Friday, 28 October 2016

When the ice-cream licks you back...

I don't fancy Pain Au Chocolate as a breakfast treat, but the boys love them so from time to time I do make them. Yesterday Goofs (6) noticed my dislike for the first time in 6 months and he turned to me with his kindest smile and used his best mummy imitation voice 'Just try it, you might like it!' :) I was speechless and all I could think of was 'well played, son!'. So obediently - and also to show a good example - I ate my pastry and I even managed to muster up a smile. His pleased expression was probably a perfect copy of my pleased expression when I can get him to try something. Again, I have only myself to blame if blame needs to be assigned to somebody at all. His logic is sound!

I shared this snippet on Twitter and soon fellow adopters shared similar funny stories. One person added 'we don't even say that!', which got me thinking. We often talk about the invisible backpack our adopted/fostered children come with, but until now I somehow didn't consider the different parenting styles these little ones had to get familiar with in each placement. I always focused on the loss and trauma, the neglect and abuse or the rootlessness and always having to start everything from scratch. I didn't think much about the positives each placement (with the new carers, extended family, school, Social Workers or friends) adds to their overwhelmingly sad stories. And just like each and every one of us have different parenting styles I often wonder how incredibly confused these children are having been experienced various house rules, boundaries, sense of humour, levels of expected independence or responsibilities...

I love it when our boys, as a way of introducing themselves, say 'we can't sit next to each other because we mess around too much'. Or when they sat in our car for the very first time during introductions and as soon as they heard the satnav's female voice say 'turn right' they stopped fighting and almost simultaneously told me 'everybody must stay quiet now so the driver can hear the directions'. We couldn't contain our giggles and say our quiet thanks to whoever insisted on this rule.

We were open to talk to the boys about previous placements, Foster Carers, even birth family if they brought it up so it was natural to hear about some of the rules they had to get used to. We only met their last FC and the more time we spent with her the more we realised how much of her tone, sayings and mannerisms are reflected in the boys' words and behaviour. We know quite a lot about their previous FCs because they enjoy sharing stories. It amazes me so much how resilient they are and consciously or subconsciously, but they choose to remember the good bits! They even remember their house rules as positives!

The age old question of nature vs nurture comes to mind and I can't help noticing that our boys pick up more and more of 'us and our ways' each day. They are quick to point out if we do/expect something differently than their previous imprints, but eventually they agree to do it our way, which I usually take as a good sign of them wanting to attach and be integrated to our family. We always try to listen to their previous experiences first and if reasonable, we make adjustments to our expectations and house rules; partly because we are humble enough to admit if somebody knows better (not to mention FCs usually have more experience than us, beginner parents) and partly because we do not want to confuse them any further. If it's not fundamentally necessary to change it, we accept the boys' imprinted nurture as their new default nature and work around it...

All hail Fusion Parenting!

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