And later, after a too-long argument about why I’m not actually treating the cat “special” by laying down the law that E cannot yell at the cat (“oh, but he’s allowed to scratch me?!?”), he opened his door for something and I asked him for his laundry, since I had a feeling he’s low on school clothes. He brought his clothes out, face all blotchy and eyes still teary. I just grabbed him in a hug, and he began to cry again. I rubbed his back, and said, “Lots of tough stuff going on inside today, huh.” He nodded. I held him a minute or two longer, and then pulled away to save our dinner from burning. We ate dinner as normal. We talked a little bit about how when we’re tired, our emotions don’t always react in a normal way, and little things become much bigger than when we’re rested and clear-headed.
On the way to his basketball game after dinner, we talked a bit more. He mentioned that he was acting out at me, but it wasn’t really about me, so that wasn’t fair. (Dude, how self-aware and insightful is this kid?!?). We talked about the letter, and how he feels his dad’s not really interested in him, just trying to use him some way. I assured him that the reason why his social worker and his therapist want to know how he really feels is so they can report that, because it’s really ok if he doesn’t want to see him. His reply was, “Well maybe before, but not right now.” He so wants this adoption to work, and to focus on us and this new life, and he knows that this kind of thing interferes with that and messes with his head. I hope he shares that with his therapist, and that the judge listens and doesn’t make E visit his dad when he doesn’t want to.
He’s such an awesome kid. I know we’ll have more moments like tonight; stress will come, exhaustion will come, patience will wear thin and triggers will abound. But I feel like I handled it ok, this first time around. Not perfect, but good enough. I can do this.