Wednesday, January 6, 2010


As the new parent of older children, sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what the "sticking point" is for each child's transition.  There is always a presence, a hurdle, that seems difficult if not impossible to surmount.

It's not uncommon for Biruk to be receiving a lecture for not listening or more importantly, absorbing the content of any such lecture, and subsequently, he is destined to hear it again.  This is an actual converasation between the two of us:
B- "Why are you always saying that to me.  All the time you're saying the same thing."
Me- "I am always saying this same thing to you.  Why do you think that is?"
B- "I don't know."
Me-"Well, until you figure it out, I promise you're going to hear it again."
He just shakes his head and walks away.

This is all the time.  I feel many times like I am loosing my mind.  I know I have given directives, or made corrections, but It's like I'm living in the movie Ground Hog Day.  I'm constantly telling my husband "every day is a new day".  I't is tiring. 

Well, I think I've pinpointed the problem.  Biruk has an incredible coping mechanism.  If something is unpleasant (horrible in the past), he simply blanks out and takes it until it's over.  That is why he says things like "your life is your life, you just live it".  He couldn't do anything about the circumstance, so he just closed his mind and endured. 
Things are much better for him now, but this pattern of behavior is not.  Mom's fussing, just sit silently until she's done talking and move on.  Dad's unhappy, just clam up until it's over.  The problem is, he's not in a dire situation anymore, but his reactions are the same.  His default setting is "closed".  Nothing gets in.  He doesn't even realize that he's not listening, and it's not just with us.  Anything that isn't what he wants to hear, he just closes up.  We have class on Tuesdays.  He is absorbing the learning, but if the tutor gives an assignment, he has no idea.  He is in Civil Air Patrol.  He enjoys it alot and he attends by himself.  This week, Scott went with him.  The captain asked Scott why Biruk keeps coming in dressed inappropriately- wrong pants and his shirt untucked.  We know that they made him tuck in his shirt the first time, but he insists that no one has said a thing to him about dress code since then, or what to study for the next meeting, or who he reports to, or if he is responsible to call, etc.
The problem is, he doesn't have any ownership of his actions.  If he is supposed to do something, someone will forcibly make him do it.  If not, it must not be important therefore it never even registers.  I can see how this played out in his old life when most things were beyond his control.  This new life is nothing like that.  He must learn to open up to what is happening around him.  He doesn't grasp that he has a future and that he can affect it.  That is really the crux here. 


HE CAN SET AND ACHIEVE GOALS   rather than just exist. 

He hasn't quite grasped it yet.  It is frustrating for him and us, but we are all getting through it.


Laci said...

We go through the same thing every day, all day with our son who was adopted as an older child. If you figure out something that helps things register with him, I'd LOVE to hear about it!

Matthew and Amanda said...

GREAT point. Our kids have a future - a future they will control with their own choices and actions. If you figure out how to show Biruk that, come on over and teach it to Samry!!

traci said...

For me, it helped to realize what was happening. For Biruk it does help that Biruk is 13 and does have some deductive reasoning. The best thing that has happened is that he has joined Civil Air Patrol because he has an interest in the Air Force. I have been helping him study and his handbook starts explaining that in order for him to be successful in CAP, he needs to first be a good FOLLOWER. There was a 5 paragraph section on LISTENING. I was laughing so hard because it was almost word for word things I had been lecturing about. He was laughing too and asked if I had written the book. So it helps that he is old enough to recognize in other areas of his life that these principals overlap. I could point out how he was being disrespectful to his squadron by ignoring the "tuck in shirt" rule and not being a good follower. It applied to him outside of our home and the same things that I say were being said by someone else- in a book!