Thursday, October 27, 2011

Aidan's Transformation

I've been hesitant to write this entry because not only is it very personal but I also don't like publicizing issues related to the kids where it will be out there forever, but I feel that the time is now appropriate since things here have been on such an upswing these days. And I hope that Aidan someday realizes that this was in no way a slight against him but a part of the transitional process of moving here to Barcelona.

We were all affected by this move in some way or another but none more so than Aidan. When we were deciding whether or not to go after this opportunity of living abroad, he was our biggest concern. He was more ingrained in our neighborhood than we were (hard to believe given how much I talk about home) and already had started in the public school system.

To pull him away from his friends, his family and his school was a huge concern, but we felt the long term benefits would outweigh the cons. So we decided to move forward with the move to BCN. He shocked us both by being such a trooper about pretty much everything. He loved school right away and made some new friends. He liked the city life as well. Overall he seemed like a well adjusted kid and we couldn't be happier.

But then we took a turn for the worse. It was probably about a year ago. He was angry all the time. Throwing tantrums I would expect from his little brother but not from him. Swearing and even at times acting out physically. There was more but some thing do really need to remain private. But let's just say we were on a scary downhill spiral.

We chalked a lot of it up to frustrations at school. He is a very smart and inquisitive boy but he's always had to work very hard academically. We had him tested in the spring for a learning disability as things continued on their downward trend. Thankfully it was more of a memory issue - something we could work with. The bigger concern was that the therapist was worried that he might have early signs of childhood depression and / or an adjustment disorder. If you ask me, one begets the other.

Having a "name" for what was going on was helpful. At least it gave us some direction on how to move forward. Since it was the end of the school year and we knew we would be away for the summer we figured we would take things day by day and then have an action plan of how we would tackle things starting in September.  We went home for vacation a matter of weeks after we received the information from the therapist. And there we started to work back towards "normalcy".

When we were home this summer I saw my sweet, kind, caring little boy again. It literally brought tears to my eyes to see him again as I thought in a sense that we had lost him to this angry, frustrated, fresh boy. Knowing that he was in there somewhere really gave us some hope that we could make this a long term thing. And I don't know what has happened since but something triggered in him starting then and I'm beyond thrilled to say that the nice little boy I saw in the US this summer seems to be here to stay.

Yes we have had some bumps along the way but they seem to be those of a typical 7 year old. Homework has become pleasurable, or as much as homework can be pleasurable. He's working hard in school and the results are really showing these days and I'm amazed at how far he has come in just 2 months of school. We have great conversations. We play games together and talk about books and movies. The ultimate was last weekend when he leaned over, kissed me on the cheek and said "I love spending this time with you Mommy.". I'm tearing up just writing about it. I think it was my ultimate mom moment.

All of this makes me reflect back and think about this journey. It has affected us all in so many ways. Who knew that this kid that we thought had adjusted so well initially in actuality would take close to 2 years to get used to and be accepting of his new home. Change is hard but we have learned thru this how important it is to persevere, to keep pushing (at itimes probably too much), and to be accepting of the fact that the decisions we make aren't always the best for all of us no matter how good our intentions.

Believe it or not but he is working harder on his spanish too. I think he was so angry about being here that he had very little interest in the language or anything around here. But now he is constantly asking us to quiz him. He's even made mention several times lately about staying here longer. I think he is finally feeling like this is home. I know he misses "home home" and that's ok but it makes me so happy to know that he understands that we, his family, are home. I'm so thrilled to say these days that the angry kid is gone and I'd like to welcome a very happy, smiling Aidan back into the fold. We've missed you pal.
Our happy kid :)


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