As adoptive parents we sometimes celebrate some very strange things as milestones in our children’s progress through life. Where some might celebrate the first words or the first steps, we don’t always get to do that because when those things happened we were not part of our children’s lives.
Instead we find things where we can. A few months ago I did a post called False Boundaries where I described the first time my Eldest had not only voiced his worry about the noise that the bathroom fan made, but also had done something about it on his own by closing the door, risking being told off for coming out of his room at night. That was something which I celebrated as a step forward in his progress.
Night-time has always been a strange time for him. When he’s lying in his bed it is clear that he worries about far too many things.
For many weeks once we closed the door he shouted out “Will you have a sleep?” to whichever of us did the closing. If we didn’t answer he would repeat it over and over again until we did. It took me far too long to realise that perhaps the reason he asked this was because he needed reassurance that we would in fact be spending the night in the house and he wouldn’t be left alone.
It also took me far too long to realise us opening and closing the front door for whatever reason (takeaway delivery, one of us popping to the shop, etc) usually triggered the sound of a boy coming out of his room and checking he could still hear that someone was at home with him.
The dawn of realisation that all these things were being triggered by the same thing… His need for reassurance that we would always make sure there was someone there to look after him when he was in bed… took far too long but it didn’t come as a surprise. In fact even without recognising that these things were triggered by the need for reassurance we had been offering it anyway.
It seems to have worked. His calling out at night the second we close his door has lessened to the point where I can’t remember the last time he did it.
I know that he still lies there at night worrying before he falls asleep, but I know that worry is lessening. How do I know?
Well. The boy that used to close the bathroom door before he went in his room, the boy that yelled out to make sure we closed the door if he could hear it, forgot about it. Not just once, but many times. I even witnessed him going to the toilet and going back to bed, leaving the door open after having finished. His vigilance in making sure that thing he was scared of didn’t happen has been forgotten about.
That, to me, is progress. The open bathroom door is something worth celebrating.