So far we have kept him close. At home. With us or his child minder, who he loves and who loves him. But he will need to start getting socialised a bit more. Says who exactly? Yeah, right. Well, I’m going by his interest in other kids, and increased ability to be play by himself/venture away from us. He has wanted us, mummy, daddy and child minder close for the past 2+ year. But he is getting ready for a wider world. Slowly.
Today I left him with the group, just for 20 mins. Totally planned.
As I did so I saw that look in his eyes. He didn’t say anything, but I recognise it.
‘Will you come back?’
Of course. It’s clear to all that I will. But not to him. It breaks my heart, that there is still this fundamental doubt that we, as a family, are forever. The fear of abandonment is still so close to the surface. To him settling in may even feel a lot like transition for placement, as the new carers take over more and more of the daily care for him.
When I came back after my short outing all had gone very well. Well of course it had. He was on best behaviour. Polite and protected by manners. But it took one minor incident, I forget what, and he was in tears. Minutes after I returned. Sobbing and smearing snot into my jumper. For a very long time. I let him cry it out in my arms. After which he was right as rain again. And then it happened again. And again after we left the group. Tears and snot, followed by smiles and engagement.
That said, part of me is relieved that he can show his sadness to readily. Better out than in, say I.
Once home we flopped on the sofa for some Cbeebies. This was all there was energy for. Sitting close with cups of tea and water. In near silence. We don’t really watch a lot of TV, but this was clearly what the doctor ordered.
All this I had expected. What I hadn’t was my own reaction. It has completely triggered my own sadness, most surprisingly from the time of transition. The sadness of taking him from this fostermum, the sadness of what had brought him to be adopted, that he was not with his birth family. And the sadness I felt on him over the weeks just after. At the time these feeling existed completely in unison with/parallel to my over-the-moon happiness with our beautiful boy. This time, however, there is more space for the sadness to surface.
Today, I talked to the carers as the kids were playing outside with another carer. Carers, who could not be more understanding and nurturing. I told them that I could see his anxiety, and that the fear of separation, in his case was more like fear of abandonment. Fundamentally separation means something else to him than to you and me. I now see that so clearly.
While explaining this to them, I found myself with a big lump in my throat and a big knot in my tummy. Some of this is Digger’s anxiety, and me feeling for him. But some of it is mine.
Obviously, I’ve got homework to do for this settling in. It is not just him who has to get ready. I need to work this one out. For myself. I have to learn to show him that I have trust in him, that I can take his outbursts, that I will still be there whenever he needs me. All the while looking closely at my own feelings in this. Letting go of him. But still keeping on eye out for him and his needs. It is a difficult balance to strike. Difficult to read correctly. But basically I need to park my own sadness somewhere. Once I’ve owed up to it. I know I’m not the first woman or man to feel like this when starting their child in nursery - add adoption and it all takes on another level of complexity.
I’m just one of the ones who did it today.