I spent my weekend running a camp at the university that both P and graduated from. This is the 4th year in a row I have been there for 4 days in the summer providing programming for the children whose parents are attending or presenting workshops. Many of the presenters of the workshops are people I studied with and they have kids now as well. It is like a family renunion every summer where proffessors, alumni and current students spend 4 days learning new things and being togheter. Most people seem to have a lot of fun, I spend four days chasing kids so mostly I am just exhausted. It is good too see my friends during meals and in the evenings though. We sit around and talk about our lives, about parenting, partners, marriage, we argue, we disagree but it's all good cause have been friends for years.
There is one huge difference between us though, glaring in fact and it causes me more trouble than my left leaning, gay marriage is a right, woman should be ordained views.
I have adopted children from foster care. I am the only one of us who is raising kids who experienced trauma and neglect, raising kids whose brains have been altered by the choices their first parents made.
When I am with them they judge me. They comment. They stare. They do not get it nor do they care to.
It's hard. It's hard to hear them joke about my being so strict and teasing me about not letting them out of my sight. It's hard to hear them tell me loosen up and let them be kids. Trust me, I would if I could.
Sometimes I try to take a step back, to see if the boys can do things that would be developmentally appropriate for a child their age and each and every time I do it fails. Why does it fail, it fails because they are not ready. They are not ready to have full control over what they take in the cafeteria line because they will take enough to feed four children and then refuse to eat it. They cannot share a bed in a hotel room because no one will sleep. If they are left alone for any length of time something will get broken or someone will get hurt. They cannot resolve their own conflicts because they do not yet have the skills needed to do so without hurting one another. They have to be reminded to use the washroom or they will wait until it is to late. Most statements that come out Kevin's mouth are lies and have to discussed at length to determine their accurateness. They have to be within arms reach of an adult they know really well at all times or something crappy is going to happen to someone nearby.
This is behaviour that pales in comparison to the what we used to deal with and yet the comments are still made. They still stare and snicker and tell me to back off. I'd like to tell them to shut up, I mean really I don't tell you how to raise your kids. I don't comment on their appalling table manners or smart ass comments to adults whom they should respect. I do not mock your parenting or suggest that because you are raising your children in the way that you feel is right for your family that you are doing a less than perfect job.
Yet because I am raising my kids in the way that is best for them, that gives them the structure they need to be successful, I somehow appear to be in need of parenting advice from people who have never been here, have not walked a mile in my shoes and probably never will. It drives me crazy and although I know that it is not going to change I would really like to be able to educate the masses but really is there any point because it seems as though everyone thinks they are an expert on how I should be raising my kids.
This road that we walk, the one where we adopt kids who other people have damaged and try to make a family is a tough way to create a family and the next person who makes a smart ass comment might just get to kiss my fist. You know or something like that.