Last week’s Forever Family post gave me a lot to think about. A lot. T-man’s interview was filled with little pings, things that hit me at the time so I made a mental note to sit with his words for a bit.
It’s taken about a week, but here are some of my thoughts on things I learned from my son over frozen yogurt.
* Middle School nerves.
T-man says he’s anxious about changing to a new school after spending six years in one place, and as a navy brat I can certainly understand that sentiment. But I also believe moving on to middle school may be the best thing that could happen to him. He’s such an independent kid – he’s dying to get out there and spread his wings a little – and middle school will give him that opportunity. Plus it will expose him to a much larger group of kids.
* Current event anxiety.
Man, do I wish I could protect him from this. In some ways we do – we don’t have CNN running 24/7 in the background, so there isn’t a barrage of images flowing from the tv – but certain things must be confronted. ISIS is apparently a huge topic of conversation among his friends. He finds it scary and unpredictable, and wonders if one of these days they’ll attack someone he loves. It’s a sad reality, but just a new name for an evil that’s been around a lot longer than you or me.
T-man’s getting more okay with adoption, but it’s telling that “different” and “weird” are still the first words he thinks about in relation to it. Baby steps, I guess.
* Sister versus “just a girl living in the house.”
Umm…yeah. Apparently he’s still struggling with this one, and I have to admit the whole thing is a mystery to me. Is he protecting himself from rejection by keeping that last bit of distance? I don’t know. (I do know that Bear nailed him on it when she read the interview, turning to him with “Just some girl I live with? REALLY?!”) Sista-friend pointed out that so many families really are “just” people who live in the same house, people who have chosen to bond as family and live their lives together. I’ll have to talk with T-man about that concept sometime.
* We’re not talking WWIII.
Being adopted is “not the worst thing in the world.” This is progress because, in T-man’s world, it used to be the worst thing. I’ll take it.
* The big What If?
The worst part is the not knowing. Who’s my other family? What does my grandma look like? My dad? I wonder sometimes if T-man walks around thinking, “Maybe I’m related to him.” It’s an awfully big unknown for someone his age.
* Never saw this one coming.
Naming being spoiled as one of the best things about being adopted just about knocked me off my stool. The fact that T-man thinks he gets things as a way to show acceptance in our family…well, that one was mind blowing.
I mean, being spoiled has been a big topic of conversation lately. (Hello, Mr. “I want a phone” 6,000 times a week.) As has entitlement and the pitfalls of comparing your swag with your peers. We’ve come right out and told him that he and Bear are spoiled in the purest sense of the term – they’re privileged to experience many things I couldn’t even have imagined in my childhood. It never once occurred to me that T-man would think our life would be any different with biological children, though. That was a shocker.
* Words of wisdom.
I found it pretty telling that he’d ask an older adoptee if people made fun of them in high school. He said that kids can act weird about adoption, like it’s some huge deal, but does that mean they’re making fun of him? Or just that he’s sensitive to the issue and feels like they are? Or is he just wondering if kids eventually outgrow that whole “You’re ADOPTED?!” reaction? Do any of my adult adoptee readers have insight on this one?
* Not a shocker but still interesting.
It wasn’t earth shattering news to learn that having white parents feels “weird” to T-man. All four of us are different shades, even varying from winter to summer skin tones, but T-man doesn’t see that variety then roll with it. And he’ll always call out Bear if she claims being black or biracial, usually with something like “At least you’re lighter.” He owns being black, but not always as if that’s a good thing, and it seems to be hard for T-man to accept compliments for his beautiful skin coming from a white person.
It’s so natural to claim this beautiful boy as my son. Nothing makes me prouder than wrapping my arm around his shoulders and introducing him, so it’s hard to think somewhere in his deepest subconscious he might wish he had parents who resemble him. Whose dark skin mirrors his image so he might believe that he truly is beautiful.
Like I said, it was a pretty eye-opening talk. I think we’ll be having a lot more of these.