Friday, June 10, 2011

How strangers talk to us - updated version

I thinkmy internet connection problem is fixed. I'm afraid to cheer just yet, but we've made some very dramatic fixes, and it seems to me that the internet should just stay on already. Sheesh. This service ain't cheap, y'know.

Of course, as soon as I lose the ability to post on my blog, I get a flood of inspiration. It's been a long time since I described the generalities of life as an adoptive family.

One of my earlier concerns, you may remember, was how to deal with strangers' prying questions as Cloud gets older and understands English more. It seems the problem is working itself out. Conveniently, the prying questions have all but dried up. Now people just say, "He's so CUTE!" Sometimes they say it to me, sometimes they say it to each other, and sometimes they say it to the air. Black men of all ages, however, continue to be the exception - they address him directly, saying, "S'up, little man?" I think that's awesome. Addressing the child directly! And speaking to him like he's a regular person, worthy of respect! What a concept.

My bigger problem now is to stop voluntarily educating people when I don't have to. Many people are curious about our family, even if they don't come right out and inquire about us, and I get the urge to meet them halfway and open the conversation for questions they may have. I have to stop doing that. I've been doing it less often, but really, at this rate Cloud is still going to learn all about his history via Mama's conversations with strangers. (Or near-strangers. For instance, the last person who I allowed to ask me adoption questions was the library storyteller, and we've 'known' her for a year now.)

Someday I will have to have conversations with my son, so he knows more about himself than anyone else does. I hope I remember it all. Not everything of importance is written down in this blog. (If it were, that would defeat the whole thing about him knowing more than anyone else.) It's getting easier to talk to him, as his speech grows ever more sophisticated. I know I should start talking to him about adoption now, because it's unnecessary to wait until he can formulate a question before answering it. I know what many of his questions will be.

But although it feels like the speech thing is making progress, I find it hard sometimes to communicate. For instance, last night I had to discipline him, and I dumped him in his crib without saying a word. It didn't seem unreasonable at the time; after all, what was there to say? I've already told him that hitting was bad. He knows. But in retrospect, this whole Silent Mom Discipline seems a little weird.

It's just... you know... sometimes I talk a whole heck of a lot and say nothing, and sometimes I go to say something and nothing comes out.

Which brings me to another little thing about how strangers' questions and my answers have changed. When somebody asks about some odd little behavior that Cloud is exhibiting, I reply, "It's a thing."

"Oh, a thing," they say. And if they try to get more information out of me, they fail, because I've already explained it to the very best of my ability. I don't know adoption psychology. And even if I did, I'm under no obligation to share my special knowledge with them. "It's a thing" covers all they need to know: I'm aware of what my son is doing, I'm not worried, and they shouldn't worry either.

I mean, he's three years old. The kid says "thank you" every chance he gets. He makes eye contact. He laughs if you act friendly toward him. What more could they possibly want?!

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