Friday, March 04, 2011

Parenting A Bengali Babe & A Pune Princess

Today was our first post placement visit. This is when your social worker comes to your house and asks questions about how things are going. Is your child eating well; sleeping well; adjusting to her new life; getting acquainted with other family members, and generally how the attachment and bonding process is going. She also observes your interaction with your newest family member. Then the information is accumulated in a report which is sent back to India to let them know how your adoption in progressing.

Where was our child during almost all of our post placement visit? Well...she was....hiding under the coffee table - covering her face when anyone tried to engage her. I'm not certain how one could put a positive spin on that in a report, but in a months time I am beginning to figure out how to outsmart this little whipper snapper. What was the ace in this momma's back pocket? Homemade banana bread!

At precisely the right moment I brought out the wafting plate of several evenly spaced bites of sweet treat that instantly got our lethargic and lifeless jelly bean's attention. Funny how her personality can do this sort of one eighty from introvert to extrovert for sweets.

Once the aroma reached her nose, Treya toddled over and found her seat right next to the social worker and happily babbled away while we continued our interview. Just as we finished, Treya reached her arms up to me saying "up please" and promptly fell asleep in my arms, only waking long enough to say "bye bye" and to give the cutest half fingered wave as we shut the door.

While it may seem like I pulled that off like a breast plated wonder woman, I must admit that my parenting has left a lot to be desired this week. There have been lots of raised voices, not much patience, and although there have been some pleasant moments, the tension has been high. At one point Devi even asked me why I had lost my smile. Ouch! That one hurt.

Bath time makes us all go a bit looney

Perhaps it had something to do with our McDonald's outing. We had met a friend for a play date and lunch. At one point, the father of another child came to me and said that Devi had stated that she did not want to play with his daughter and told her to get away from her. Okay, that is a pretty serious situation, so I made Devi apologize to the little girl and I thanked the father for bringing it to my attention. Not more than 3 minutes later, I overheard her saying the same sort of thing to another little girl. For that, she stood in the thinking spot and again had to apologize. Later, I heard her calling another little boy "poopy head" (not a positive comment). Our play date was instantly over, we gathered our things and had to leave!

Even though I know why she is having some behavioral issues right now, I was so disappointed in her. This was just the last straw. She has been repeatedly bopping her sister on the head with toys and dragging her across the floor by one arm, even after our disciplinary actions. On the short drive home I must admit that the words military school, grounded for life and yes, even the threat of no visit from Santa Claus came out of my mouth...most likely all in one run on sentence.

Budding artists....I hope!

The finished product in window frames that stay closed
with a magnet so changing artwork can be done without ever taking the frames down.
Simply open, change are, and swing closed. Genius!

Treya's issues are all about yelling "NEIN" at me (No in Marathi) when she does not want to do what I am asking of her, which lead to a topple off our kitchen bench, putting her tooth through her lower lip. Although Devi was fascinated by the sight of blood and we did learn that with Treya's hand and foot issues she lacks that instinctual reflex to catch one's self during a fall, the whole situation could of been avoided by following the rules or use of her listening ears after one of many times I removed her from the bench, rather than yelling NEIN at me. If I ask her to eat the last bite of something on her plate before getting another helping of the thing she prefers, she will put that bite into her mouth and when I begin to spoon seconds (or in her case 3rds or 4ths), she will sneakily spit that last bite onto the floor, trying to hide it from my view. When I remove her from the table, naturally she cries. She gets mad because she got busted, but will still come stand beside me and point to the tears as they run down her cheeks, in case I missed noticing. I tell her to come say she is sorry to momma for spitting food on the floor, and the command she instantly stops crying, the tears immediately dry and she says sorry (always while covering her ears and doing the Indian head swagger...I don't know what that is all about). She also has taken off her pjs and diaper in the middle of the night and then pee peed all over her mattress. Once cold, she cried out, which blared like a fire alarm over the monitor and I came running. Arriving bedside with sleepy blurred vision, I made out pieces and parts strewn about and then searching out a dry spot, I found her naked and shivering body all balled up in the corner of the crib. It was quite a sight. A piece of work, that girl.

Replaying these events of the week over and over in my head, it dawned on me that in our efforts to become unified as a family, we also have to keep our own identities too. Since arriving home, Treya and Devi eat together, play together, bathe together, sleep together and sometimes gulp...yes, even wear matching clothes. Everything is totally controlled and done together. With this revelation I decided to conduct an experiment.

That night each took a bath by themselves while the other had alone time with daddy. Each parent took one child to a separate room to read a bedtime story of their choice. The tension was gone, each girl appeased with a little time to themselves and some one on one time with each of us. They played together happily and yelled out extra "I Love Yous" as we left their room. After lights out, we could hear Devi teaching Treya the alphabet over the monitor. Devi would instruct her to say the next letter and Treya would utter basically the same sound for every letter, but Devi would over-the-top praise her for her efforts. It was darling. How easy was that?

Just when you are ready to throw in the towel, when you can think of no positive reinforcement to offer these children and their behavior anymore, Devi came home with a letter from her dance teacher. All I could think was count to ten...possibly 30, because Pat and I are going to have to come up with another consequence for another misguided choice. To my surprise the loopy pink ink handwritten letter was a glowing report about how hard Devi is working in dance class. She has been encouraging to others and is doing great! Hallelujah! Plodding along, this ends another week of parenting our Bengali babe and Pune princess.


The Labontes said...

I feel a bit guilty for taking some pleasure in reading about someone else's raised voice, and run-on sentence with idle threats that we are later ashamed of :) My worst one, was on a Sunday morning, where I just could not get everyone ready, and out the door. Finally dropped everything, and said, "fine, we won't go to church and we'll all end up in . . . " Not my best moment :)


Traci said...

I too find great comfort in your candid blog. I love how you share the whole story. You're doing a fabulous job with some very cool little people. Won't it be fun to see what God has planned for those unique personalities! As my social worker told me about Selah - that spunky personality won't be easy to parent, but it will be of great benefit to her! I think it made me feel better. :) Thanks so much for taking the time to write. - Traci G.

India Trip said...

I'm so glad that I'm not alone. Last year we brought our daughter home from India I thought I knew all about parenting (I have a nine year old son and our Indian princess is three). Boy was I wrong. There were so many times I called my hubby at work out of guilt because of raising my voice. He just laughed. She also has a very strong will, but it has been so much better the last coupe months. When I ask her to do something she doesn't yell NO anymore. Baby steps!

Kristy Hall said...

Oh no! I may be in trouble. Getting ready to travel to pick up our little guy in Kerala and I raise my voice more than I'd like now with just one... HA! Glad to hear that things are moving along in your household. Sounds challenging and wonderful all at the same time.

Our Family of 5 said...

Glad that I am not the only one in the raise voice boat. I hate gettin in it,and as soon as I do I just ask for forgiveness,breathe and tell the kids why I raised my voice,maybe because I had to tell them something more then 3 times!!:( Tell them I am sorry and try to do better but also remind them of their listening skills and attitude. Then sometimes we sit down and we read in the bible a lesson. It teaches them that we all make mistakes and when we do we get back up and go again. Way to go Julie as you get back up everyday and go again.:) Hang in there,it's just a testing phase,I get them now and then. The girls look so cute and the artwork is quite a display. Good idea for a rainy day inside!!We are gonna tackle taking 3 kids spring shopping this evening.:) Now this is really tackling right? LOL


Leveta said...

Loved the framed pictures of the hands and other artwork.Good idea on the way to hang it too.The picture of the girls in the basket is so sweet.I think you are doing a great job with the girls. SOunds like you and hubby make a great team.I think Treya is doing super especially with all the changes that have happened in her life in such a short time.

Peter and Nancy said...

Sometimes separating our kids helps too -- it gives them time apart (even if it's not for 1-on-1 time, since we're outnumbered!), and they appreciate having their playmate back afterward.

Last weekend was one of those weekends for me -- I felt like I was being a horrible mother. Each day is a new day, and a chance for a fresh start (thank God. literally). I love it when moms share the whole story, because we ALL have those moments (and hours and days). Thanks, Julie!


Emily said...

Julie, I feel for you, and am so glad you share the difficulties as well as the joys! You and Pat are so creative with the ways you approach "undesirable" behaviors, giving each girl their own bath and story time, and the homemade banana bread, I'm remembering that one! Emily

Anonymous said...

YIKES! I would crack in two if someone was yelling "nein" at me over and over. Great solution to split the girls time a little. No matter how much Devi wanted a little sister - Treya is still a little sister! Reality and all.

Love you.

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