Before we went from 1 to 4 kids I remember thinking about the challenging year that lay ahead of us. I predicted we would go through 3 major transitions:
- Transition to America and to our family (April)
- Transition to having 2 working parents and staying with anther caregiver (June)
- Transition to a school-year routine (August)
Back then I remember thinking if we could just make it to school that things would be fine.
WE MADE IT!
This weekend marked five months since the kids have been home. We are really starting to feel like a normal (large crazy) family!
Here’s some highlights from month five:
Both kids started school. Diva is a little student; she is one of those nerds that studies for fun. She LOVES going to school and can’t wait to do her homework. She knows all of her letters and the sounds they make, recognizes nearly all shapes, never gets tired of drawing. She struggles with counting. The girl couldn’t remember 13 if her life depended on it.
Smiles likes school as well but told me today he wants a break from it. It’s hard for him- starting in 3rd grade puts him so far behind. To be honest, it’s totally overwhelming. He’s not nearly as studious as Diva, but we work with him nonstop at home. Before he gets any electronics he has to do some studying, which thankfully isn’t a battle. He’s great at counting- he counted to 126 today- and can do simple addition. He struggles with paying attention and with his letters. He recognizes 22 capital letters, less lower case letters, and less letter sounds. Funny thing is he does pretty good with sight words. The other day he read part of a sentence with his sight words- “I see a red…” and I exclaimed “Smiles, you’re reading in English!” I wish I could just take his proud little smile and bottle it up. It’s the best.
Smiles started soccer. He had several practices before his first game this weekend. He scored the only goal! Now I know almost zero about soccer so I am unable to tell if he’s the next David Beckham or if we should just quit now, but his coach was raving about him. She likes that he’s aggressive and loves the sport. Right now he’s ticked off that he doesn’t have another game for a whole week. This kid is so into sports! He’s always screaming at the TV when a football game is on, even though he has no idea what’s happening.
This month Diva has really blossomed socially. Kindergarten has helped her so much in this area. We went to a PTA skate party last week. She ran into some friends and then pretty much ignored me the whole time! Another day we were at a park and she started laughing and playing with a stranger girl. And just recently she has started playing with all the neighborhood kids, even going over to their houses. She no longer runs and hides when people come over and will talk to adults we’re friends with but she doesn’t see often. I couldn’t have imagined this in my wildest dreams when she first got home! I can’t quite put into words how happy it makes me that the world is getting to know the Diva we’ve come to know and love.
Their behavior has improved SO MUCH. The introduction of the X system was when things really started to improve, but over the last month both kids have actually been enjoyable to be around most of the time. Most days the kids get zero or one X. They understand the rules, they know what is expected of them, and they’re trying so hard to behave. At this point I think we probably have the same discipline issues that most any family has. The one recurrent issue is the volume and tone of Smile’s voice- it is always loud and often hateful. I’m not sure if this is him overcompensating for language or what, but that boy has some (loud) thoughts and he’s not afraid to let you know.
Speaking of language, its still coming along quickly. We rarely have times when someone can’t get their point across. It’s not perfect English, but it works. Here’s examples of typical conversations:
- “Dance two days. Two all done, one. One all done, sleep. Sleep all done, school. School all done, eat. Eat all done, Dance!”
- “Smiles play outside with friends. Food cooked, Mommy say Smiles! Smiles come home. Okay?”
If you’re ever around my kids and want to make them happy, tell them they have good English. They think that’s pretty much the best compliment ever.
I have LOVED watching these kids interact with Wiggles and The Baby. They are full-fledged siblings. Sometimes they are best friends, chasing each other down the hill, giggling, and throwing piles of leaves at each other, and other times someone is “So mean!”
Those first few months were tough. There were times we wondered if we messed up our family forever. We felt this enormous responsibility towards the kids- and had enormous respect for what they were going through- but they were basically strangers. It sometimes felt like we were babysitting FOREVER. Now we’re often tired and sometimes cranky and usually worn out from the constant-ness of it all- but these kids are ours. We genuinely look forward to spending time with them and they are truly a part of this family.