I looked oddly at my daughter, after a year of turmoil and grief she had suddenly taken to play. This my child who lined up toys and yelled at me if I made them talk. The child who slapped my wrist because I play wrongly. Is playing... Yes she is a teen but who cares she's playing!
Earlier in the week she was asking for a sand box, because the big pile of sand left over from the septic system installation is being moved into garden beds. As well as hopefully becoming a Zen Garden for my knight to relax in as he rakes the sand. I scavenged the yard for previously used wood and with lots of help from my spouse we built a sandbox with seats, even, Yeah! Less sandy jeans to wash! It's a nice change from the child that wouldn't let her hands get dirty.
Now here she was in the dollar store asking me if we could buy play dough, and chalk, and bubbles... It's weird. Easter afternoon I watched her gleefully mix all the colors of the play dough together. Really child??? Ugh you used to do this exact same thing when you were four. She reveled in just mixing it and stopped while it was still in layers of yellow, green, blue and orange. Her sister started to berate her and tell her she will only end up with all gray if she continues. Sweet Potato fired back "It's the way I want it." I intervened and said, "It's not what I would do, but it is her play dough. She can make it gray if she wants too." Inwardly I'm cringing, if it was me I would be making tiny plates of food and people to eat the food. Lets face facts she's not me, she is herself. Annnnnnd if she wants to mush it all up together, go for it kid.
She spent part of the afternoon writing with chalk on the driveway. Playing with the 7 year old neighbor girl. I know it looks odd, weird, strange even. Some people might say she is in regression. Yet I know Kayrn Purvis would be rejoicing. You see when a child of trauma does this, it is a sign the brain is rewiring itself in healthy ways. Developing the way it should have if she hadn't been abandoned by her birth family, If she hadn't traveled half a world away to find a family of her own. It is most excellent she is progressing through these modalities of play she never really participated in before. Seeking sensory experiances like play dough and sand is wonderful. It shows she is healing. When I shared these things with our play therapist she rejoiced and said it was time for us to change her therapy plan as my darling daughter had turned a corner. What a beautiful opportunity God gives us to rewire our brain for more healthy thinking, to drive up dopamine and drive down depression. We are so fearfully and wonderfully made, and look at this amazing creation that is our brain that can rewire it's self for happy and healthy.
So much of parenting a child from hard places looks funny to others. I love the phrase from a support group I was in "The llama in the back yard look." You know that look you get when you are all hanging around the play ground with other moms and you announce "I have a llama in my back yard." yeah that look on your face right now. Often as parents of children from hard places we look like we have a llama in the back yard. Our parenting techniques involve connecting the child to us not sending them to their room. It exhausts us with the high level of nurture and structure we have to include in our day to day life. Creating an environment where our children can have "felt safety" is a daily requirement and challenge. One our life this past year was made nearly impossible for months on end.
Many parents would be freaking out if their child suddenly took to playing with non age appropriate toys. Instead I'm over here cheering her on. And I don't care that you are looking at us funny. Go ahead were the family with the llama remember? In fact I may just go and get a coloring book and sit down next to her and color now. Because I'm sure not playing with that gray clay... she soon will be mixing up.