Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Paloma's No Good, Very Bad Day
From a student teacher:
"I need to let you know that Paloma is having a difficult day. She is refusing to do work or participate in any activity. Apparently another student took the dictionary she wanted, and although we have others that are identical, she will not use another. Currently she is sitting in the hallway refusing to move and is missing her second subject. I have offered to help her and she refuses, if she speaks at all. She won't even move so I cannot get her to the office. I'd appreciate any advice you have to give. Please discuss this with her tonight as well. She has lost a special jelly bean snack, and recess already today."
My initial thought was, "Do you think Paloma gives a spit today about jelly beans?" Jelly beans vs. Jose...you do the math.
Paloma is behaviorally challenged even on a good day. Today she is struggling with Jose, her protector, not being here. Equally as frightening to her is the fact that Miss Regina is gone also. In Paloma's mind they have deserted her forever, no amount of reassurance will overcome, nor erase, this deep-seated fear. Discussion, punishment, rewards or re-direction would all be ineffective and hollow. And logic??? Get real.
In her nine years on this earth, these losses keep recurring. She has lost mother, father, other various caretakers, a way of life first in Mexico, and again, later in El Paso.
I also understand this teacher's frustration. She sees a very defiant, hateful-acting child. She didn't go to college for this. She went to college to learn to teach eager students, not shattered, shut-down, angry little girls. This teacher is absolutely correct in her assesment of the situation. I am positive that this nice teacher has tons of ideas and plans for teaching her class.
Do I have any advice for her, or for us other adoptive moms? Nope. I don't know how to heal Paloma this fast, although it has been 42 months now of love, stability and security. Her scab is ripped back open today, her wounds are raw and she is pissed.
I get that.
But I cannot allow her to grow up like this, full of fear and anger, unable to follow simple directions. We will discuss this after school, she will lose privileges and she will sit for hours in the living room refusing to do her homework. BTDT. When Miss Regina and Jose return, much to Paloma's surprise, she will "punish" them for leaving. She will inadvertantly make them feel glad they escaped for a few days. Paloma won't "get it at all."
Adoption is a process, it is a journey, as is healing. One day Paloma won't be so angry. Today it will be very difficult to reach her. Tonight she will probably act even worse as it is so much safer for her emotionally to rage at home where she is slowly learning that we will always love her and we will always be her family. Always, no matter what.