Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our Mezmur Mimi *added content*

I wrote most of this post shortly after our road trip. We were around a lot of strangers and we saw first hand the magic that is Mezmur and it drove us nuts! It is all still very much true, but we don't see it as much when we stick around home and our community of Rhett's school and her school. Maybe the way she has with the people we know doesn't drive me as crazy, but what we saw with strangers on our trip...ugh.

Our sweet little girl sure has a way with people. It drives us crazy. It could be an attachment issue, it could be a coping trait from the orphanage, or it could just be her personality. She walks into a room and gets attention from anyone she can. Let me tell you...she gets attention everywhere we go. Every mother wants her child to play with Mezmur, every woman wants to give her gifts, every man has a smile for her. She calls strangers "friends." A woman at a restaurant took her bracelet off her wrist to give to Mezmur. She didn't listen to my pleads for her not to give it to her. Another Aunt took the ball she just bought her niece and insisted she give it to Mezmur. A group of ladies at the ice cream shop had to give Mezmur something, so they gave her napkins. Moms at the park give Mezmur their snacks. Rhett will be standing right next to Mezmur and he isn't given the time of day...except for when he gets disciplined by strangers for treating Mezmur like his sister (wrestling her, picking her up, yelling at her...). I'm always there and step in when needed, but it's as if these strangers think Mezmur needs "saving." Mezmur also "gives" to strangers. She will sit in their laps, she will brush the hair out of other women's eyes, she will hold a stranger's hand. She tells women she doesn't know very well that they are beautiful and that their hair and jewelry are beautiful. She told a stranger at the park while she sat in her lap, "Your earrings are beautiful. Can I take them home now?" I'm told often that Mezmur has an aura or something about her that can't be explained. People are drawn to her. I understand that. We are biased. We think she is beautiful and perfect...she is our daughter.

One day this might get her somewhere in life, but right just drives me crazy. Some days she won't hold my hand to cross the street, but she will turn around and tell a woman she doesn't know, "You are beautiful." I know she loves me and she tells me I'm beautiful, but seeing her do all of this and seeing how others respond to her can be very bothersome.

We love our Mezmur and just want to tell the world...she is our baby girl and she is very much loved.

* I wanted to add a couple of things to this post in response to the comments I've gotten. First of all...these strangers think they are acting appropriately, but they are not acting in the best interest of Mezmur. When Mezmur was very young I took her to a library story time. She wanted to sit in every other mom's lap, but mine. I actually took her from a mom's lap kicking and screaming and all the while these moms are saying, "It's ok." No it isn't. I am her mom and her needs need to be met by me. Secondly, the reaction I get from many when I talk about this issue is that it is normal and I should be happy she is outgoing and not shy. Basically, "pooh poohing" my instincts. It is absolutely not ok for Mezmur to walk into a room of strangers and find out who will give her attention. Once at a party we told her she couldn't eat any more berries off the fruit platter. Shortly after we told her no, we saw her with a plate piled high with berries. She found someone to give her what she wanted and this person didn't even think in necessary to ask us...we were the ones who were going to have to change that berry filled diaper, after all.


Christi said...

Oh this makes so much sense how troubling that would be. I got all agitated just picturing some of these scenarios.

You care more than anyone about her best interest and you can just see that strangers she comes across actually are not acting in her best interest. It's hard because there are some good things about all these interactions at the same time.

I have a feeling that it will take some time and a lot more annoying scenarios, but you guys will get through it and it won't be like this forever.

Christi said...

Oh shoot, this is Christi commenting as Max.

Joy and Geoff said...

Oh goodness, yes. I get it. Our cute little guys are 3 and 4, and have been with us for 4 months. They were super-sociable from the moment we met them at their foster home (their family since birth), and lived a casual, informal lifestyle with all kinds of people contact. I think a lot of their lack of social boundaries is because they lived at the end of a road in cottage country, and everyone knew everyone. They were also part of a large, loving family, and were used to going up to teens and adults and treating them as friends. It is also quite possible there are a few attachment flags, as they don't really pay much attention to my husband and I when we are at a social gathering - they accept food and drink from anyone, go out of their way to say hello to complete strangers (and always want to know "who" we were talking to). Last week, our youngest boy wanted us to sit and eat with other people at the mall food court. He gladly took a woman's hand (without so much as casting a glance at me) walking across a church parking lot (I don't know the woman, either) to a mom's group. Initially, they were all over the new grandparents, asking to be bed, held, etc. during meals and otherwise. And they really do attract all kinds of attention with their adorable looks and engaging ways. Whenever others comment on how well they are adjusting (which is quite true), they support their comments with examples of the boys' sociability and comfort in any setting. I often try to acknowledge the good parts of that, but also to suggest that we are trying to work on social boundaries, as they don't yet differentiate family and close friends from casual acquaintances and strangers - they are basically TOO comfortable being independent and social with adults in public places. But what drives me nuts is that people always "pooh pooh" my concerns (which I always state pretty casually and matter-of-factly, without being dramatic) and totally invalidate my perspective. Ugh. People see friendly kids who will talk to anyone, and assume it's all completely healthy. Problem is, my kids need to learn to come to me to meet their needs, and they are so trusting of strangers that I truly believe they (at least the youngest) would walk off with someone quite happily. Not sure why people don't seem to think that's an issue. (And, their comfort with others in a positive way, also means they are pretty forward when it isn't as fun for others - the eldest recently went up to an unknown adult at my cousin's wedding, and snatched a toy from him while glaring at him intently - and then wouldn't speak or look at him to apologize - it was our toy, but had been set down. Anyway, just sayin' - there are good and not-so-good things about this situation). So...all this is to support your perspective - absolutely sounds like your daughter is a delight and oh, so engaging, but I get how that can be problematic and bothersome in certain situations.

Jill said...

This has always been a problem with Mari. It's called "indiscriminate friendliness" and it's dangerous. The day that Mari walked out of my yard up to a strange car to say hi to someone I had never seen in our neighborhood sent me into panic. We went straight in the house and talked about stranger danger. All it would take is someone flashing a piece of candy at her and she'd be gone.
We've had temper tantrums in stores where cashiers rushed over with balloons or candy to give her (UMMM....NO!!!!). She's had people buy her stuffed animals in stores because she's so darling.
And we've done the "I'll sit in anyone else's lap except Mommy's".
Google "indiscriminate friendliness" and see what you get. One of the biggest strategies to help is that unbreakable connection you need to have....never let her hold anyone else's hand, never let anyone else do her hair, never let anyone else pay her any attention until you are ready for that to happen. I have it a little easier because I'm a single parent so I do everything for her. If I can find the blogpost, I will send it to you about a little girl that had similar difficulties and they actually had to leave the preschool they were at because the teachers would play with her hair every day despite the mom explaining why this hurt her ability to attach with mom (it's been a couple years ago but I'll look for it).
The good news....Mari has gotten so much better in the last year or so. She is still attention seeking but when she gets unsolicited attention, she shrivels up. So I foster that by letting her shrink up to me and comforting her. The attention seeking has gotten less and I have a little more control over now that she is getting older and is able to have some self-control and "editing" capabilities.
But it's pretty normal. And I do think it's a coping mechanism. I remember all the updates I got from families before I travelled telling me how Mari would seek out eye contact and just bubble over with any attention.....I've always said that she learned as an infant in an orphanage that if you want special attention, you have to create it for yourself.

annieglan said...

Our daughter did the same stuff when we first brought her home. I was concerned that she might have RAD so we started doing therapy. It was quickly determined she isn't RAD, but now we think she could have SPD. She still goes up to strangers and holds their hands without any disregard to where I am or if it's ok. It is extremely frustrating.

paige said...

Oh Autumn, how hard for all of you. Same thing with my bigger kid--he worked so hard to get his needs met by others, and as charming and gregarious as he is, he had no problem getting what he sought. It became even harder once he was a little older and moving more independently through the universe. It's so much easier with my little one, who is just as beautiful, but not as hungry for the affection of others.
I tell my husband all of the time, I would trust the 4 yo on her own more comfortably than our 12 yo. He is that kid, you know, the one who follows the stranger without a shred of worry. So glad you are addressing this now--Mezmur needs it, and so do the rest of you.


rachel said...

evie did the same thing. she would go to every other mother and say "No!" and shake her head when i would reach out to take her back to me. i had to ask people (strangers) not to hold her and they did not get it. they would say the same things you are saying - be glad she's so social and friendly. we've been home for 18 mo and she is finally seeing me as mom and becoming shy around strangers. i see that as a real milestone! especially with our next baby due any day. very grateful.

lori said...

Wow. I can see this as being so very frustrating, and having the potential to wreak havoc on even the most balanced parent's emotions! I honestly hadn't thought of this social dynamic before. Thanks a lot for sharing your story, Autumn.

Luv4thePaws said...

I totally get this, and I have written about it before! Our son, Victor (6 years, adopted last year from Ukraine) is exactly like this. Our year has been filled with attachment woes and lots of drama. He will brush hair out of women's eyes when he manages to get close to him (I try to hold his hand and rein him in, but it's not always possible with a baby and grocery shopping!), and he will make the "you're so pretty" or "I love you" comments to them, which they LOVE. I am seeing as the bitchy mom if I gently reprimand him and say, "Victor, I love you is only for mama, papa, Sosie, and grandma. It's very special." They look at me like I am crazy!! He gets whatever he wants from strangers because he is such a "sweet boy", "adorable boy," "loving boy," etc. It's REALLY hard to be his mother in public because of how people react to him!!

Thanks for making me feel like I am not the only one! :)
(2 Ukrainians, 1 8 year-old daughter waiting in Ethiopia:)