Thursday, February 17, 2011
Finally time to post!!!
So, life is busy and as much as I want to post about our transition with Sweet M* our trials and our tribulations it is just so hard to find the time. But, today the big kids had minimum day and the littles are with my amazing mom so I am going to get some of this out of my head and onto this blog.
In all honesty daily life is pretty good right now. We have a good routine in our house for the weekdays and we make plans for the weekend. We make sure everyone is paid attention to, played with and read a book everyday even if it is just several minutes. It may not sound like much but for two working parents and four kids that is a lot of work. I also notice that we all feel like we are a family. The kids are pretty bonded. The are siblings and have their differences but they all play pretty well together and they care about each other. It is really a blessing to watch them develop such close relationships. It was something I always hoped for when we talked about a large family where the kids were all close in age but it is so neat to see that dream begin to become a reality. I also LOVE how it feels when we are going good. It is the greatest feeling in the world. But, we are not there completely yet...
How well that daily life thing flows? That all depends on where we are with our attachment that week. Sweet M* can be the absolute BEST listener, sharer... the most caring and loving kiddo in this house when we are doing well.
OR, like this past week he can push every single one of my buttons, his siblings buttons and his dad's too!
What makes this so difficult is I don't always know how to get him out of his mood and it (like this week) can last for days. So, what does that look like. Let me explain...
This past mood began (or what I can trace it back to was) this last weekend when I decided that he could not push a friend's stroller at Disneyland. This was unacceptable to him bc the other adult had said that it would be okay. This made him mad and so the switch flipped and from that point he has decided to intentionally not listen to anything I ask of him.
Now I know you may be thinking I am a dummy and I could have just let him push the stroller right? Problem is most times if I give in once to something I have said "no" to originally I am guaranteed the downward spiral. In most cases it is better for me to not go back on my word. I think it makes him think I am weak. But, this time was an exception and I got the spiral even though I stayed true to my word. Darn!
So, what happens when he is in this "mood"... here are a few examples.
Valentine's Day I made treats and goodies for all of the kids. I took special care to make sure that everyone had exactly the same gifts just in different patterns to make sure no one felt anyone else's was better. But, M* wasn't happy bc he wasn't allowed to eat all of the chocolate in the am and he was upset that I received chocolate strawberries from Hubby and he didn't.
I knew that bc the morning was out of routine he may have a hard time so I shared one strawberry with each of the kids. I thought we were doing good. The other kids finished their food and had been excused. Sweet M* decided to peel the chocolate off his strawberry and wipe it on the seat of the chair next to him since he was left alone. Now I probably would not have noticed it or thought it was by accident but M* made sure that I knew. When I asked him why he did it his reply was "I wanted to make mom mad"... he never can tell me why I just have to guess. So, I just told him that I loved him and whether he makes me happy or mad I will love him always. Than I told him he needed to clean up the chocolate and that he wasn't allowed to have the rest of the strawberry bc that was a privilege. And, when we choose to make people mad we choose to loose our privilege.
Another example... I asked him to take off his rain boots (a routine request) when he got to my mom's house in the morning yesterday. I didn't anticipate any trouble bc he does this every day with no trouble. His reply... "I don't want to" as he continued to run through her house.
This week he also hit one of his friends (and hard) which I don't know that he has ever done.
When my husband and I went out for a date night he decided he was not going to lay down for my mom. He is usually the best sleeper in the house.
As well as ignoring any little request any adult in charge makes. I say something like "M* please don't stand on that stool it might break... he says okay gets down and than two seconds later stands on it and makes a noise so I hear him. Here is where it gets tricky again. As a seasoned parent I would typically ignore the behavior, distract him or praise another kid for listening in front of him etc... But, with Sweet M* if I try to ignore or distract than it escalates to something where he could get hurt or where he could hurt someone else or where he could break something etc...
So, out come the time outs and consequences. I have to keep the corrections very monotone as to not show any emotion (not let him know that he is upsetting me) and keep my explanation short.
I have started doing time outs where he sits close to me. So, if I am making dinner he sits on the floor next to me. (This is an improvement bc I used to have to put him in his room where I could put up a baby gate bc the yelling and screaming was so bad or bc he would not stay in time out. I knew that he was supposed to stay close but I needed to get away from the tantrum to keep my cool. I am very thankful that we have made enough progress to have these types of time outs now.)
If he gets off time out but continues with the testing his next time out is longer. The third is really long... think 20-30 minutes. Than if he continues after that he looses the privilege of having access to all of his toys. He is limited to coloring, puzzles or reading for the remainder of the day.
If he is really being tough on me or continuing to badger on of his siblings he is given chores or tasks to do to make it up to that person. Bugging Cuddlebear after repeatedly being asked not to would mean he might have to clean Cuddlebear's room. Continuing to bug me might mean sweeping my floor. Make sense? I also have him color pictures to help him say sorry to someone. I don't know what one of these things is working but I have noticed that lately if he does something and feels bad he will come and apologize to the person without being prompted to later that day. That makes me happy. (Oh and these rules apply to all the kiddos not just M*)
Now with these punishments we also try to keep calm, do our loving eyes, play with him and talk to him about how much we love him and how he will never leave. We just repeat that in our family kids need to listen to the rules bc the parents are responsible for keeping the kids safe. Usually after the consistent consequences for his behavior and the crazy excited positive reaction we give when he does something right he eventually decides it is better and easier to listen.
But today is Thursday and I am one super duper tired mama. I am hoping that today is the day my Sweet M* comes back.
Edited: Sweet M* came home and the "mood" was gone. My boy was back once again. And, this morning as I sip my coffee I know I am one blessed mama!
Sweet M* knows the word adopted... but he is trying to figure it all out. He has started using it quite a bit. There is a lot to figure out for a little mind. The other day we were at a restaurant and there was a table next to us of teenage girls that happened to mostly be black. He was acting a little funny at the table and towards the end of dinner he leaned over and in a whisper asked me if they were adopted. My heart just felt like it had been stabbed. But, I think he is trying to figure out if all black kids he sees were also adopted. If all black people are from Ethiopia etc... Poor baby. It must be so confusing in a four year old's mind. He also (as I mentioned in a previous post) makes a lot of comments about his skin color. And, how he wishes he wasn't the only one who was black in our family. These questions made me contemplate adopting another child just so they would have each other. But, I don't think we have the energy for any more.
Edited: I also thought I should mention that Sweet M* is not the only one the struggles to work through the whole "adoption" thing. So, do I. Recently, I have been really struggling with only having one adopted child in our home. And, only one black child in our home. I look at our family pictures and I am scared. I don't know how Sweet M* is going to feel when he is older and he looks back at his childhood. Will he care that he was the only adopted and/ or black child in the family. Would he have felt better if there was one more adopted child from Ethiopia. Would our family balance and dynamic be better or worse?? This is what I am pondering. And, I can't shake it.
We have made the decision to change M*'s age from 3 to 4 when we complete the US Re-Adopt. We are keeping his birth date but changing the year. So, this June instead of turning 4 he will turn 5. This has been haunting me. We do believe Sweet M* is older for many reasons. His pediatrician has backed our decision and really he is going into school the same year he would have had we not changed the date bc I put all my kids into kindergarten late so I should relax. But, it just feels odd.
I really do feel like this is in M*'s best interest. He gets a full year of preschool and then he will go to kindergarten. He will not have to be twinned with Belle which is good for both of them. And, as the years go on he will be with peers his own age. So, they will be closer maturity wise. But, I wish so badly that I knew his "real" age.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't wish I was hopping on a plane to Ethiopia. I just miss it so bad my heart hurts. I want to visit Sweet M*'s birth family. I want to get answers to questions I have... and give them peace of mind knowing how well M* is doing. I also want to go back and play with all of those kiddos in the orphanages. I want to help the women carry those heavy jugs of water. I could go on forever!
I LOVED our trip to Ethiopia but I feel like once we took custody it was over... the chaos snuck in and I got cheated. I want to go back and finish my experience there. Someday... that is what I tell myself.
Sweet M* is so smart. He knows all of his letter sounds and can recognize all of his letters. He can count to ten and knows all of his primary and secondary colors. He can spell and write his name too. Now we are starting to work on writing and tracing all of the letters.
M* attends storytime at our local library with my mom and Belle. They have to go in to a separate room with the librarian and the other kids and he is able to do that each time. Which is a big deal... I am proud.
So overall 9 months feels much different than 6 months home. It is hard to remember the trials from the first 3 months home and I am actually starting to forget about how rough our first days together in Ethiopia were and the plane ride home.
Each day our love gets stronger... And, when we are in those good runs I can "see" Sweet M*. I can see that smart, funny, loving, kind, enthusiastic and happy boy who is my son. And, I have great faith that the sadness and hurt that sometimes mask over his amazing qualities will be lifted so that he can be free to feel secure and happy and loved and safe in our family.