Halloween and Lessons Learned

We had some friends from church come by on Saturday to take pictures of us. They set up the backdrop, set up umbrella flash things, and got everything ready.

Habtamu went down in flames... started out sad and crying, moved to angry and crying, and when all was said and done, there was a hole in the wall of his bedroom. We were confused and scared and felt completely out of our league. H was finally able to tell us what happened. Turns out all the set up and equipment reminded him of the time his family in Ethiopia went to get their pictures taken. Oh. We have that picture... never even occurred that this could be an issue. We had him clean up the plaster (we have lathe and plaster walls) and he had to miss a costume party (I took Yordi, and we were both pretty sad the whole time) and he'll have to fix the wall with Daddy next week. We talked about good choices vs. bad choices, and how it's ok to be sad and angry, and it's ok to tell us before things escalate. He said he was scared to talk to us, which as a parent made me kinda angry inside... I mean haven't we ALWAYS been available and willing to talk about their Ethiopia family?! Haven't we ALWAYS comforted them when they miss Ethiopia and found ways to send pictures to their friends?! Then the adult part kicks in and thinks, well, how WOULD you know you can talk to me about anything... you've only known me 4 months!

By Sunday, things were back to normal - ish. H still felt bad about himself and was making up scenarios in which we would kick him out. "If I ____, then Habtamu no family." "If I ______, Habtamu outside, no house." Sigh. We reassured and reassured. I was nervous about Monday, and my nerves were stretched pretty thin that day, waiting for "something" to happen... alert to any sort of defiance or sadness, and trying not to walk on egg shells, but really - walking on egg shells... I HATE confrontation... I HATE chaos... I HATE not knowing what to do. (Ha ha. Welcome to parenthood!)

Our friends left their equipment set up and hooked my camera up to the flash umbrellas, so if things settled down, I could take pictures. Thank you so much, Curt and Becky! It's not you!
We were able to take pics on Sunday... old memories apparently processed for now... new memories made.

Of course we had to be goofy:

And, of course, we looked to my senior portraits for inspiration:

They wanted to wear the mittens, and what knitter could refuse them? I couldn't!


Karin said...

You poor guys! ((hugs)) all around...seriously. Glad things calmed down and you were able to take some nice photos, but sad for all of you with how it all 'went down'.

Hoping both kids continue to grow in their security and assurance of your commitment to them.


Katherine said...

I'm glad you all worked things out. I was praying for you all day Monday! I tried to call but someone was crying very loudly in my lap, so I don't know if you understood any of the message. Just keep on talking, talking, talking. Tell them the same things over and over and over. It'll stick eventually and they'll get it! I understand the walking on eggshells part!

If you need to get out Thursday night, we were talking about seeing a movie. Let me know!

Katherine said...

BTW, love the mittens!

Molly said...

"Joy comes in the morning." Right?? I'm glad it worked out in the end! Those pics at the end are actually really cute!!

Dustin, Nikki, Madison and Sage said...

I think the last picture is our favorite! The big smiles are priceless, especially knowing what it took to get to the sweet and fun smiles.

Anonymous said...

First of all, those are two amazingly cute kids - you can see their personality in their photos.

I know when we were having our violent meltdowns in the first few months nothing helped me more than to talk to another family who had adopted older kids and hear that they had dealt with the same things and that it gets better.

We are just over eight months into it and we rarely have a bad day - no more than the typical kid discipline issues. I am sure that their grief issues will pop up now and again as they are able to process and deal with their past.

It sounds to me like you are doing all the right things. It will take time for them to learn to deal with their grief. All kids have different ways of expressing it. Helping them to know positive ways that they can express their sadness, fear, anger, frustration, will eventually help. They probably don't even know what their feelings are when it hits them. As you talk with them after these episodes it will help them to recognize the feelings when they come again and they can come up with ways to deal with them.

I enjoy reading your everyday happenings and joys. I have a question for you. I think I read that you are home schooling. I home school my girls. How is that going? I would like to hear about that.

Lori Schneider

jur sherrill said...

Wow, what a burden for the children to have, and it sounds like you guys really are handling it well. You can't read their minds, but how wonderful that you DID get him to tell you why it upset him... And kudos for the having him help clean up the hole and help Dad fix it later.
You really sound like (though you don't feel it) you're handling these things very well.
And i <3 Lee's adorably sweet photo (really good way to handle that part, too) and AWESOME mittens on the kids!
They may not be the family pictures you imagined, but they are great, and you can look back later and remember the breakthroughs (and breakdowns) with a fresh mind.

Sarah said...

Love the pictures! :-)

Apryl said...

You never know what will bring up sad memories. I often wish I had some indicator on my kid's heads letting me know when they are getting ready to have a 'flashback'. I was looking through some old pictures and found some of your kids at Kids Care. They were taken by a group in Jan--if you are interested drop me a line. I'm trying to collect what I can for my two, but Sally isn't in a place that she can happily look at ET pictures right now. Someday...
Let me know about the pictures--apryl

ABG said...

The mitten pics pretty much say it all. Though I'm sorry it took such a tricky, difficult road to get there...

The McEvil One said...

Those pics rock!!! Is that stuff still up in your house??? I want you to take pictures of Ryan!!!! ;)

Have you explained to them that late October/early November in Illinois is never this warm & now would NOT be the time to lose those mittens???