Sometimes a little light in the tunnel can help…

Tunnel and Light

Last Friday as I leaned against the kitchen doorframe, waiting for my kid and taking my third deep breath of the morning, a thought skipped through my head:

“Can we please have just one morning that works smoothly every once in a while? …maybe glimpse a little light at the end of the tunnel sometime…?”

Wow. I eventually caught myself wishing for that. Both experience and my brain tell me that wishing is simply a waste of time for a foster parent. But the very next day, I was wishing again! This time that we could be early for once without rushing in late.

I caught myself quicker though: We were standing in the back of a school auditorium, and my kid was showing some interest in the summer travel program presentation, even as I was feeling annoyed about arriving late and having no easy seat to reach. I wanted him to know we should have been early. I wanted him to know I was annoyed. I wanted things to have been different. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted. I, I, I….

But there he was—listening to the speaker and then commenting positively about the subsequent video. That piqued my curiosity, and I realized if he noticed my annoyance, he’d start reacting to me instead of the program.

So I had to ask myself: At this moment, which is more important?

  1. For him to deal with my annoyance, and possibly sour on this program (i.e., me)? OR
  2. For him to feel supported as he embarks on an adventure of a lifetime (i.e., him)?

Well, my head knew the answer right away—#2. But my feelings took more coaxing, so I asked myself more questions:

Do I want him to argue with me in this auditorium? No. Do I want him to storm out of here? No. Does he really need to understand my needs right now? No. Do I want to look back and regret that he missed out on a three-week international trip so he could learn to be on time? No. Did we really miss anything? No. Do I really want to act this selfishly? No…!

Do I need to be a support to him? Yes. Do I want to be a support to him? Yes. Does he deserve the best parenting I can provide? Yes. Does he already know my lecture on timeliness? Yes. Do I want to be the positive person I think I am? Yes. Is this hard? Yes, but I can do it. What do I need to do? Uhhh… something different…?

Yes…! thank you, Diane Malbin. She’s the person who first recommended Trying Differently, Not Harder, which applies whether a kid is in foster care, is adopted, has FASD, has trauma, or not.

Light bulb idea for trying differently
So I took three slow, deep breaths and joined him with positive comments, rather than trying to teach a lesson.

And you know what? I saw a little light in the tunnel… but it wasn’t his—it was mine![hr]

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