I have a confession to make. I thought I would be an awesome mum. I thought that I would be able to do this really well.
And another. When we made the decision to adopt, I thought I would be a really good adoptive parent.
As a teacher, I have always collected the children who couldn’t manage. I have been given classes that come with health warnings and I have always been able to make a connection with these children. By the end of the year, they trust me. They know that I am on their side and I can trust them to respond to me.
I’m a useless ‘actual teacher’. I don’t care if children spell words wrong or they don’t do their homework or they can’t retain facts about fractions.
But by the end of the year children leave my class more confident and feel good. And that’s all I want.
So, It’s come as a bit of a shock to find that I’m not actually doing very well at this. I cannot get a connection with one of my children. I cannot seem to build a relationship with her at all. After living with her for 18 months, I couldn’t tell you what makes her happy, what makes her sad or worried or scared. I can guess and sometimes I guess right but I could never put my hand on my heart and say it for definite.
Usually my way forward in this situation is play and humour. But Big can’t do this. She cannot open herself up to play. She cannot read faces so she can’t tell when people are making jokes. She doesn’t make eye contact so she misses wee smiles and kind, querying looks. She doesn’t trust me so she cannot relax enough with me to let this happen.
She appears to. She lets herself be tickled and she laughs in what she thinks is the right place but if you look closely it never reaches her eyes and she’s always holding herself a bit too tight.
She appears to enjoy riding her bike or swimming or playing in the park but again if you look closely you can see that she’s tense.
All those expectations of what this was going to be like have fallen so far from the mark. And I know it’s my job to accept this and move forward. But I’m not really sure how. Everyday I’m so disappointed in myself for not doing better. How to marry up the expectations with reality? I nearly wrote, ‘how to admit you’re not doing a very good job’ but then I thought that I have said this. I’ve said it to lots of people but I’m not sure people really want to hear it.
So, accepting and moving on. Answers on a postcard please.
The best bits
Little and I went swimming today. We’ve not been just the two of us for a while and I realised I’d really missed it. She spent the whole time holding me, pouring water on my arms to ‘make it better’ and telling me she loved me. It was lovely.
We went for a walk on Saturday to some ‘new woods’ (always tricky) and we discovered a quarry. It was a bit misty, there was a big pool of water and a big picnic table. Both of them stopped still for a moment then Big said, “Woah, it’s for giants!”