Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Mother-of-the-Year Award Awaits.

My little monkey.  He looks higher than he really
was...not that I need to explain or anything....

Let’s see.  I just got back from being gone from my three-year-old son for nine days.  I yelled at him this morning and confiscated his trains until this evening.  I thought I was being the cool mom when I let him climb a tree today, which he did better than the kids almost twice his age I might add….and then he fell out of said tree just seconds after snapping my awesome photo and sobbed for five minutes straight.  He asked “what the heck?!” to some kid at the park.  I’m pretty sure I checked my phone way too many times today, and I let him watch way too much TV this morning.  All in all, I’ve had one of those mother-of-the-year days.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse.  I mean, he’s alive, right?  He is happy, and he thought it was really funny when I sang him to sleep with “We are Siamese if you please….we are Siamese if you don’t please…ba dunt dunt dunt…”  In fact, he was almost out and he smiled and only half opened his eyes and said “Again.”  Of course, I obliged.  I think we ended the day on a high note.

But, high note or not, these are the things I think about when the social workers are interviewing us about our parenting styles and how we react to conflict and how we discipline.  I think about it every time we are in a required class that has to do with the best way to parent a child (which is what most of classes are about).  I think about what could happen if someone saw me in a moment of anger and reported me to child protective services, and even though I’ve never done anything close to something that would be considered abuse, I worry that because we have an open home study and are waiting to adopt again, that any little misinterpreted action could be a problem.  How deeply would they investigate?  Would they take my sweet boy first and ask questions later?  I know they would only do that in an effort to protect him, but the thought makes me sick to my stomach.  These are the things you think about when under scrutiny. 

I know I’ve talked a lot about how invasive the whole adoption process is, and I don’t say that to scare anyone off.  I know it is designed to protect these kids who have already been through so much.  Logically, I know that this kind of scenario probably would never happen, but, I would be lying if I said we don’t live a little bit in fear of the scrutiny.  We’ve all passed judgment on someone else’s parenting choice, knowing full well we have no idea of the back story or full circumstances.  Fortunately, there usually isn’t much fallout from that criticism.  But what if someone took it a step further and called the police on us?  I know of a few cases in which police were called because a stranger didn’t like the way a parent handled something, even though there was no abuse that happened.  When you have an open file with the county and are visited and interviewed about your choices, there is always fear that something will look like more than it is.  There is the tendency to sugarcoat a little bit to make sure nothing sounds even remotely suspicious.  However, we have also had it drilled into us that it is better to tell the truth than to be caught in a lie.  If you have ever caught a friend or family member in a lie, you know that everything they have ever told you or will ever tell you is now viewed with an element of mistrust.  We have made it a point to be very upfront and honest, even if it meant having to sacrifice some privacy and a little pride.  I’ve even considered whether or not I should openly blog about my parenting mishaps for fear that it could be used against me at some point.  But, I can’t live life in fear….well, not too much fear.  Maybe just enough to keep me on my toes, but hopefully not enough to paralyze me.

So, yes, I will continue to let my little wild child climb trees, and most likely I will raise my voice at him again, although I’m trying to be more patient.  The reason I was gone for nine days was to help with my father's lung cancer surgery, and frankly, although it was hard being away from D, I think it's important that he knows he isn't the center of the universe and that grandpa needed me more right now.  I would bet money on him getting his trains confiscated at least a few more times during his childhood.  He is a stubborn little sucker!  I am reminded frequently that it can be a good trait if we can ever channel it properly.  I will try to teach him to say more polite phrases than “What the heck?!”, but since I know he parrots me, that may be a harder fix.  We have to embrace the extra scrutiny, because until we are finished with our family, it is just something we have to live with, and I know it is meant to protect children.  And, perhaps in some ways, it has made me look at my parenting occasionally as a third party, which I’m convinced is not a bad thing.  I think it’s good to take an outside point of view sometimes to see more objectively what things I could be improving.  Besides, a full investigation would just prove that we are normal, and we have bad days and good days, and we know we aren’t perfect, and that we love him to the moon and back, and isn’t that what they want for these kids anyway?

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