We’ve had Simeon for nearly two months now. It doesn’t seem like a long time, except that we’ve committed to loving him with our whole hearts for every moment we have him and so two months seems like forever. It’s easy to forget that he isn’t ours. It’s easy to forget that he hasn’t been with us since his first breath and that he hasn’t had his every need anticipated and met. It’s easy to forget that he was neglected and an incredibly self-sufficient 2 year old. It’s easy to forget that he’s been removed from the only life he’d ever known. It’s easy to forget that he’s been under more stress than one little boy should have to face. It’s easy to forget that he may yet be dealing with emotions he doesn’t have the vocabulary for. It’s easy to forget… most of the time. Today we were both reminded that there’s still healing to do.
What started as a usual and mild time out, turned into a very traumatic display of coping skills. Sometimes when Simeon is in time out, he’ll take off his shoes or socks and throw them in my direction. It’s clearly his display of control. Today he went to time out because he screamed at me (without good cause). When he took off one of his sock and threw it at me, I very calmly and without a word picked it up, then removed the other and walked away. That was when things turned very ugly. He began screaming like I had set him on hot pokers. A minute later I went back to see if he was ready to calm down so he could get up. He wasn’t. This screaming and screeching went on for about 15 minutes, then it got worse. He screamed louder, and whenever I came near him he went catatonic and collapsed dead weight to the floor. The 1 foot drop from his stool was enough to cause him to land with quite a thud. I picked him up and put him back. This happened several times, until I caught him mid fall and sat him up straight. Mind you, I did all of this gently without anger or frustration, but then he screamed and began banging his head into the wall. Once he stopped the head banging, I gave him a few minutes. I walked just out of sight and prayed for wisdom. I called Leo. He was encouraging and gave me some ideas, so when I hung up I went back to Simeon and asked if he was ready to be done. He shook his head no, but reached for me. As soon as I picked him up, he collapsed on my shoulder, wrapped his legs around my waist and clung tightly to me. I quietly and gently told him that he should not scream and yell. I reminded him why he went to time out in the first place and that his reaction was not appropriate. Then I told him that he is a good boy and that I love him very much. Then I prayed. I prayed for him. I prayed for me. Then I told him again that he is a good boy and named every person I could think of who loves him. We spent the next 10 or so minutes hugging tightly, rocking back and forth, praying.
I waited for him to disengage. When he finally sat up, I offered his socks back and gave him a banana. Since then he’s been very attached. Sitting in my lap, holding my hand when we walk down the hallway, keeping me in sight at all times.
I don’t know what he’s feeling or thinking. I don’t know if I did the right thing at any point of this tantrum. I don’t know if I’m helping him to deal with the stress he’s faced, or if I’m somehow making it worse. I am confident that I am giving him ample love. I am confident that I am providing warm clothes, a safe home, a healthy diet, room to play and opportunities to learn, but I don’t know if that’s enough. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing by him, but heaven knows I’m trying.