Hard to believe that it has been four years since we stood before the judge and adopted our son. The actual “Gotcha Day ” was September 21, 2012.
Our son isn’t old enough yet to fully understand what his gotcha day means, but this year I got to eat lunch with him at school. He is in kindergarten now, and it was Dads for lunch day at his school. I thought it was a great way to spend some time with him on this special day.
This past year was a year of transitions. Last September I had major surgery on my right ankle; we moved to a new home in January; our son graduated from a preschool that he had attended for three years; Danielle had surgery in May; and finally our son began kindergarten at a new school where he didn’t know anyone.
Whew. As you can imagine all of those events made life just a little interesting around our house.
When I had my surgery, my son wanted to know if I would ever be able to play with him again, especially things like jump on his trampoline and wrestle on the living room floor. I assured him that we would.
With Danielle’s surgery, he didn’t always remember that he couldn’t run and grab her or jump up and down on the bed. That’s a hard thing for an active five-year-old boy.
The two major changes—moving and starting a new school—took some time and creativity to navigate.
A New Home
After we made the offer on the new house, I took my son over to explore the 5 acres. I told him about the woods, trails, and cool tree house. So he was all for checking it out. When we got back into my truck, I asked him what he thought about the new place to which he responded with yelling and crying, “I don’t want to move! I like the house we have now!”
Just so that you know, he loves his new house now just in time for him to transfer his anxiety to the new school.
A New School
We tried different things to get him used to the idea of his new school. One Saturday I took him over to the school to play on the playground and walk around the outside of the school. He enjoyed exploring, but he didn’t have much to say about going to school there.
He didn’t talk about school at all. Instead he began planning his birthday party which is in October and our annual Thanksgiving trip to the beach. He even began packing for the beach trip.
Danielle and I knew he needed help processing the idea of a new school. but the things we tried didn’t seem to work. Then his occupational therapist suggested role playing. We decided to play out what it will be like the first few days at school.
He grabbed onto this idea and ran with it. As soon as he got home he “built” a kindergarten school in our living room. We took turns playing each role of child, parent, and teacher. This helped him to start talking about his fear of a new school.
What I Learned This Past Year
- My son’s trauma history makes any transition unpredictable.
- Role playing helps my son process transitions.
- We need a year without any major transitions!
Here are a few other pics from this past year…
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