Rustling blankies, flopping body parts and 30-second long sighs woke me this morning, from my drooling, blessed sleep. When I glanced at the clock, I realized it wasn’t even morning. It was still night. Obviously my child doesn’t hold the same standards of what constitutes as “night” and “morning”. UGH. 5am is definitely still night. After attempting to buy myself a little time with Ben10 episodes, I realized that cartoon network does NOT have sleeping parents’ best interests at heart. Each episode is only 13 minutes long. So pretty much as soon as I float off into alien serenaded slumber, the “oh. its all done, Mommy!” startles me out. After 2 of those, I gave up. He snuggled in and “tried” to sleep some more, but that just meant lots more long sighs and flopping around in the sheets. 😉
Finally, I decided it was Father’s Day after all…so I led Wes out of the bedroom in my zombie-like state and made some coffee while he snacked on Crispix. For the next 30 minutes, while he munched and crunched, I googled “how to teach my child to sleep longer” and read a million different suggestions on how to lengthen a child’s natural sleep cycle. It’s amazing that anyone’s children sleep with so many opinions on who is right. It’s no wonder mine isn’t. I still have no idea what to do! LOL
Now it’s 9:15pm and the words are all floating around in my eyes like black floaties when it’s sunny (or is that just me?), I’m so tired! I’m praying he sleeps longer tomorrow…
Today, despite the O-dark-thirty awakening, was an amazing day for Wes! It began rainy, even though the forecast said sunny and hot, which perplexed the poor kid greatly because he had been COUNTING the days until it was going to be hot and sunny so that he could go swimming! We spent our early morning hours watching the birds and squirrels eat outside (he has an obsession with watching out the picture window in the dining nook and watching all the birds (and the squirrels eat the bird food). We realized that in Haiti, the only birds he ever saw were the chickens in the yard and the doves that roost in the stairwells. I don’t know if he’d ever seen another kind of bird in his life – so the bright colors of the ones that fly in and out of the woods at our house are fascinating to him! He’d also never seen a squirrel before so that was a cause for a minor freak out the first morning home!
We sat at the table, I made him spaghetti left over from Papa’s house the other night, his favorite meal, chopped him some fruit, and let him play with his super heroes until the girls woke up. When Abby came to join him, she got out the cardstock and markers and glue and went to work crafting Daddy a card – Wes decided to join in and made his own for Daddy, complete with Creole and English captions for all his illustrations! (I’m including photos at the end!) It was very sweet, and we woke daddy after 2 hours of sleeping in, with a latte made by Wes himself 😉 He carried it in to Daddy all by himself as well to wake up his favorite grown up!
At breakfast, we chatted about what to do and Wes decided he wanted to go to the “market” so we made a plan to try a Costco run! He took it all in stride like everything else so far – he made all the appropriate “oh this is a BIG market!” comments and was in awe of the meat section 😉 Thankfully, we hit at sample-time which was fun for the kids to take him to all the little tables and try things – he is very good at trying pretty much anything and everything – there’s not much that he’s tried that he just thinks is disgusting. Most of the time he’ll decide it’s edible after about 2 bites.
After Costco, we headed home to get some downtime (and mommy and abby a 20 minute nap) before heading out to Kris’ sister’s house to make introductions to his aunt, uncle and two cousins. They have a farm and raise goats, chickens, ducks, and other animals at different times in the year, so it was cute to see him experience the goats! In Haiti, goats are kind of pets but more so out of trash cleanup control rather than utilizing them for milk or meat. He’s still a bit discombobulated about animals as “pets” – it really doesn’t compute easily in his head. Why feed something that doesn’t NEED to be fed? In Haiti the goats feed themselves 😉
Wes gets along fantastically with other kids, and does wonderfully with meeting new family. He seems to just eat it up – the fact that there is this massive group of people who just belong to him – He finally has “his people” – which is something he hasn’t had in a long time. It will be interesting when he’s older to ask him what he thought and felt when he was this age – hopefully there are ways to help him remember. I’m tossing around the idea of recording him talking about Haiti and answering questions in Creole – just to get it on record somewhere.
Another adoptive family emailed me today and suggested I talk about the language barrier or lack thereof – talking about how communication has been. I thought that was a great idea and her email came just as I was about to sit down to write, so perfect timing!
When we picked him up at the O 2 1/2 weeks ago, his English was limited, he knew a few basic answers yes/no, and he knew some easy phrases that he’s picked up from “blan” visitors at the orphanage over the years. He also knew a lovely 4-letter word he must have picked up from some older boys in the orphanage…UGH. LOL that was a wonderful surprise for the kids the first few days haha! (FYI – for anyone who may deal with that issue – we realized that he probably had no clue what it meant, just that the big kids said it, so we chose to deal with it in a way that didn’t shame him for saying a bad word, because it wasn’t intentional. Instead, each time he’d say it, “SH%&”!, we’d say “oh man!” or “oh darn” (except that one backfired because with his accented french r’s it sounded like O-something else.), or “oh bummer” because we knew he was picking up English so fast, he’d just assume that the English translation of that word was “oh man” and he’d start saying that instead. Our logic worked really quickly and I haven’t heard that word in about a week. Quickly forgotten and replaced.)
Anyway – he knew a few basics in English, numbers, most letters, a few random words, but not strings of sentences. He is a sponge though, at 7-years old – think about any 7-year old you know, they are always repeating people, parents, friends, basically parroting everything they hear (sometimes not always a good thing), Wes is no different. Kris and I had been studying some Creole using the Pimsleur app (the most fantastic Haitian Creole language program – it is quick, easy, and conversational – all audio lessons for the first 20 or so lessons – highly recommend!). We aren’t fluent by any comparison, but we do know basics and know enough about the structure of sentences that we could recognize a word he was saying and piece it together. Google Translate for words we didn’t know is very helpful also – and the fact that he’s 7 and usually can help us spell the words we are trying to look up – or get pretty close. It becomes sort of a game – he says “what is _______ (insert creole word) in English?” and I guess, and then we look it up to see if I’m right – or vice versa, he says “what is Fork in Creole?” and I have to guess fouchet.
We have dealt with language as a learning experience on both sides. He teaches us Creole, and we teach English. He corrects our Creole when we say things out of order, or pronunciation is incorrect, and he laughs when we use the wrong words 🙂 When he first came home, he was using 90% Creole and 10% English that he knew, or he’d struggle through the Creole and we’d translate it, or just speak full Creole with him. As the last 2 weeks have gone by, he finds it easier and easier to communicate in English – he’s probably closer to 50/50 or 75/25 split using English far more often than Creole. In fact, we’ve been talking about how we probably should be reinforcing the Creole because we don’t want him to lose it! He understands way more in English than he is comfortable saying, but he also isn’t afraid to just speak broken English if he needs to – he doesn’t get embarrassed, and if its helpful, we correct him but many times we just let it go and he works it out himself. Many times we find him correcting his own grammar or English words along the way!
Because of all these variables, communication with him has been the LEAST of our concerns. It was a big unknown going into the homecoming, but it’s kind of like any immersion program, when you’re forced to communicate, you bumble your way through until you figure it out. These kids are completely reliant on you when they come home. They are alone, there are no other Creole speaking kids to commiserate with or to withdraw into (unless they have siblings that come with them) – so for the most part they are stuck attempting to communicate until it works out. As an adoptive parent who doesn’t know a lot – I do know this – I’m confident that our attempts to learn some basic Creole helped his transition IMMENSELY. Even just the ability to have simple conversation or ask questions like “are you okay” or “are you sad” or “are you hungry” or “what do you want to do/play/eat/etc.” are so essential! Google translate, again, is a friend, although it isn’t always grammatically correct when you do long strings of words. So basic knowledge of how sentence structure works is helpful.
I feel that mostly covers the communication end of things – he is really truly doing SO well. The occasional battle is just that – occasional – and then he’ll have a perfectly awesome day like today!
We even were able to hit the community pool for an hour before Grandpa came to visit for dinner (which was WONDERFUL, BTW!). My dad has waited weeks to meet this little punkin’ so it was such a sweet evening for them to spend time together! They played basketball on the trampoline, Wes showed Grandpa his room, and toys, and we ate a yummy dinner together 🙂
So blessed to have a day like today – especially for Father’s Day! I’m going to edit this post with some photos, a few including Wes’ card for Daddy!
Thank you all for your continued prayer and encouragement! Here’s another prayer lifted for another great day tomorrow!
Wesley’s card for Daddy, with big muscles
Spaghetti on the table with Ollie and Bella
Sa se Kay ou, (this is your house), sa se machin ou (this is your car)
Daddy’s collection of cards!
Wes showing Grandpa his books!
This amazing helper loves to help with Dishes! He helped logan load the dishes and fought off Ollie as he tried to “rinse” them with his tongue!