Strong Sitting and Other Stuff

In answer to yesterday’s questions:

  • Strong sitting is a technique to help children switch which part of the brain they are using. They sit still, with their backs straight, and their arms relaxed. Most people I have heard of strong sit on a mat. The goal is one minute per year of age and three times a day. The child sits quietly and you can suggest what they should think about or just let them get in touch with their feelings. I use chairs because you can carry it over to public places and use it when they need to take it down a notch or when you just need two minutes of uninterrupted time (such as registering kids for school). We practice several times a day, when we don’t go out, so that they don’t have to think about what to do when I need them to do it.
  • Eye contact is a very important piece of the attachment process. Hope has it with the Dad, but would strongly prefer he was the only parent. The only way I get eye contact is with sweets. The idea is that with enough practice, she will pair the good feelings of the sweets with my eyes. 
  • At this point, I am the only one providing meals and treats. We have not gotten to the point Hope tolerates me. It will be interesting to see how long it takes.
  • Hope fell and skinned both knees yesterday.There was enough blood, it needed a bandage. Not a tear or scream. She laughed! I washed it off, which made her mad and got the response “Don’t touch me”. I told this was a mommy job, dried it off and put an impressively large band aid on it.
  • MK flipped yesterday. As a result, both girls were off all after noon. More on the other blog.

First Solo

The girls and I have spent our first solo morning together. The Dad was here when Hope woke up, stayed long enough to cuddle her and was gone by 7:20. The girls and I got washed (2 dry pull-ups!), dressed, brushed our teeth, and took our medicine. Hope was not happy that all of that had to be done before we went downstairs for breakfast, but she complied. As it is Monday, they had their choice of frozen waffles or cereal. Hope told me she wanted Daddy’s pancakes (Saturday’s breakfast) and when I pointed out that Daddy had already left, Hope told me I was mean and ugly. I fed GB and when Hope asked for hers, I brought it for her and told her that the words she used were unkind and that is not how we talk here.  (And since MK has stayed away, she believed me) She said her sorry; not very convincing, but I let it go.

After breakfast, we went to their school to register Hope. Both girls were on best behavior and were thrilled to meet their principal. They had an opportunity to practice strong sitting (we do it in chairs) and both made the two minutes we had to wait.

It went so well, I decided to tackle food shopping. They both needed multiple reminders of the rules, but I never hit “3” (as in  1, 2, 3), so we didn’t have to leave. We needed everything since we have been away so much and it took almost an hour, but they made it. When we got home, GB put on Kidz Bop 18 and the girls helped me empty the groceries and put away the low stuff. We had watermelon for a snack, which Hope loved. They then built a fort out of our ghetto blocks, which are just empty boxes sealed with packing tape. We ended our morning with chocolate attachment work. One at a time, we broke a small Hershey’s bar in half and looked into each others eyes while we ate it. GB was happy to demonstrate and Hope was happy to have a turn.

Last night, Hope had her first rage and the Dad was the lucky recipient of it. It lasted over 30 minutes, complete with screaming, kicking, biting, scratching, and hitting. I took GB upstairs and had her read to me. That put us at the opposite end of the house and we really didn’t hear much. I don’t think Hope is comfortable enough with me to let it out and I won’t mind if I don’t get my own rage for at least a little while.

The First Two Days

  • Hope immediately took to her new Daddy. She wants him constantly and only feels safe when she is within touching distance of him.
  • Hope’s instinctive response to a perceived threat is to hit, bite or scratch. It took GB about 48 hours to decide the best defense is an offense. She has now taken to scaring Hope with verbal stories (there is a wolf in the back yard) to keep Hope away from her. Whispering is no longer allowed and now both of them have to be in direct site at all times.
  • I am still the mean, ugly mommy. There have been a couple of times where she has come near me and even let me hug her, but only when she is not angry or afraid.
  • I did my first official attachment activity today- I fed her little pieces of birthday cake while maintaining eye contact. GB’s/Hope’s Dad has done a lot more with her, but it much easier to work on attachment with a little girl who sweetly calls you Daddy and bats her eyes at you.
  • The Dad and I have spoken about the need for consistent responses to both girls and are working on unified expectations.
  • So far we have managed to not be triangulated. I know it is just a matter of time before we slip.
  • The Dad goes back to work tomorrow. It will just be the three of us and the real work will begin. I have 9 days before school starts and an awful lot on my list.
  • I am really glad I am not a single parent. I don’t know how they do it.

Hope Faith Is Ours!

At three minutes after 8 am this morning, Hope Faith became legally our forever child. We celebrated by going back to the hotel and swimming. Hope had several bouts of “I don’t want to be adopted”, intermixed with “I want to go home” and one ” I hate you! You are an ugly Mommy”. She really likes the water and even let me catch a couple of quick cuddles while we were “swimming”.  When we came back, Hope put on panties and informed me she was too big for pull-ups.  Seven hours later, she is accident free.  We drove to have lunch with Mom in the Trench and 6 of her children. We found a Mcdonalds with a play ground and the kids had a blast. GB, as usual, tried to run everything and MITT’s kids were happy to let her. I will go on the record- MITT is as smart in person as on her blog. I had a really good time.

About the time the girls had about enough of everything, it was time to go anyway. Hope started showing her aggression and anger- and she has a lot of both. She definitely feels safer around men. She was pushing, hitting and poking GB, so GB’s Dad took her for a walk. Hope dissolved into a wild mess of fear. She was screaming, flailing on the floor, and throwing things. When I was silly enough to get close, she scratched, kicked and hit me. She tried to bite me, but I saw it coming.  When the Dad came back, Hope melted into his arms. It took an hour for her to truly calm down. GB is even closer to the edge then she was… she doesn’t take physical aggression well. We have to figure out a better system for protecting her- especially in the car. Sometimes I will be driving and then there will be no safety officer protecting GB.  Today was a much better day than I had any right to expect.

Day 2- We pick up Hope

Today we got in our red rent-a-car and headed towards Austin to pick up Hope. Before we actually got Hope, we stopped to meet Struggling to Stand and Mary the Mom for lunch. Imagine our surprise when we walked towards the restaurant, the door opening, and Hope’s adoptive Dad standing there saying “Hi, I’m Blah Blah.  I didn’t know what to say and fortunately, he didn’t stay around. Lunch was lovely and healthy, except for the carrot cake, and the company was wonderful. GB took a shine to Mary the Mom’s pink high heels and was flying high with excitement. She took the picture of them as her contribution to this post. It is so good to have met them IRL.

We went to pick up Hope at her house and noticed several things. First, what attachment Hope has, she has with the father. Second, one of the things this family told her is that she will have a sister that looks like her. Both of the parents pointed out to me how much alike the girls look. If by alike, they mean non-white, I can see it. If not, they are deluding themselves. I am now sure race was part of the problem.

Since picking up Hope, we have had one meltdown and it was from GB. Hope is easily calling us Mom and Dad, but is very wound up. No aggression yet. She informed me that she would use the toilet when she is bigger. I told her she was already big enough and she would use the toilet when she was ready. We are now going out to dinner, and if we are still a functioning unit, we will swim after dinner.
Court is at 7:45 tomorrow morning.

GB ready to go!

GB with our lunch #

Mary the Mom’s Beautiful Pink Heels (picture by GB)

Hope- Ready to Go!

Safely in Texas

After 2 1/2 hours in the car, 5 hours in airports,  and 4 1/2 hours  in airplanes, we are in Texas. GB was a real trooper and I kept my patience. It is 12:30 in NY and I am going to bed. Tomorrow we pick up Hope and she is ours.