Whispering “sweet nothings” is one thing, but tonight we got an entire bedtime full of sweet everythings!
Last night was rough. Bedtime came with a battle from a little one who has learned that when you cry it is embarrassing, when you’re mad, you go deal with it by yourself, and there is no concept of comfort when your heart is hurting in any way.
A simple frustration over hearing “no” launched a bedtime saga to rival a wrestling match. When children from traumatic places enter a loving parent-child relationship, many times they have no idea how to act, what to expect, or what is expected of them in return. For little Wesley, when he got frustrated, he shut down and just wanted to go be alone and cry his crocodile tears into his own elbow and stare at the wall. Our sweet little munchkin turned into a writhing expressionless child, with tear-stained cheeks, just trying to escape the comforting arms of mommy and daddy.
We often forget that many of these children have spent the better part of their lives learning to cope with everything on their own. In their own heads, in their own bodies, in their own spaces, in their own way. They are not comforted when they cry, they are ignored or shoved off to deal with it – because no one has the ability to sit and rock every crying child – in his orphanage there were over 120 children at times. It was a wonderful place and a relatively safe place but in an institution like that, there are pieces of relationship that just aren’t possible with so many children. When there is an argument or a fight, the kids duke it out on their own, unless a nanny or a visiting “Blan” (that would be us) steps in. When they cry, they wander the halls crying to themselves until the heartache wears off or a new one replaces it, or they simply lay down on the tile floor in exhaustion. They have not learned to seek comfort in these moments because there is none to receive. We had a long talk with the older two kids tonight about this shift for Wesley and what that might be like. They all know last night was tough – but explaining it this way made a bit more sense. It wasn’t that he was trying to be defiant or didn’t want or like or love us. It was simply that he didn’t know how to receive comfort and didn’t know how to communicate and process through his grief and frustration.
This morning my little pumpkin woke up at 5:45am with a smile and a big hug, and hopped into our bed to snuggle before we woke up the kids for school. He enjoyed breakfast and we visited the school – after his first trip to Starbucks with mommy to get mommy some coffee. I love that when offered a snack in Starbucks he went straight for the banana, passing up the muffins and cookies and breads! 😉 he loves his fruits and veggies!
When we visited the school we got to say hello to Abby’s classroom – which involved 20 5th graders saying “oh my gosh he’s so cute!!” About 100 times 😉 then we walked over and toured the 1st grade classroom area and met one of the teachers. The kids in the class were so sweet that they all looked up when we walked in and a few said “oh is this a new student today? Hi!” All in chorus they said “hi Wesley!” With lots of 1st grade smiles and hand waves. He responded with a big grin and waved his hand and said Hello!
Next up was Logan’s class upstairs – and her teacher has been waiting for him to visit all week, so she was super excited to meet him! All day long everyone who met him said “Wesley, it’s nice to meet you, Buddy!” So therefore, all day long he was saying “Nice to meet you, Buddy!” To anything and everyone who would listen, even to the dog when we got home! Lol!
Braeden’s class also got hugs and big hellos. He loves The kids’ friends and goes home and points at their pictures saying all their names! He has a fantastic memory!
After school was over, we came home to play and wait for Grandma to come 😉 one of our friends brought him a Marvel Chutes & Ladders game, and since he opened it last night I think we’ve played it 37 times. 😉 so we played chutes and ladders 3 more times before finally convincing him we could play again with Grandma but let’s color Minions first! The past few days I’ve been working hard to focus on one thing at a time with him. The first few days he was with us he would spend 5 minutes or less on an activity and then be done and want to move on to the next thing, most likely a response to the overstimulation. He’s never had so many options of things to do – now the opportunities are endless.
Anyway, for the past few days I’ve been encouraging longer play time and interest in each thing. So, if he wants to play games for 3 hours, we play games for 3 hours. 😉 if he wants to trace the minion pictures for an hour, we do that. So far, it is working and his interest level in each activity is growing longer each day.
When Grandma arrived he was so excited! He finished his tracing and immediately brought out the chutes and ladders game. What a great ice breaker – he is so sweet with taking turns and we practice counting and recognizing numbers on the board by pausing to recite the English and Creole of the numbered space he landed on. He is extremely smart – knows all his numbers in Creole beyond 100, and in English he doesn’t fall apart til around 50-something. 😉
Grandma also brought candy land which was also a smashing success! Games with few instructions are fantastic, easy to understand, and quick studies for him.
The rest of the day pretty much included him checking my phone every 5 minutes to see if it was time to get the kids from school (he loves his big siblings!) and the rest of the afternoon and dinner went perfectly!
As the afternoon wanes and bedtime looms I begin to get anxiety over the sleep process. I was praying all evening that God would just bless us with an easy night after what we went through last night.
Let me tell you this little one was the sweetest boy tonight! He let me brush his teeth (which is a big deal because he always is self-reliant and wants to brush all by himself), and we giggled and chatted all through lotion and Jammie’s. When we went down to lie down for bed he snuggled in with our books and we read books with daddy in bed. When we were finished Daddy asked for a goodnight hug because he was going to help Abby go to bed and Wes rolled over and gave him a long hug, saying goodnight. He settled back down to sleep and then as I’m laying down said, “Oh Mommy, its your turn!” and proceeded to wrap his tiny arms tightly around my neck and snuggle into my chest for a long snugly hug. I rubbed his back and told him that he made mommy very happy and I loved him very very very much. To which he smiled a huge grin and laid back down in his covers.
I teared up as I laid there listening to his rustling covers, thanking God for this night of sweet everythings – because I can make it another day – this is sweet and beautiful but also very hard. There are days I’m so tired I just want to cry on the Fred Meyer checkout lady’s shoulder. Some times I honestly find myself saying I’ll be inside in just a second, I’m just going to clean out the car! (??) or taking the dog for a walk alone just to clear my plate of the extra responsibility for about 20 min. It’s tough. But these moments like tonight give us hope – give us warm fuzzies to sleep with, and remind us how much our God lovingly designed this journey for us.
Until next time,
Helping daddy now the lawn – never seen a mower before much less been on a lawn.
Pretty sure he’ll be the ringer…he can already throw, catch and hit!
The perfect game for newly home 7-year olds!
Intense focus on an advanced dot-to-dot book.
Driving his “car” in the driveway!
On the “moto”
Making his first PB&J – quickly becoming his favorite food!
Swings at the park!
This boy played with his action figures and Legos for almost 90 min straight, all the while babbling in Creole 😉 Adorable.
Trying out his skills on this whatever the heck it is thing.
🙂 more pics to come. Kris is hogging them all on his phone and won’t airdrop them! 😉