Saturday, January 5, 2013

Holiday isolation

A lot of children who have experienced trauma and have been adopted, which adds another layer of trauma, generally find holidays and other big days of celebration difficult. There are lots of reasons for the pain and the acting out, but I can really see one reason for pain during the holidays.

As a family we find ourselves reminiscing about past holidays and past experiences. Generally those experiences are pre-adoption. In our case, that's because we have 25 years together as a married couple and 23 years with one child, 21 years with 2 children, 18 years with 3 children, and only THREE years as a family of 7. So the memories are not generally shared between all 7 of us. It's good to remember and to share together as a family. That helps bind us together.

It's great fun to remember and to laugh together about the home made ornaments the kids have created through the years. We have consciously tried to help Peter and Gaelle be a part of that. They now have 3 Christmases of home made Christmas crafts to display. And we laugh and smile about their early attempts. They are so cute. 

I just have to say, hats off to the grade 2 teachers at Gaelle's school this year. The craft she brought home was amazing. We displayed it on the coffee table and I'm afraid we won't be chuckling about that  in the years to come.

My mom has a tradition that has included Peter and Gaelle for the past 3 years. She cross stitches ornaments for each child and then writes a note with a picture on the back. When Peter and Gaelle received theirs this year, we oohed and aahed and then told the kids to hand them on the tree. Gaelle went and proudly hung hers.

Do you know where Peter put his? In his room. He's the king of displaying his stuff. This was so important to him, that he wanted it on display in his room. He prominently hung it by his bed on his nightstand. At some point after Christmas he removed it and put it on the tree. It just goes to show how important these shared traditions are. 

We don't always know what is going on in the minds and hearts of our kids. We don't always know when they are feeling the pain of isolation. We see behaviour. But we don't always know why. This is one reminder to be more intentional at providing shared experiences and continuing to work at including all the kids in activities when it is possible. So that we can look back and laugh and joke about the different fun times and the different events that didn't quite go as planned.

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