Wednesday, July 13, 2016

what it's like


Well, I seem to be calming down somewhat -- I'm back on the beta blockers daily and that seems to be helping with the random racing heart thingy. I'm still taking anti-anxiety meds, but only half every four hours and last night I didn't feel the need to take any because I did a nice, long workout and felt like nothing could bother me afterwards. In any event, taking care of my physical and mental state is helping me process the things that are troubling me.

Last night was the girl's turn to sleep in my room. She came in, with great ceremony said, "I'm not sleeping here", took her comic book, and left. We've had a weird few days since we fought on the weekend, so it's probably taking both of us time to want to be around each other again. Fair enough. This too, shall pass.

I am trying to connect with her when I can though and it's hit or miss. Yesterday, I made her breakfast and she accepted it, but this morning, I made a breakfast parfait for her; she took one look at it and said, "I don't want that." Instead, she prepared a bowl of cereal for herself, but claimed a stomach ache and left half of it in the sink and ran out the door, lying about having taken her medication. I did what I've seen many a Japanese mom do: be a martyr and eat the food left by the kid. To be honest, it wasn't that hard, because I tend not to eat enough for breakfast anyway, so I probably won't need to resort to snacks mid-morning. Silver linings.

I had a great chat with another foreign foster mom yesterday and connecting with her helped put many things in perspective. One thing is that our foster/adoptive family group here in Niigata really does try to help each other by bringing parents together to talk and share their stories. My new friend does not seem to have such a group nearby. Another thing is that many issues that plague us plague all parents, but we understand that the backgrounds of our children preclude traditional parenting methods -- while many of our friends and family members often try to offer "helpful" advice, they really don't know what the kids have been through and why they resist authority or traditional parenting. In addition, we confirmed the great ignorance surrounding fostering and adoption in Japan and that there really need to be more resources out there for Japanese foster parents, who, not knowing how to treat their foster kids, often end up sending them back to institutions or the welfare office. Finally, I realized how much I (and she) needed to talk to someone who understands about our situation -- especially when we are both limited in our Japanese ability and, of course, foreign. Networks are so important!

One realization that I've come to is that it's hard for me to be so disliked by the child. I went through a bad time of that at her age, and it's like reliving my own bad feelings. I have to tell myself, "You don't have to like me (although it would be nice); I don't have to be your friend." I'm the parent. And, as my friend Shawn reminds me, no matter what I do or don't do, she has to go through her adjustment period and that has nothing to do with me.

And it is getting better. She doesn't blow up so much; she gets up and dressed in the morning on her own speed, she is starting to remember house rules, and she closes the door in rooms where the air conditioning is on (like this morning). So even if she seems surly and negative, she's behaving better than before. Surly and negative. Typical adolescence, me thinks.


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