Touch Therapy

Having children is teaching me that I'm slower to forgive than I thought I was. I know, I'm a genius, right? The kids can bounce quickly from mood to mood without a lingering thought, I however, am not that flexible anymore. I've had some pretty lucid and graceful moments under fire, but the recovery time it takes to get over the resentment later is killing me. The childrens' moods are fluid. You've got to get over it faster, sometimes within seconds. I get really irritated with myself when 15 minutes of bad behavior spoils my whole evening (or more) and I wind up lying in bed seething, while apparently everyone else has moved on and is sleeping soundly.

Which is why this past week has been so important. I think we've talked about this before, but our assessment of Ethiopians is that they are far more comfortable with human contact than Chris or I are, which translates to the fact that generally I error on the side of 'not touching enough.' So bedtime is a time when we are very intentional about reaffirming the kids with hugging, kissing and eye contact. The problem is, this attention sometimes winds them up even though we are really trying to keep the bedtime routine as relaxing as possible. Yes, I realize we're the first parents in the world to deal with this...

So lately I've tried a couple of slight variations that have really paid off. For whatever reason, when we started this parenting stuff, I figured 'my thing' would be rubbing my thumb across my children's forehead while looking in their eyes telling them I love them. I've been doing this for months, and I wouldn't say it's totally ineffective, but doesn't seem to be sinking in as a love statement. So the other night after Habtamu had started to settle down, I palmed his whole forehead and then began massaging his scalp. His eyes rolled back and his smile twitched uncontrolably, so I knew I was onto something. Yordanos likes full-on body hugs, koala-style. Sometimes she's too wound up for it to work it's magic, but if she's on the way down, she'll just slump into me and her head will roll around on my shoulder.

Those are the nights everyone goes to bed happy.


Tim Gibson said...
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Tim Gibson said...

Good stuff Lee. And let me tell you, it's no different when they're not adopted. Abby is 3 now and "those moments" are amazing.

Good to see you're doing well.