Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rage and older child adoption

It's amazing how it can come seemingly out of nowhere. A dumb little comment or incident can trigger it, and it can blast out at you, or sometimes build slowly until it explodes with it's violence.

When Pipo first arrived we had meltdowns fairly regularly. Usually they were silent rages, where he would refuse to move or speak to us at all for indefinite amounts of time. As time went by, they became less frequent, but more pronounced. Nowadays it is a rare event, but when it happens, it reminds me of all this boy has been through.

One of the first true rages I witnessed, we were in public. I was able to contain him in the van for most of it, but ended up outside sitting on the ground holding him in the end. At first the amount of anger coming out of him frightened me. Then it ticked me off to be so inconvenienced. Then I was sad and scared, wondering what I had done to create such turmoil in this child's life. But eventually, as I held him, I began to understand.

When any of my kids has had a tantrum... the typical small child tantrum... it usually follows the same pattern. A small incident will make the child angry, maybe telling them it's time to leave the playground, or saying 'no' to one more cookie. But as the child cries and gets themself worked up, they start to remember every other 'mean' or 'bad' thing that has ever happened to them. That time they had to go to bed early. Or when you wouldn't buy them that toy, or when you wouldn't let them go to their friends' house. The more they remember the more upset and angry they get, the more out of control those feelings get.

In a child like Pipo, there are unbelievable amounts of things to be angry about. Truly, justifiably angry. He might be angry with me for telling him to put his bike away when he wasn't quite done riding, but that makes him think of how many years he lived without a bike, without any toys. It reminds him of losing his mother. Of being sick all the time, of being hungry all the time, of being uprooted from everything he has ever known. And how can I deny him that anger? How can I deny him this tantrum, this rage?


patjrsmom said...

Wow. As we are beginning our back-to-school homework routine (read: passive-aggressive nightly drama skit) this was a great post for me to read. Thanks!


Malia'sMama said...

This made me cry b/c I don't have to imagine what your son has been through- I've seen it, first hand, for about 2 months out of every year since 1997... I am so glad, though, that he wears his Haiti jersey proudly. he knows it's really very beautiful, too. :)

Maggie said...

The rages can take you by surprise, can't they? My son will be fine, then the littlest trigger can set him off. Like you, I know there's always more to it that what's on the surface, though. Who knows what memory or emotion some little event triggered?