Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Emotional Age

I have to admit that I am a bit dumbfounded that I could forget so many things I read while preparing for this adoption! I know certain things could happen, but for some strange reason, it is like a light bulb suddenly coming on and me saying, "Oh yeah. I remember reading that!"

After knowing George for almost 3 weeks now, I keep saying he is very much like a 3 year old. He enjoys playing with Lincoln and he acts a lot like Lincoln. He throws temper tantrums like a 3 year old and I am struggling with the constant discipline it takes to get a 3 year old to the magic year of 4 when things seem to level out. It has always been the case in my family that the 3s were much harder than the 2s, so I never quite understood the phrase "the terrible twos".

So, as I watching the "7" year old who acts a lot like a 3 year old, it finally dawned on me that what George is going through is pretty common among children who have been in orphanages. He has regressed in his emotional age. You know how moms love and cuddle and comfort their children until the kids don't want or need that anymore? Then, those babies become toddlers where they learn what is appropriate behavior under the constant supervision of a loving parent. In that safe zone, they push their moms and dads, challenge all the rules and ultimately (our hope) come out of those years with some self-control, confidence and maturity. I think that in those crucial toddler years, George's emotional stability was disrupted. He buried his father. He watched his mother getting sicker and sicker. He was eventually left at the door of an orphanage watching his mother walk away from him. Talk about stunting emotional growth.

What I am experiencing now is a toddler who is pushing and challenging and testing to see if this is a safe place to learn all those important life lessons. In my mind, a switch has suddenly gone off that is saying, "Let him be a toddler!" By letting him act like a toddler I am showing him that I love him unconditionally and that this IS indeed a safe place to learn and to grow.

I am looking forward to the day when we can talk to George about what these first few months were like and to praise God for how far He has brought all of us!


Margaret said...

Beautifully written...and just perfect!! Doesn't our heavenly father let us act like toddlers sometimes? Throwing tantrums, screaming "NO", being disobediant...testing his love and faithfulness? Yet, each and every time, he says "come", hugs us, and loves us anyways!!!!!! Continuing to pray!!!!

Brooke said...

So true, Traci! Way to go on thinking through his tantrums, rather than just complaining and wondering what's wrong. George is so blessed to have you for a mother and help him learn so many life lessons!

Anonymous said...

Thanking the Lord for the insight He is giving! Keep looking to Him!!
Love, Conni