I wrote in a recent post about how I’d been looking over old e-mails to our children’s social worker, just as we were beginning to explore adoption. One of those early e-mails warned that the kids were sometimes too cute for their own good, in that people were tempted to overlook a great deal that they ought not to, in light of the severe behavioral issues they had at the time.
It’s still been a struggle to figure out exactly what methods work best with each little personality. My daughter tends to cycle: she’ll be fine for a couple of months, then she’s back to lying…or stealing…or wetting/soiling herself. She will resist every bit of schooling for home school. And will look at you the most innocent of innocent expressions on her face, and swear up and down that she didn’t do X, Y and/or Z. You look at that beautiful, innocent face, and think about all she endured while in the care of her biological parents, and you want to look the other way.
But not today.
I’d had enough. Why? Because, I, too, was “too cute to discipline.” As an only child (and one whose parents were divorced), my mother “compensated” for my loneliness by spoiling me. I rarely heard the word, “no,” and I remember only once was I ever spanked. And I was a terror on wheels, and I knew it.
Like most girls her age, my daughter loves “Hannah Montana” (aka Miley Cyrus). We have a song of hers called Girls Night Out (G.N.O.), and part of the song says,
I am fine
And it’s time
For me to draw the line
Today, I did.
I told my daughter, “Enough!” I’m drawing very clear boundaries. I laid out my expectations for school. I laid our my expectations regarding the stealing/lying/peeing/pooping. After almost eighteen months, she knows the rules. Further, she knows right from wrong, because she will often try to hide the peed/pooped clothing, or whatever she has taken without permission, and/or lie to avoid being detected or to get out of whatever it is she does not want to do.
Usually, I get pretty mad. Launch into Parental Lecture #329. Take away some privilege or beloved toy. And stew the whole time. But equally, once I calm down, I will take some time and tell her about me as a little girl. She loves these stories. She begs me to tell them over and over again. So, today, I told her one. I believe it clicked.
After telling her about “little me,” she usually clings to me like glue. She wants to be near me. Craves my approval. Needs to physically touch me or hug me. She’s afraid the love will go away. We usually read one of The Forever Child books, “A Tale of Lies and Love.” A Book about a little girl who tells lies. It resonates with her, and she loves to re-tell it to “the boys” (her brothers).
I know that the bonding is a good thing. I know she identifies with me, and I with her. She knows I “get” her. I’m determined that the boundaries stay. They are clear. They will not change. But neither will the love. When she does something meriting correction, she will clearly know she still has my love. But she will also see that “line” that Miley sings about.