There are a few things in life that married couples should know about eachother.
Things like, oooooh, I donno...
- Thier significant others eye colour (brown, no wait, GREEN).
- Thier likes (me, on some days) and dislikes (me, on other days).
- Favourite desertes (sticky taffy cake)
- Favourite foods (sticky taffy cake)
- Favourite passtime (sticky taffy cake)
- Names of thier children...
- ... or at least how MANY children (rough estimate in the case of the husband)
The basic stuff.
There is however, a whole different range of things which should be known.
Things that are learned over time and which are specific to each couple.
And I'm just going to throw this out there, I'm not sure that it applies to anyone other than us... but among the things I think the wife should know about thier husbands is this:
When meeting a Social Worker to determine the ability of ones self to parent a child effectively, maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to give said husband a few pointers - BEFORE the meeting...
SO here is the deal, when adopting in Ontario, the adoptive couple have to have a Home Study conducted by a Social Worker (lets call this person our Adoption Practicioner (AP)). Said AP studies the family, the home, the parenting style, interviews any children (even our 4 year old) to see what happens when 'mommy gets mad' and stuff like that.
The reason the AP has to do this, is to determine for the Ontario government IF we are FIT to be parents.
Lets forget the fact that the Ontario governmnent allowed us to have 3 children biologically.
Those we are allowed to screw up and send screaming into therapy as we see fit.
However, a child from China, well... thats different. We can't mess up those children. Oh no.
But I digress.
So down around the 3rd or 4th interview with our AP, we started covering the 'discipline' issues in parenting.
AP: So, Roberta what do you think of spanking?
Roberta: Oh I do not agree with spanking at all.
Me: What?! We spanked our kids. I'm pretty sure you just spanked one today.
AP: And Adrian, what do you think of spanking?
Now, I had read a lot of these here new fandangled 'books' (the kind filled with words (not just pictures)) about parenting and I thought to myself:
Self, this is a wonderful oppertunity to show our AP just how intilligent and well informed on disciplinary topics I am!
I mean, I dont watch Dr. Phill for nothing! If there is one thing my grandpappy used to always say, it was you can't catch a catfish unless you ding the ding a long ding ding!
Me: Well, I think that spanking is another tool in the parenting toolbox that we have cultivated over the years. Yes sir, I think that spanking is a great way to communicate* right from wrong to your young child.
* = It was around this time that I noticed my wife started kicking my foot from under the table.
AP: Really? So you were spanked? And how did you think that affected you?
Well, I could TELL she was just impressed with my use of 'book' words like, toolbox and cultivated.
Me: Well, I think I turned out pretty good!**
** = It was around this time that the foot kicking had graduated into a more frantic foot stomping, accompanied by repeated punches to my thigh.
The AP simply closed her book she was looking at, slowly looked up at us.
AP: There will be NO spanking. You will not be allowed to adopt a child in Ontario unless you agree that there will be NO spanking in your family what-so-ever.
Roberta: Oh sure! We agree! No more spanking! Ever!
Me: Really? But before two years of age, thier little minds haven't even created the neurological connections to associate cause and effect? A hot hand on the stove will teach a child not to touch a stove, yet all the words in the world and 'time out's could never teach that at that age.***
*** = It was around now that I'm pretty sure my lovely delicate little wife had broken my foot in 3 places, given me the largest charlie horse of my life, and had actually started sucker punching me in the kidneys
- NOTE: I would like to point out that although my wife feels that 'spanking' is wrong, apparently sucker punching your husband is perfectly acceptable.
AP: There will be NO spanking.
I'm going to stop the running dialog there. I'm pretty sure you can see where this is headed.
It was pretty clear to see that we would no longer be spanking.
And in our defense, we hadn't spanked in years, and you could count on 1 hand the number of times our children had ever been spanked.
I always considred spanking in anger to be wrong... but this was news to me that we were actually not 'allowed' to spank.
Now, at the end of the day, do I care about that? No. The whole rambling point of this post today, is to show that my wife should have KNOWN to give me a heads up about the spanking thing! :-)
No, thats not the point. The real point is more along the lines of what I thought as a parent. I though I would know how to parent an adopted child... but I sure didn't.
Our wonderful AP (she is terrific) had asked us some other questions. Some of them pretty standard, and I think most parents today would use the same toolbox:
- If our child acts out - give them a time out... so much better than a spank.
- If our child refuses to obey - take away a toy...
The question she asked us was this, and do please get this, because this is huge:
What do you take away from a child who has lost thier mom? thier dad? thier home? thier toys? thier bed? thier friends? Even thier name? What is it going to accomplish if you take away thier 'My Little Pony'? Do you really think that is going to teach them what you want it to teach them?
What do you think would happen, if your new child acted out, and you sent them to thier room for a time-out? Do you think they will learn what you want them to learn? Or do you think you will teach them that if they are bad, you will send them away? Just like other people have?
The way you have to parent a child who is suffering with loss is so vastly different that one can not help but feel totally un-prepared.
Yes, I have 11+ years of parenting under my belt.
Yes, I have 3 children.
Yes, I am a great father.
But No, I am not prepared for parenting a child who has suffered loss.
But we will.
And we will do it well.
And Ping will know that she is loved.
And she will know, that her parents are not perfect.
And I may have to re-learn everything I thought knew.
But I'm OK with that.
And I look forward to Ping teaching me all over again how to be a great father.
And so help me, if my wife has to read EVERY parenting book related to adoption for me to be a better Dad, then she will! :-)