Learn-As-You-Go Parenting

2,020 miles, eight nights, seven campouts, several hikes, six play-scapes, two swimming pools and one hotel later, we have had our first real vacation with the Littles. If you want to test a kid’s mettle, just put him in the car for a total of 36 hours in the course of a week! Actually, it went great.

Raising former foster kids is a learn-as-you-go-process. It is not the same as raising kids you’ve had from infancy. And it is truly amazing. I cannot believe how far these kids have come in a little over a year. The last time most of my family met them, they were foster kids and very new to us. Now, they are undeniably “ours.”

I was concerned about how our 4-year-old, the Captain, would fare. We have spent the summer working on unlearning some habits picked up in the last few months of school. We knew these habits were related to attachment disorder, so we were afraid the stress of a new setting and unfamiliar people would cause a setback. It did not. The Captain quickly connected with my 6-year-old great nephew, leaving Tinker and the Blitz to become each other’s best friend.

Tinker struggled the most with her behavior. When she is nervous, she tinkers. She picks up things that aren’t hers, puts stuff in her mouth– does things she knows are off-limits. This behavior gets her attention but drives me a little batty. I don’t think I was always the most gracious parent in the face of this stress. When I was enough in my senses, I picked her up and reminded her that we were all together, we were a family and soon we’d all be going home to our house. She had the most trouble getting to sleep of the three. It was a good reminder that all three have “leftovers” from being foster kids. Though she may not consciously remember living elsewhere prior to us, some part of her does remember — and it leaves her uneasy.

All in all, it went well. It wasn’t just their first vacation– it was my first big trip as mom of five! A family of seven makes a big splash wherever we go, and sometimes I forget that. I still have some learning to do but in reality, I guess all parenting is learn-as-you-go! Now that’s a relief!