Do you follow the TV series Brothers and Sisters? We've followed for some time. Sometimes, the bickering and nonsense gets a bit...annoying and I just want to yell at them..."you're rich! You grew up rich. You've had every advantage. You have perfect teeth and perfect hair and you never wear the same thing twice. Pull up your big girl panties and act like grownups ya' bunch of babies." But, other times I can be brought to tears by what I see as normal loving behavior between people that obviously care about one another...well, their characters care about one another. I don't know anything about them in real life.
Anyway, you're wondering why I would bring up a non-vintage TV show on Way Back Wednesday. Well, they have a current plot line that is really hitting home for me. I mean, really hitting home.
The gay couple (married...just sayin'. Two guys are portrayed as married and society has not fallen. Eat that Glen Beck.) is looking at adopting a 9 year old girl. Our daughter was 9 when she came to live with us.
-The girl on TV has been caught stealing. Our girl got caught stealing, not from us, but caught.
-It's clear that the girl is trying to mess things up because she's afraid of being happy because happy never lasts. Our girl clearly tried to mess things up so we'd send her back to her Mom, like everyone else had, because happy never lasts.
-Michael and Scotty don't know how to handle this and question whether they are qualified to parent this child. We didn't know what to do and for a while we both thought of sending her back to her Mom, fortunately never at the same time.
The difference is that we didn't have Michael and Scotty's demeanor. We didn't have writers picking just the perfect words for us to say in a perfectly understanding tone of voice with wonderful and soothing music playing in the background. We didn't know that everything would work out one way or the other. We weren't living life out of sequence to meet shooting deadlines, so we didn't know the future. We were winging it.
And, we made mistakes. And, we stumbled and we failed and we tried again and we did things we try not to talk about anymore, even to one another.
And, we got better.
Last night, we were faced with a tough parenting situation. There was a lot of emotion on everyone's part. But, none of the emotions was inappropriately expressed. We said what we had to say. We pointed out the lessons that should have been learned by now. We pointed out how we've changed, so "I can't help it" an excuse clearly planted by a therapist some years ago, is not an excuse. We executed consequences; strong consequences for a 13 year old girl; that were appropriate to the offense. We talked. We said what we had to say. We moved on. We said "I love you" when we hugged goodnight.
And, when she got up this morning, I saw responsibility in her. She wasn't mad at us or plotting our demise or thinking how she could get around us. Okay, for the skeptics, maybe she was pretending. Or, as I prefer to call it, practicing. My theory is that if she practices enough, then it will become real, so either way, it was good.
I remember the day that I knew that shouting and intimidation weren't going to work. It's taken a lot of practice, but I think we've found something better. Something that IS going to work.
And, we didn't even need a script writer.
I hope they continue to develop this plot line. And, I hope they stay true to life. Gay, straight, green or purple, I believe that every family that takes in an older child goes through some version of this growing pain. It happens on top of all the other hormonal growing up. And, because crazily assembled families are becoming more common, people need to see what goes on in those families to know what they might be getting in to. Cuz I gotta say that we've had friends look at us like we're crazy and overreacting to everything, just because they didn't understand what our every day was like. People need to see it in the safe environment of the living room TV so they'll understand.
And, I'm happy to say that we've stepped up to the plate. Bring on your worst, kid. Eek!!!!! I did not just say that! I take it back. Do what you will, kid. We're becoming a stronger family every day. And, I trust that you like it enough that "what you will" won't be too bad.
Unless "what you will" involves purple hair dye. I gotta draw the hair line somewhere. (not what she did yesterday, but a question that keeps coming up.) Maybe in a couple years. Maybe.
Take care. Lane