A free day! Maybe that was a bit dramatic; however Tom will tell you my work life balance needs adjustment. I squeeze work into pockets of the day, and you can see from the last time I posted the pockets are getting longer. This has been a very positive personal change. Now to figure out how this is all going to work out over the summer months. It will take serious structure. The first two weeks from what I have observed the last two summers are very rough. My sensory girl needs each day to play out in an almost Groundh*g Day like fashion. She fights the change, and typically old behaviors resurface, but it doesn’t impact us any more than the phases we are experiencing with a sometimes moody preteen.
For all practical purposes, we are seeing a Sidney that is the best she’s ever been. That being said, it’s important to stay grounded in the reality this will change. I recently read a great article called “Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time.” Before I confuse everything said in the article, I suggest doing a simple search and finding it. It talked about “Physical and implicit memory.” Because Sidney can’t physically remember what happened, her environment and body sensations trigger her. It explained how this is stamped on her brain. It’s always a relief to find information that specifically talks about the impact of neglect. None of this is to say that we have lowered our expectations of Sidney or her behavior. Simply put, it’s awesome to find resources that deal specifically with what we are experiencing.
When I was reading the article, I kept thinking of all the ways it relates to everything about Sidney but more specifically hunger. I read the books before we came home. I was prepared for issues of attachment, but like so many other parents I was under the assumption that once a child understands there is food, they start eating, and we go off into the sunset. Not so much. This is another part of her prior life that she can’t let go. She still goes to bed at night with crackers. We can replace them for four weeks straight, and she never touches them. The night they are gone she will come downstairs immediately and ask. She’s terrified to go to sleep if they are not physically there. If we say something is gone like her favorite fruit apples, we immediately respond by saying, we will go to the store to get more.
This also occurs when she goes into a new situation. Our girl scout troop visited the police station last week. It was dinnertime. She had a large snack after school, so there’s no way she was hungry yet. Tom was grilling at home, and she saw him prepping the food as we told her we would eat immediately following the short outing. We live in a town of less than 6,000 so a 30 minute tour takes about 35 minutes with drive time. As we walked across the street into the station, I saw her pull a small package of candy out of her pocket. I told her to hand it over, and then the look I know so well washed over her face. She hates sweet food, so it wasn’t that she simply wanted candy. It was the first thing she could grab before we left. Midway through the tour, she came to me making sure it was still there and asking for some. I pulled her into the hall and repeated my mantra, “You will NEVER be hungry.” We were home once, and I told her the same thing, asking if she trusted me. Her response was no. Knowing what I do, I can’t blame her.
I share all this, because it’s like I have shared so many times. When we were waiting to bring Sidney home I knew what to expect the first months and even year home. It’s what happens in the later years that I was curious about, and I could never find information that detailed what parents experienced. So I will continue to share as I have time and hope that my small (okay very small) group of readers continues coming back!