Saturday, November 17, 2012

Three Months Home -- The Recap

So hard to believe it's been three months already!  A quarter of a year.  Wow.

First hockey game.  We have season tickets to DU hockey, and Eli loves going to the games.  He often asks to go "let's go Denver," referring to the cheer led throughout the games by the students.  The student section is only a few sections over from our seats, which caused us to briefly consider relocating our seats this season.  Thankfully Eli hasn't picked up any of their other frequent chants.  I've told Brad that when Eli does, he's in charge of answering the inevitable question: "what's a wh0re?"

Eli of course loves the zamboni.

And he had his first Dippin' Dots.  (Yes, Eli, it's ice cream.  Sort of.  I know it doesn't look like ice cream.)

First visit from the Tooth Fairy.  Followed a few days later by his second visit from the Tooth Fairy.

First time playing in the snow.

First jack-o-lantern.

First time trick-or-treating.

First time rock climbing.

First time playing the piano, in the kids' room at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  He's never showed any interest in the piano in our living room.

First family photos.

Rode his bike without training wheels.

(Yes, that's our nanny in the video, not me, watching this "first."  Sad face.)

First parent-teacher conference.  (Ok, this was technically a first for us since he wasn't there.)  His Preschool teacher reports he's doing great, is very smart, loves being there, and has lots of friends.

First movie in a theater, IMAX Rocky Mountain Express.  Followed by his first 3-D movie a week or so later, To the Arctic, also an IMAX. Now if I we go to a regular movie theater he's going to wonder why the screen is so small.

First comment by another kid about his skin color.  (First in front of me, anyway.)
[Decided this should be a separate post.  More to come on this. . . .]

Eli's still sleeping every night on the bedroll next to our bed.  He feels safe there, and has told me he always slept next to his Ethiopian mommy.  We've discussed with our social worker strategies to eventually transition him to his room, but we're going to give this a little bit more time.

For the most part, we no longer have to fret too much about what Eli will eat at any given meal.  Although we still try to focus on foods we know he likes, he's starting eating pretty much whatever we make.  This week it was brussels sprouts; I thinly sliced them, mixed them in with pasta and lots of onion (which he loves), and he ate them up.

Eli's first paella.

For any other parent out there struggling with a super picky child, just keep offering them healthy foods and don't resign yourself to serving a diet of "kid food" or cooking to please the demands of that picky child.  This is the advice from every single book I read, and from our experience it really does work.  They will not starve themselves.

Eli also suddenly started drinking milk again.  And then stopped.  And now has started again.  I tried whole milk again and he gave his approval, saying it was like what he drank "in the Gambella."  Sometimes he'll drink only a few sips of milk with his meal, but I'm counting is as progress.

And his love of GB's Fish and Chips remains.

I Heart Mom t-shirt.  You KNOW I was trying all day long to get a clear photo of that.  :)

Eli's English language skills continue to improve at a pretty amazing pace.

He still uses "no" a lot.  I'll tell Eli he's a good boy, and he'll say "no, mommy a good boy."  So I've learned to use this to my advantage.  When I need a little flattery, I tell Eli he's beautiful and get "no, mommy beautiful" in return.  Yes, I can stoop pretty low for a compliment.

We're still working on his tendency to try and boss us around, and often use "are you asking or telling?"  I think his attempts at bossiness may be partly a control issue and partly just a language issue.  Commands use fewer words.  Although hopefully he's learning that having to do through the full "are you asking or telling" routine takes a whole lot more words than just asking nicely in the first place.

The Dogs
There are lots of dogs in our neighborhood, so he saw lots of dogs while trick-or-treating.  Dogs calmly hanging out with their owners on front porches, dogs excitedly barking from behind their owners at the front door.  This seemed to scare him initially, but the excitement of trick-or-treating soon overcame his fear.

He's continued asking to have Ruby hang out with us if we watch a movie at night, and he now asks for Ruby to come upstairs with us when we prepare for bed.  (He loves to watch Ruby getting her teeth brushed.)  We still put the baby gate up before we go to bed, to keep Ruby out of our room, but we're happy that Eli seems to be much more comfortable with Ruby now.

Eli and several other boys from his class at SVdP now regularly play together after school on the school's front lawn.  They wrestle, cover each other in the fall leaves, throw a bit of snow if there's any to be found, roll down the hill, jump off the ledge--typical boy stuff.  Eli seems to really enjoy these boys, and they him.

We also discovered two other boys from his class visit the same library every Monday after school; I'm not sure how we've missed them in the past.  So now we all meet up there together, too.  The library has a play room where the boys can continue their play together, and it's been nice to be able to chat with these moms more than the few minutes at school pick-up and drop-off allows.

Whenever I see Eli play with his friends, I'm impressed by the polite nature of his play.  He's rough and tumble, just like a typical boy, but is never the one who takes things a bit too far.  In fact, one of his best buddies hauled off and slugged him one day and I saw Eli de-escalate the level of play instead of responding in kind.  Sometimes I see in him a maturity that is way beyond his almost-five years.

Eli and Grant, his buddy who lives a few houses down from us, now play together several times a week after school.  Brad says it's really cute, the way each goes to the other's door with the "can Eli/Grant come out and play?"  We adore Grant, and are so happy with this blossoming friendship.

He also seems to have a lot more friends at both schools now, too.  He talks about his friends and tells us about some of the things they do.  His teacher at SVdP told us the other boys really like him, and that Eli loves making them laugh.

This has been a hard month for me, to be perfectly honest.  Eli has been talking with Brad and me a lot about Gambella, which I think is great, and Eli's bond with Brad appears to be deepening.  But Eli seems to have redoubled his efforts to keep me at a distance. 

Eli misses his Ethiopian mommy.  Eli and I have talked about it, to the extent his still limited English language skills have allowed, and I'm so thankful that he feels comfortable and trusts me enough to share his feelings.  I've assured him that his Ethiopian mommy loves him very much, and I've told him I want to know all about her.  That, even though I've never met her, I also love her.  And then I've just listened.  There's not much I can offer to console him; his loss breaks my heart, too.  I just want to make sure to keep this dialog open.

I suspect Eli's attachment with me is going to be a bumpy ride, and that I need to prepare myself to weather these setbacks.  He's a hurt child, protecting himself from further loss; my mind knows that, but my heart still hurts when he pushes me away.  I'm trying hard not to get discouraged, but it's really hard at times. 

Although Brad has been incredibly supportive, I often feel like an interloper.  An outsider in my own family. 

I'm not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me here--I'm a very blessed woman and I know it--I'm just trying to be real about what's challenging me right now.  I have a child who at times doesn't seem to want me.  It's a pretty awful feeling, which elicits responses in me that don't always make me proud. 

I'm struggling, but embracing each new day as an opportunity to further connect with our child.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, that IS really hard. I've been in that situation with our boy, and it's far, far, far from easy.

    (And by the way - he's eating PAELLA? Jealous!!)