Relief at rejection
The last couple of weeks have been a bit harrowing.
Much more for us than for the children.
As you may have seen from my post earlier this week, our three year old daughter has been in hospital undergoing scheduled, routine, surgery. Despite it's straightforward nature this still involved a general anaesthetic and a short stay, neither of which we looked forward to.
Added to this, J's work schedule has been particularly heavy. He's a doctor in a local hospital and for a period of just over two weeks he worked particularly long days. Leaving before our daughter was awake in the morning and often not home in the evening until after she was in bed. J's contact with our little girl was therefore limited to kissing her before she awoke and after she was asleep.
Over the weekend I took the children to the hospital to have lunch with him, if only to ensure that J had a break and that our son and daughter had some time with their Dad.
By last Sunday our daughter was rejecting of J, it being the first day she had spent any time with him for a considerable period. I put this down to the foibles of a three year old who had become unused to having her Dad around for a couple of weeks. The doubt remains however that this is somehow related to her being an adopted child.
Is the rejection a consequence of her failure to bond with us?
Is our belief our daughter has attached appropriately to us both mistaken?
Are the foundations of our family, we believe we have successfully lain, not as strong as we thought?
Or is this just a three year old punishing her absent parent in favour of the one who has been caring for her constantly for the previous couple of weeks?
Given our experiences over the weekend we agreed I should take the lead with our daughter as we took her in to hospital on Tuesday.
I therefore dutifully carried our daughter into the waiting room on Tuesday morning, followed closely by J and our little boy.
Our seven year old son had shown some considerable disquiet at the thought of being separated from his sister. The uncertainty and instability of his past haunting him still, creating fear of absences and farewells, no matter how temporary, that I'm afraid will never leave him.
We therefore agreed he should come with us to see his sister settled that morning before going to spend the day with friends.
We waited patiently while the staff efficiently and kindly completed the necessary paperwork. The consultant surgeon then arrived to talk through the procedure with us, explaining in a calm and straightforward manner that our son could also understand.
Knowing we were talking about what was about to happen, our daughter looked for comfort. Moving from my lap to J's she snuggled in and while not distressed or frightened, sought reassurance and the safety of the familiar.
Given the choice, our little girl chose to stay with J, while I took our son across to friends.
Returning, I found our daughter still cuddled into J's lap while they talked to one of the nurses who had come to prepare her for the pre-meds. She sat passively on her Dad's knee while she was prepared for the anaesthetic.
Again given a choice, our daughter chose J to go and get changed into the gown with her.
Who should hold her as the anaesthetic was administered? Again she chose J.
I had been warned that watching your child slip into unconsciousness is one of the hardest things for a parent. That underestimated the emotion of the moment. We'd caused it. We were allowing it to happen, complicit in the act causing our daughter to slip away from us.
I suspect we'll have to go through the process again one day, but suffice it to say I'd do everything I could to avoid it.
Waiting for the operation to be over our conversation turned to the sea change in our daughter's attitude to J.
"I can't understand it," J said. "She's completely different with me today."
"I'm not surprised," I replied.
"Why?" J asked, surprised.
"She turns to you whenever she's feeling poorly. Our little girl knows which one of us is the one who can provide her with comfort. The one who can make her feel better. The one who's best equipped to make sure she is OK."
And so it proved when she came around from the anaesthetic. Clinging to J as she regained consciousness and cognisance.
Sitting with him as she recovered from the chemically induced sleep.
Asking for me, but wanting to remain with her Dad, with whom she felt safe in this strange environment. Instinctively understanding that this was familiar to him and not me and that therefore she was more secure with him than me.
I have blogged previously about how our daughter's upset at being left at play school was a positive sign of her growing attachment.
Equally her rejection of me last Tuesday was a hugely positive sign. It showed she had bonded to us both. Confirmed we were both acceptable sources of comfort, the people to whom she turned for sanctuary, safety, reassurance.
Of course, since we have returned home the tables have turned again.
I have been back in favour recently as the source of fun, attention, sustenance, entertainment. But when the pain killers begin to wear off there's only one lap she wants. The she cuddles into J and let's him administer the next does of medicine. Truly, happily, bonded to both her parents.