Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Beauty in the Landry Room

I think that sometimes as adoptive parents, we are always looking for "that" big breakthrough moment with our kids.  They've been home over a year now and we start expecting more.  We've spent the last couple of weeks having some very tough days with a few of our kids.  The rule breaking, sloppy chores, and general blowing off what mom and dad said had worn thin.  Four kids got what their behavior said they wanted.  They got to blow off the rules and do what they wanted.  You want to wear that dirty shirt twice?  Ok.  I won't say a word.  You want to wear long sleeves on an 85 degree day?  Fine.  You don't want to come in to take a shower before bedtime?  Ok.  Going to school a little ripe will be your choice.  Our 8pm bedtime is too early?  Ok then.  You can set your own bedtime this week.

The additional catch was that their permission to blow off the rules for a week meant that so did the parents.  If children didn't want to do things our way, then it was kind of an all or nothing.  You don't get to pick and choose what you like us to do… SO  Clothes washing, dinner making, the constant reminding of snack prepping and handing out money for lunches was fun for us either and no one told us we had to do it.  So we didn't.  The kids choosing to blow off the rules all week got to do things their way.  They got to figure out how to make something to eat, what to do with dirty clothes, and had to pack lunches since its not fair to expect daddy to work and hand over money for hot lunches at school if you don't want to listen to what he says.

After a few days, three of them were practically begging for the rules back.  They realize really quickly that they had no idea how to cook, or even successfully operate the microwave because they have not wanted to listen or take initiative to learn.  Attitudes changes FAST for 3.

But one child… he just didn't seem to care.  It didn't seem to bother him.  His behavior at home did not improve.  He continued to blow off the rules.  He simply zoned out as soon as an adult started speaking.  We were really perplexed.  HOW do we make him understand WHY we set rules if he doesn't care?

Last night he ran out of clean clothes.  He was absolutely dumfounded.  This had never happened.  He didn't know what to do.  We asked him, "What will you wear tomorrow?"  He said, "I don't know."  We said, "What do you need to do with your clothes?"  "…I don't know?  wash them?"  We asked him HOW he would do that?  "I don't know how to wash them."  Exxxxactly.

So last night I explained to a little boy that I would tell him and show him one time how to wash his clothes in the washing machine, but it was his responsibility to listen carefully to me.  If he purposefully did the opposite of what I said, then he was washing those clothes outside in a bucket with soap and water because we paid a lot of money for the washer and the rules for using it must be followed.

I told him to sort the whites from the colors.  This is something he often just won't do.  I told him to load the colored clothes.  Shut the door.  Open the soap.  See those lines?  You need to fill it to the first one.  Pour it in that part.  Close that.  Click it once to the left.  Now push start.

I was annoyed the entire time.  His behavior the past week has really grated on me.  I have rules for a reason.  I want my kids to be safe.  I have expectations for a reason.  I want them to grow into responsible adults able to adequately care for themselves.  I like taking care of my children, but having my very simple rules constantly flubbed just because a child thinks they're stupid and unnecessary was getting on my last nerve.

After he pushed the start button on the washer, the clothes started sloshing around as the water came in.  He looked at me with a huge grin and said, "DANK YOU MOMMY for teaching me how wash my clothes!"  And he hugged me.  For the rest of the night he thanked me.  At bedtime he thanked me.

It struck me that maybe… just maybe he doesn't follow rules because no one ever showed him that he could?  No one ever taught him pride in doing something himself?  Maybe he never really experienced satisfaction from doing a job well.  Sure he's been scolded for not doing something, but had he ever really put effort into something that he desperately needed to do and found that he could do it?

After I told the kids goodnight (for the 100th time) I sat down and thought about it.  Maybe the beauty is in the little victories.  I wanted to teach him that snubbing his nose at my rules was actually hurting him because those rules are for his own good.  Maybe it actually worked?  Could it be that a defining parenting moment can happen in the middle of the laundry room when a little boy finally realizes that carefully listening to each word his mom says, and doing it exactly her way can actually result in a VERY GOOD THING happening for him?  I think so.  I think maybe all of us parents that are frustrated to our last nerve with "that child" can find beauty in wrangling that last ounce of patience we have left to calmly provide instructions one.more.time. and find wonder in the moment that it finally clicks.      


Nicole said...

Good for you ! You are great parents !

Blessed said...

May the learning and blessings continue to increase!

Blessings to you all this Sabbath morning.

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson