When I write about our transition I often struggle with what to share. I want to present an honest view of what older kid international adoption looks like, but the interwebs is a big place and I also don’t want to share details I may regret when my kids are able to read it. I may not always get it right- this post is a tough one- but know that balancing my kids’ privacy with a desire to shine a light on adoption is a constant thought when I’m blogging.
With that preface, this has been a huge week for our family!
Smiles started school on Monday. We had mixed emotions about this. This child is so extroverted and outgoing that we knew the social aspect would be great for him. But he is also not used to following a schedule or focusing for long periods of time, so we worried that he might hate school or drive the teachers crazy. Both his classroom teacher and ELL teacher emailed us during the day to let us know how well he was doing, but man was he a grump when he got home that night! However, he was very insistent on communicating “School good.” That night when we were looking at the calendar I showed him how he had school during the week but no school on the weekend. We went through the next week and his eyes lit up. He turned the page to June, and then to July, and all the way through the rest of the year. As he realized that school lasted for a very long time his chest puffed bigger and bigger with pride!
The rest of the week has been a challenge for him and we can’t quite figure it out. He lights up when he gets to school but is having major meltdowns and toddler tantrums at home. We are also balancing baseball practice and games so my guess is that after years of very little mental stimulation he is overwhelmed and/or exhausted. I’d be tempted to stop baseball but he lights up any time that is mentioned as well. Whereas we had to earn Diva’s trust in the home environment I think we are now having to earn Smile’s trust with his schedule. He does best when he knows what to expect- the calendar has been so helpful. But this kid has never had any concept of time and there is still a pretty significant language barrier. When we tell him tomorrow is “school and baseball”, he goes to school, comes home, gets fully dressed including his cleats, and then gets upset (very upset) that we can’t leave at 5:00 for his 8:00 game. This happens no matter how many ways we try to explain it. Any change in routine is difficult as well. Today was Grandparent’s Breakfast and we had tried to explain a million different ways that his Mimi would be bringing him to school. Evidently nothing got across because when Mimi showed up he could not be consoled and I had to carry him out to the car. It really makes me wonder what he thought was happening because she said he was fine as soon as he saw the school. Poor kid. We’re hopeful that as language improves, as he gets a better concept of time, and as he adjusts to a schedule these issues will take care of themselves.
Smiles also lost his first tooth (that we’re aware of) this week! He was delighted to find that his bloody tooth turned into money. The kids both have their first dentist appointments next week. I’m anxious to see how many adult teeth he has.
He continues to excel in baseball. Last weekend the husband had Smiles pitch to him and discovered he has a pretty good arm. The coach discovered the same thing at practice on Tuesday and made all the other kids come watch him throw! He should get to throw a few pitches in his next game. His natural talent at this sport is really pretty amazing and we’re excited to see what happens with some development.
This girl has my heart. The Diva fits have really settled down. You can almost see her tough little wall falling. She still has her moments but not nearly as often- and when they do happen, she gets over them much more quickly than she did in the very beginning. You can just tell that she is starting to trust us and feel comfortable in her new home.
This week Diva started “school” too- I sent her to a Parent’s Day Out program at a local church. I had some hesitations about doing this. Diva is the exact opposite of Smiles. She could sit still and focus on something for hours if it meant she was next to an adult- preferably me- and not forced to interact with other kids. She is not very social; we’re not sure if she’s just a more introverted personality or if she feels intimidated by not being able to communicate. When we go to the playground she will play by herself, but if other kids come she’ll often find a bench and just sit and observe. I wanted to try PDO to see how she would do in a school-like setting, but I was so nervous dropping her off.
I wish I could capture the expressions that she makes. They’re the best! She is so dramatic. We had talked a lot about her going to “school” to get her prepared. Going into PDO she was so resistant and scared. But you could also see interest and excitement in her little eyes. I was positive she would cry and cling to me- and she did. But the teacher was great. I stood outside the door when I left and the crying stopped within seconds. She only went for a couple of hours and the teacher reported that she was quiet but great.
Diva is going to go to PDO a couple times a week while I’m out on leave and then to the public summer school program. That program is only two weeks long but is focused on kindergarten readiness. She will start kindergarten in the fall and by that time she may not be too far behind. Both kids are catching on so quickly; it’s really cool to see. They can both identify most everyday objects, foods, colors, etc.
I better not leave out the bio kids this time….
Our stocky little boy is so fun and cute. He screams a lot and that’s annoying but besides that he just charms us on the daily. He recently learned to open doors so now he no longer plays with toys; he just walks around opening and closing doors. He has very clear ideas of what he wants and what is “right.” The other day we were in the car and we passed a train. The big kids got all excited because they knew that word and started yelling “Train! Train mom! Mom Train! Train! Train!” Wiggles yelled “NO!” so loudly that the whole car quieted. When he realized he had everyone’s attention he said with attitude “Choo-choo.”
She’s cute as can be. I don’t really like newborns in general but I just love mine. Sometimes I just look at her and think “sorry for this family you’ve been born into, kid!” When Wiggles was born he had 100% of our attention. We would both give him baths every night and both get him ready for bed. Now the baby gets a bath when she starts to smell and half the time we forget she’s downstairs as we’re getting the big kids ready for bed! Poor kid! She is sleeping really well but is in our bed most the time which I pretend not to like but secretly do. Since our attention is so often divided during the day I really treasure the cuddle time at night. The husband says we’re done with babies but how can we be done when we make such cute kids?!