Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Small but Huge victory

I know this sounds like a small thing, but take my word for it, for Genea, this has been climbing Mount Everest without shoes. Today, she started to cry, and when I pointed out that it sounded like she needed to let some crying out, she got up and walked into her room and shut the door and cried. And when she was done, she came back out and took up wherever we left off.


I have blogged about this before, but the short version is that this child has the capacity to let out one of the most brain crushing ear begging heart twisting cries that I have ever heard. It is impossible to fully describe what this sounds like. If you imagine 100 hands dragging 500 fingernails down chalkboards next to a microphone in a box full of 300 hungry kittens, for hours and hours without letting up, you have an idea. It is different from a frustrated kid cry or a tantrum cry, it is a cry without reason that feeds off of itself and rarely does it end with intervention. Most attempts at any kind of help make it worse, Genea herself has to beat it back.

Early on, I was told, and had learned from reading that we should never leave our adopted child alone as a consequence. If she was having a meltdown, or if she needed a time out, it should be in the room with us and she should always be able to see us. This makes absolute perfect sense. Of course you never would want to isolate a child you are trying to attach to! Common sense! All the books said so! But it is obvious anyway!

Lawdhy, I tell you, it became quickly obvious that none of my fancy books had ears. It also became unpleasantly obvious that if this child was going to make that sound on a regular basis she was going to be able to hold our family hostage with it. You couldn't talk, or hear or do anything else. You could hear it in the driveway it was so loud. We, and especially I, tried to sit with her in a time out. Tried to put her where she could see us. Tried all of the above. Holy hell there was no way this was going to work out and this is serious, there was no way this was going to work out. So the past year and a half have been dedicated to managing that unholy sound by a series of steps and chances and choices that end in Genea being sent to her room to shut the door until she is done. All along we have told her if she feels this coming on, don't instigate or pick a fight, don't break a rule and ask us if we saw you, if you feel you need to cry (and she rarely knows why, this is much different from a regular cry) just go to your room, let it out behind the door and then you are done.

Today, she did it.

I find myself hesitent to post this. I don't want people to think that I just let this poor kid cry and sob from sadness. That is not what this cry is. It is not the kind of thing you can hug or convince things are ok. It is like its own entity. It comes for no apparent reason, and leaves the same way. No external efforts have helped, she has to handle it herself. Mostly she instigates or picks a fight to have a reason to hang the cry on, then we are stuck with it.
But not today!


  1. wow she's getting the hang of it...don't be surprised if she doesn't do that next time, but it's a massive improvement for you family...families ears! Have you invested in ear plugs?? :)

  2. Yeah, for small victories! And I love the "books don't have ears" comment! It sounds like you are very intuitive to her needs, so feel badly at all about posting this!

  3. Oops, I meant DON'T feel badly at all. (Not a Fruedian slip, just typing quickly.)

  4. Thanks! I am glad I was able to get the point across, I worry sometimes how stuff will read to other people. Her crying jags are getting shorter too. Hopefully she is growing and maturing out of some of this stuff.

  5. Almost 4 years after the post - thanks! Finally something about THAT cry. Try driving down the freeway with that! Ack! Hope you keep your blog up and do keep posting! Also, thanks x the link to your friend Sarah.


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