That was Maya's question earlier in the week. She had to make a timeline of her life for second-grade Social Studies. Zoe made her timeline last week in fifth-grade Art class. Yep, that's another one of those tricky school projects, like family trees, DNA exploration, baby pictures, that can be difficult for children adopted even a little later in life.
It wasn't a problem for Zoe, who loves to share every bit of her adoption story with anyone who will sit still long enough (there's a new kid in her class, and she told him all about it -- "I was wrapped in three layers of clothing with a little hat and put in a cardboard box and left near a bus stop and found and taken to the police station and then to the orphanage . . ." He apparently asked her, "Does it make you uncomfortable to talk about it?" And she said, "Duh! I wouldn't tell you about it if I was uncomfortable!" Little does she know that he was probably indicating that it made HIM uncomfortable to talk about it!).
Maya was okay with the timeline, so long as nothing on it mentioned China or her foster parents -- those things make her too different in her mind, and she wants more than anthing else to be just like everyone else. So, did anything big happen when she was one year old? I suggested her birthday party (with balloons!) that her foster parents gave her, and pulled out the pictures from the party (I'm so fortunate to have these from her foster parents!). Nope, she didn't want that. Since she was adopted at 18 months, which was when she was one year old, she decided to put that -- but no mention that the adoption was in China.
Interesting timing -- a great blog by an adoption therapist, In My Child's World, talked about timelines just yesterday, to emphasize the importance of our children KNOWING their timeline, especially the timeline BEFORE we entered the picture:
Erik and I sit on the floor. He’s swaddled in a brown, cozy blanket as we look at the stark white paper. “Ok, Erik. We’re going to do a timeline, just like the kind you do in school. Have you made one before?” “No, I don’t think so,” he replies. I explain to Erik that the timeline is the story of his life from the very beginning to today. “So, how did your life begin?” “Ummmmm, with mom and dad.” “Even before you were a family with mom and dad. Where did you live?” “Guatemala!” “Yep, and who did you live with in Guatemala?” “Mom and dad.” “Before mom and dad...” Erik looks up at me with a quizzical look on his face, “I don’t remember,” he answers.Go read the whole thing -- it's well worth it.
At the age of five, Erik doesn’t fully comprehend his life story even though he has heard it before. So, why do we need to bring it to his attention? What are the vital reasons for a child to know and be able to recite their life story from the beginning to present day? The key points include:
- Children need to be aware of their life story in order to grasp why certain situations, sounds, smells, sights, and people trigger them.
So have you had the timeline project yet? How did it go?