Happened

“What the…? Mess how?”

“Happened.”

Leaving the room for less than a minute, I am stunned by how much chaos Little Chick has created. I have learned that keeping questions simple and to the point is best for eliciting the truth. Lately though, Little Chick will only reply “happened”, with a Gallic shrug and perfect pout.

Initially, I laughed. It was funny. Little Chick responded to this – he loves making people laugh – and now overuses the phrase. Every time he does something it is followed by an enigmatic “happened”, whether it is accidental (dropping cutlery during meal time) or deliberate (smacking me around the face when we’re singing nursery rhymes, usually because he is unable to regulate himself).

I appreciate that he is only three and can’t be responsible for all his actions, nor can he control his behaviour, but “happened” is getting to me. Oh, the temptation to respond in kind (say, knocking over a tower of blocks or tipping his dessert on the floor followed by a nonchalant “happened”) is overwhelming sometimes. But I know it is petty and unnecessary. I need to take a step back and respond calmly and therapeutically. But that’s easier said than done sometimes.

I also recognise that I am fortunate. Little Chick sometimes struggles to regulate himself, but for a child of his background he copes incredibly well with everyday life. He is a kind and likeable boy and isn’t remarkable from his peers. Yes, he can be a handful sometimes, but he is a three-year-old, it’s par for the course. On the days I do find parenting hard work, when I have had my fill of “happened”, my wife can share the load and give me a break, usually to regulate myself. I genuinely don’t know how single parents or parents with more challenging children cope, when the onslaught is relentless. “Happened” reminds me of the need for self-care for all, but especially adoptive, parents; it reminds me that we need to be kind to our children, parent therapeutically, but also be kind to ourselves, so we can better deal with whatever has “happened”.

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