I went to a training this week by Heather Forbes (an adoptive Mom/therapist) called “Beyond Consequences for Professionals: Working with Families of Trauma.” I love being able to go trainings for my kids under the cover of work 🙂 One of the things she discussed a lot was developmental re-tracking. For example, when my kids were toddlers, they were worried about whether or not Mommy was safe from Daddy and how they were going to get their next meal. What they SHOULD have been worried about was whether or not they got 2 bedtime stories or 3. If they could have dessert after their healthy meal. If their favorite pajamas were finished being washed. You get the picture. One camp of professionals believes that kids need to “do over” these experiences in order to continue healthy development. I watched my 8 year old son play with his infant sister’s toys for close to an hour tonight, as he often does, and I really processed this. **Picture shared with his permission
I preach to so many families I work with to allow access to “younger” toys for this reason, but when your own kids are doing it, it’s kind of strange. Honestly, sometimes it’s annoying. I find myself getting frustrated, and it can be hard to resist the urge to say things that could be shaming. We bottle fed and rocked, and truthfully – I disliked every minute of it. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m a much better therapist than I am a mother). The training was just the refresher I needed, though. I saw pictures of Heather’s 19 year old daughter doing things like playing in a park and rocking with her Mom, and I felt renewed energy and renewed hope. Tonight, rather than ROLL my eyes, my eyes teared up as I watched him play with the baby toys. He feels safe enough to explore and “do over” those early years that all of us would give so much to change. I watched my little baby and my big baby playing side by side, exploring and learning and growing, and I vowed to keep my damn mouth shut from now on while he gravitates towards continued healing.