So Hanna and I were fighting about shoes. She insisted that the shoes she was wearing were Sveta's and that Sveta had on hers.
She was wearing the right shoes.
This went on and off for an hour. I made both girls take off their shoes and I double checked the sizes. Hanna wears a 4 and Sveta wears a 3. I showed her the numbers. I made her try on the size 3. She practically had to fold her foot in half to get it into the shoe. In reality, she needs a bigger shoe than a 4, but I haven't had the heart to take the "High School Musical" shoes away yet.
Even after all of that, and in spite of the overwhelming truth, she still insisted that the 3's were hers.
I decided to take a stand on this arguement and I insisted that she stop saying they were her shoes. I explained to her that I don't want her to wear shoes that would harm her feet, and more importantly, I love her too much to allow her to be disrespectful to me. I made her appologize.
It sounds harsh, why didn't I let it go?
Because it is not about the shoes. It is about Hanna adjusting into the family. It is about her making the transition from tollerating me as a loving caregiver to accepting me as her mother.
We were at a baseball game. She put her head down on a picnic table and cried. Then she sobbed. Then she nearly hyperventilated. I sat next to her and rubbed her back. After 10 minutes, I lifted her head off the table and held her. She didn't hold on to me, she leaned her face into my chest and sobbed and sobbed. She leaned and I held and rocked her. I kissed her head and and whispered that I loved her.
This went on for at least 40 minutes. She quieted down and continued to be supported by me. Then she began to watch the game. She laughed at Andy's outfielding and kissed me.
Her red eyes and tearstained face had a new look of relief.
We have turned a corner.
When we adopted these older children, we committed to being their parents. Our job is to love them and guide them and nurture them, always knowing that our commitment could never be dependant upon their reciprocity.
I wasn't asking Hanna to admit she was wrong and say I was right. I was really asking her to accept me as her mother and submit to my authority. Until she can do that, even though to me she will always be my daughter, to her I won't be her mom.
She didn't cry about the shoes. She cried because she was scared. Scared of what it would mean if she handed that control over to me. If she trusted me to take care of her. She cried because she could see the relief letting me do that would bring her. She cried because she already lost the person who was supposed to do that and the person upon whom that duty was then thrust, gave that duty up. Now she is in a new country where everything is upside down and difficult to understand, and she wants someone to take care of her, but will it last? She cried and cried and cried. And I held her. And it didn't feel so bad to her. And I didn't go away. And I didn't back down from fighting to hold her accountable and I still loved her. And she began to let go of the fear and the control.
She is mulling over the idea of not wearing the boss shoes and letting me do it. She is getting used to the feel of freedom that a child who is not in charge has, and she likes it.
She has her eye on a new pair of shoes.