We had a few changes last weekend. First, we discovered that Yikealo had hit a major growth spurt when we measured him on Saturday morning and learned that he had grown over an inch since the middle of December! He's gained just over 2 inches since we brought him home in early July, and over half of that was in the last three and a half weeks - no wonder it's seemed like I just can't keep him full lately.
Then there was the fairly drastic change in his mood last weekend: it really only lasted for Friday and Saturday, but it was definitely new territory for us. He decided out of the blue on Friday morning that he wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with me. David was fine, but Yikealo really lashed out at me, sobbing when I tried to snuggle him first thing in the morning (which we've done pretty much every morning since meeting him), shrugging away whenever I tried to talk to him, kicking, saying "I don't like Mama. I like Daddy," and really trying hard to pit David and I against each other. I was caught off guard with the suddenness of the behavior change and must admit that I was shocked at the depth of pain that I felt at his utter rejection of me. I told David that I felt ridiculous for feeling sad - I wanted to face it with the calm understanding that he's three and has been through a lot of traumatic experiences in his life rather than get down about it. David, as usual, gave me the answer that I needed: "Honey, do you really think that love works that way? If you love someone, of course you'll feel hurt when they lash out at you. You just need to actively and consistently show love to him through this, and you're doing a great job." David also did a wonderful job of fathering with Yikealo, telling him that "Mama and Daddy are a team. You cannot make us go against each other. You might think that you're only making Mama sad, but when you say mean things to Mama, it makes Daddy sad too."
On Saturday night, I think I caught a glimpse of the deeper story. It was my turn to put Yikealo to bed, so once the prayers were said and the lights were out, I just asked him about it. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Yikealo, can I talk to you for a minute? What's going on, sweetie? Why are you so grumpy with Mama?"
Y: "I dont' know. And then you leave, and I sad."
Me: "Honey, I'm not going to leave you without telling you where I'm going. Sometimes you might stay with Aunt Susan or Grandma when I'm at work, but I'll come back to get you. I'm not going to leave you. Are you really scared that I might not come back?"
Y: "Yes, and then I sad."
Me: "Why do you think that might happen? Is it because Mihiret left you?"
Y: "Yeah. Mom please, I wanna go Mihiret's house."
Me: "I'm sorry sweetie, but you can't go to her house. Do you miss her?"
Y: "Yes. Why I not go Mihiret's house?"
Me: "I'm sure that she misses you too, but Yikealo, she can't take care of you. Do you remember her ouchie hands? She couldn't give you enough food to eat or keep you safe. She lives far, far away, and we can't just go see her. Don't you want to stay with Daddy and Mama?"
Y: "No, I not stay here. I wanna go Mihiret's house. I wanna take my Thomas train."
Me: "I'm so sorry that you feel that way, but we would miss you so much, Yikealo. We love our little boy, and we would be sad if you weren't here."
Y: "Maybe I go airplane, Mihiret's house, and then I come right back."
Me: " Honey, I'm sorry, but I don't really even know where she lives. But you know what? It's okay to feel sad. It's okay to miss Mihiret. It's okay to talk about her, sweetie. I like it when you tell me how you're feeling. I'm sorry that you're sad, but it's good that you're talking about it. I love you so much, no matter what, and I'm so glad that God brought you to me."
Y: (throwing his arms around my neck and squeezing for all he was worth) "I love you too, Mom. I no wanna leave."
I spent the next few minutes just holding him as he fell asleep and praying over him. Praying that God would take the hurt and make something miraculous and beautiful from it. Praying that I could be understanding and loving at all times - no matter how he's showing the grief. Praying that he could continue to pour out the pain and frustration and longing right out of his little heart so that the wound can continue to heal.
That conversation completely changed his mood again, and he's been very affectionate and very much himself since, but WOW. It was good for me - not only to get into Yikealo's mind, but to see my relationship with God through new eyes. He is my Father, my Daddy, my Abba, my adoptive parent. He loves me so much more than I could ever begin to love Yikealo. How does He feel when I reject him? When I turn away from spending time with Him? When I don't greet Him with joy first thing in the morning? When I prefer someone else to Him? When I take the love that He pours out on me, toss it back in His face and do my own thing instead? Through all of it, He loves me with a perfect, unfailing love, and THAT is how I need to respond to my son. Not that I'll ever come close to measuring up to Him, but I am so thankful for His perfect example...and for the new perspective.
Foster Pup #32 - Tootsie Roll
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