Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Three rounds and one square

Tomorrow the service comes to cover the pool and put it away for the winter. It was an unseasonably hot day today and when we got home, Mimi suggested one last swim. However, I had not left the pool heater on in anticipation of one last swim, so the water temperature was not unseasonably warm, it was pretty darn nippy. They only lasted in the pool a few minutes. I always make them take their wet swimsuits off so they can warm up in the towel faster. So Mimi and YuYu dried off and went inside (Ellie was at soccer practice) and I sat and watched Nora swing, naked, in the sun for a long time. She had her eyes closed against the setting sun and I could tell she was trying to sing one of Miss Judy's Classic Kindergarten Tunes but was just making up 90% of the words. So I sat there, watching this gorgeous child swinging and singing and I was scouring my interior for even a hint of affection. I know I can always get a rise out of myself when I let my mind go to the birthmother angle. Here I am with the opportunity to love and nurture this child largely because of a failed political and economic system (one can assume, who knows she may have been love child of a forbidden romance between a man trapped in an unhappy marriage and his one true love he had to forsake to marry a woman he did not love in order to honor a family obligation, who knows, it could have happened that way) in a vast and crowded country. So my interior motivational speaker was giving myself this rousing pep talk about honor and privilege and duty and my interior wise ass was flipping her off. I just was not feeling it.

So fast-forward an hour and I snap when she snaps and it’s fast and mindless and sudden. What is it that makes me snap so quickly when Nora expresses her unhappiness about her lot in life with her particular flair for the the whiny, floppy, surly, sulky, sullen mode of delivery? Apparently I have a zero tolerance level for crabbiness that sets wheels in motion over which I have no control, apparently. Nora was not happy being the child at the end of the couch when Ellie wanted to read Disney princess stories out loud. As I walked in to see what was going on, she chose to slide to the floor with arms flailing as if every nerve had suddenly gone dead while moaning in a loud and complaining voice and I didn't even give her a chance to redeem herself and stop it. I took her by the flail arm and led her quickly to her bedroom and at 7:45 pm I was done with her. She screamed herself to sleep within minutes, before I could even go in to explain my decision to remove her from the little couch reading vignette.

Meanwhile my three round pegs sat together contentedly on the couch reading about Ariel and Belle. I went back in to watch my three round pegs and my heart simultaneously swelled with enormous love and pride for these three and overwhelming discouragement about my feelings for Nora. I still see Nora as a square peg who is making a pig's breakfast out of that one remaining round hole I had saved for my last child. Adjusting to her is painful and slow and after my hair-trigger reaction to her loss of composure tonight, I wonder just how long I'm going to make myself suffer with this adjustment before I crack the code. Because even though I just artfully used myself as the subject of the prior sentence, like I am the one doing all the adjusting and I'm such a hero, what I really really want is for her to get on board with the pleasant family interaction agenda and completely re-adjust herself to us, not the other way around. But seriously, how much adjusting can I expect an emotionally immature five-year-old to do? Oh great, now that I've come to the conclusion that we're both emotionally immature five-year-olds, or at least that's how I feel when I let my whole body turn into one HUGE button that reads "PUSH ME" on top. But it really is my job to make the changes, because, good hell, she's only just turned five. But ooh ooh ooh, some of her behaviors just set me off like a Saturn rocket and compassion, understanding and any affection I've been building for her get burned up in the launch.
I need to do some serious readjusting of my expectations regarding her emotional abilities or I'm just going to make myself nuts and Nora very unhappy. Shoot, every day in every way is work with her, shoot.

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