Voss has a fairly high decible level and immediately blows our cover in public (as if the yard sale of stuff we were carrying with us didn't already). I always have to remind him to whisper. The bus started moving and Voss tripped a little (all 3 of us were standing). I grabbed his jacket with my one remaining finger. The lady seated behind him cleared her lap and offered Voss a seat on her lap. My immediate reaction was to say no, but then I think, "Why not? This type of thing is normal in Ukraine." I told Voss to sit on her lap and he cautiously obliges. Let me tell you! That was the quietest I have heard him in the last month! He didn't say a peep for the 10 minute ride! Was it strange that I allowed Voss to sit on a complete stranger's lap? Well, in the U.S. I am sure it would be a completely uncomfortable situation if anyone offered such a thing, but it felt OK here.
Ruslan had been super patient all day (and Voss) so I offered the internet cafe around the corner. I left a note for Cindy and we went to the internet cafe. It was small and stinky -like the other one- and there were about 12 boys waiting to use the 4 computers. The attendant said the wait would be well over an hour. I consulted with Ruslan and he had a few thoughts...he wanted to go to the other cafe which was 15 minutes away...or he wanted to wait here for a computer. I told him that both were not options and asked if he wanted to go earlier tomorrow and try. He did not like that response and stopped talking to me. Not good.
So what to do now? He said he was going to stand there and wait and that Voss and I could go home. No can do! It's such a delicate situation that always has the potential to spiral uncontrollably downward when he feels like something has happened that isn't fair. It's so easy to say, "If you are going to act like this then forget the internet cafe tomorrow!" Right? Wrong. He needs space and needs to be given a way to make a different decision. I gave him 10 minutes then explained how Cindy may be waiting for us and get worried since we have the only house key. After a few minutes, he just said "LET'S GO!" and started speed walking back to the apartment. He was out of site in no time while Voss and I were trying to keep up.
We have been reading this excellent book: Beyond Logic, Consequences, and Control. The book is excellent and really helps us consider a different perspective. In a nutshell, children who have come from tramatic backgrounds have defaulted to a different way of handling stressful and confusing situations. Their wiring doesn't allow them to objectively process things when in a stressful state. Therefore, the traditional parenting method of logic, consequences, and control just add fuel to the fire. For example, in a stressful situation he tells us to go fly a kite and we respond saying you lose XYZ privilege. He becomes more out of control, doesn't learn anything, and no one is better off. It is a long term goal (not a problem because we have time ;-)). In the heat of the moment, we need to reaffirm our support and love and allow the child a way to feel comfortable about calming down. Once the situation is back to normal, maybe an hour or so, take the child aside and explain how lying, stealing(etc.) hurts other people and it is not the best way to handle things. Reaffirm love, support, and that we are always here to listen. I hope we aren't speaking too soon, but we have really seen some great results so far. We both wish we had know these things earlier.
After a half hour, Ruslan acted as if nothing happened. We talked about what could be done differently next time and all was back to normal. We have already done this strategy numerous times and he has already changed a few bad habits! Pleeeeaase let this be the answer to our prayers!