It was my birthday this week. And it sucked. Partly because I’m creeping closer to 40 and I had a mini existential crisis (perhaps a forerunner to the impending midlife crisis). Mostly because Little Chick did not like me having a birthday.
Several times on Twitter I’ve seen adopters comment on how celebrations were ruined, plans spoiled, and that they had learned not to mark such occasions with their children. To date, we have all had a birthday since Little Chick has lived here and all have passed without a problem. In fact, he’s been non-plussed by it all, his birthday and Christmas included.
But something has changed. Instead of laughter, cake, and balloons, there is anger, frustration, and violence. And I don’t really understand why. Well, I have my suspicions.
Lately, we’ve noticed changes in Little Chick’s fight, flight, or freeze responses. When faced with perceived danger, his default mode was freeze. Over time, this had morphed into flight mode, with Little Chick darting off when confronted. Alongside this, fight mode has appeared. At the heart of these responses is fear.
A seemingly enjoyable outing with his cousins to a venue of their choice ended with hitting, kicking, general defiance, and running away – both publicly and dangerously. Whether he couldn’t cope with it being my birthday or was overwhelmed by other aspects is unclear. But he was clearly frightened. When you’re excited by your birthday and your plans get scuppered it’s difficult to (immediately) separate the behaviour from the child. To see it as fear rather than wilful or mischievous hijinks. When you’re the kind of person who still appreciates your parents’ acknowledge of your half birthday it’s hard not to take it personally.
But it’s not personal. It’s not about me.
And that’s adoption, really. It’s scary, it’s confusing, and it’s not about me.