I hope that they don't want to meet her.  But, that's probably not realistic. 

I don't have that hope just for my own selfish reasons.  (And, there are many.)  But, because of this.

About a year ago, the oldest brother had a fight with his (adoptive) family and he moved out.  Now, he lives with his oldest biological sister and hangs out with his biological mother.  If his facebook pictures are any indication (yeah, I snooped.), he, too, is now involved with drugs and I'm pretty sure that he dropped out of school.

The word tragic doesn't begin to define that situation.  I wish that I could help him, but I can't.

So, what do I do?  I keep loving my children, the best that I can.  And, take comfort in the fact, that William used the word "mom" because he didn't know what else to say, not because he was minimizing my role.  I will remember that "mom" was called about a million times today and it was always meant for me.  I will hope and pray that our bond will be so deep that it can weather any dramatic, angsty fight that we will have in the future and none of them will ever leave.

And, I will remember this.

A couple of days after William and Antwan came to live with us, we were out on the back deck playing with the water table and bubbles.  William brought up the topic of us becoming his mom and dad.  I confirmed and said that he could call me "mom" when he was ready.

Now, I might not remember exactly how the topic came up, but I sure do remember his response.  He said, I will never forget it, "I'm ready now."

And, that first time that he tentatively called me "mom," it was beautiful.  Really beautiful.
I knew that I was where I should be.  I was a mom.  I was his mom.

I can't get the good without the bad.  Magic wands don't far as we know. ;)  So, I'll just keep living the life that I was meant to live and hold on to what's really important - Them.

Cinco De Mayo

Sharing the Batman love!

Dressing Like Daddy


Bonding with a Lorikeet

His glasses are way cooler than mine.

Yay for icees!