Monday, February 25, 2013

New Skills and New Friends

I’ve been working on a blog post in my head for several days (perhaps weeks) now, but every time I think I find the time to sit down and write it out, some other person here needs me or I am so exhausted I can barely drag myself to the couch for some evening television time.

And the posts I’ve been working on have ran the gamut of subjects, but most of them have been about the challenges of being tired parents caring for a 2-year old who is totally into everything. It’s funny, because around here we groan and cheer at the very same time. We groan because Matthew is into absolutely everything. But we cheer too because he’s learning new things and showcasing his skills in a veritable cirque de soleil.

I’m not kidding about him being into everything. For example, one of his favorite things to do is drive little matchbox cars on the keys of the new piano we just brought into our house. He opens the lid, then proceeds to play at being Mozart with a metal car in his hand. Sometimes he takes to banging on the keys so hard it sounds like the walls will cave in.

He also likes to pull the wooden vents out of the floor and fling them across the room. He chucks very large toys across the hardwood floors. He crawls under the table and plays and laughs to himself. And one of his favorite games is being chased around the dining room table. He literally squeals with delight as his brother or sister chases him.

When we put something up high, he promptly does everything he can to reach it down again. And if he can’t reach it, he starts to yell and cry. He expresses frustration—which is frustrating and lovely to me, both. He yanks on his high chair when he’s hungry, pushes away the spoon when he’s full, and fusses in a sing-song tone when he’s tired.

It’s all rather exhausting, but we’re so delighted that we don’t mind being tired. Our boy is learning so much. When I look back to January 1, I can’t believe all the skills he’s gained in less than two months.

But perhaps one of the most amazing things happened this very night when Matthew and I were sitting in the living room reading bedtime books. We read the same ones every night, mostly to build routine with him, and I’ve selected a few specific ones that have objects in them that he likes and knows. His favorite book right now is Spot Loves His Daddy. In that book, a father and son pair of dogs have a little adventure together. They play in the park with a ball, go to the beach, play on the hillside with a kite while a little bird watches, feed the ducks at the pond (“quack, quack”), and read a bedtime story at night. The very last page is of Spot, the dog, with a soccer ball (the same one earlier in the book).

We’ve been working on the word “ball.” Matthew obviously knows this word because when we ask him to go get a ball, he does. But tonight we were looking at the book and I got to the last page. I said, “Matthew, where’s the ball,” and my boy stuck out his pointer finger and pointed right to it.

I could hardly believe it!

Just so I knew this momentous achievement wasn’t an act of luck, we read the entire book a second time so we could arrive once more on the back page. And I said again, “Matthew, where’s the ball?” And of course my smart boy pointed to the ball again with his pointer finger.

It’s such a delight to watch him learn and begin to understand the world around him. I can’t tell you what a gift it is to finally have him come up and grab me by the hand and lead me somewhere in the house. Usually it’s just because he’s dropped a car behind the bookshelf and needs me to fetch it, but I’m thrilled no matter what he needs from me. The point is HE NEEDS SOMETHING FROM ME. And he has learned to express it.

One last little blessing of the past week has been finally meeting another adoptive family whom we’ve been in communication with since last fall. They traveled in early January to pick up their daughter, who was also born with a cleft lip and palate. I’ve mentioned them before, but we were so grateful to have them join us for dinner on Saturday night. It warmed my heart to see Matthew and their youngest daughter side by side in the high chair—both China-babes, both having lived through placement in an American family, and both going through a similar process to repair their cleft lips and palates.

And the big siblings enjoyed their time together too. In some ways being an adoptive family is so normal and feels the same as being an all-biological family. But it’s also different, and this is complicated by having a child with a cleft lip and palate. We are grateful for these new friends who are walking a similar journey to us. And I feel especially thankful that Matthew will grow up knowing other children who share a similar life adventure.

This is a long post—if you’ve made it all the way through, you show great fortitude. We continue to be encouraged by this adoption journey and all the amazing people we’ve come to know through the process. And we are, of course, always grateful for the love and support of the family and friends who have seen us through this long season and promise to stay beside us no matter what comes.

A sink bath during a weekend away at a log cabin in Anacortes.

I'm not so sure about this, Mom.

Matthew and his new buddy Amara, who came home from China in January.

Smiling kids who all have little siblings adopted from China (plus they really enjoyed each other's company!).

1 comment:

  1. I am thrilled for you and Matthew and the whole family that he is beginning to respond more to language, and that he is expressing needs to you. Wonderful! So fun to see how much bigger he is than the little gal who came more recently (which also makes me think that log cabin must have a VERY large sink...). I love reading your updates. Thank you for posting.