The See-Saw Syndrome
When we had but one son, life was so simple. Now that the children outnumber us 2:1 with four kids and two parents, things are more complex. There are behavioral dynamics at work where the children subconsciously (or perhaps consciously?) tag-team to make us nuts.
One goes up in behavior, the other goes down. One plateaus, another escalates. One pings, while the sidekick pongs. Sort of like a see-saw, you might say.
It’s been most amazing with this camp experience. Our second son, a quiet, retiring, morose wallflower upon occasion, became Mr. Sunshine. He was known for smiling all the time, and his popularity soared among all.
“Really?” comes our response at the kids’ report of him.
“Really, Mama. He was happy and everyone noticed it!” they assured me.
“May it last forever,” his father intones.
“And ever. Amen,” I agree. “I wonder what they put in the chai?”
Mashenka, our oldest daughter, was beginning to get some stability in her behavior, but not entirely. To admit that she had a very rough summer was an understatement. She and all of our children were known at the Russian camp for their outstanding, exemplary behavior. They were leaders among their peers. Counselors thanked us for sending them.
Until she walked off the bus. Wearing clothes we had not approved for camp.
“Are your sure that these are the clothes you want?” I quizzed them.
“Dah, Mama,” they dutifully replied.
“For sure? Remember, they said no jewelry, no electronics, certain kinds of clothes…. You wouldn’t ever try to sneak anything into your bag at the last moment?”
“Nyet, Mama,” the angels sang.
And the first thing off the bus, she’s wearing something that wasn’t on the list. I tried not to make a big deal of it, because they don’t really own “questionable” clothing, but it was the deceptiveness of the act. She claimed that she had never really gotten around to informing me of her last-minute choice and that she could basically do whatever she wanted to do, no matter how many assurances she had given me to the contrary.
Oh, that old hag in the kitchen that talks to me about character and pays for my fun getaways? Whatever.
All of her extreme efforts to behave for five days non-stop had caused her to crash and burn upon arrival home. It escalated worse, and worse, and worse.
Now, a few days later, most of the see-saw siblings have settled into their past routines. If ever there were a casting call, some could masquerade as Snow White’s dwarf-like companions, given their character traits that mirror some of their names.
We all seem to have survived, and hopefully have plateaued for the present, but I wonder how normal this is? Do your kids do the see-saw thing, where one gets worse, as another gets better?
————-Tags: adoptive parenting blog, behavioral issues among adopted children, kids who make you crazy, multiple sibling behavioral dynamics, one child gets better the other gets worse, our kids outnumber us