Anger is an interesting emotion. It can bridge so many levels, sometimes all within a span of twenty minutes. Given the right conditions one can go from annoyed to full on fury with nary a clue how it happened.
I’ve had a few years learning to navigate anger, but even now there are times when it surprises me like a bat in the night – a blurred shape darting erratically through the dark, flinging itself toward me before winging off into the trees. No one warned me about the children, though.
It’s not so much that I’m surprised about getting angry at them. Frankly, that was always a given, and I’m grateful that I’ve gotten better at it over the years. But no one ever told me how hard it would be watching my kids wade into these turbulent waters.
Bear’s been at a complete loss lately, so much so it’s painful to witness. I can see the emotions wash over her face as they flood her body. Stubborn irritation morphs into inexplicable anger which explodes into raging tears, all in one confused little girl who seems genuinely perplexed by the onslaught. Boy, Bee wasn’t kidding when she said ten was the beginning of the wild. We are tag teaming this kid like crazy just to keep our feet on solid ground.
T-man’s become less explosive but much more mercurial. He can swing from conversational to snippy to huffy sighs in the blink of an eye. We were at Bear’s soccer game last night and BrightSide made an offhand comment about a kid on the field, someone T-man knows. Next thing we know T-man’s snapping at him about getting the name wrong and takes off to kick a ball around while we’re looking at one another like WTF?! I’ve become intimately familiar with the concept of “like water off a duck’s back” because sometimes it’s simply not worth the battle.
While heightened emotions during the tween years might not fall strictly under adoption per se, there are times when things seem a bit more raw for T-man and Bear. Like they’ve got an extra layer of anger they’re working through and not enough tough skin to do it. Those are the times I want to wrap them in my arms and lend them some of my own strength. Ironically, those can often be the times when they want nothing to do with physical contact and just talking about their feelings is too much to handle.
So I’m learning to practice patience. (And anyone who’s ever spent significant time with me just snorted.) Waiting on T-man and Bear to be ready instead of insisting that we talk about their attitude right this moment. Not ignoring things that need to be addressed, but addressing them in the space after the kids are able to breathe again. It’s required an enormous change in my mindset, but it’s also made a huge difference in my relationship with T-man and Bear.
We’re making our way through, day by day, and I’d like to think it’ll all turn out okay in the end. Though I suppose we’ll have to wait for then to find out.
Many of you are in the parenting trenches along with us, and there are many of you who’ve survived this tween shift. Adopted or not, what strategies did you find effective for your family?