Monday, May 16, 2011

Welcome to Confusion Land

P is in a tough place. This week marks the end of preschool. He'll be losing his familiar routine, along with familiar faces and places. No more Miss L or Miss J or Miss S. No more music time with the other Miss L, nor snack around the little table, nor Weather Wizard. No longer will he be able to time his day perfectly by the clock. No longer will he have the same set of friends he's known for a year, some longer.

My little boy will have a summer of fun with me and Ambrose, and then it's off to Kindergarten.

Oh, sure, he'll have fun in kindy. He'll make new friends, have a new routine, new teachers, new experiences, etc. And to top it off, he'll be in this school for the next SIX years. He'll double in age from entry to exit. Talk about stability!

Even so, it's a loss. Another hard, drawn out, sorrowful loss.

And he's feeling it.

And, even worse, he's showing it.

Anger, defiance, even some aggression, and of course a thick layer of five year old attitude.

We spoke a bit today about it, after he had a very, very rough day at school. He's honestly afraid that when he goes to kindy he'll no longer be a little boy and thus no longer be OUR little boy and either we'll die or he'll have to move out. I guess that's what changes mean to him, that EVERYTHING changes, that the parental figures leave you, that your life is in complete turmoil and there is no joy or hope.

Poor guy.

He seemed happier once we got to the root of the problem, but obviously that's not even close to the end of it. This will be drawn out over the next several months, until school starts again and he gets settled back in to his new routine.

He'll love kindergarten. He just doesn't believe me when I tell him that.


When talking to P, I brought up his adoption. I was talking about how confusing it is, to both lose a great thing and gain a great thing at the same time.

From an outside perspective Paxton did nothing but gain.

He was an orphan! Alone and scared in a crowded orphanage! Malnourished and barely able to walk! He was frightened, shy, and not doing well at all in his environment, and his prospective life looked bleak. Then, suddenly, he was adopted by a middle class American couple and voila, instant happy American kid! Right? Right?

Uh, no. No, no, no.

You see, even after P lost his first family and his home and his village and his native tongue, he still had more to lose. When we adopted him he lost a lot. He lost his whole country! His typical diet, the kids he recognized, the beds he slept in, the nanny that watched out for him! He lost the weather he was used to, the smells that were familiar, the sounds around him that he'd become accustomed to. He lost an entire life.

But, of course, in the flip side he gained a new life. A life with health care and proper nutrition, personal attention, personal possessions, parents to read him stories and kiss his owies and hug him tight, grand parents and uncles and aunts and cousins, a church, a house, a yard, a room of his own with a soft clean bed. And, honestly, he was happy about a lot of it even then and did truly thrive in it.

And thus we get to the confusing part.

He lost. He grieved. He gained. He rejoiced.

All at the same time. Not an even cut, "the loss ends here/the gain starts here" but a long, painful, not-completely-done-yet overlapping. The loss and gain are mixed in together, intertwined, competing. Strong emotions that don't cancel each other out.

And that's where he is again. The loss of preschool, and all that comes with it, and the gain of kindergarten. He's feeling it, the tide of emotions. The grief of loss, the joy of a new beginning. He's excited and mad and sad and happy and angry and frustrated and exuberant and cheerful, all within a couple minutes.

As the summer wears on the loss of preschool will, hopefully, wane a bit. He's older now, we can talk about loss, and he can compartmentalize enough to put it aside for a fun day at the farm.

We're in the thick of it now, though. And it's rough and I'm just hoping that he survives the week at school, and that everyone else survives him, because man he is hurting right now.


For my own part, I was trying to give P examples of the loss/gain dynamic.

I mean, an obvious one is moving to a new house, or even getting a new bed. But of course the first one I came up with was watching my boys grow up.

I told him how hard it is, how confusing it is, that I see my little boys growing. On the one hand, I so, so miss my little babies. My toddler Paxton napping heavily on my chest, fitting easily in my arms, learning new words and giving me his first truly happy laughs. My tiny Ambrose asleep and nursing beside me in the bed, laying limp as I change his teeny diapers and dress him, giving me his first real smile, peeping out from his Maya Wrap. And then there's my big boys, running and playing and talking and laughing and doing. And then there's the boys they're going to be, reading and writing and going to school and falling in love and learning to drive and leaving us. And on the one hand I'm so, so proud of how they're coming along, so proud of where they're going, but Oh God it hurts sometimes when I think about the the fact that I'll never be able to give Baby Paxton a kiss on his sleeping cheek ever again, or nestle Baby Ambrose in his Moby for a long walk in the park. I miss my babies so bad it hurts, so bad I'm tearing up, and yet I'm so joyful for them as they are now and so excited to see how they grow.

It's confusing in that it's both painful and joyous. And that confusion is just a part of human life. Hopefully, though, P's life will be spared too much more confusion.

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