Monday, October 5

Not Dead Yet

Did I drop off the face of the earth or what?

It's been a crazy summer here.  I barely had time to visit the washroom alone never mind blog.  For the sake of privacy for the girls, this is probably going to be pretty vague.

So my girls, let me start there.  They are sisters, the older is 12 and the younger will be 5 at the end of November.  Think about that, what makes a 4 year old happy is miserably boring to the 12 year old.  Things the 12 year old want to do are either too mature in content or a disaster for a 4 year old (do they have to pack quite so many shiny things into Ardenes?).  They have been in care for almost 3 years.  I am Mom #4 to them.  It is amazing when I look back at posts I made as I was dealing with infertility and moving onto preparing myself for adoption through Children's Aid that I was right about so much.  And yet I still had no idea.

The older girl, Clover, she is stunningly beautiful, distant and chatty all in one.  She's got emotional walls that would make Helm's Deep look like cardboard.  She is a world of contradictions, pie is too sweet but a bag of skittles is okay.  Wants to be a vegetarian but eats bacon and pepperettes faster than Mr. Lina.  Her room will be strewn with clothing but every bit of Hunger Games is carefully placed in a shrine.  She has the teen age "I don't know" down to an art form.  She wants this family to work so much it makes my heart burst sometimes.  I see the fear around the edges when her sister is acting up, the "don't fuck this up for both of us" is strong.

The younger girl, Spunk, has two speeds, run and crash, and yet she has limited endurance and no skills to rest.  I have never met a child so easy to engage with, and that's half the problem.  Last week a neighbour had a new roof put on and she was treating these absolute strangers like family friends.  You do not want to tickle a roofer's armpits at the end of the day.  She is absolutely delightful and yet so full of rage, she doesn't know what to do with it.  I don't have the language or emotional IQ to discuss the abandonment and confusion she's feeling, she sure doesn't so it comes out in absolute melt downs.  She is exhausting.  There is caring that she should have experienced as an infant that she missed, so our almost constant play is some variation of baby.  Baby bird, baby puppy, baby kitten, etc. etc. etc., baby unicorn usually has a broken leg because Clover sprained her foot this summer and keeps reinjuring it.  The first time is cute and fun, but 3 months of baby play is exhausting.  You don't know how happy I was for a change when we played "salon" last week.

Most weeks, I have 1-2 therapy sessions (either for me alone, us together or Clover sees a different therapist on her own, one day I'll get the invite to join) and at least one social worker dropping by.  Really I have a team of 6 between social workers and therapists to lean on.  School starting is the best thing ever.  There is morning routine, I have two hours to myself (Spunk isn't ready for a full day just yet).  That's two hours to actually SEE a therapist without the added stress of coverage for the girls (keep in mind I have to keep their world small so they only know so many people), time to get groceries, chuck dinner in the slow cooker as dinner is the time most likely to have melt downs, I don't know,  have a bath, pee, call my parents.  School is wonderful.

We've seen so much change in Spunk.  In June, she didn't know where her arms and legs were, I thought she was going to die on the school playground, she really did fall off it.  Now, she has the upper body strength to do monkey bars.  She does it so much she's got a callus building on her palm.  She referred to us as mom and dad quickly, but not the way most kids mean it.  I was "the mom in the purple shirt", or she would ask me where my dad was meaning Mr. Lina.  In her mind, every house has a mom and dad, we were just the mom and dad here.  But now she will say things like "you are MY mom" and we make a big deal about the "ownership" of relationships.  She tries to repair with us when she screws up, this isn't something she's done with other care givers.  She will apologize unprompted and repeatedly.  Sometimes 3 days after she's hurt us she will ask if it still hurts and could she kiss it better again. 

Clover called Mr. Lina dad for the first time last night.  For a girl with thick walls and the ability to be stoic in any situation, letting that slip is incredible.  The changes in Spunk are measurable as she gains coordination, learns new skills (like rhyming), changes her behaviour.  In Clover, it's harder, she's incredibly independent.  A change for her is asking me to put nail polish on her last night.  She's learning to lean on us, to ask.

From a legal perspective, they are now available for adoption.  I don't really know what the time lines look like for lawyers and judges to do that.  I am not worried, it will happen when it's the right time.  The girls are just learning now we are sticking this out.  It's okay to have a little more time to prove that to them before Clover signs the papers that we are the parents she wants.