Monday, August 22, 2011

Treacherous Waters

The lake we were swimming in has a roped off shallow area that was swarming with people because it was the warmest day of a very chilly summer. One of our kids has had some swim lessons and the other hasn't. We were watching them like hawks.

Ted had gone to sit down in the grass after I'd had my turn reading my book. It was now me and the kids. The scene was making me uncomfortable because of two factors: my kids don't like each other most of the time and the place was swarming with people. So it's not as if our kids were together playing much. They kept going in opposite directions, no matter how many times we tried to keep them together.

At one point, B yelled for me "Look, Mom!" so I turned her direction. I immediately turned back to check Abe. Watching our two kids in this shallow lake was like watching a tennis match. Back, forth, back, forth.

In the time it took me to turn my head back to where A was, he was gone. No sign of him. The first two seconds, I didn't freak. I just called him name. He didn't appear. I called louder.

Second three: my heart started racing, and I started counting how many seconds it had been. I am aware of that two-minute mark of a kid being under water. I started screaming. Louder. Louder. LOUDER. Everyone in a twenty-thirty foot radius of me got quiet.

Where is Abe?! TED?! Where is Abe?! WHERE IS ABE?!

These seconds, which Ted promised me were not longer than ten, were the worst seconds of my life as a mother. I saw the blank, dark area of water where my son had just been. Try it: count to ten. Imagine the terror of thinking your child is under water, stuck, unable to get to air.

In the midst of my yelling, Ted appeared at my side, Abe with him. Our son has simply decided that he was tired of being with me and his sister. He simply decided to go find his dad who was sitting on a crowded grassy hillside. He simply decided to do this without telling me, though he knows he is never to wander away from one of us. His simple decision plunged his mother into the depth of terror.

As all four of us walked to our spot on the hill, many mothers looked my direction, concerned and sympathetic looks on their faces. I sat down. The kids immediately started asking for drinks and snacks. I put my head in my hands and lost it. The tears came pouring out as I shook, my body releasing all that adrenaline. Of course, I wanted to shake and yell at our son.

Instead, I pulled him to me, squeezed the bejeezus out of him, locked eyes with him and told him how terrified I was when he left my side. I think he got the message not to do it again.

I don't know if his wandering away was connected at all to the tough adjustment period we're in. It could be. It might not be. I just don't know. I know it's a phase we'll get through. But right now? It's not easy. B told me tonight as she was helping me with the laundry that she loves me, she loves Daddy, but that she doesn't love Abe. He has told me that he's finished with her and doesn't want a sister anymore. The two of them constantly antagonize each other.

People tell us this is normal sibling stuff, but I know it's not. This is adoption stuff and language acquisition stuff and changing family dynamics stuff.

Eventually, we'll get through it. Sometimes our kids get to fighting so intensely that they start laughing. I don't know how it happens, but it does.

Tonight after swim lessons, the kids were playing at the park. As B was going down a slide, Abe yelled from the other side of the playground to a kid near the slide, "Hey! That girl is my big sister!"

This simple declarative statement by our son gave me some hope. We'll make it through.

Swim lessons.


Coffeemom said...

Oh Lori! I'm so sorry for that scare! The worst terror, and the adrenaline does make you shake, then cry. And the added wear of this adjustment era stress? Doesn't help.

Is this sib stuff? Not yet. That's why it's extra hard. But that you get it... That makes all the difference. I really think you guys are making amazing swift progress! Really! Heck, last week it was Ted, this week Abe... B will adjust, you all will. This two are making great strides. It will happen. With time. Time happens... No matter what. So. You're gonna get there, your sweet little family and this Sharp prickly time will be a distant memory. For real. Still in my daily prayers...
Did I say how gkadney I an Abe is ok?? Whew!

Semi-feral Mama said...

I had my water moment with PJ last week. I hadn't thought about blogging about it. I can't even think about it without completely and totally hating myself.
I am so glad Abe is fine.
I am glad you are fine.
Unless you have been crying lots and not blogging about it - you deserved a big cry. The stress, the exhaustion, even the relief and the love, they need to come out.
I am sorry that your adjustment period is not sunshine and rainbows. Really, your family deserves that. Of course you live in PDX - you know how rare sunshine can be - and rainbows never last long enough. On the other hand, your family can handle this as well.

Christine said...

I am so sorry for your moments of fear. I hope the cry helped. I had a similar moment of losing my son - at a rest stop. Very scary, in a different kind of way. I agree with the wise ones above, time is what it takes. The days are slow, but the years are fast, that saying helps me sometimes.

Sharon said...

I can identify with that terror feeling-I think I've had that at one time or another with each of my kids. The worst.

Also, on the whole sibling thing...I was just saying to my husband the other morning that I know our littlest 2 have come a long way in their relationship, but they still DRIVE me CRAZY at times! I wish I could say that it's normal sibling stuff at this point, but it just isn't. It will get better, I promise, but it will take time and probably lots of chocolate and coffee.

hotflawedmama said...

ai yi yi. That is the worst. I've had those moments, one I actually had to jump in and fish my daughter out myself. You never shake it. It's so hard. So, so sorry you went through it.

And it will pass but I'm sure it doesn't feel like it now.


jen said...

oh this made my hands sweat reading this and my chest is still a little tight.
If you ever want to chat, please let me know. I do understand what you are going through. If I can say without sounding know-it-all-ish, its hard but try to keep the positive vision in your mind, try to hold onto your hope.
You are really giving both of your children such a gift. They will learn to choose to love. What a beautiful lesson.

Jill said...

love that last comment--they will learn to choose to love. that is awesome.

mama becca said...

ugh. that is the scariest feeling ever. i hate hate hate that you had to go through it.

also... siblings. hm. I dunno, not yet. when pete came home from the hospital, leah could. not. stand. him.

"take that baby BACK! he is NOT your baby! he is NOT my brother!"

she tried to suffocate him. they grew into their sibling relationship as pete grew.

when Sam came home, Pete did the exact same thing leah had done to him. he was suspicious. Sam (even as a babe) was suspicious of pete. there were no smiles or giggles between them (unless i really, really forced it). They, too, grew into the relationship, realizing they were brothers for life, no matter what.

it worked for all my kids, this gritty, natural, hard process. it took time. you are doing amazingly well with it all, even if you feel inadequate or tired or stretched thin.

Claudia said...

I find that people generally do NOT want to hear it when people say that siblings hate each other. Ours are a TINY bit less awful with each other than they were six months ago, but their sibling relationship is a HOT MESS. It's awful. It's a stress like no other.

It is getting better, but ... UGH. And yeah, I do think it's at least partly adoption related (even though they were adopted at the same time). They both seem to NEED one on one attention to believe that we really love them, and they don't get it. Ever. (Well, for a few hours sometimes on a weekend when we take one each. But generally? No).

All this to say - it's HARD. But it's an unpopular thing to talk about. I'm so sorry you're going through it. Trusting that your kids (and mine) will, eventually, learn to choose love - what a great way to express it! I'm remembering that, Jill :)