Birthday party and full cousin immersion went almost without a hitch! No chocolate was had, and there was only one tantrum which dissipated quietly, although it did take a fairly long time. It was mostly quiet crying/whining after a few "I don't care"s. We had a lot going on socially this weekend, so it would have been abnormal not to have some sort of meltdown.
Phew! We have come a long way!
I have been going back in time a fair bit lately, as one is want to do upon a year's anniversary of adopting one's children. Sometimes I can still taste the feelings of panic and exhaustion I awoke to every morning for far too many months (isn't this supposed to end sooner? I'd ask every morning). Other times I look at my teen-aged sons and wonder where the time has gone. Really, H's feet are almost as big as mine. He rolled his eyes at me the other day. Lire sighs audibly.
There are still moments of weirdness for me. For example, tonight H. wanted to be tickled after he saw me playing a tickle game with L. H. is still highly sensitive to touch, so I was leery -- generally his body becomes taut and his limbs will shoot out unpredictably, jabbing the unsuspecting parent in the nose or ear. A shrill scream will follow, and somehow his mouth has ended up right where your jabbed ear happens to be.
He did pretty good, all in all, but it still was pretty awkward for him. I am aware that he watches me and Lire interact and notices that it is different from the way he and I do. If I do something with one, I usually have to do it with the other. Probably not unusual with siblings. However, things flow more naturally between me and L. This troubles me, but I'm aware of it, and I'm working on ways to make my and H's relationship easier. I feel how uncomfortable H. feels in his body, with his words, and I want so badly for him to relax, take it easy. Time and greater comfort with the language and ways of our crazy country will help, I know. The more I relax helps, too, of course. Still. I wish I could magically make him feel at ease.
Here it is, my new mimiboo hat. Visit her shoppe on Etsy. She made me two detachable flowers for the hat. I'm wearing the larger one here. I'm really enjoying it and will most likely ask for another for the fall. I am freakishly cold most of the year, even in the summer, so keeping my head covered yet remaining a la moda can be a challenge. I have loads of hats, and this one is perfect for the changeable early spring weather here in the northeast.
I will also leave you with a few random pics of the boys doing their respective thangs.
Things have been going well here; we are gel-in' like Magellan and thoroughly enjoying warmer days. Yay spring!
Al and I have been reminiscing about "the good old days," aka last year. Please note subtle sarcasm.
As we remember how hard it was in the beginning, how it got easier in some ways, but stayed very difficult in others, we can see how far we've all come. All of us. Physically, emotionally, psychologically. We are all doing better. I think I only started feeling normal-ish after 9 months, and can look at things more objectively after a full year. I've always been a late bloomer, and a bit slow.
Anyway, today H. had his first meltdown in a while. It's nothing compared to a year ago, but it made me and Alex all misty-eyed. I could kind of see it coming. H. has always had a difficult time with transitions, especially transitions from something really, really fun to anything else. The end of fun. All kids have difficulty saying goodbye at a party, going home, etc. H. has a doubly hard time, AND he doesn't seem to react to sweets, particularly chocolate well. I've been mapping his recent meltdowns, and they all come after a party with chocolate. He's been to parties without chocolate, and he does not have the same reaction. The same defiance, the same stubborn refusal to leave, even though every other kid has left, party is over, lights off, crickets chirping, you get the drift.
It was definitely a bit deja-vu, what with the dissociative, glassy stare, non-responding, and the screaming. The way it was different was that it lasted a much shorter time, we were able to talk about it afterwards, and he rebounded much more quickly. And we rebounded more quickly, too.
I don't ever forget that H. has difficulty with leave-takings -- but things had been improving steadily, so a tiny regression sort of took us by surprise. If little things can trigger emotions in me, imagine how saying goodbye to one's beloved cousins could trigger, even subconsciously, the biggest leave-taking of his life.
Some may think we read too much into it, but the patterns I've been tracking are pretty consistent.
I spent some time reminding H. that his family in Ethiopia know me and Daddy, and that they want us to take care of him. They want us to make sure he rests enough, that he eats well, and well, listens to us. That he has two families, and right now, we are the ones who make rules for him, and keep him safe and healthy. He looked quite interested at this, though lately he hasn't wanted to talk about them.
We'll see! He has another birthday party to attend this weekend, so I'll check back and let you know how we all fare. I may be over-protective, but I am very tempted to bring our own "cake" so I won't have to play Russian Roulette with the chocolate. I know, you all think I'm crazy, but I'm just trying to keep my mind open to any elements that can help our guy feel good.
Next post: I'll be wearing a mimiboo exclusive hat! Very stylish, very cute.
Last weekend I developed an ear infection in my right ear. It subsided to a dull ache with a little homeopathy, but I still called the ENT on Monday for a visit, because it felt like it was here to stay. By Tuesday I was begging for an appointment, and got one for... Friday. Hmm...
Excruciating agony wasn't a convincing enough description, I guess. I had a few antibiotics left over from a course that was changed midway, so I was told to take them as I waited for Friday. By Wednesday morning I wasn't able to hear out of either ear very well. That's right, the left ear decided to join the party!
I've had fluid in my right ear for a while (residual damage from my auto-immune fun), so the hearing there hasn't been stellar. It got worse with the infection, and then somehow I managed to get fluid in my LEFT ear while irrigating the old nose. Wonderful. The left ear doesn't work so well now, the ringing was INTOLERABLE, and I cried myself to sleep twice waiting for the Advil to kick in. By Thursday the meds started to help, the pain wasn't as intense, and I actually went to TWO Mother's Day events at the boys' school AND I taught two pre-K origami classes. Believe it or not, the near-deafness improved my teaching (and my parenting!). If you can't hear what they're saying, you just have to let go. You focus on the important missives (More glue, blue pencil please and unbuckle my belt so I don't pee my pants), and forget the rest (she hit me, he won't share, I can't do this). You are more careful with your visual instructions, you slow down and cause the kids to slow down in the process, and you notice how visual little kids who can see ARE. I always knew I talked too much when I taught, now I'm a convert to shutting my trap and using my silence and body movements more.
With the boys it's been helpful, too. I just can't hear them complaining. It's lovely. If something is important, they know enough to come to me and speak clearly into my ear. It slows down the drama.
An unexpected Mother's Day gift of near-deafness!
Seriously, though, it has sucked a lot. I did make the best of it, but when I went into the office I begged him to do what I've wanted and been denied for years -- tubes. Let them drain, dammit! He did it in the office, and boy did it hurt. I writhed. I whimpered. Yes, he used a numbing agent, but because both my eardrums are swollen to five times their size and scabby, the numbing agent could only go so far into the drum. As he pushed the tubes in farther, the pain began in earnest. I chanted my newly learned meditation chant in my head and yoga-breathed like a yogini on speed (if there is such a thing).
Interestingly, once the tubes were in, the pain stopped, my hearing improved an iota (now everything sounds just far away and not far away AND underwater). I have pain intermittently, but I slept through the night last night (without crying, as far I know), and my hearing pops in and out as the fluid drains. And boy does it ever! It is one of the most disturbing things I've seen and experienced, if you want the fluidy-good details. Mmmmmm! I wear cotton in my ears just so as not to gross out the innocent strangers I pass at the grocery store.
The boys have rolled with it all. Habtam was worried when I was in pain and kept checking in on me, sweetie that he is. Lire kept asking me, "Dead?" I tried to determine if he was asking if I was dead now, or if I was going to die. It was the latter, so I assured him I wasn't going to die anytime soon. "Yeah?" he asked matter-of-factly. Yeah. Hopefully.
They are intrigued by the yellow liquid flowing like golden sunshine from my ears, since H. had this early on with his perforated eardrum. Now we both must wear wax plugs in our ears whenever we swim or wash our hair. Like mother, like son.
Wish me better hearing soon. And I will wish all of you a Happy Mother's Day, whether still waiting for your child(ren) or already ensconced with them as I write. Hope your day was easy and free.
I went to a meditation/yoga workshop this Sunday. Boy, does my butt hurt! (cue the Rodney Dangerfield chuckle) I got some interesting things out of it for myself, which I'm going to work on as soon as my ear stops hurting (why, why ear, must you pain me so?). I also chatted with a woman who told me about Ted.com and this particular interview, which is pretty cool. Once I read it, I felt like such a wimp for crying through my ear pain (yes, I cry. A lot). I tried to get into a witness stance, but all the witness could say was "Please. Make. It. STOP!!!!"
She also told me about freerice.com. I'm a word nerd of sorts, so I enjoyed it, and it provides a very useful service. Sounds like a good idea for teens who like words or who need to work on their SAT vocab.
Today Lire spit at his brother's food from across the table as they ate their afternoon snack. Nice.
When asked if he in fact did as Habtamu described (Mommy, Daddy! Lire did something really bad... he spit at my food!), we were greeted with a stony silence. Lire's cheeks were full of apple juice, his juice bottle tipped at an angle with which to imbibe more of the offending spit fuel.
He swallowed and said, "I go downstairs."
Daddy: That's a good idea. Please go to your room
Lire doesn't budge. I ask him if he'd like me to help him go downstairs. He nods. I go to hold his hand. Rejection. I pick up the little man and carefully carry his 40 lbs down the stairs and place him gently on his bed.
Lire: I no talk anymore (muttered)
Me: Ok (cheerfully)
Lire: HEY! (surprised and offended)
I went upstairs to help remove a tick from our beleaguered pup as Habtamu watched in disgusted excitement. I carried the tick down the stairs to flush it and heard "Mommy?"
Me: Yes Lire?
Lire: Mommy hup? (help)
I opened the door and saw our little man attempting to put on his pjs "awl by self," because it's "easier."
While this was going on H had gone to watch "Word World." Lire went upstairs expecting to find Habtam, but nobody was there but the birds out the deck window.
Lire: I say sorry Habtam! Where Habtam?
When I told little man where H was, and that he would have to wait a while to be able to watch tv with him, he became the Weeping Birdwatcher.
There's been a lot of activity at our feeder since the cool weather returned, and we saw a rose breasted grosbeak for the first time. There are two males hanging around our deck, and the Weeping Birdwatcher was glued to the window, albeit weeping.
Epilogue: The Weeping Birdwatcher eventually went to join his brother for tv time, an "I sorry Habtam" (H grunted in reply), and an amazing comeback as the Grinning Pesky Younger Brother Who Likes to Talk While Watching TV.