Contrary to what Max's therapist, A, thinks, Davan has not always been a model child. She still isn't, really, but she is a great kid and does listen to reason a lot of the time. Of course, she is also very anxious and doesn't like to be away from me at all, really. She is highly sensitive and will inevitably be the one with hurt feelings if playing in a group. Still, I agree that she's a great kid.
However. That wasn't always so. In fact, she was a challenging baby, toddler, preschooler, right up to about 7 years old. I remember the feeling coming over me when she was 7 of, "Wow. I really like this kid. I'm glad to have her around and share my day with her." It was a new feeling.
Based on what a rough time we'd had pre-7, we had planned on adopting an older child. Why didn't we stick with that plan? What in the heck was I thinking agreeing to look at younger children? Well, I do know, but I was clearly out of my mind. We thought, "Young kids get older and if they are with us from younger, we'll probably like them better when they're older." I'm not sure this is sound logic, though, considering that I'm having a heck of a time being around Max and I'm sure he must not feel very loved and, therefore, not necessarily getting what he needs to turn into an older kid that I like. I digress, though. Really, I was posting about Davan's early childhood.
She was colicky as a baby. She started with separation anxiety at about 2 months and it went until...well, she is still often anxious about being separated - case in point, the fact that she cries when I drop her off at gymnastics. She wanted Mommy all the time. She hated to be set down. She preferred to nurse pretty much the whole time she slept. (Yeah - we didn't do that one, but it's what she wanted.) Even just holding her was usually not enough. She wanted to be jiggled, walked, rocked, nursed.
As she moved into toddler-hood and into play, it was necessary for her to have an engaged play companion at all times. We read a lot because she enjoyed that and I didn't have to play "little people" all the time. She hated videos or TV, so using the electronic baby sitter was not an option. She loved to swing, so we spent a lot of time at the park. I did get her involved in chores - dishes and cooking. She rode in a carrier for things like vacuuming. I didn't totally just play with her, but we were always engaged, even if we weren't playing.
The preschool years were much the same. She was so demanding of my time and attention that, even though we were quite poor, we made room in our budget for a mother's helper. At first, I had to play with them, but eventually, she'd play with her mother's helper while I was just around. Finally, she was able to be left on occasion, but it was necessity that brought that around. We were in a car accident - I was the only seriously injured one. I had regular doctor's appointments for a while. Davan had a doctor phobia. It was a tough call for her, but staying with her mother's helper was somewhat better than going to a doctor's office. By preschool age, though, she'd occasionally watch a video, which helped, although I'm not big on the electronic baby sitter.
Speaking of the doctor phobia, her pediatrician when she was 2 remarked that she'd never seen a child so unable to calm down for a physical and finally just did stuff while she screamed.
That aside, outsiders mostly though that Davan was a happy child. And she was. Because I played with her all the time more or less. When other kids wanted to play with other kids, Davan still wanted me, Anthony or my mom to play with her. Or her mother's helper. That was about it.
One time, when she was 3, we went to visit my best friend who was living in Colorado at the time. Davan was so miserable to be around that Chris didn't really like her and I cried a lot because it was so stressful. Of course, she was away from home, away from her Dad, and I was trying to spend time with Chris instead of tending to her full time.
When she was 3 1/2, I took her camping by myself for a few days. That was a hard trip. The constant talking got to me big time. One time when we were showing, I set her up in the shower next to mine so I could get a little break, but she sang loudly the whole time.
She went through a stage where she stole stuff. It was always little - one small ball out of hundreds at the local science museum, an extra game peg off of a game at a restaurant we went to - that sort of thing. It passed, though.
She went through a stage where she lied. It also passed.
What I was thinking was this: she was no easier to live with than Max is. I can even remember telling my mom once that if I knew for a fact that she'd be happy elsewhere, I'd consider sending her away. She was so hard. But, I also knew that she wouldn't be happy elsewhere. I knew in my heart that we were doing the right things for her.
It's different with Max. I don't have the love that I always felt for Davan no matter what. Even in her hard stages, if she was gone, I missed her and worried about her. I don't feel that way with Max. Even in her hard stages, I got warm fuzzies from her. Even when Max tries to give warm fuzzies, I don't feel it. I don't know that we are doing the right things. I can't get myself to play with him the way that I did with Davan when she was little and needed it. Even when we do play, he will still find ways to push me away, although he loves the play and attention.
Well, and, it's also different because his lying is different - it's pervasive and is lasting a long time. His stealing is different. It's also little token type stuff, but it's so much more than Davan ever did. His bids for attention are so often negative instead of looking (constantly!) for positive attention.
Maybe truly all that is needed here is time. Maybe when he is 10, I'll think he's a great kid, too. However, I'm not sure he'll get to 10 unscathed. I think that Davan always knew that I loved her and wanted good things for her no matter what. I don't think Max feels that unconditional love. I know for a fact that I don't feel it to offer him.
So, again, I'm back to: Where do we go from here? What is best for Max? What is best for the rest of us? If I'd had another bio kid and he/she was just like Davan, would we be having the same time of it that we're having with Max? Should I be doing things differently? If so, what?
Okay, I know some stuff I should do differently. I do put him down sometimes, for example....
Yet again, I've rambled on. If you've made it this far, you're a trooper!