I didn't know for a while what to write, because for many months, we saw progress, punctuated with long bouts of awfulness. But that seems to be fading. The progress keeps coming and the awful becomes less frequent, shorter, and less awful. My B is starting to be so much more like a kid who's always had a family.
He's not testing me nearly as much. I think he's realized that I will be stoic and consistent no matter what, and even though he still takes the odd poke at me just to see if he can break me, I've learned that completely unemotional reactions, and always offering him two choices works miracles. Like, I might say, "You can continue screaming, but you'll have to go outside, or you can cut it out now." And then I follow through. Every time. And so now he knows. We've been doing attachment counseling, and when asked what he loves most about me, his answer was that I always do what I say I'm going to. I can't ask for better feedback than that. Good or bad, he knows I'm at least predictable. Our counselor has told me that that is as valuable as the face-to-face play (for example, pretending with action figures, or puppets, or playing store -- not things like crafts or games where the focus is on the board as opposed to each other) in building attachment. Those are the keys, basically in attachment: intense one-to-one face time playing, or face-painting each other, or tracing each other's hands, or massaging each other's hands or feet -- basically touch and eye-contact. But being predictable also creates trust and a feeling of safety, which is good. I don't really feel like he's attaching super well, but it's coming.
He tests everyone else though, and that's a challenge, because I can't always be there. School, afterschool care, at Oma's... he doesn't consistently behave at any of them. I was called into the principal's office when I picked him up yesterday -- second day of school!!!
One thing I've found about B is that he really wants to know his back story. And I don't really have the answers. So I say to him, "Do you want me to make up a story?" And he says yes, so then I'll tell him a story. He knows they aren't real, but they are usually a fair bit more exciting than regular life. Last night, Jonah had homework to find out the story of how he got his name. And so I made up a story for B too. It involved a purse-snatching and heroic rescue. I don't know what the right thing to do about this is, but it's the best I can do.
Summer was good. We spent three weeks at my father's cottage on one of the islands of the St. Lawrence, and the boys played and swam, and fished, and tubed all day. It was awesome too, that they really didn't have anyone but each other to play with, so the bonding happened there. Before, Jonah flat-out told me that he wanted B gone. And he didn't want me to continue with Ethiopia either. That broke my heart a little. But now, even though they can be ugly when they fight, most of the time, they play so well together. I fought with my sister too. Like threw a bag of milk at her, and banged her head on the ground ugly fighting. But most of my memories of our childhood are things like building snow forts, and summer forts, and pretending, and that sort of thing. And I know she thinks the same.
Jonah is now in grade two. There were 31 kids enrolled in his class by the time he walked in there Tuesday morning, but after school, they reworked the classes and now there are, I think, 23. Thank goodness. Brand new teacher was looking mighty frazzled by the end of the first day. She looked significantly better when I picked him up yesterday.
So, Ethiopia. I put myself on hold, to let B settle, but only during some very ugly weeks did I think I'd have to walk away from it completely. Now, home life is pretty smooth, and I'm ready to go. I talked to Anne Scully at the department a couple of weeks ago, and found out that Alberta doesn't actually have a mandatory wait time. She also said that since Ethiopia takes forever to process paperwork, there's no point in pausing at all. As long as baby is more than a year different in age, I'm good to go. So I'm going. I'm picking up some remnants of paper work right away, and we're off. Hopefully, it'll be done by March, or I'll need another bleeding home study update. Grr. I should be somewhere near the top of the list anyway, so I guess we'll see.
I can highly recommend it!
9 months ago