There are some things in life we accept as normal, old hat, and commonplace and don’t give another thought. Things like sidewalks, working in the yard, spontaneous trips to the store for something you forgot. A drawer of extra batteries and piles of odds and ends, something as simple as inviting a friend to sleepover. Sprinklers on lawns, the mailbox and mailman (and the entire concept of the postal service), and the ability to have ketchup on literally anything you want.
These are just a handful silly things we look at every day and begin not to even see as intriguing or special or a privilege. They are all things our little 7-year old son has never seen before. He figured out the walking on sidewalks and looking both ways for cars really fast (safety is his middle name, hallelujah), today he planted his first pwa (bean) seeds courtesy of Burgerville (apparently they think it balances out the grease and fat in the kids meal to give the kids a cute packet of lima bean seeds?? He’s probably the only kid in a 400 mile radius who would plant those seeds and actually eat them), and he now asks to go to the “market” daily for anything we happen to mention that we need. He gets thrilled when the kids friends come to spend the night, and equally sad when they leave to sleep at someone else’s house. He was completely startled and then immediately screaming and laughing when he started to walk to the car the other day and the front yard sprinklers came on and sprayed him! He still can’t understand what the draw of the mail is, or what it’s purpose is, but he loves to put the key in the slot. Ketchup is pretty much his best friend at the table – he’s even graduated to ketchup at breakfast sometimes as well! 😉
Today we had our first big outing and big memory-maker – a trip to the Oregon Zoo! We arrived just after opening, trying to beat the heat because it was going to be ridiculous hot. It was a packed house as everyone is now out of school, but we powered through it anyway! He was in absolute awe, and it was sweet for our big kids who have been to the zoo more times than they have sneezed, to see these animals through new eyes. He had never seen any of those animals before outside of books or cartoon illustrations, and didn’t really even know what a zoo was until we explained it the other day. He was most excited to see the “big cats” and the makaks (monkeys), but the elephants ended up stealing the show! The Oregon Zoo has a new elephant compound, complete with a swimming area for them, multiple feeding spots and viewpoints – with some great places for them to move around and be…umm elephants, I guess. 🙂 We had to visit the lion exhibit three times before we could leave because they weren’t out, and he was dead set on seeing those things! It was a great day, and we were prepared to only be there 30-45 minutes if he pooped out early, but we had to call it a day at the 3-hour mark! At bedtime tonight when I asked him what his favorite part was, he said the elephants swimming and eating and pooping in the pool (yes. that was accurate!) LOL.
Those would be the just-scratching-the-surface, lighthearted things though – there are so many small nuances and things most kids grow up with as a normal part of life that we are quickly realizing he has never experienced. These habits, perks of family, traditions and “normal” routines are a world of unknowns, a massive, deep pool of “do I like this?” or “should I like this?” and many times “this is just weird”.
He doesn’t have and probably has never had a baby or blankie or other stuffed plaything to snuggle with at night. At 7-years-old it seems a little late to start a habit like that, and he hasn’t been too interested in anything we’ve tried to introduce. Saying bedtime prayers was something the first night he gave us a quizzical look – I think at the O they just said prayers at mealtimes…but after a few nights of a standard simple prayer with him, thanking God for the different things we did that day or the special people we saw, he started interjecting his own things if we forgot something! Bedtime stories – that is one of his most favorite routines, and sometimes we might get talked into upwards of 5 books before bed each complete with their own jokes and antics specific to the story. His favorites are “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “If you Give a Moose a Muffin”, and the “No, David” and “David Gets in Trouble” books – the David books are especially awesome for him because the words are simple and he can read them, and they each end with a Mommy hugging her son even though he made some mistakes like playing baseball in the house (which totally sounds like foreshadowing for our own household…) 😉
Cuddles. Snuggles. Kisses. Any kind of parental-bond physical touch was non-existent for him for the last 4 years at the O. I can’t even guess what it was like for him prior to his arrival there – I would love to believe that his birth mom loved him dearly and made every effort to give wholesome roots to this boy – there had to have been some of that because his demeanor and personality are so pure and innocent – someone loved him, very much – and I will be forever grateful to that unknown caretaker. For the first week or so, he didn’t really know what to do with our showers of affection. We constantly had a hand on his head, rubbed his back, held his hand – virtually any moment that could support a fraction of a second for physical touch we were there. Because those seconds, and fractions of seconds, even if they are shrugged off or ignored for days, build up into minutes and then an entire length of an aisle holding your hand. If you are an adoptive parent, or ANY kind of parent – please don’t miss this opportunity with your kids! It starts early – from the first second you meet them.
One very special thing for little Wes that Kris and I saw last night and again tonight, is that (big surprise) our bio kids have had music in their lives since they were in the womb. It has been a part of their daily routine, and melodies and harmonies are practically woven into the very fiber of their bodies. From the time they were babies, I would sing around the house constantly, music would play, and every night at bedtime I would sing bedtime songs, lullabies, and I’d make up new ones for each of them as they grew older. Abby gets a kick out of a song I recorded on the first EP album called “A Breath Away” that she calls the bathtub song, because I made it up and sang it to her when she was a little baby in the tub. The kids would each ask for a few special songs from the repertoire of lullabies each night that mommy had made up, and sometimes we’d make up new ones based on an activity of the day, or a special request.
Wesley hasn’t had anyone sing bedtime songs to him, he’s gone to sleep with 10+ kids rocking or chanting themselves to sleep in their beds and cribs, mattresses scraping and squeaking, babies wailing in the next room, big kids yelling in the halls, mosquitos and flies crawling in the dark. Last night, after I turned out the light and he was safely snuggled under his new weighted blanket (Look it up – www.sensacalm.com – it is fantastic and made a HUGE difference in his falling asleep antics!), he began to close his eyes and I quietly asked if he would like mommy to sing a song. He thought for a good minute, and I thought he might have fallen asleep…and then said very quietly, “yes…” so I started to softly sing. I started singing through every lullaby and Sunday School song I could think of and if they were simple enough I would sing them in English and then again in Creole. A normal 30-minute toss-and-turn-himself-to-sleep was cut in half and I had literally sung my child into a dead sleep in 15 minutes. Tonight, I asked him again if he would like mommy to sing, and he replied quickly, “yes” – so again, I sang, and 10 minutes later he was out cold. Kris reminded me that he’s never had anyone do that for him, so even at 7-years-old, he’s still trying to figure out if these odd things mommy and daddy do for bedtime are something he should enjoy, or if they are for little kids, or just not for him. We realize that there are many ways in which he will still want to experience being “a little kid” because he never was able to be that. He will want to be cuddled and snuggled and kissed like a 3 to 4-year old, because he’s missed out on years of that bonding. He will soak up the little kid songs and silly bedtime stories and board books, because he’s never gotten to lay down and snuggle into an Avengers weighted blanket and read with a Mommy and Daddy (or a Logan or Abby, who have been his bedtime snuggle buddies for a few nights). He will snatch up his airplane and baby monster jammies because he’s never gotten to wear them before. He loves his little plastic cups and bowls and plates because they are his. He may be too big for his little plastic swing car, but he will ride that thing for an hour in the driveway because he’s never had one! He loves to play with the neighbor’s 4 and 6-year old, because he’s never had neighbors before.
So I close out the night still blessed that I was able to sing my little boy to sleep, and make up a new lullaby about the zoo today (that hopefully I’ll remember tomorrow).
Helping mommy water the plants
First steps into the zoo!
(Out of order, but end of a long morning!)
Fascinated by otters doing flips!
Favorite part – the elephants!