Here’s one of my goofy triggers. I was out walking with my two small children and our dog. Suddenly, two large dogs came after us. They were barking and following us. Our dog was barking and carrying on in response. It appeared they wanted to “play”, but it was scary. We couldn’t shake them. If I stopped the three dogs were getting so rough I was sure mine would get hurt. I didn’t want to take my dog off the chain for fear of what would happen. I had two small children, and three wild dogs – I was panicked. I yelled at the dogs, stomped my feet – all to no avail. I resolved to head for home and get my children inside. They were getting hysterical. This was a busy neighborhood and no one came to claim the dogs or offer assistance – I am sure I looked like a crazy lady. By the time I got home, one of the chasing dogs had been hit by a car, I had injured my “stomping” foot and my kids were a sobbing mess. Consequently, anytime I see a large size dog approaching (not running just approaching) I begin to go into high alert. After so many years, it is abating, but I still get a nervous feeling.
Reading my story might make you chuckle a little, but here’s the thing with adopted kids; they have had many traumatic experiences -- far beyond “a big dog once scared me.” So traumatic, that some are diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome), or perhaps RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), or any other plethora of initials. Of course, there is always that little snafu of a fact that we, as their new, forever parents never really know what all these experiences were. Consequently, we never know for sure when they will be on high alert or when the nervous feeling is going to set in. Once we see some patterns we can figure it out, but even then, we will never really know what caused this fear.
One of my children was really afraid of water. So afraid of water, that I usually ended up getting as wet as he did to get him bathed. Did something happen to him; or was he just one of those babies that don’t like water? Birthdays can be tricky. I have a daughter that for years bottomed out around her birthday. We minimized celebrations, gift giving and slowed these events way down. It works. Can’t tell you why she hated the fuss.
Today I hit a trigger point, and I knew I was going to, but there was no getting around it. I had to leave my children with someone else for less than an hour. Getting left is a big trigger point for more than one of our children. All have grown past it, and now, finally understand that if Mom and Dad leave for a bit, they will most definitely be back – Every. Single. Time. I have two new children, and this is a big issue. We definitely minimize the times that we are without our children. We do not, and have not, had a regular babysitter. We try hard to schedule appointments so that our kids are either with Mom or Dad and now that we have “old” kids – an older brother or sister. I usually take the most distressed child with me. However, there are times that, frankly, things just don’t work out. Knowing this is one of those ominous triggers -- we minimize and then we just steel ourselves to deal with the fall-out. Today we had no choice. We minimized -- we left them with an Aunt they know well. We took all the children, so that they would be with all their brothers and sisters. We were gone less than an hour.
Here’s how it went. On our return it was quite normal – “pick the kids up” stuff. I asked all the children how their time was. They all had great fun at this favorite Auntie’s house. When some of the older children began to say a few minor things that kids had done and then said, “But it all went fine,” My Mama’s heart heard that no kid had a raging, all out temper tantrum at Auntie’s house – praise God. Our next destination was swimming. At the pool, Preacher Man said, “Mama you need a hug.”
“Ok, did you miss me today?”
“Yeah, you might not come back.”
When he got home he grabbed his Dad and asked if he was going to work.
“I don’t want you to go, I miss you!”
“I know, but I always come back.”
Then Jerome told him how Jesus will never leave him or forsake him.
Songbird had more general issues when we got home. You could just tell she was a little jittery. Once she asked me for a big kiss. And once,
“Mama, did you know that I just love you all the time?”
Ahh – I can hear the I’m scared written all over that one.
At bath time, she insisted that she swallowed soap and needed medicine. It is a slight possibility she might have gotten some soap in her mouth as she takes a bath with her mouth always open (uck), but definitely no swallowing or sickness could possibly occur. She was getting more and more agitated about NEEDING MEDICINE. I finally put her on my lap and told her the best medicine is Mama’s love. Then I asked her if she had been scared today and she cried a little and nodded “yes”. Then I told her about being the Last Mama – her last mama – the last mama she would ever need.
They were both off their mark the rest of the day. Preacher Man asked constantly about going to bed and insisted he didn’t want to and didn’t want to turn the lights off. This was way before bedtime. Songbird finally just fell apart and went to bed early. Still, I consider this day a successful “trip the trigger” day. We did it, we stayed calm, and, the biggie … we came back .. And we always will.
Someday … someday … I hope they know.
Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee, he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.