An awesome adopter friend wrote this beautiful and insightful post this week, about why our kids find it hard to relax and feel safe. No matter how often we reassure them and verbalise this in their early days (and years), there will likely be anxiety around loss for years to come.
I read her post whilst I was sitting on the landing outside Little Legs’ bedroom door for the second night in a row, as we try to pull back on bedtime shenanigans, after weeks of her struggling to let go and just sleep.
That bedtime was over two hours of battles, with Little Legs screaming and shouting and getting out of bed and needing calm and constant reassurance that all is well. That she is fine to let Mummy and Daddy be in charge. That she can go to sleep now. That she cannot call the shots about when her sisters come to bed. Or about what lights need to be on or not.
I engaged Super Therapeutic Mummy for the whole time (boom!), but was so tired afterwards and had the weirdest dreams that night!
We’ve been chatting lots of late about some changes that are happening for our family in the coming months. Part of that conversation has been around the possibility of moving house. An adventure which may or may not happen.
Little Legs’ most significant concern was about where she will live when we move.
Our five year old’s first thought is that we’re not taking her with us.
Please just sit with that revelation for a minute.
Little Legs has been home for almost two years now. And still, on some level, she doesn’t believe that she belongs here. She doesn’t understand that she is, and always will be, a Six.
I am so very thankful that we have chosen not to send her to school for lengthy swathes of time every day. That we have so much time to invest in supporting her developing attachment to us. And that we have every day to build our family relationships as a Six, without vast amounts of time apart. At this point in time it feels so very important for our girls.
Our Little Legs is doing so incredibly well and is coping with most things that we throw at her.
But she is not ‘There’.
Wherever ‘There’ is anyway.
She may look ‘fine’ to other folk. She may appear to be coping and not obviously struggling. She follows social cues meticulously on the whole and is a very astute people person!
But please trust us when we say that she isn’t always coping. That we know her cues and her tics and her behaviours and expressions when she is not really coping or finding things easy.
Please trust us when we say that she has spent the rest of the week coming down from that one hour event that she apparently had a ball at.
Please trust us when we leave places early, or pull out of events, or turn down invites or play dates because we know things are going awry.
Please believe us when we say that we will have to give something amiss because of plans being changed at the last minute. Or when unfamiliar people are added to an event we have been invited to.
You may see a happy, sociable little girl.
We see the tornado appearing on the horizon. The tornado that may boil over into a meltdown. Which is different than a tantrum.
Those two hour plus bedtimes where she works herself into a lather and then falls asleep in a tearful, exhausted mess become the norm for a while, as her amygdala stages a coup and she is unable to be in charge of her developing but delayed emotions.
I will bang on about the need to bear with us when we appear to react in an over the top manner to something others may simply take in their stride. Because we are getting to know our little girl inside out.
And we really need her to know that she can trust us to keep her safe.
For as long as it takes.
No matter what.