Thursday, October 21, 2010
Last night was a very rough night. Anya came home over an hour later than I had asked, with Nastia in tow, and she did not take kindly to my reprimand. Raising a teenager is hard. Trying to parent someone who has never had a parent is even harder. Last night's discussion and eventual yelling match turned into today's endless argument. I know, I know Anya has no experience with boundaries being set, curfews and requests for phone numbers and locations of where she'll be. But we are a family now. There are compromises that need to be made, and not just from me.
Nastia feels caught in the middle. She is terrified her sister will take off again. I try to help her understand that setting limits for Anya is part of the journey to helping her become a healthy, happy person. But Nastia is scared -- last night Anya said she was leaving for good.
I could tell she didn't really have the heart to do it. Would you leave a safe home, warm bed, ample food, lots of love unless you were truly forced to? As she stormed out the door, I asked for her coat. You might think that is a horrible thing to do in Siberia. but I knew Anya wanted a reason to come back. I also wanted her to have a vivid reminder that all she has has come from me, her mother who loves her. Her shoes, her coat, her phone, even the remaining kopeks in her pocket come from me. I never ever tell her that, or, God forbid, rub it in her face. But I felt it imperative that she be reminded last night. So when she left, I said "Just make sure you do not take anything that I have provided. Just take what you have bought and earned yourself." She ripped off her coat and threw it at me. (Funny, she didn't remover her socks, shoes, clothing and underwear, but I think she got the idea.)
Nastia cried her heart out on the stairs when Anya left (my poor neighbors). She begged me to do something. I reminded her that Anya has street smarts, if not common sense, and she knows there is a 24 hour cafe around the corner. I also told her that I would bet any amount of money that Anya would be back within 10-15 minutes. Ten minutes almost to the second, the buzzer rang.
The morning I'd hoped would bring an apology and understanding, instead brought more willfulness and rage, and Anya refusing to get out of bed even by noon. After kind requests, I finally pulled the covers off her and said "NOW!" in my best impression of my father. She stomped around the apartment and said she did not want to be a part of this family anymore and went to get dressed. " I'm leaving" she announced ragefully again, but taking time to put on make-up and heels, though.
"A child runs away. An adult stays and faces the situation." I reminded her, as she teetered on her 6 inch heels and stuffed her pockets with food. I knew this was the only way to stop her in her tracks, because she prides herself on being an adult, though she is the furthest thing from it.
She begrudgingly came back in and sat in the kitchen.
Fitfully, and painfully we tried to maneuver this impasse. I finally called a new wonderful friend on skype, who lives in Russia and has worked with children like Anya over the years. It was not appropriate for Nastia to be the translator in this situation, and the things I wanted to say were beyond my Russian-speaking capabilites. Via skype, and thanks to Christine R, we had a little heart to heart mother-daughter talk. Although Anya acted as if she did not care and was not truly listening, I trusted that hearing how I felt via Christine would help. Above all, I reminded her how much I loved her and how much I wanted the best for her. I asked for her to just take a few steps towards me in return. Christine was a huge help.
Anya retreated to her bed after the conversation. She didn't sleep, but just lay there thinking. I invited her to come be with me and Nastia. A bold "Nyet" from under the covers was her answer. So I spent some time with a tearful Nastia, who begged me for the umpteenth time to just take her home to the US once and for all.
"It's just not working, mom. She just wants to be like my birthmother. She doesn't care." I told Nastia to just trust and give Anya time, that this process -- like hers -- would be years of work, not days or even months. Years. "We both need to support her, but I also need to set boundaries and hold Anya accountable for her actions. No one has ever done that for her in her life. It sucks, it's hard , and I know it is hard for you to watch. But you need to trust me."
"I'm just so tired of trying, Mommy...please....I just want to go home..." When Nastia uses the word 'mommy', I know she is in need of help. She was overwhelmed, anxious and heading for a meltdown, so I decided to take both girls out for a walk, but Anya refused. Nastia and I then bundled up, headed for the door and at the last minute, I pausted and asked Anya if she would like me to bring her back something to eat. Silence, then...
As we closed & locked the door and headed down the stairs, Anya called out to me. 'Mama?'
'Yes?' I asked behind our colossal closed door.
Ahh, progress. Microscopic progress, but progress nonetheless. I'll take what I can get.
Posted by Keri at 7:25 AM