Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Respite Reflections and Little Sister

We had the best possible respite care experience. The girls were so excited to go and have a sleepover, and I have no doubt that they received the best possible care while they were away. The girls weren't thrilled about coming back to the Blue House, but they cheered up before the van even left sight of the respite home Saturday afternoon. It was the best possible experience, but the days that followed were a testament to how confused and scared Big Sister is about her life right now.

The last few days have seen clinginess in overdrive. Big Sister asks dozens of times each day if she can go with me. "Sure!" I say. Where do you want to go? Nowhere. She just needed to be in my sight-- and in my arms-- at all times. I could feel flattered. I could feel annoyed. But I just feel guilty for leaving her with strangers (even though they are fantastic people). I feel horrible for throwing the pieces of her life back into the air. I feel great sadness for her frantic arms begging for solace, for her searching eyes that are once again filled with fear and confusion, and for her cries of distress when I have to give my arms a break.

I'm learning that stability is precious for these sweet littles. A fun weekend away can still be wrought with worry. For a three year old who cannot wrap her mind around explanations and promises to return, respite with unfamiliar families may not be a great idea. I think, in the future, we'll want to either leave them with the same family, with families that she knows well, or not at all. She needs all the normal she can get because when I walk out the door, she doesn't know if I'm coming back.

Little Sister seems unaware that anything was changed over the weekend, It makes me sad to see her so content everywhere she goes. I'd much rather her be fighting to stay with someone she trusts. In the last few weeks, I've seen her making progress all around. Her tantrums have all but disappeared, and I'm working every day to connect with her in meaningful ways. We're working on language development, and I've been happy to see her starting to ask, "what's this?" about everything in her little world. Her annunciation isn't fantastic, but I can understand many new phrases and sentences. There is less gibberish and more understandable communication. For that, we are thankful. I'm guessing the ability to communicate more maturely is a huge factor in the decrease in tantrums. She's stopping to say, "I have that please" instead of taking what she wants. And I am careful to say yes as often as I possibly can. We're determined to let her know that words (nice words) work magic around the blue house!

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