Big Brother had an informal evaluation by a child psychologist who specializes in both developmental disabilities and international adoptees (I know, right??!!) The point of the appointment was to really just gather some pertinent information about him before his full formal evaluation takes place, sometime in the near future.
Most of the time was spent with us explaining his complicated background and answering developmental questions asked by the psychologist. The last five minutes were spent with the psychologist actually interacting with Big Brother.
Where do I begin?
We walked into the room and Big Brother immediately starting showing signs of extreme stress and anxiety. I could see the switch flipping. 3…2…1… he was gone. He was back in fight or flight mode and he was ready to rumble.
He climbed on the tables, threw the toys, screamed, obsessively started counting aloud as he slapped himself. He stomped around and made unintelligible noises. But none of that really bothered me. Classic stress response in my sweet boy. What happened next is what really got to me.
He spotted a small snack container filled with cheerios sitting on the psychologist’s desk. I won’t go into the details of what happened next, but if you’ve ever seen a post-institutionalized child from a background of neglect with food issues, you can imagine. It was heartbreaking. When he finally was allowed to have the cheerios, he shoveled as many into his mouth as possible and tried to hoard the rest.
I was sitting right there. He knew I was sitting right there. I had just fed him a meal where he had eaten more than a grown man. He knew I had snacks in my bag and in the car, too.
I had not seen the food drama in months…..in nearly a year, to be exact. It usually only happens now if he is away from me (which is not much).
But here we were. I fought back tears as I watched the weight of four years worth of trauma unfold before my eyes. I felt as if someone had punched me in the gut. I was immediately sucked out of my warm, fuzzy bubble into a place where the magnitude of Big Brother’s past traumas had come into sharp focus. I started gasping for air. My head was spinning. The psychologist starting telling us about her observations….I wanted to scream, I wanted to run. I wanted to grab my children and run away to a deserted island where they would never have to deal with this wicked, cruel world again….a place where we can live in our warm fuzzy bubble together, forever.
Big Brother was not the only one in full stress mode.
I took a deep breath and prayed. And cried. I needed this–to be reminded of how tightly trauma’s grip can be. Now it was time to wipe the tears and roll up my sleeves.
The next day I took Big Brother to school. In his room he looked me in the eyes and said “Mommy in school.” I told him that I couldn’t stay but that mommy always comes back. He then looked at me and said “Mommy come back.” He kissed me and I actually caught the slightest grin grace his lips as I pulled back.
And that’s when I thought to myslef Take that, trauma! Watch out world, we can do this.
And I know we can, and we will. Together.