Anna’s chorus concert…she was SO excited about it. We’d been hearing for over a week. What she was supposed to wear. What time she was supposed to be there.
“Mom, are you sure you will be home in time?”
“Will you video it for Maria and May to see it?”
You see, from the day we met this little girl she’s been giving concertas in any location or language she could.
She got home from school yesterday at 4:30pm and immediately wanted to get into her outfit and fix her hair. I flew in the door just before 6pm, and we had a moment to eat a quick bite of dinner, finish hair, and off we went to the concert. You should have seen her smiling face and just how happy she was before we left. Happy and a little anxious!
When we walked into the school, and she went ahead of us. I had a “moment” and just needed to snap a pic of her walking down the hall. It’s been just over a year since she came home for good, but what courage in that little heart of hers. She left all she’s known with only a painful story (that’s hers to tell someday) and yet lots of love from precious souls who cared for her along the way. Her courage, as she walked down that hall, and me thinking of how far she has come just brought tears to my eyes.
The concert happens, and she’s on the front row. There are about 50 parents there videoing and snapping pictures, and she sings! You can tell she’s apprehensive with her little hands clasped in front and making eye contact with us when she can. She gets through the four songs, takes a final bow, and flies off the stage and straight to me.
She throws her arms around my neck and she’s sobbing…crying so hard.
“Mommy can we please just go home. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m just tired. Can we go NOW?”
I try to understand what is wrong. What happened?!? She assures me no one was mean to her–she just NEEDS to go home NOW. I tell her she did a great job up there…we are so proud.
Is she sure she doesn’t want any pictures with her teacher? She had asked for those at home. She decides she does, and in we go again even though she’s crying and getting herself together for pictures. She’s smiling through the tears, and we still aren’t completely sure what has upset her, but we tell her ice cream for a celebration when we get home would be good. And she very much likes that idea.
We leave. She’s holding my hand and repeating, “I’m just tired. I’m okay.”
We get home, change into PJ’s, and crawl up on the couch with our ice cream. I hold her close and tell her it is okay to not be okay. If she can put into words why she was upset, it will help mommy and daddy know how to help her next time.
She says there were too many people. She was afraid someone was going to steal her.
Now, I’m not sure she really thought someone was going to run up on stage and snatch her, but I do think what she felt was the fear of loss.
This little angel has had so much loss in her short life. And for the first time she had a mom and a dad in the audience who was cheering and clapping and taking pictures of only HER. And the fear of losing that was simply overwhelming.
So, when she’s sassy and bossy and talks back and becomes a little know-it-all, we very much remember that she needs reassurance Every. Single. Day. This Mom and Dad are forever.
It’s not all easy. ALL kids are complicated–some more than others. But they are ALL a beautiful tapestry being woven by God. And we are privileged to be chosen to help these little ones along. All children deserve this chance.
Submitted by a reader.
Unfortunately, children from hard places often use maladaptive behaviors to communicate REALLY big feelings they may be processing. They are experts of choosing behaviors that push our “buttons” or make it hard to maintain our patience. It tends to be easy to get caught up in the the actual behavior and forget to be curious about what that behavior might be communicating. For some many kiddos, I think we underestimate how much their change (or multiple changes) in primary caregivers alters their paradigm and breaks their trust. It’s important to remember that even though when we know that they are safe or in a permanent placement, they don’t FEEL that way. For them, perception is reality. I just can’t imagine how terrifying and exhausting it must be to go through life thinking that someone new could take you “home” at any moment. I love stories like this that give me pause and help me increase my compassion for my kids.