I’m fully comprehending that there will be some days where I just want to fast forward to bedtime so this little one can crawl back into bed and try again the next day. Today was one of those days! LOL
He’s been home over a week, and today was the first day that was really a tough one on the strenuous parenting side of the scales. We set ourselves up for slight-disaster last night, and we knew it – so at least we weren’t completely unprepared. Yesterday was our oldest son’s 8th grade promotion event and it began at 6:30 and didn’t end until about 8:30, which means Wes was way past turning into a pumpkin. No fairy godmother was going to bibbity-bobbity-boo me out of this day. While he slept well, and slept in an extra 30 minutes, he didn’t get to sleep until 2 hours past his normal heading-to-bed time, which meant today he was extra testy and extremely moody. The morning started off grumpy because all his big siblings still had to go to school (which is his least favorite part about getting the day moving, because all his fun playmates are gone. Apparently I don’t play Spiderman Chutes and Ladders the same way???). When he was done watching a quick episode of Ben10 while I showered, he then decided his next go-to activity to ask about was going to be to watch a movie, to which I immediately responded “no, no movie right now”. This set him into a grumpy funk, and an hour later he was still unable to shake it off. The silent treatment began to take hold and he proceeded to park himself on the couch and I could almost see him slowly folding into his own head (metaphorically. I’m not insinuating that he’s got any kind of contortionist properties…although the kinds of things I’ve seen him be able to do on the trampoline make me wonder…). His gaze became detached and his attitude aloof, and all of my attempts at conversation and questions were met with ignoring silence, as though he couldn’t even hear me. He calmly turned away from the sound of my words, and shrugged off any physical touch.
I knew he was either frustrated, mad or sad about (most likely) the inability to do what he wanted. Again, as was the case the other day, he doesn’t know how to communicate emotions to another person. He’s never been required to, or taught how that process works. Eventually, I scooped him up in my arms to try to have his attention and calmly talk to him. This sparked immediate physical repelling out of my arms, and his body immediately tensed fully as he wanted to just climb out and be by himself. Some trainings we’ve been through teach you to physically hold your children close in these situations, even though they are physically fighting against it, until they cease fighting – calmly reminding them that they are safe, that you love them, and that you need them to communicate with you verbally.
I did this, and honestly after now it’s all over and done with, I’m not completely sold on the practice. It’s very hard to physically contain a child that’s all arms and legs trying to crawl off your lap, and he gets to the point where he gets so frustrated with the inability to do what he wants that he begins to cry, which is so hard to watch. Finally, after letting me struggle through most of it, Kris took a turn and Wes collapsed onto his shoulder in tears and exhaustion. Having been through near 30 minutes of physical exhaustion trying to calm him down, I had tears rolling down my face as well. After some gentle conversation and more soothing words, he turned around in Daddy’s lap and quietly reached out to me for a long hug, buried in my neck. At that point I lost it and the few tears that were falling for me turned into a relieved flood. I knew at that moment that the battle had been won, and that his heart was softening, even if it didn’t always look the way we wanted it to.
It’s rough. It’s exhausting. It’s 9:19 and I can’t seem to type fast enough to get myself into bed to sleep as much as possible before we try again tomorrow. He is a beautifully sweet soul, and my guess is that most people, even close family, will never see the side of him that shuts down or falls apart – because he loves people too much. He has too sweet of a spirit to let his grief crush him – and that’s the fight that we see daily. His pristine white smile lights up the room, his smoky laughter crinkles through the ticking hours of the day. His anticipation of his brother and sisters arriving, or family/friends coming to visit is more contagious than a yawn. He finds joy in things like Vancouver Lake and the train tracks that we pass daily on the way to school. He swears up and down that he doesn’t like the rain, yet suits up in his bright red rain coat and green polka-dot Parapli (umbrella) everytime he feels a drop. He delights in little dogs and reading stories, finding it hilarious that if you give a moose a muffin it will eventually lead to the moose wearing a sweater to go outside when it’s chilly…or if you give a mouse a cookie he will eventually need a haircut!
I’m thankful for his spirit of joy, because ultimately, I think that will be what God uses to heal his heart – to soothe the abandonment issues that have compounded over the past few years, to create a path toward comfort and love in times of sadness.
Today he was also able to FaceTime with my dad, whom he hasn’t met yet – which was both wonderful and heartbreaking for me. Our scheduled time happened to fall right after the morning’s battle and he was definitely not himself. He wasn’t chatty or personable like he normally is, and I was sad for both Wes and my dad that their first interaction wasn’t an overtly positive one. One thing I love about my dad, though is his ability to find the positive in a pool of wallowing muck. 😉 He was overjoyed to talk to his new grandson, even if he wasn’t in the best mood – and he was able also to instill a sense of excitement about his arrival for a visit this weekend 😉 while Wes didn’t show it through their conversation, as soon as we hung up he began to ask which day grandpa was coming to visit and what time, and then told me multiple times through the day that grandpa was coming soon! 😉
After his moodiness wore off a bit Wes was able to FaceTime two of his friends from the orphanage (a set of twins) who went home with their new family a few weeks before him. It was such a kick in the pants to see these kids light up at seeing each others’ faces, to share a common language, babbling back and forth in Creole, mixing in English, and then translating for us mamas watching! They were excitedly showing each other their rooms, their dogs and new toys – and laughing about crazy who-knows-what things. The smiles on each of their faces told us that they are happy, even though they have rough days, they are so happy to be loved and to be safe, and to be etched into a family forever.
Yesterday, Wes saw an airplane and asked me in Creole if we were going back to Haiti, or back to Foyer (his creche). I told him no, that he was going to stay with Mommy, Daddy, Braeden, Logan, Abby, Ollie and Bella for all the todays and all the tomorrows. He was very content with that answer, and I was so glad to see his settled demeanor after that quick conversation. Kris and I wonder what goes through his head – if he wonders if he will need to go back, if he misses it, or misses people. He hasn’t mentioned anything other than every once in awhile he will make comparisons such as “I watched that at Foyer,” or, “We have avocados in Haiti”.
Last night we had a fantastic laugh at the dinner table because Abby decided that dinner time was the best time for me to show Wes my tongue-to-nose trick, so everyone was trying to touch their tongue to their nose. He laughed when I was the only one to do it, but then calmly told us in Creole that Evens (a friend at the creche) had a super long tongue and could actually pick his nose with his tongue, and proceeded to stick his finger up his nose to show us how far up Evens tongue would go! LOL! We all started busting up laughing, which then sent Wes into a field of giggles…We’ll remember that visual for a long time!
We have laughs every day, as he says funny things while picking up English, like the other day when he got very worried because he left his “water goggles” at home! We finally figured out he was trying to say he left his water bottle at home… 🙂
And then yesterday counting he got a little mixed up and said “one, two, three, fork!” So of course, now that’s the big joke anytime he’s counting.
I’m running out of steam, my eyelids are droopy, and I’m praying that he wakes up refreshed and ready to begin a new day tomorrow!
I’m reminding myself that God’s mercies are new every morning – and I know He has more in store for us demen (tomorrow).