It's common knowledge that when children have routines and boundaries, they feel secure and safe, and if they are safe they can feel loved and happy and respond in kind. For a child that has not always had their physical and emotional needs met appropriately, lack of routine can feel like the floor has fallen out from under them and they don't know what will happen next. That anxiety kind of overules everything, and their behavior reflects their anxiety.
As long as we were in the midst of a bustling holiday schedule with a big trip underway, and then a week of houseguests, B was excited and fine. Now we are in the tail end of the summer holidays where we have very little planned, B's daycare is closed for two weeks, and his contact schedule has been rearranged and conflicts with his naptime. Add to that a new contact worker today, a caseworker transporting him because my car is in the shop, and a re-arranged contact room, B came home ready for a fight.
He was scowling when he came through the door. He started taking swipes at me as soon as I set him down to make his lunch. Then, with one of his caseworkers as an audience, he put on a full show. Rolling on the ground, mashing his food, nearly tipping his chair over by throwing himself against his high chair buckles, screaming at an absolute hysterical level, and then from his cot, trying to throw himself over the rails.
I almost cried. He scratched me on my legs, arms, chest, and pulled my hair out of a bun.
I used to think about how as Christians we are supposed to love the "unlovable". In my mind that meant a homeless person who is unnatractive because they are dirty, or someone who has a mishapen body...somehow in my mind it was about attractiveness.
Right now I am in a battle to love one unlovable little person. It is a fight. I am coming to see that in my real life, unlovable looks like a toddler who is angry with me when I am being kind. It is loving a child who is physically aggressive towards me when I am trying to take care of him. It is persisting in trying to be affectionate to a child who is screaming and hitting me. When B is raging, he is very hard to love.
The last couple days have been very hard. Last night I couldn't sleep, after a particularly long and emotional day. I just begged God for grace to get up again today, with a cheerful heart, to try again to love better than I did yesterday.
I am living the lesson I am trying to teach my older children. "It is okay to be angry, but we try not to sin (or make poor choices) while we are angry."
When I get so flustered I just look for the next thing in front of me that I need to do. While B raged in his cot I washed a couple dishes. Then, at a pause in the screaming, I scooped him up and held him on my lap and fed him his lunch like a baby. He ate every bite, said "done!", and hopped down to play happily. He had proof in his belly that I would take care of him, and reassured, he was ready to move on.
I feel like I've been through the carwash after these sessions. Sometimes I just want to curl up and take a powernap to recover! But there are three other kids that also need my attention and affection, who are also rattled by B's outbursts.
Sprout asked me "why is B do unhappy?" "I don't know." I said, his shrieks bouncing off the walls, drowning out even the thoughts in my brain. "I think it's because he misses his family." she said. Yes, she's right.
This week Finch has started saying, with conviction, "I am B's brother." One of the older kids will correct him and say "you are B's foster brother." Today he responded "I am B's brother until he goes, and then I will be a baby again."
Yes, loving the unlovable is a sacrifice. I never imagined it would look like a gorgeous little boy who could be part of Benneton ad, but here we are, giving it our best shot and praying for tomomorrow to be a bigger success than today.