Nature & Nurture
Watching our children develop is fascinating.
I'm sure all parents say that at some point. For us though, with adopted children, there is the added aspect of not being sure what might be lurking, genetically, within.
There are aspects of their upbringing that are, of course, clearly down to us.
Both children are developing my sense of humour. That they are both quick witted helps. But they pull faces, attempt caricatures and pick out the absurdities of situations around them with some ease.
Our son in particular is fast developing the ability to see the absurd in a situation. Sadly, to his disadvantage when he chooses to do so whilst being told off. He hasn't yet learnt the art of keeping his ironic smile to himself as he scrutinises the grammatical or chronological mistakes I make while berating him about his latest misdemeanour.
Similarly our son chats. All the time. Largely to himself, usually about nothing, but sometimes expressing his thoughts.
He came to us with a medical assessment suggesting he may have some speech delay. That fear was quickly dispelled.
In common with many children who have been through the care system, I feel he had probably just not had the opportunity to speak. Or had learnt quite early on that to do so opened himself up to risk. Risk that he would say the wrong thing. Risk that his words would bring punishment, retribution, harm.
Finding himself in a family where he was safe, where he was secure, where talking was actively encouraged. Where he was actively encouraged to give his opinion, where he was questioned as to his thoughts. All of this allowed his words to spill forth.
I believe this comes from us. From the fact we chat constantly. Our daughter is quickly learning to do the same thing. Unless you join in, in our family your voice doesn't get heard. And therefore you're encouraged to join in.
Our sons words spill forth. A seemingly permanent soliloquy. Sometimes randomly. Sometimes providing a window, occasionally troubling, more often uplifting, into his world.
Sometimes with forthright, honest abandon, full of anger, resentment, petulance.
Here is something that I think is within his make-up.
Both J and I are relatively passive in terms of accepting the hand we are dealt. Situations that present themselves. Our ethos is very much one of accepting a situation, reviewing it and then working to make it better. That change is in your own hands, no one else's. We're positive. Half full people.
Our son's view can be very different. His out look can be half empty. His default being a position of being the victim. Of being hard done by, even when the outcome about which he's unhappy is one of his own choosing. He struggles to take responsibility. He struggles to see how he can be anything more than the passive recipient of whatever life brings.
It may just be that's he's seven and that's how seven year olds see the world.
We work hard to change this view, to shift the default setting in a positive direction. We think it's imperative to do so, not least so that he can face adolescence more positively.
I love this quote by Janice Liang:
Life's like a lottery. Sometimes you're lucky, sometimes bad luck follows you. Life is not fair. I'd trade away my computer to be a boy. But God chose me to be a girl, and I can't change that. So you just gotta deal with what you have, and try to be happy about it. Nothing's all bad. There are some good stuff in bad stuff, and sometimes bad stuff in good stuff. Just deal with it.
That pretty much sums up our attitude. Adoption adds yet another level of complexity, of risk , to that lottery. Another bonus ball if you like.
We both feel we won the jackpot with our children. We are remarkably lucky to have adopted two well rounded, sparky, quirky, articulate, intelligent, infuriating kids. We try and influence what we can for the better. We accept what we can't as a positive too, it makes them what they are, it links them back to their heritage.