Pollito: "Mom you look like you are sad, today."
Me: "I am sad."
Pollioto: "I can make you happy. I can draw you a flower at (s)cool today."
Me: "Thank you baby, that would make me happy."
That was my conversation with Pollito during his breakfast. I had nightmares all night. In my dreams, each of my children really needed me and I just couldn't help them. While I often feel that way while during my waking hours it somehow feels different to have it happen in a dream where I get to "watch" myself not be able to help them and am helpless to do anything about it. In one dream, Corazon was screaming for me to stop her as she wielded a knife at me and her 4 year old brother. In another dream, Tortuga was being dragged away kicking and screaming from his school while I stood on the sidelines immobilized. I don't think I even acknowledged that I knew him. Milagro sat in my arms crying hysterically (which she almost never does in real life except when Tortuga has his major meltdowns in front of her.) I tried to comfort her but she kept trying to pull away and out of my arms to go to her brother. These are just two of the memories I have from my dreams and when I awoke I faced that overwhelming relief one gets when one realizes it was "just a dream." Almost at the same time, I confronted the fact that while these specific incidents haven't taken place, they have the potential to be true.
I went downstairs to get things ready for the day only to discover that one of the cats had done her business on my newspaper circulars next to my desk. I discovered it by literally putting my hands in it! Gross! I flew into my own kind of rage, yelling at any cat within earshot that I was done with indoor cats. We have 4 of them. I went to the back door, opened it wide, and told them all to "get out." Of course, I had no takers. Two of them stood near the door, sniffed at the cool morning air and sauntered away. Two looked at me from a safe distance ready to make a run for it in the opposite direction. I suddenly realized I hadn't washed my hand, grossed myself out and promptly closed the door to go wash up but not before I mumbled that the cats would not be getting any "wet food" today (a favorite) so they would have to settle for their dry food.
I think there is an analogy in this for what often happens with the kids. When Corazon gets on her lying or sneaking thing or Tortuga is being contrary and defiant ( which is a great deal of the time these days), I feel like screaming and flinging the door open like I did this morning. Instead, I can usually manage to calm myself before I remind Corazon that she CAN tell the truth and she has been practicing doing that as a first choice. Or, I tell Tortuga that I know it is "unreasonable" of me to give him two good options, and that I know he is struggling to figure out how to pick the worst one so he can be more comfortable in the that miserable zone he feels safest in. They each look at me like the cats did this morning but it often works to redirect them and diffuse the situation. It also occurs to me that when things start out this way I respond by making a mental note to "take away the wet food." I tiptoe around them, limit the treats (happy times) that I think might set them off and perhaps avoid a major meltdown or showdown. However, by limiting the "treats", I am not giving us a chance to work through the process they need to go through to make progress, even when it is going to be hard for me. I don't know if this makes sense to anyone but me and I am sure I am not explaining it well. I think they need the chance to reach that "edge" so they can practice responding in a better way. Lately, I have not been as willing to go there as often as I could/should.
So this morning by the time Pollito was having his breakfast, I was a bit sad and he noticed it. While this may not be a big deal for some 4 year olds it is for mine. He came to us at 2 1/2 years old having been with his birth mom for 15 months and then with a foster mom for 14 months. He had developmental and emotional delays, and has shown signs of attachment issues (who wouldn't?). I have been working with him on learning how to show affection and receive affection (until recent months he would wipe kisses away.) He still works on being appropriate in how he shows affection. He rarely seems to notice the feelings of other people unless they seem angry. So this morning, my preschooler recognized what I thought was well-masked sadness and he was concerned enough to think about how to change that. This makes me happy.
All this before 7:30 a.m.! I wonder what else today will bring?