Nonsense Chatter And The Adopted Child
0 comment Saturday, May 31, 2014 |
I am an introvert. Nothing benefits me more than time on my own to think my own thoughts and do my own things. My inner-world is a flourishing place and that doesn't need much external stimulation. Too much time with people, even people I love, drains me.
It's a struggle for me then, to have two extrovert children. They did not appear to be very extrovert when we first read about them, which was several months before we got to meet them. My son barely spoke, apparently, and my daughter was chronically shy. But the children who I read about in Foster Care are not the children that they have become since living with my husband and I. They are now a couple of lively kids with big personalities, masses of energy and a huge capacity for fun. I am immensely proud of how they have flourished.
(Yes, there is a 'but' coming ... )
But, they are BIG on nonsense chatter. They seem to need to fill up every single waking moment of every hour of every day with words, and those words are mostly complete and utter nonsense. To an introvert like me this quickly becomes like nails down a blackboard.
My daughter in particular seems to need to verbalise everything that occupies her mind at any one moment: 'Mummy, Pretty cat is lying on my bed.' 'Mummy, Sue is in her garden.' 'Mummy, when I move my foot like that it makes a noise.' 'Mummy, this toy has whiskers this one doesn't.' 'Mummy, you bought those Cocopops didn't you?' Whilst away on holiday recently we had a day trip out somewhere and she sat next to me on the bus there and back. By the end of the journey I was ready to hack my own ears off with a rusty blade in order to get some peace and quiet. She faithfully reported to me everything her eyes fell upon. On the return journey I tried several things to get her to stop her nonsense chatter, including pointing out to her that I was not blind and that I could see for myself that people were standing in Bus Stops; that the driver was using his windscreen wipers; that there was a house with some windows etc. She didn't stop. She couldn't stop.
With my son, his nonsense is more argumentative. So we get, 'Why have I got to put my coat on?', to which the answer is 'Because it's raining,' to which his reply is, 'No it isn't,' even though more water is pouring from the sky than Niagra falls could manage in a minute. 'No it isn't' to things that are 'blatantly are', is his trademark. He asks a nonsense question, gets a simple answer, and off we go, his chance to keep your attention by engaging you in complete and utter nonsense. I never correct him when he does this, because what he wants is the to-and-fro of the 'yes it is' 'no it isn't' argument, which he will continue until the end of time. What I do is ignore him and then distract him by talking about something else or giving him something else to do. Family members though, have yet to learn this simple trick, and they get stuck in the 'yes it is' 'no it isn't' argument with him until I come and release them from the hell of their own creation.
You can imagine, then, what it is like when my two children are together. Between them they can keep up a cacophony of nonsense for hours. In fact, I have learnt that - rather like with eating puddings - they simply do not know when to stop and will keep on and on until they make themselves ill. I have the odd task, therefore, as a parent who has to occasionally separate two children who are playing really well together!
Nonsense chatter and nonsense questions are difficult ones for an adoptive parent. On the one hand, this need to keep up a wall of sound comes from a deep insecurity handed to them by their neglectful background, I talk, therefore I am, and I am going to make damn sure that you know that I am here too! So it's not like you can just ignore them. In fact, simply ignoring them causing them great distress. They stop feeling safe.
On the other hand, it is such a dysfunctional, infuriating and disrespectful way of communicating that it cannot be allowed to carry on unchallenged. I have tried, with some success, to put in place boundaries for when I am available for nonsense chatter and for when I am not available for nonsense chatter. I am no longer worried about 'damaging' them when I tell them to take their chatter elsewhere when I am on the phone, or cooking tea, or attempting a reverse park maneuver. But their desire to engage me in complete and utter guff has not levelled very much since their time here with us. I have now completely abandoned any hope of being able to watch any TV programme together without expecting a running commentary from them both on what my own ears and eyes have already detected for themselves.
Sending them back to school today then, after an almost continuous three and a half weeks off school due to Easter, Bank holidays and Royal Weddings, was not only most welcome, it was much needed. Although, only one hour away from picking them up, I can say that already their bedtime can't come soon enough.
p.s. if you're a struggling adopter dealing with this in your child or children, check this quick video out made by the ever helpful Christine Moers.