September 20, 2011 KJ 0 Comments

Rory is loud.

I have written about this before, but I feel that I cannot possibly have really conveyed what I meant by loud. When I say Rory, who will be six this week, and who has been with us for just over two years, is loud, I mean LOUD. I mean loud at every single thing she does in nearly every moment of the day. Loud and vigorous. When Rory says “I love you,” she shouts it and then barrels into you at full speed, and at that moment, she’s irresistible. And the she stomps loudly off to do something else with such vim and vigor that I’m afraid the poor dog is going to get hurt.

She’s loud when she walks. When she’s upstairs, the ceiling shakes and the lights flicker. She’s loud when she eats. She’s loud when she breathes. She’s loud when she sniffles. If she’s doing something that can’t possibly be done loudly, she narrates it: loudly. Look Mommy I’m drawing! Is I drawing Mommy? I’m drawing! Look at me drawing! If she gets caught up in the drawing, she’s nearly always snorting, or humming, or kicking her feet rhythmically against her chair.

She sleeps loudly.

Loud, as I said, and vigorous. If it can’t be done loudly, it can surely be done with vigor. Ideally, both. She plays chess, for example, loudly and with vigor. Her knights do not just move across the board, they gallop. Her pawns clack clack clack forward even one space. (Don’t be too impressed, “playing with the chess pieces” would generally be a more accurate description of what she’s doing than “playing chess.) When she watches Rob and Wyatt play, she puts both hands on the coffee table and her feet on an ottoman and bounces. Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!

And I, who really, truly am not someone who assumes everything is adoption, think that the overwhelming volume of every move of every moment of Rory’s every day—-possibly the last thing you’d think could adoption related—-I think that adoption is exactly what at least some of this volume and vigor is.

It’s not that I think that if Rory were Rory in her birth family somewhere in China she would flutter delicately through every situation on butterfly wings. It takes more than intent to stomp your way through life as she does. It takes breeding. Rory surely comes from a long line of stompers.

But the rest of it—I’ve said before that I think that Rory is afraid that if we can’t hear her, we’ll forget she’s there. That if she can’t hear herself, she doesn’t exist. I was mostly joking. What I really think is that Rory wants to hear herself stomping and humming and breathing and drawing and bouncing because Rory does not want to hear herself think.

And I don’t know what to think about that.

From the very first moment Rory walked into our lives, she’s been busy. Busy exploring. Busy cutting up every shred of paper in our hotel room with her new little safety scissors. Busy climbing. You’ve heard the phrase “climbing the walls,” right? With anxiety, maybe, or cabin fever? The first days in our hotel, Rory was literally climbing the walls. She’d figure out how to get handholds on the headboard over our bed, and if we turned our backs, we’d find her dangling, five feet above the mattress. She’s calmer now, certainly, but in some sense she is always climbing the walls. She’s playing the piano or rolling marbles on a track or pushing a truck around the house. She’s moving. She’s playing, but nearly always in a way that’s already been predefined for her, and she’s doing it loudly, so that she, and I, both know at all times exactly what she’s doing.

I try to let it go. I try to let her race the racetrack around the couches and through the kitchen a hundred times in an afternoon without comment. I try to only ask for “quiet feet” when Sam is doing his homework, say, or when I have already exceeded the number of ibuprofin the bottle allows you to take in a day. I agree that she is drawing, I admire the piano practice and I try to make good use of the energy that’s always ready to clear the table. I try to protect the dog, who has taken to hiding under the bed and is dismayed to find that Rory (who wants him to run with her) can follow him there.

But is it enough to let it go? I let it go, and she keeps running and running and running until we pour her into her bed at night. I’d like to help her learn to give herself a break. But so far, I just don’t know how.

Cross posted at RaisingDevils.com.

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