This weekend we attended our regional Little People of America conference with Bowen. I considered this a warm up for the national convention we hoped to attend with him in July. He went to nationals last year and loved it. I took him to this regional event because of that, with high hopes about this leading into discussing Boston, where nationals is being held this year, in July.
This year Bowen must be in a different spot emotionally. An unexpected spot. This time, he really didn’t like being there. He made this known, loudly, at various times throughout the weekend. I was stunned. I’m not sure if it was because Tess unexpectedly came with us at the last moment because of some separation anxiety she is having, or because he is at a different spot in childhood and is processing his identity differently. Or, maybe it’s both. Or, maybe he just had an off couple of days. It’s hard to say. Regardless, this makes me very unsure about how a trip across the country in July would play out for him.
Bo didn’t really want to play with any of the other kids this time. He didn’t want to do any activities. He was generally fussy the entire time. His behavior was like nothing I had ever seen. He is usually a VERY even tempered kid, slightly lazy, but can be talked into completing activities, and he always enjoys group events. Without embarrassing him with the specifics of what happened, let’s just say the weekend was kind of a nightmare. It wasn’t solely due to him, but, oh my gosh, his attitude sure didn’t help.
I reached out to a friend who is an adult with Dwarfism, one who is also parenting through adoption, and tried to discern if this is something related to his processing his visible difference, something that I likely wouldn’t understand because I am of average height, or if this is related to adoption (self-sabotage is common for kids from hard places), or, if he’s just 5 years old. She agreed it’s probably a little of everything.
I am average height. I never had to go through the process of identifying as different in the way Bowen does. I can imagine that it is difficult for him to look around him at these events and process how he fits into a world where there are many varieties of Dwarfism, or into this world at all. Some people we see at these events have some mobility limitations. Some have health challenges. He mused aloud this time if that was the future for him. Then he sees teenagers who are half the height of his 10 year old brother. He mused aloud if he would look like that as a teen. Then he wondered if people would know he’s “not a baby.”
Identity is so hard when you’re different.
Then, there’s being adopted on top of all of this. Adopted from a country where people with differences are shunned. We have no idea what he was told about having Dwarfism before we adopted him. Was he told that he was worthless? It’s entirely possible. Well, then why would he think that he has enough worth to have a community? It makes no sense to him, I’m sure.
Then there’s his age.
I don’t know if you know this, but sometimes, 5-year-olds can be jerks. Maybe today, and yesterday, were prime examples of that.
Either way, I need to follow his lead on where he is at with processing who he is. I need to support him, but not force him. We’ll dial back the discussion about differences back for awhile. LPA is always there for him, and we can include the whole family next time. He missed his dad a lot this weekend. That may have played into it too.
He came home today to tell the kids at home and dad about some of the times when he was having fun. There were moments, for sure.
He thought the deejay and dancing were very fun. He even requested a song that involves some whipping and nae nae-ing. Bo has a VERY good stanky leg.
Then Tess told us she was going to request the old standby ‘Let It Go.’ We told her that wasn’t exactly dance music and that the deejay might not have it in his repetoire. She thought that was complete hooey. So, she marched right up to the deejay so sweetly and asked. About five girls her age cheered when the snow began to glow white on the mountain last night. They all found their respective spots on the dance floor, and simultaneously, let it gooooo…
Here is Tess in the role of Elsa. Next stop, Broadway. Watch out Idina.
–FullPlateMom, who is going to let this weekend go. Man, it was no good.