.Recently I've noticed some changes in my house. I has occurred to me that my adoptees are settling into some different patterns. It is subtle, but it is real. When I thought about it some more, I knew it is mostly the three boys in whom I see change.
After realizing that, I remembered they have been with me for a year. The boys came home to me in June last year. So it makes sense. A few of you might remember that I've "talked" with you about how changes in our lives take a year to gel. Well, guess what? That theory applies to me and my household, too!
In a nutshell, for those of you who haven't heard my "theory," it goes like this: When there is a major change in your life (new job, new family member [marriage, birth, etc.], a move to a new home/area, retirement, loss of a family member, etc.), it shakes our lives, changes them, and it takes about a year to "own" the situation once again. During the first three months, we are learning the mechanics, the rules, the way it is done. You begin to feel as if you can handle it with what you know know. Once that is accomplished, the following three months is often difficult because we know what is supposed to happen; but knowing it and being able to make it work that way aren't always the same. The mind knows, but the hands have trouble doing as told, so to speak, and it drives us nuts as we try to fit everything together and make sense of it. Sometimes the frustration is that the others around us aren't doing what we know or think they should do. We often don't feel respected or worse yet, we doubt our own competence. The burden of doing it right or making it right weighs heavily. Eventually, you begin to relax a little, learning to be flexible, to roll with the punches. Finally, the second half of the year is when things begin to fall into place, to make sense, to be more or less as we expect they should be. We often don't notice this time; it just "happens." However, many people I've talked to say that around a year into whatever it is, they realize they actually know what they are doing, it is finally "right," it is working. This is what I call "owning" the job, the way of life, and feeling like a reasonably competent parent, knowing how to live with (or without) another person doesn't seem like such a struggle any more.
And there it is. I spent the first three months doing major adjustments in their lives .... and mine. I was house training them, teaching them the rules of the house, adjusting them to new food, new routine, lavishing love on their empty little selves. I thought I would go crazy. I've trained lots of dogs before, but all but a couple (who were already trained) from puppyhood, where I was training them, not re-training and breaking old, bad habits. They didn't retrain quite like I expected. Every time I got the handle on something in the routine, another "something" would pop up. And above all was the work of getting Sammy over his terror of everything in the world. That was a full time job in itself, but it gradually came.
As we eased into the second period, I felt as if things were smoothing out. But I was often faced with three boys that were basically in line, but the weren't responding like I expected. Or two were compliant, but one had a major set back, and I wasn't always sure which was which. By three months new little puppies have usually figured out the rules of when and where to go potty, understand what is generally expected of them. The "can't teach new tricks to old dogs" thing comes into play, and it is so frustrating that I know they (should) know, but they take "shortcuts," probably influenced by their previous lives and habits. This time frame led to quite a few tears on my part and sad, sad looks from little guys who, I realize, just didn't quite get it yet.
These last six months have been the settling in of things finally working, making sense for all of us. We still have some work to do; it isn't all resolved, but we are finally finding a balance most of the time. Here's an example: For months, all three of them followed me everywhere. E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. If I went to the deck, they followed me. If I went to the back yard, that's where they went. If I was in the kitchen, they would have to check out what I was doing there. If I took five or six steps, the got up to follow, even if I was coming back. If I went to the bathroom, all three of them followed me, if not into the bathroom, then at least to the door where they sat and stared for the full 60 seconds it takes to pee. Now I realize in the last few weeks that the boys are not following me all over the place. Well, not quite! Yes, they still follow me, but it isn't obsessive like it used to be. I can actually go to the bathroom without six eyes staring at me! Sometimes.
As I said, we are still working on some things. These boys were pretty damaged. I figure we still have a couple years of adjustments, but wow, is it ever better now! Almost daily I find an encouraging sign that the worst is over, that we are a family.
The girls .... Jazi is actually a pretty well adjusted little girl. She came with a pretty good aura, was housetrained already, and her adjustment has been less traumatic. She and I aren't quite to the year, but it seems that we have accelorated our adjustment. And Lola, who has just turned one year old, is in her own cycle of adjustment, too. She came housetrained, too, and this first six months with her in the house has been more like a normal adjustment and training of a puppy such as I've had in the past. She, too, while she is still learning, seems to be finding her way to a fit in the family.
I wonder how it will all look a year from now?