Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Child D. :: 3yrs old

Dear Child D .,
I was recently thinking of the night you arrived. You reached for me in the cool night air and said: "mommy!". I was surprised, but added you to the hip that wasn't carrying your baby sister. We soon learned that "mommy" was a fifth of your vocabulary.

And now 6 months later, and a tiger cake for your birthday and it's hard to believe you're that little girl! You've grown so much and your vocabulary is impressive, considering. You're telling everyone about your tiger cake, how you ate the nose of the tiger, and how Daddy tricked you when he traded plates while you were looking away.

You're not always clear in your talking and attempt to convey your needs/wants/ideas/opinions with just one word whenever possible. Sometimes you're frustrated and I'm frustrated because I will give you the world if that will help, but I don't know what you want. So you are frustrated and repeating the same noise, and I'm frustrated and offering a million different choices - all responded with a aggravated "no!". But every day there are new words your saying and more words strung together consistently.

You have one of the best giggles - you and Noah - I just can't resist laughing along with you. And I'm not laughing at what you're laughing about, I'm just laughing because your giggle is so infectious - but my laughing encourages your giggling ... and round and round and round we go.

And this is all about empathy. I'm not conscious of this in the day-to-day, but if there's one thing I want you to grasp, it's empathy. And the shared giggling, the taking turns, the expressing your needs is all building that. When you first came to us, you were reserved and somewhat numb seeming. You were self-sufficient in handling your emotions ... but I'm not sure you were actually feeling anything. The feeling part of your body was turned off, while you put your effort into surviving. This meant in the day-to-day that you did what you wanted when you wanted without grasping that whatever that was was not appropriate. At first these routines, limits, and explanations were confusing. Now you listen brave-faced to the gentlest of remonstration and then your little face squeezes into itself and you let out a moan saying: "hug!" and that's that. You get it - a hug, and the reminder that x, y, or z are not okay. This often comes from your fierce (and well earned) independence. It's hard to learn that eating happens at the table and food is put away when you're done when it hasn't ever been this way before. It's hard to learn that when it's bedtime, it's bedtime (although you've recently very very cutely started saying "in a minute" when we call you away from whatever you're doing). And putting a tissue in the fire is a grownup job. Making a meal is a grownup job. And every time someone goes for a car ride, doesn't mean you also are going for a car ride. It's hard to trust that sharing toys is better than grabbing what you want, using words is more productive than pushing and shoving, and a fork will result in a more pleasant meal - particularly when said meal includes something gooey or liquid-based.

It's been 6mos and while you're still about a year behind on almost every measure, it's hard for us to believe. You've come so so far. Your cheeks have filled out, your play has become more shared, your compassion more present.

You love going to see your Dad and Mom at visits once a week. You are very excited to play with the toys there and to see the person who supervises the visits. But lately you've also missed this Mommy while we're separated. Two hours can feel like a long time to be away from this family. But a whole week is a long time to be away from your original family. It's sad to know through all this - you are the person who is hurt the most - and you're a kid! You lose your original family and then you potentially lose your new family at some future date - or lose your original family somewhat more permanently in that the hope of returning to them full time is gone.

No matter who you are, where you go, or what you do, we'll always love you,


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