We are now just about 8 weeks into 1st grade. Ava absolutely loves school and is learning so much, very fast...and not all of it is academic either. Some good and some shall we say, inevitable. Some of this stuff in the inevitable department is why I am a huge supporter and believer in public school education. It takes all kinds to make the world go around, to make us tolerant human beings, and to learn to swear properly on the kickball field. Ava is learning all of these important life lessons. She is sifting through what is appropriate for school, what is appropriate for home and what it feels like when a simply adorable little boy named Matt completely dumps you for all the womanly mysteries that are a little girl named Hailey. I haven't had the heart to tell her; hey baby, hold on until 7th grade, it will be far worse.
Just like Kindergarten we are also experiencing after school full atomic green meltdowns complete with slimy goo spilling out both ears while her head spins and she shouts in primal pain. I know deep down in my heart this is karmic payback for the tantruming 4ft. jumping brat that I was at the same age, and dare I admit much older too. Each and every time she is so tired that she melts onto the floor cursing me for living and subsequently gets sent to her room, I think of my mother and how she had to deal with my drama all those years. I'm still the reigning queen of a good temper tantrum, ask anyone East of the Mississippi.
So why is she so tired? What is it in her day that exhausts her physically and emotionally? She attends 1st grade full time, obviously. She graces the Brownie troop with her presence once every two weeks and she goes to Chinese school on Sunday afternoons for two hours. No dancing classes, no soccer, no afterschool care, no cooking lessons, nada. Of course she begs for a gymnastics class now and then but I've said no since she seems to be just keeping her little emotional head above water as it is.
Perhaps it goes back to her one big whopper of an issue that I know I've mentioned before. That ever elusive thing called sleep. You know the one thing in life that is supposed to rejuvenate and refresh the human body and spirit? Yeah, she's not all about that. Never has been. I have that child in her bed lights out between 7:59 and 8:00pm each and every night. And yet, it is not uncommon for me to trip over her on my floor during a 2am bathroom run. Sometimes she plays her music and reads at 3am. Perhaps her people might have been part vampire. These sleep issues do have a pattern. At the start of the school year her sleep issues become exacerbated, that is a pattern no doubt.
In addition, she's choosing adoption books for us to read quite a bit recently. The other night we read An Mei's Strange and Wonderous Journey. She was so quiet and looked about to cry that I just wanted to toss the book across the room. "Why can't we just read Dr. Seuss again, I thought." But, I know better...if she is choosing the book she needs to hear the story and work through awareness of issues. She had so many questions about the physical appearance of her birthmother. All of which I could not answer. My inability to answer a question frustrates Ava to no end, it always has. As I tucked her into bed after reading the book she shouted in utter frustration, "I just cannot remember. I can't remember what she looked like. I was too young to remember and now I've forgotten everything. I think I lived in a straw mud house but I don't remember anyone." Ava is notorious for remembering everything. The kid has a steel trap for a brain and can remember the details of some average playdate three years ago. Perhaps that is why this one thing about not remembering is such a difficult pill to swallow. I suppose when you are 6 years old it does not register that the cognitive part of the human brain just does not often remember life at 2, 4, 6, and 8 months old.
And so we push on. The Muffin Man and I knew full well that parenting these kids would not be all patent leather mary janes and bows to match pink dresses. Or so the social worker warned.
I suspect the sleep issues will even out as Ava gets more and more used to the routine of school. Perhaps some of the frustration related to her beginnings will too as we try to normalize living with it and talking it through as well.