Thursday, October 25, 2007
How grateful I am for everyone's prayers. After one heck of a morning and afternoon, by yesterday evening things sorted themselves out a bit.
I was chopping vegetables in the kitchen when into my line of vision crept Ilya. "Sorry" (very small). I said "I understand", and asked him for a hug - and received one....oh, so gratefully.
And I breathed a sigh of relief. When you don't know a child very well, and can't communicate with him very well, you have to throw yourself into God's arms. Please, Lord, please help me to handle this right!
Was Ilya being a defiant brat, just testing our authority over him? Or was he just about to crack under the strain of being cooperative while always struggling even to understand what was wanted of him? And, all the while, bereft of anything familiar, homesick, afraid, questioning this whole idea of "coming to America".
I always tend to err on the side of compassion. While this seems like a good thing, it can cross over into being too lenient, not providing the necessary boundaries, letting kids turn into selfish, thoughtless brats. I don't think any of mine are this far along, but I do worry that I am perhaps too soft-hearted.
I really think that if I'd tried to be more understanding and less authoritarian yesterday morning, it would have gone better. Later in the day Ilya tried to explain that he "hated English", that he'd never understand English - English! English! English! Well, he needs to learn English, but since he seems to be learning it [somewhat] painlessly as he helps our friend Natalya at her daycare, isn't that good enough?
This is the hard part about mothering for me. I struggle with too much compassion. I could have called this blog "Second Time Around" because this is in some sense my second chance to correct all previous child-rearing mistakes. But while one of my older children thinks I should have been stricter and demanded more, the other lauds me for my softness and compassion. So, I have to fall back on just trying to listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance within the moment....and so often second-guessing myself.
So, today, I gave Ilya lots of warning that his NEW tutor was coming (just coincidentally a second college student began today). Fortunately, Julia speaks Russian - well, pretty good Russian. She moved here as a child from Ukraine and understands what Ilya is going through. I prayed that Ilya would respond well, and gratefully listened to the laughter from the library. Apparently Julia's understanding and humor won him over. When they came out he was teasing her about her accent. Now, he's at Natalia's. So far, so good. When you adopt older children, for quite a while you really know what it means to take it just one day at a time.