before we met roxy, we both read a lot about attachment. we’ve struggled a bit in many areas and there are still some glaring issues. i was perusing forums this morning after a couple of recent stranger incidents in which roxy will hug random people, leaving her mamas stunned and horrified. the most recent incident was tuesday at her new gym class where a man stopped by the room to wave to the teacher. roxy ran away from the group and straight into into this man’s legs. she’s never seen him before and i was sitting right at the door outside the room so naturally my stomach dropped. the man was uncomfortable, the teacher was uncomfortable, and i was livid. we’ve talked to her so many times about how we do not approach strangers. it’s not clicking. maybe we’ve been too soft. by the time class was over, i couldn’t get roxy to the car fast enough to lay down the law once and for all. “you only hug family! did you know that man? what were you thinking!” of course, in her three-year old mind with a history of disruption, she doesn’t even know who qualifies as family. so i clarified. “you only hug um.i and mama!” and i repeat it many times a day but i have a feeling this isn’t over.
back in the Fall, when she was so new to us and we were feeling our way through the dark, we worked with the counselor to compose an email to friends and family about how to treat roxy. it was imperative that red and i were the only ones meeting her basic needs. still, everyone was quick to offer her a snack or a drink without checking with us. i don’t think i put anything about hugging and she’s so damn cute (really, she’s c.u.t.e. and beautiful and people stop on the street every day to tell me that) that everyone scoops her up without a thought. in fact, it was an uncle’s girlfriend, whom we hardly know, that picked her up on christmas day upon seeing roxy for the first time and said “i’m not giving her back.” that’s really stuck with red and i and while we have never said anything to the family (heck, we haven’t seen anyone since xmas anyway), this is exactly the type of behavior one should avoid in spending time with a child who has potential for R A D or god knows how many other long-term issues. then during the first gym class two weeks ago, i was explaining to the teacher that we don’t call roxy the name i registered her under and instead we use a nickname. she put me on the spot in uncouthly asking me why and i very quietly said something like “i am her foster mother” to which she responded “that’s so cool! i’ll take her!” roxy didn’t react but i’m sure she heard her and well, that was a big lesson learned for me.
finally, everyone who meets roxy remarks on how “good” she is, and it’s true. this is a thing. every single book on adoption talks about it (specifically in adoption past infant age). it’s a survival instinct. she’s determined to be in everyone’s good graces. am i saying she’s not inherently well-behaved? absolutely not. but she’s uncharacteristically good for a toddler and i know, despite running a tight ship around here, we have very little to do with it. if you drop your own pencil in the next room, she’s right there to say she’s sorry. every time. she’s hyper-vigilant. she asks twenty times in the ten minutes it takes to drive to a restaurant where we’re going. granted, red and i are learning to be less spontaneous because it’s so important that roxy trusts things are going to happen in the order we say they are. she thanks us for clipping her fingernails. she brings her plates to kitchen and puts them in the dishwasher. yes, all of that is awesome, and it’s hard to pinpoint where these behaviors come from, but most important she’s yet to learn that our love is not conditional. each and every day i tell her we love her and we will keep her safe. then she charms us and sings “we are famileeee, i got um.i, mama, and ME!”
note: roxy does have her moments and like many kids, she saves those for us, her parents. that’s another milestone. she’s comfortable enough to test boundaries.
ETA: since writing this post a couple of hours ago, we had an appointment. can you guess what the specialist said? “she’s so cute, i’m just gonna take her home.” we really need to work on a response for this. i was thinking “aw, that’s sweet but she’s finally in her forever home.”