Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Five weeks home

It's hard to believe we've been home for 5 weeks as of yesterday. That means as of tomorrow the boys will have been with us for 6 weeks. Time certainly is flying! :) The boys truly are doing well. Their English continues to amaze me, as does their attachment. But of course it's not all wine and roses, although we do have our fair share of "whine" and rosy cheeks (all puns intended). So I thought I'd take a little time to share the not-so-rosy parts with you.

Dima has always been our bigger concern in terms of his transition. We're really not concerned about attachment disorders, but since he is older and old enough to remember a lot of what he has been through the past few years it will take him longer to trust and to understand that this new life is permanent. Apparently, his time in the orphanage was well-spent in learning how to be manipulative. He is incredibly good at it--or apparently he was until we got a hold of him. ;) He figured out that if he played dumb, he didn't have to do things he didn't want to. And before anyone suggests that he really might not understand, let me give an example.

Today Dima took a toy away from Zhenya and was disciplined for it. He then threw a big fit (he's really good at those, too) and was put in their bedroom on his bed until he stopped crying. When he had stopped crying, I went in and asked him if he was all done. He replied "da", and I said "say yes, mama". All he would say was "mama"--he refused to say "yes". Now, two things here. One, I know he can say it because he's said it before. Two, as soon as I told him he would stay in his bedroom until he said "yes, mama" and closed the door, he started crying again and wailing "yes, mama, yes, mama" very clearly. When he had stopped crying I went in again and the initial scene repeated itself with him only saying "mama". One additional bit of info: as soon as he sees that someone is starting to cave and is not going to make him do whatever was asked, he gets a sly grin on his face--no joke. This kid knows how things work. And apparently he had convinced the orphanage staff that he was so below mental capacity that they didn't make him do anything! We were told he was the lowest in his groupa, etc. He's really good at giving you a blank stare if you ask him to do something. But if you ask him to do the same thing (same language, words, etc.) in order for him to do something he wants (like go to the playground) he can get whatever it is done in no time.

In other words, we have a lot of control issues. We are spending a lot of time establishing our authority which is one of the reasons that we do not want anyone else having authority over the boys right now (e.g., daycare, classes). And I'm spending a lot of time praying and trying not to second-guess myself, especially because I continue to see that we are correct to have high expectations (compared to what the orphanage expected) of the boys in terms of their behavior.

But to end on a happy note...this evening the boys were playing in the living room. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but Dima ran into the side of the couch pretty hard. I know it was hard because I saw the end of the fall, and he apparently ran into the couch sideways (hitting his ear) and hit it hard enough that he flipped himself around as he fell. I'm quite sure it hurt, and he thought so too. This is the first time I've seen Dima cry out of pain since we've been with him. Not that I want my boys in pain, but they need to learn to be children and that it's okay to be in pain, and that mama and papa are available to offer comfort as much as possible. I picked Dima up. Now here's the kicker...both boys, when you pick them up, stay ramrod straight. They do not know how to hipsit (like a baby) or how to hold on. When I picked Dima up, it took him a few seconds, but then he laid his head down on my shoulder!! This is huge for him and it was such a great sign of his continuing attachment. We sat down on the couch and I held him like a baby while he cried, and kissed his ear and one finger for good measure. In a few minutes he was fine and went off to play with Zhenya (who, by the way, brought Dima a "nec" [kleenex] while he was crying--so sweet!).


SB said...

The smartest kids learn the system early. Keep holding out for the right behavior - no matter how hard it is. Syd got three timeouts in a row last weekend and that was just in the process of getting out of bed! Shel's the same age as Dima and will do the same blank stare thing. (Especially when I ask her to sort her dirty laundry for me.) You're great parents-try not to second guess yourselves.
Glad to hear about the head on shoulder. That's such an awesome milestone!

Tami said...

Boy! That's one smart cookie! ;) Keep up the great work...and it is work. You're doing a wonderful job with both boys.
LOVE the fact that Dima cried and let you comfort him. I'm having the same issues with Maddie right now. She doesn't cry and squirms to get out of my comforting hug. Q-ball had those same issues, but now does great. Punky and JacJac ALWAYS wanted to be comforted...even for the littlest of things! Of course, I obliged. ;)

Diana said...

It sounds like you're doing great with your boys. Yah, yah. I hate it when other people, esepcially stragners, say that to me because I know what really goes on at our house and seem to always find myself thinking "you have no idea how often I'm not a great mom or how rotten my kids can act at times." But hang in there and keep moving forward. It's obvious you're doing what you feel is best for your boys and it appears to be working.

The first couple of months we were home felt like we were trapped in a raging hurricane with no way out. But then one day, (probably after we'd been home 6-7 weeks or so) all of the sudden things started falling into place and the storm was over. It happened without rhyme or reason, and just as if someone had flipped a switch. That doesn't mean we haven't had storms since. We have. But they haven't been hurricanes.

My older son's behavior sounds pretty similar to yours. Smart little cookies who are Master manipulators. Once our son learned how to say "I don't know" in English, it became his favorite phrase. He uses it for everything...and 99.9099% of the time, it means "I dont' want to tell you because I'm embarrased I think you'll get mad at me for doing what I did or I'm afraid I'll get punished like I did at the intranat if I give the wrong answer." Insert sly grin here...but if I start to whine like a fire engine and put on all the drama I can when I say "I don't know" then people believe me and coddles me and I never have be accountable for my actions or do stuff I don't want to do. Convincing the school that this is what he's doing is tough, too!

My quest is to teach him to put that same amount of energy into just doing it and being done with it rather than trying to constantly get out of it because once he does, he'll soar with the eagles.

Christine said...

Keep up the great work!

Tonya said...

VERY good that Dima let you cuddle him and cuddled back. And don't they bounce back quick:):):).

Congrats on 5 weeks home!!!!