Friday, March 21, 2014

Being Heard


I've joked before that Cava has two levels of speaking: loud and louder.  He can have a tendency to get loud. The other night, he was in Benjamin's room with my elder son and Danelle. All of a sudden I hear him yelling at them as Danelle was trying to explain something to him. I got up from reading my book and went to see what was going on. Cava was standing on Benjamin's bed and he was demonstratively and loudly talking over my wife.

"Cava," I said firmly and he stopped to look at me. "Come with me, please."

I could tell he knew he was in trouble and he slowly followed behind me. I sat him down and sat down in a chair in front of him. His expression was sheepish and his eyes would not meet mine. Calmly, I asked him, "Do you think we can't hear you?"

This was not what he was expecting to hear from me, so he looked up, "What?"

"Do you think that we can't hear you?" I repeated.

He looked confused. Wasn't he going to get into trouble?

So, I repeated the question a little differently, "Does Mommy listen to you?"

"Yes."

"Do I listen to you?"

"Yes."

"How about Benjamin?"

"Yes."

"Then why do you feel the need to get so loud?"

"I dunno'."

"Did you talk this loud at the boarding school?"

"Yeah."

"Because you felt like no one was listening to you and you wanted to be heard?"

I saw recognition in his eyes that I was right.

"Cava, there aren't 20 or more kids trying to get our attention. You don't have to get loud to have us listen to you. Am I talking loudly to you now?"

"No."

"But you can hear me?"

"Yes."

"And if you talk to me like this, I can hear you. You don't have to yell for us to hear you - and we want to hear what you have to say. Would you like it if we talked as loudly to you as you do to us sometimes?"

"No."

"Nor do we. I promise we will listen if you just speak like we are now, okay?"

"OK."

Cava speaks loudly for two reasons:

1. To be heard. He had to get the attention of one caregiver over the sounds of twenty other kids.

2. He wants to be right. For some reason, Cava thinks that if he's loud enough then he will not only be heard but he will also be right, perhaps by drowning us out.

Hopefully, as he continues to adjust to being in a family, Cava will also adjust to being heard and actually listened to. We want him to know that what he has to say is important because he is important to us. Like everything with adoption, this is all part of the slow, sometimes painful, but, ultimately, rewarding process.

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