Monday, September 17, 2012

One Month Home -- The Recap

We've made it a month, our little family of three.

Eli had his first experience in a dressing room--Baby Gap at the Cherry Creek mall.  We'd gone to the mall before the stores opened to check out the play area, and when Eli saw the Gap he wanted to shop.  Um, ok.

He needed some new fall clothes anyway, so we waited for the stores to open and went in.  He did a great job saying "yes" and "no" (mostly "yes") as I held up options, then we headed back to the dressing room.

He put the first outfit on and loved it.  But when I tried to get him to change into the second outfit I realized he thought he was just getting dressed.  And he liked what he was now wearing, so didn't want to take it off.

I explained to him that we will pick four things (random number, just to get things moving). That got him to try on another outfit, which he also liked.  After that, though, I realized we were done.  There was no way we were getting through the rest of the clothes we'd brought back to the dressing room.

When I asked him to put back on the clothes he'd worn to the mall, he almost cried.  He was so confused.  I assured him we'd be taking home the other things, but I needed him to change back before we went home.

He was happy that we'd be taking the new clothes home with us, so he started stuffing it all in my purse.  Poor guy still wasn't getting it, and why would he?

We finally made it up to the cash register to pay, and out of the store without landing in jail.  And he mostly still likes the clothes he picked out that day.

Another of Eli's firsts this month was his first trip to the library.

When we walked in, he said "woooow."  (That's three syllables.)

The branch we first visited has the children's DVDs shelved right in the path to get back to the books.  So we didn't make it very far into the library.  Eli grabbed five DVDs without really looking at them, I managed to grab a few books (without really looking at them) and we hightailed it out of there.

I was fully prepared for a battle when it came time to return the DVDs, but he thought it was really fun to send them down the return chute.  And he did a great job of picking out new DVDs.  I told him he could pick five again, and he was more careful selecting this time.

When he had five, he of course saw another he wanted.  So we went to a nearby table and laid out the five, and I told him if he wanted the additional DVD that he'd have to put one of the original five back.  He understood, and traded one of the original selections for the new one.

On this second trip, I managed to get only one book in the bag.  We have plenty of time to work on getting more books in there; for now, I'm happy he's excited about the library.

Eli is still sleeping 11-12 hours per night, and even more on the weekends.  He's still sleeping in the bedroll next to our bed.  The other night I asked him if he thought he'd ever sleep in his bed and he said no.  We haven't pushed this with him, we just want him to feel comfortable and secure where he sleeps.  Our social worker gave us a few suggestions of things we could try when we feel it's time to transition him to his room, but agreed there was no need to worry about it for now.

The ever-illusive question: "what will Eli eat?"

The only thing we've learned for sure is we can never know, for sure, what Eli will eat.  He ate toast with almond butter reliably, until he didn't.  His current favorite is eggs, over easy thankyouverymuch.  He likes his yolk runny, but absolutely will not try using toast to sop up the yolk.  He just sort of eats the yolk with his fingers.  (Yes, at some point we will focus on silverware.  For now, we're just focused on getting food IN him.)

I've been doing a lot of reading about this issue of getting Eli to eat, and will probably do a separate blog post at some point in the future.  The summary, from every source, is don't push it.  Our job as parents is to get good, healthy food on the table.  And that's it.  We can't force him to eat it, and in fact trying to force it on him can make the issue much, much worse.

The first dessert he's liked was yellow cake, but even that wasn't a sure thing.  I gave him yellow cake with some homemade peach jam on top on day, and he loved it.  I tried to give it to him the following day and he refused it, wanting his cake plain. 

He likes steamed potatoes, but won't let us put any butter or olive oil on them.  But he wants olive oil drizzled over his eggs.  (Which is delicious, by the way.  If only I was trying to put on weight like Eli.  Sigh.)

He'll eat pasta, as long as it doesn't have tomato sauce on it.  We had dinner one Saturday night at Carmines on Penn, a local Italian restaurant that serves everything family style.  So we had to order something for us that Eli would eat as well.  We chose the baked ziti, thinking we could give him some pasta from underneath (without cheese; he still doesn't like cheese).  He ate it, but only after removing the tomato sauce from each piece of ziti with his fingers.  Until Brad showed him he could remove the sauce with his mouth, which I thought was brilliant.  Well played, daddy.

He's still eating fish, thankfully.  Brad and I have always eaten a lot of fish, and now we're eating more.  Salmon, grouper, cod, halibut.  More salmon.

Vegetables acceptable to Eli are holding at potatoes and corn.  He ate a spear of asparagus the other night, but declined to eat any more.  He'll occasionally eat a bit of yellow squash, but never zucchini.  Pretty much anything green doesn't make it past his lips, which is why we were kind of excited about the asparagus.  It's pathetic how one solidary spear of aspargus can make our day.

Brad used yellow tomatoes for our pasta the other night, and Eli ate the sauce.  We think he didn't realize it was a tomato sauce because the color was so light it kind of blended in with the pasta.  That 20 pound box of yellow tomatoes we got from our CSA now looks a lot more appealing.

His English skills are coming along beautifully.  Our social worker commented that he seems to be developing his language skills quickly.

Eli's preschool teacher told us last week that the other kids in his class get so excited when Eli says a new phrase, and that he's communicating very well with his classmates.

Eli no longer rolls his r's, which is sad.  Everyone warned us their language development happens so quickly, and along with it they lose the cute little quirks.  So true.

The Dogs
Eli is still struggling with feeling comfortable around Ruby, our Rottweiler.  So we continue to keep Ruby separated using the baby gate.  But Eli loves giving Ruby treats, including whatever food (usually vegetables) he didn't eat at dinner.

Soccer isn't going so well.  After his first week, which he loved, he no longer wants to play soccer.  This past week, we told him on Friday night that we'd be going to soccer the next day, thinking it would be something exciting for him to anticipate.  Instead, he said "no soccer!"

The next morning, he still didn't want to go.  We got him dressed (sort of, shorts and t-shirt but no shin guards or cleats) and went over to the field.  He refused to get out of the car and then cried in the parking lot.  And then drug his feet in a slow march up to the field.

He sat on the sidelines for the entire practice, refusing all encouragement to play from us, his coach and his teammates.  He finally got up at the end and ran through the tunnel of parents' arms, and left with a big smile on his face.  But he still insists "no soccer."

Maybe we started him in soccer too early.  Maybe he just really doesn't like it.  At this point we don't know what to think, but we've decided if he still says "no soccer" this Saturday we won't make him go.

His bike riding is coming along great, and we typically "rye-ad bye-icks" twice each day.  He's gotten pretty fast, and can do the loop around the park (about 2.25 miles) without any trouble.  We've had a few meltdowns trying to explain the park rules to him, how all the bikes ride in one direction in a certain lane.  But otherwise it's a lot of fun for all of us now that we're able to ride alongside him.

The boy who lives next door stopped by and gave Eli a scooter last week.  Eli does really well on the scooter, he has great balance, but he always picks the bike over the scooter.

We are blessed to have two neighbor boys on our block who are around Eli's age, one just turned five and the other will be 4 next month.  Eli loves these boys, and they have so much fun together when we see them.

His friendships at school seem to be coming along more slowly.  When we pick him up from his all-day school, both Brad and I have seen him playing alone on the playground.  One mom told me she'd encouraged her boy to engage with Eli, but her boy said Eli never talks.  Another mom told me that her daughter said Eli is one of her best friends, but that he talks so quietly.  When we see kids from his class outside of school, like at church or the Fall Festival, the other kids don't seem excited to see Eli.  (Except for sweet Caroline, who is always happy to see us and chatters away.  She's adorable.)  It's hard to watch him be so alone.

We'd heard that children learn language much faster when they're around a lot of other kids, and I still hope that's true.  But for now it seems like his lack of language is really holding him back from forming friendships.

I didn't cover attachment in our One Week Home recap because, well, it had been only a week.  Brad and I were still pretty much strangers to Eli at that point.  But a month in, I can see the foundation of secure attachment forming.

As I've mentioned, Eli began attaching to Brad more quickly.  Pretty much right away, actually.  I had a rough time with this in the beginning, as Eli rejected me over and over, but I'm happy to say much progress has been made over the past several weeks.

Our social worker made a spot-on observation, which I'll do my best to paraphrase.  She said children generally attach to fathers through doing things--riding bikes, playing catch, etc.  Attachment to mothers is more typically through physical touch and nurturing.  And since Eli isn't much into physical touch or nurturing, it made sense that attachment with me would come more slowly.

But it is coming.  In fact, as soon as I chilled out and respected Eli's boundaries things between us started to improve.  I've been learning under what circumstances Eli is comfortable with affection; they are few, but exist.  And believe me I take advantage of every single one I've discovered.  But I don't push it when I know he doesn't want affection from me. 

He asks for me when I'm not around, and is excited to show me things from his day when I get home from work.  He says "good night, mommy" almost every night as he gets in bed.  Some nights he's a stinker and will, with a huge grin on his face, refuse to say good night.  But a visit from the mommy tickle monster gets him to scream, between breathless laughter, "good night mommy!"

And one night last week, as I was leaving for a meeting at church after dinner, I said good bye and I love you to Eli.  He said "I love you" in return . . . paused . . . and then started singing "Say Hey (I Love You)" by Michael Franti & Spearhead, his current favorite song.

But I heard it.  Brad heard it.  It was a real "I love you" from Eli to me that seemed to surprise him as much as it did us.

Baby steps.  I'll take 'em.