I've begun writing the text for Habtamu's lifebook. I feel more pressure to get his underway before Lire's, since he will be going to school in the fall, and he'll most likely start getting questions. I've got a couple of guides to get me going, but I do have questions for any of you who've already written one, or even if you haven't, maybe you've got some ideas.
First, as they are siblings, H and L will have some of the same pages -- about their country, first family and their journey here, e.g. I thought I'd use some different photos, have the boys help decorate with their own flourishes, to keep them individualized. If any of you have adopted siblings, how would you approach it?
Also, we have birthdates for the boys, but they are almost certainly inexact. We're going to go with them, as they are close enough for us, but how should I address it in the lifebook? My inclination is to say that these are their birthdates, since at this age, and even as they get older, it will be difficult for them to understand why their birthdates are not exact. I also don't want to tell any untruths, but this is what we have. They are on their Ethiopian birth certificates, which I'm going to include, too. When do we tell them that they're not exact?
From what point of view would you tell the story? Most of what I have read has the lifebook written from the parents' point of view, i.e., "You were born in Ethiopia ..." I am tempted to write it from the boys' point of view -- "I was born in Ethiopia" -- but I don't want to put words into their mouths. Eventually I'd like them book to contribute to it as they learn more English.
When the boys first arrived, they liked their beds, and didn't want to sleep with one another. However, they did need us to lay with them at bedtime, after stories and soonki (kisses), until they fell asleep. As we expected, they would awaken in the middle of the night and join us in our bed. We have a king size bed, and were all "if they need to co-sleep, we'll do it. We'll do whatever they need..."
Reality kicked us in the kidney, or more accurately, Habtamu did. And Lire's weapon of choice was his estimable head, which always seemed to hit me in the nose. Both boys rotated numerous times in their sleep, ending up perpendicular to us. Not much sleep was had for a few weeks.
We figured out eventually that both boys were falling out of their beds, but we only had one bed rail. I know, we were woefully unprepared. But relatives assured us not to buy any, they had loads, SOMEWHERE. Lire, being smaller and the louder of the two, crying-wise, got the rail. Magically, he slept through the night immediately and has only joined us mid-sleep twice since then. Habtamu got his rail soon after, so his falling stopped, but he kept joining us throughout the night, foot firmly planted in Al's groin.
We decided to compliment Lire on his amazing sleeping abilities -- "Wow! You slept in your own bed the WHOLE NIGHT! What a big boy you are!" We didn't mention anything to H, but he heard us and I saw him looking thoughtfully at the exchange. The next night, no 2am visits, nor 3am, nor 4 am... 6AM!!! Very big improvement. We can handle an hour of snoring and spinning. H is nothing if not competitive with L.
The next milestone was H's desire to say "bye, bye" to Daddy, his sleepmate, at bedtime. Just a kiss and a "bye-bye," and Al was free to go. H wanted to be a big boy and go sleepy by himself. Lire said he was still "yiddle," and didn't want to be "bug" (interpretation, "little" and "big," if you couldn't figure it out). So I still spent my evenings watching as Alex skipped happily out of the room to enjoy himself, observing Lire's sleeping rituals, helping him tuck bunny into bed, velcro-ing Kermit's hands and feet around his wrist, etc.
I began to wean him from my presence by laying near him and putting a hand on his back only. (No more extended rituals -- don't ask). Next, I would lay for 5 minutes, then sit up and stay for the rest of the time, hand on back. Then I would begin by sitting, hand on back, stroking his hair now and then, and leaving when he was semi-comatose, eyes still open but unable to protest. These last few nights We've talked about him being a big boy like Habtamu, and trying to say "bye-bye" to Mommy. He's done it two nights running! No crying, only a few "no's" followed by a "yes, bye-bye." And a sweet smile and a kiss goodnight.
Alex and I know that there are bound to be hiccups, but we're still pleased by their confidence in themselves and the fact that they feel comfortable enough to go to sleep happily and easily.