Sunday, September 7, 2008

Complete and Utter JOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel overwhelmingly blessed lately and just have to share. Don't read on if you don't like shameless mommy gushing...

For years I have sweated over 'LilDude's entrance into the big world. He started with so many things against him...leaving his birth mother, his birth family, his home, his culture, his country, familiar tastes, smells, textures, sounds. These things had a devastating effect on him. He suffered from excruciating night and nap terrors. He got angry at the drop of a hat. In public he melted down with anxiety over strange people and places and things. No "normal" discipline worked with him. The slightest change or perceived threat could cause unmitigated responses ranging from sleeplessness to rage to sadness to fear. I never knew what was coming next. Well, in the beginning I didn't. As time went on I just knew that his responses were consistently unpredictable and over-the-top.

So we worked at healing. We worked and worked and worked. We reached a good place...a really good place. But even in this really good place were questions. How will he do in the "real world?" Will he be able to transition from us (now perceived by him as a place of safety/security) to places away from us?

Last year we decided to send him to preschool. He was doing very well at home and we felt it was time for him to take baby steps toward learning that other people, places, and events could be safe even though they weren't in our home or part of our daily family life.

He worked very hard. At the beginning of the year he stuck to one friend, a neighbor he knew and loved before the year began. But as the year went on, he started feeling courageous enough to branch out. He made new friends. Yet at the parent-teacher conferences in the spring, his teacher said that although he'd made huge strides--was great with other kids, showed intellect, etc.--that he had not yet let his guard down with her. He was not yet completely relaxed and joyful. She suggested that separating from me and starting kindergarten would be too much; that I should go with him for awhile as he adjusted to the kindergarten setting.

In the last month of preschool, however, something changed. My ds suddenly became exuberant, dashing about on the playground, playing without the reserve he'd shown in the past. Something changed. His teacher noticed it and mentioned what a difference he showed in that last month. She guessed that kindergarten wouldn't be as difficult a transition as we had discussed.

But I still worried. After living with a traumatized child, some of the trauma can tend to rub off on the parent. I worried that he would be over-the-top anxious. I didn't really think it would happen, but I worried about it anyway. After all, when you've seen something happen day in and day out, over and over and over, you get to thinking that this is the way life is.

The day or so before school began, I saw some anxiety. But I didn't think it seemed any different from the anxiety I knew his kindergarten friends were experiencing. When we met the teacher I noticed when he didn't look in her eyes. I worried. But after the visit he seemed fine. Apprehensive, maybe. But excited as well. On the first day (with just half the class) he never got anxious enough to need more than a smile from me. His teacher sent me a note that said it appeared that he may be a leader in the class. There were several times when others gathered around him to look at a book or work on a project. On the second day (and the first with his whole class--including 2 children with some pretty severe behavioral issues!) he participated in everything without hesitation. When it came time to get on the bus (which was previously a big source of discussion and anxiety), he got in line with the other kids, grinned HUGELY and talked to his two pals in line about who was going to get to sit next to whom. I met him at our mailbox (I had to drive home to meet the bus) where he got off with a hop and a skip and a happy hello.

Several years ago I couldn't have imagined a day like we had today. After a week of complete change, his world used to be so rocked that he couldn't function without meltdowns. This weekend has been one of utter joy. He bounces about the house. This morning in church he sang the loudest (and cutest, I must say) that I've ever heard him sing...complete confidence. Today he played and acted...HAPPY!!!!!

I'm rejoicing, rejoicing, rejoicing that he has come so far in such a short time. I wish such joy for so many other kiddos that we know. Hugs to all of you who are working toward your own days of rejoicing.


Ansley said...

Yay! I'm proud from afar!

jennifer said...

There's nothing like being on this side of a very long scary journey. Rejoicing with you. Carry on!

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