Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2 Months ago today...

In the past 2 months, Micah Marvin has learned (or begun to learn)
...That we'll be here every time he wakes up, so he doesn't have to be afraid to go to sleep.
... That when Matt or I leave, we will come back, so when we leave, he doesn't have to be afraid.
...That I'm his Mommy, so he doesn't have to run up to every white woman he sees for affection and care.
...What it means to be a brother.
...What it means to be a son.
...To try a wide variety of foods (and by all appearances enjoy them all, since he almost always hums/sings through every meal.)
...Dogs and cats (to some extent) are not objects of terror.
...To give lots (and lots and lots) of hugs and kisses.
...To communicate his feelings and needs with words (we are of course still working on this one, but we've come SO FAR.)

Of course, it's not all puppies and rainbows. We're still finding lots of challenges
... Taking turns. He does about as well as the average 2 year old waiting for his turn, meaning there's a fair amount of whining and questioning about when it will be "Micah turn"? But if he has the first turn, and then it's Tobin's turn? MASSIVE FITS.
...Now that he feels safe and more secure with us, it's 2 year old testing time. When Mommy or Daddy say "no", what do they really mean? This presents some challenges, since we know that establishing trust is still our top priority, but if we want to raise him as a son - a son needs to learn to obey. Also, there are safety issues, like running out into traffic. Sigh.
...When we came home, although he was in diapers he was peeing in the potty sometimes, and almost exclusively pooping on the toilet. We've managed to lose those skills almost completely. But with a child who was pretty much wet ALL THE TIME at the babies home, I don't want to fight the potty battle until we're through lots of other battles. But almost-3-year-olds have really disgusting diapers. Kind of ready to be done with that.
...This is minor on the scale of adoption-related issues, but we seem to have some OCD tendencies. MM goes through multiple napkins per meal and can't stand to have any dirty on his hands at all. He also repeats a LOT. Don't even think about putting your shoes on until it's time to leave, because he knows that shoes usually mean going in the car. And little mister LOVES to go in the car. So when the shoes go on, it's "Go car? Go car? GO CAR? GO CAR?" until you get in the car. On the plus side, he's stopped being excited at every big truck we see when we are in the car. Little mister LOVES big trucks and for the first few weeks home, every time he spotted one he'd yell "MOOOOM! MOOOOOM! MOOOOOOOOM!", pointing, until I saw the truck and acknowledged it. "Yes baby, it's a big truck." There are a LOT of big trucks in Lincoln. Kind of a driving hazard when you're being screamed at for each one.
...Along with the OCD tendencies, routine is very important. Vary the routine at your own risk. This makes bedtime rather a challenge, when Matt is here about half the nights to help. Also, all of the adoption-friendly discipline methods I know are rather time-consuming. So when fits happen at bedtime, it's hard to put in the time to respond well to them, especially when there are 2 other children who need to be tended to.
...I'm still adjusting to 3 kids. 3 kids is a LOT more than 2 kids. The noise level alone could do me in some days. And the younger two are so very physical.
...I think we're almost over this (PLEASE LORD), but for a while if both older boys were talking to me and MM felt he was competing for my attention, he would scream at the top of his lungs. I'm not really very good at responding to that gently or lovingly. Yikes.

I've tried some new things to help spread the attention around - most importantly slowing down myself and making sure that I'm not trying to do too many things at once. I noticed that our worst "3 kids are too many for me" times were when I was multi-tasking. It just doesn't work like it used to. I've been wearing Micah more when I need to get things done. And learning the times of day (mornings) when the younger boys are more likely to play together well, so I use those times to get things done. And avoiding trying to get lots done during the times (afternoons/early evenings) when it seems like everyone wants a piece of me. That means either making dinner with MM strapped on, or making it during nap time. Or breaking out the netflix. Totally worth it, most days.

But really, all of that is small potatoes compared to the adjustments and growing pains many adoptive families go through. I was prepared for the worst, and this seems just a step outside of typical toddler-hood.

And even if it was the worst, it would be more than made up for by
...The excited look on Micah's face when he gets up in the morning or from his nap and comes out to find me. He's thrilled and runs to me every. single. time.
...Spontaneous hugs and kisses from a little boy who didn't know how to give kisses 3 months ago.
... Hearing MM say "daDEE! daDEE!" I send him to tell Matt things just to hear him say it.
...After a huge fit and a "time in" (which means I hold him facing away from me, and gently holding his arms and legs so he can't kick or hit me), having him relax in my arms and turn around for cuddles, and telling him I love him.
... He's had to go in actual time out a few times (strapped in his booster chair in the kitchen, but always with me very close by and in sight.) When he's ready to say "Sorry", I get him to make eye contact and say "I forgive you!" He gets a DELIGHTED look on his face and says it with me. I LOVE that he's come to expect forgiveness.
...Sometimes the child can tell by the look on my face that I'm about to say "I love you", and will try to beat me to it, "I wuv u Mommy."
... Teaching him to give and receive butterfly kisses, his favorite.
...Seeing Tobin lead him around saying, "Come on Micah Marvin!" I love when they hug each other and it turns into a tackle-match.
... Micah's excitement to see Luke after school every day. "Go car? Get Bruvva?" (Luke is Brother or Bruvva, Tobin is Bobin.) And Luke's absolute preciousness with Micah.

... And having him do my very favorite 2 year old "thing"... come up with his arms up, saying "Hold You! Hold You!"

Many of these things are typical joys of toddlerhood. But they are so precious when you know they're learned behaviors, and when you get to be the teacher. Oh Joy.

Happy 2 months home!