Sunday, October 19, 2008

They are Stuck with Me

My children are so special to me. Each and every one of them touches a different part of my heart. They have brought out the child in me all over again---- I think they keep me looking and feeling young. I have truly been blessed because I have both biological and adopted children, and the secret to my parenting above all is that I treat every single one the same. I have read so many books how adopted children need to be parented differently, but I beg to differ. This is my blog, so I can do that.

But how do I treat them the same?

Well in every way of course.

That means that I love them the same, discipline them the same, pray for them the same, treat them the same, think of them the same, act the same around all of them, talk with them the same, and make sure to spend equal time with each and every one of them. Now I may fall short as a parent, but one child is never singled out by getting less of me than any other child.

By treating them the same, I am promoting the same kind of bonding with each of my adopted children that I have had with my biological children. This of course doesn't mean that they all have the same needs all at the same time, but it does mean that my heart does not differentiate between my kids just because one was born from my tummy and another was born from my heart. Let me share how this looks.

When Adam and Caleb were little, the three of us would eat breakfast from the same bowl of cereal. I would take turns giving each of us a bite--- germs and all. I do that same kind of thing with each of my kids today--- unrelated germs and all. Adam and I shared a sundae tonight and took turns feeding Dennis from our spoon. The other day Sveta and I took turns biting from a huge sucker. This might gross some of you out, but I know it has helped all of my children to bond to me and to each other.

I give lots of physical touch to all of my kids. That includes hugs, kisses, tickles, nose rubs, back rubs, foot rubs, hair combing, back scratching, and gentle rib poking. Some things might sound too out of your comfort zone and some probably sound down right silly, but the point is that physical touch promotes bonding, and no child goes without. What is really nice is that each of my kids reciprocate affection in the way that they feel comfortable. For Adam that means giving me a bear hug. For Jonny that means rubbing my hair. For Sveta that means rubbing my feet or combing my hair. For Rachel that means going through my hair and pulling out the gray. For Caleb that means taking turns giving each other a hand massage while sitting quietly in church. For William that means rubbing my arm or shoulder as he says, "I love you so, so much Mom."

I don't hesitate being myself around my kids. I sing alot of made up songs, I make up words that my kids would be embarrassed if their friends heard yet they quickly pick up and use the same exact words. It is funny how I will see them dancing around the kitchen singing the Pa-coo-chitz song to the tun of LaBamba just like I do. I think they see me for who I am. I expect them to take me as I am--- quirks and all. They have no choice but to love me because they are stuck with me. I think this helps them to feel like they are also "stuck" in this family, which my adopted girls desperately want to feel.

One word to describe my parenting is REAL. I am real.
We have had a family sleep night with all the kids on our bed.

I have pulled a kid out of school early so that they could spend some special time with me.

Us girls have shared deodorant.

Rachel has pulled a mint out of her mouth and broken it in half to share with me.

I have licked my finger to wipe a dirty mark off of Annalyn's cheek.

I have quickly popped a daughter's pimple in the diaper aisle of Wal-Mart only to have another one quickly ask, "Will you get mine too, Mom?"

I have admitted feeling like a failure to my children, only to have them comfort me and tell me that they think I am doing a great job.

We share drinks with each other.

We share bites of my food.

The kids dress up in my shoes.

I have went through my childhood pictures and shared stories with them.

I have kissed owies, and let the kids kiss mine.

The kids enjoy getting special notes in their lunch box, I enjoy stories written in school by my amazing children.

We wink at each other across a room, we stick up for each other, we do nice things for each other, and sometimes that includes walking into a stinky bathroom to deliver a new roll of toilet paper.

I play Peek-a-boo with every child in the house just to be a nut. Most times the kids play along.

Out of the blue, I will sneak up on a child and quickly cover their eyes and tell them to open their mouth. They have come to trust me and obey because I always give them a special treat like a couple of chocolate chips or a Starburst or something. ALL OF THE KIDS LOVE THIS!

How do you bond with your children? Do they know without a doubt that they are very special to you? I think it is time for me to remind my kids again.

32 comments:

  1. I love this post, Christine! I love hearing how close you are to your kids and all the little quirky things that you do to show each other this. May God continue to bless you!

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  2. Hey, Christine, I do a lot of the same things with the children in our children's homes, even though many of them have come in with serious illnesses or pick up every bug that goes around because they're so weak and frail. I have been exposed to MRSA (staph), Hep B, & meningitis, have gotten lice & ringworm... I've kissed slobbery mouths with rotten teeth going every which way... I am vaccinated and we vaccinate our staff, but we don't hesitate to give huggy, kissy, snuggly love. They just need it to heal.

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  3. "For Caleb that means taking turns giving each other a hand massage while sitting quietly in church."

    My mom and I always did this in church. I LOVED it!! I thrive on physical touch and it meant so much to me. I gave my 6 year old niece a hand massage in church when I was recently visiting them. She really liked it and even asked for it a few days later when we were in a restaurant.

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  4. Fun! As I was reading this post, I kept thinking, "Funny, that's exactly what we do...that's how I am with our kids!" I'm very real too and sometimes worry maybe I should be more "formal" with my kids, like a lot of moms I know are with their kids. I have an excellent relationship with my girls though, and can both goof off with them as well as discipline them if needed, so I'm probably as formal as I need to be. It sounds like it's the same with you and it's fun to hear someone with the same ways with their kids as I have with mine! Fun post and so reassuring!

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  5. I was at the zoo with Ben one day and we were sharing ice cream with the same spoon. A child on the next table very loudly proclaimed "EEEwwwww......she just ate off the same spoon as that kid". It's just something you do as a parent. We all drink out of the same water can at home too (well, we don't drink after Maggs quite as much as it's not so much of a drink as a mouthwash and close to a stomach wash, with her. Now, that's eeewwwwwww....

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  6. What a wonderful post. I love what you say about affection. I wasn't an affectionate person until I became a mom. I think it was because my parents weren't affectionate. Now, I have a child who isn't affectionate and I say, "Tough Bananas," because they're stuck with me, too!

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  7. This sounds like great, fun stuff! I don't think I could ever share a sundae with them though...I get too grossed out with melting ice cream. My oldest son is the same way. He saw a couple sharing a sundae in an ice cream shop one day and he had a hard time not staring because he just couldn't believe they could do that. :) I have put many love notes in their lunch boxes though, and we are always giving each other hugs, back tickles, back scratches, or just a touch, and lots of kisses.

    I also sing songs with made up words, and have made up many silly dances that my youngest makes fun of me for because they're so silly. When they were smaller they used to be on my hip when I danced.

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  8. we parent much the same...and not a spec diff with my bio vs adopted kiddos. each one is special in her own way...and each one gets special time alone with me and time alone with daddy for dates every week. in a bigger fam, it's important for each one of the girls to get alone time that is special...for one that's always mcdonald's, for one is the pet store, for one it's a salad at paradise cafe and talk time...and sofie always gets time at 3 am for feedings. ha!

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  9. I haven't even finished reading this, but didn't want to forget to make this comment - years ago the first adoptive mom I really spoke to was trying to express how she loved her son adopted from India just like her bio children, and the way she put it was that she realized she felt the same about him when she noticed she could eat the leftovers from his plate. So I think you share a universal feeling. I remember when Sergei first came, he and I would share drinks all the time and it was clearly something that helped us feel bonded. Likewise - just occurred to me....Maxim not only would never eat after any of us, he is extremely anxious about anyone touching his food. He was hyper-vigilant when he first came...refusing to even eat a piece of bread that I'd handed to him. I'd have to use a fork to spear him a slice of bread! He has gotten enough better than I can hand him some foods...but it is clearly an issue with him. And (for those who don't follow my blog) he is my foster child who refuses to be adopted.

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  10. We do pretty much the same thing. Each night, I go and hug each one goodnight and tell them I love them. Sometimes the 18 YO and and 14 YO will squirm, but usually they return the hug. We also treat all our kids the same. My three youngest had a horrible life before I met them, but I do not let that effect the way I treat them. I guess in short, I do not pity them - I love them.

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  11. You'd better find another way to get Rachel to give you physical affection or - I warn you - some day you'll be sorry (or hairless). Those gray hairs creep up on you pretty fast!

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  12. By the way, Christine - I feel somehow that you are on a "blog roll" you are making blogging a priority? I don't know, but I truly look forward to my visit to your home every day.

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  13. For sure your post rang many bells, as I thought about how I bring up my bio, adopted and foster children. Sharing foods and drinks has always been an expression of love and intimacy for me, and kids so respond to that. My own kids (5 bio and adopted) seem to have taken that on board, and don't hesitate to share yoghurt or noodles, cereal or icecream with their little foster brother, who at 18m prefers the food in other's bowls to his own. They'll sometimes wipe his nose first! And touch and massage are so important to bonding - I love those foot rubs and shoulder rubs my kids give me whilst we're watching tv together or reading a book. They're just returning the favour for all the massages I've given them over the years!

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  14. Ok..even though I do MOST of these things with my kids(even though all biolaogcal) it still brought me to tears how you share them things! I LOVE your family!!

    BTW>>>can you send Rachel my way? I have a few grays as well!! lol

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  15. love this post! i'd like to think i keep it real too! i worked in child care for years before i had my own kids. i'd like to think that has helped me to be really goofy and relaxed, creative yet now i get the pleasure to pour all my hugs, kisses and their own love language all over their uniqueness!

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  16. Thanks for sharing this. It made me realize we're doing a lot of things right with Maddie - it's just going to take time. And lots more nights of sharing ice cream! ;>)

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  17. While reading this I was thinking, "Did I write this?". I do the SAME things!! We share one bowl of cereal, we eat off each others plates, I rub, tickle the kids arms, legs, stomachs, backs, faces, etc.

    Zach is an earlobe rubber. That is his comfort. Hannah is a blankie lover--that is her comfort. Olivia likes to hold necks and squeeze, poke, rub them--that is her comfort.

    GREAT post!!

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  18. Great post! I could have written this post as well as Darla's comment. These things are exactly what I do with my girls. Granted, both are adopted, so I have no bio kids to compare our behavior to, but if I can't be silly and goofy and affectionate and loving and so on to my own family, then what good am I? ;)

    From the day we met our girls we've been hands-on. We've stroked their backs under and over their shirts, gently rubbed and scratched their arms, rubbed their bellies and necks, stroked their hair, etc. and still do to this day. Neither had any aversions to that, or if they did, they overcame them quite quickly. It really helped in our attachment process by having a hand on them at all times. It was calming, soothing, and clearly loving.

    My girls have returned the favor from day one. In our hotel in Moscow they'd take turns combing my hair or rubbing my arms, scratching my back, etc. They both still LOVE to hold my hands whether we're walking somewhere or sitting watching TV. My hubby and I are (appropriately) affectionate in front of them, holding hands, stroking hair, scratching backs, etc. so it's only natural that A & K would pick up on it, too.

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  19. Oh, I forgot one HUGE difference between us --- we don't share cereal. Ewwwwww. I HAVE to eat mine before it gets the least bit soggy (typically pouring one or two spoonfuls into my bowl at a time!), so cereal sharing is clearly OFF LIMITS!

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  20. Beautiful and inspiring post!
    Ya'll are such a sweet family! :)

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  21. I just have to say thank you. We have struggled a lot with the "accepted" concept right now in the adoption arena that there needs to be an emphasis on differences with adoption children. As we begin the adoption journey and go through our paperwork and interviews, and are honest in our answers, we have said this exact same thing: we think adopted children should be treated the same. If you emphasize the differences, you are MAKING them different. It's amazing that right now "adoption professionals" think otherwise. They really emphasize (and suggests books) that tell you how important it is to treat them differently; that by acknowledging their differences you are doing them a huge favor. Thank you for validating what we already knew in our hearts was the "right" answer. Just love your kids-it's as simple as that.

    I'll be fine as long as I follow your blog for the rest of my life. LOL

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  22. Sweet! I totally understand. I make up songs and now they do too. You can tell when something you do is successful because they will start to do the same (hugs, kisses, backrubs, hair brushing, love notes - all that you spoke of).
    My children know that children come to their family in 2 different ways... via their mama's tummy or from someone elses tummy and their parents come to get them and bring them home. We've kept it simple and we do celebrate their anniversaries. They feel nothing but happy and lucky and LOVED! :)
    Good going Mom!

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  23. Oh, this makes me want to go visit each of my sons and hug them. My boys will never hang up the phone before they say I love you. My oldest son lives back home now and every night we have a nightly game of Jeopardy. He always wins. When they were young we did alot of the same things you do. Believe me, you miss it when they are grown, but there are other way to stay bonded. I take advantage of every way I can find. I thank god every day that we are still so close and even now, they still need their mommy!

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  24. That is so neat. Thank you for sharing! We can all use ideas in how to be real, to share ourselves with those we love. And for us who do not yet have children, it helps us know how to facilitate the bonding. Our host daughter would always try to give us food, even if we were completely STUFFED. We'll have to work on how to help her understand that we really DON'T want it. :-) But I appreciate her efforts to share and to make sure WE were being cared for.

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  25. Great post! I am very affectionate with my children and because they were all adopted past the age of 3 (with the exception of my daughter) I did a lot, lot, lot of physical touching, holding, cuddling, etc for bonding. I had to make up for what I missed....uhh I mean what they missed. LOL! BTW, I was talking to my sister last night on the phone and we were talking about haircuts and I said to her, " A friend of mine cuts her kids hair all of the time." and realized that I have never met you, but have read so much of your blog it feels like we are long time friends. Kinda kewl. Have a good night.

    Peace,
    :)De

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  26. I'm a touchy feely type of person too, so my kids get hugged, touched, kissed a lot. I also share food/drinks with my kids, I don't think it's gross, they're my kids for goodness sake! We do the hand rub in church too, I also do the leg/knee rub/squeeze. I often put my arms around them as well. I always try to have one on one time with the children as well. Even the girls out of the house, I still spend time doing things with them as much as our schedules allow, even when they don't really allow. I'll meet them for lunch, or stop in at my dtrs. apt. if I'm in the area. I also talk to them a lot on the phone. I like to leave love notes as well, also for hubby. We all seem to like our heads rubbed, or hair played with, so even though I can't really "do" the boys hair, I play with it a big and rub their heads.

    Each of my children tell me they think that they are "really your favorite". I don't have a favorite, I love them all more than life itself, but I'm so glad each of them think that they are that special to me! Because they are! They have NO doubt as to my love.

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  27. Very cool. I do most of that stuff with my kids, except I don`t drink out of the same water bottle, since I`m really grossed out by floaties. :) But we usually eat off the same plate, share ice cream, etc. Funny though, I never thought of it as something that promoted bonding and I really can`t imagine NOT doing it if I had adopted children!

    The other day I was wondering aloud why my 2.5 year old`s hair is always greasy at the back first, the front is usually still nice and smooth and clean. Then he walked past me and I automatically reached out and ran my hand through his hair, cradling the back of his head for a second. Oh, so THAT`s why his hair gets dirty so much faster back there! Lol. My boys also come and lean against my legs while I`m working on the computer and sometimes they climb up on my lap to watch a YouTube video or even just to cuddle for a few seconds while I type. I lie down on the bed with them and we snuggle for a few minutes while I read stories to them and whenever anyone leaves the house, even to go to the inlaws` house, they kiss everyone else in the house goodby.

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  28. I'm a touchy-feely mom from a non-touchy-feely family growing up. Loved this post!

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  29. Great post. Posts like this are inspiring other moms to keep the connection. example, a few weeks ago you wrote about showering with your children. It hadn't occurred to me to do this. Not from a modesty issue since she is always around. She was terrified of showers for a long time so its something that was out of the questoin for a long time. Anyway, since your post I have showered twice with my daughter and she loved it and its convenient. It was a great way to really get her hair washed better.

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  30. Lovely post sis! My family was a bit more stand-offish, but I am learning :-) One thing that I try to do, is make my stuff 'free' to the kids. My parents had too many things that were 'hand's off'... and nothing major, like I always wanted to look at mom's jewelry or dad's photographs, but it wasn't that I wasn't careful - I was! - it was simply 'Kids don't touch'.

    Oh, my stuff is still MY stuff. And they know what is 'important' and what is 'just stuff', but I want them to feel free to touch and use my things. They wear my T-shirts as nightshirts. Honor helps herself to my perfume. Brian gets into my socks. Both explore my jewelry and dig through my crafts supplies. They both use my laptop, and I find the darnedest pictures on the digital camera. I like to find my knick-knack and statues decorated, or lined up across the table on parade (as long as they are put away). Accidents happen, but I think this makes us closer. I share my 'treasures', and I believe it lets them know that I love and really trust them to respect me and my things. And it's not one way - some evenings I go to bed, and find a special toy waiting on my pillow for me to sleep with. Some mornings, I will wake up and find a lego creation, picture, or other sweet offering, on my bedstand to see when I awake.

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  31. Thank you soooo much for keeping it real and reminding us HOW important this is. I'm not a naturally touchy feely person so this is an area where I struggle to remind myself to do this for their sake! Thanks for another good reminder ;)

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  32. i don't have kids but my Mom did do some things i remember that helped us interact & bond with her, especially after my father left me, her, and my little sister.

    each of us had 1 night a week we got to sleep in Mom's bed with her.

    after baths, she would play a game with us to see how quickly we could work together to get us dressed & ready for bed. when we were younger, this was a nightly occurrence and she didn't stop with me until i was about 8 - even though i could dress myself by then.

    my Mom didn't miss a soccer practice or baseball game - she was our cheerleader & we loved it!

    my Mom took us to places she went as a kid - we LOVED IT!!!!! we got to share that connection and even if the actual place wasn't all that great, it was wonderful to us.

    at bedtime, she said our prayers with us, gave us kisses, and rubbed my back til i fell asleep. it was EXTREMELY comforting to me. i felt so secure.

    she read a kids' divorce book every few nights so we could relate to the dinosaurs whose parents were divorcing in the book. it meant so much to us to be able to cuddle up on her bed, one on either side of her, and have her read about how to make it through and that it's okay to feel (angry, sad, etc.), and we were ALWAYS allowed to talk about our feelings. that was of great comfort to us.

    when my Mom married my stepfather, she insisted on including us in the actual ceremony, beyond being flower girls. there was a "commitment ceremony" where he actually made "vows" to love & protect my sister & i as his own.

    my Mom has always not only told us how much she loves us - and she tells us that tons of times each day - but SHOWS US how much she loves us. i couldn't ask for a better mother!

    - michelle

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I find your comments so inspiring! Thanks for visiting our family blog, and sharing your thoughts.