Monday, March 14, 2011

Waking up sad

When Dawit first came home and for approximately a year after, bonding with him was our top priority. Surprisingly, it was easy. He slept, woke, ate and pooped like a 7-month-old. He liked to be close to us, but he was curious and independent. He hit milestones just like we would have expected with a child who had been with us from birth. His health is extraordinary. In fact, he's had exactly 2 sinus infections in just under 2 years. He's never thrown up except the time he poked a pen down his throat. He's happy, silly, tough, loving and all boy. He's always got a bruise or a gash somewhere on his body because he's not afraid to try anything his big sister does.

We feel safe -- and fortunate -- in saying he's very attached.

But there's one thing. A mystery.

Sometimes, not always, he wakes from his nap very unhappy. He usually comes downstairs quietly, then gets upset. Sometimes he stands and cries; other times he just whines. Nothing can console him for at least 15 minutes. He doesn't want toys, food, drink, television, books, being held, being touched, or being looked at. He also doesn't want to be alone.

Over time, I've tried every possible combination of comfort with varying degrees of success. It's very hard to watch him suffer and do nothing. But I've learned that the less I do, the quicker he gets back to his usual toddler routine. Here's what I do:

I usually start  by asking if he wants milk or a snack as this is our post-nap routine. If he says no and begins to get upset, I sit on the floor near him, cross-legged so I have a ready lap if he wants it. I don't look at him or talk to him. I don't sing or entertain myself with any busy work as this also upsets him. I just sit quietly. It's hard to do. Especially when he continues to cry and sound frustrated. To an outsider, it might seem heartless not to attempt to comfort him, but I've learned what he doesn't want. Sometimes he'll come to me and sit, and we'll sit together as long as he likes. I always let him make the first move to stand up or talk. Other times, he'll snap out of it and start playing (especially if Caroline is around) or come to me and make a request. But in those moments I let him take the lead, work through it at his own pace.

We've speculated some about why waking up from naps triggers these emotions. We have theories, but we don't know with all certainty whether they relate to loss or are just disorientation that often comes after a nap. Mostly we just concentrate on helping him feel safe. As time goes on, we'll see how it goes. We will be aware of changes -- good or bad -- that signal new ways of processing his loss and maybe change our tack or hit the books for more professional advice. For now, we're basking in the joy this sweet little boy has brought to our family.

We know that on the adoption adjustment scale, ours went as easy as one could hope for, and we're infinitely thankful. But we won't take it for granted that adjusting and bonding and attaching and learning and loving is a lifetime process, and we'll do whatever it takes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The list

Last night Caroline and I made a list of the things we want to do this weekend:

1. Make a get well card for Wendell. Done.
2. Wash mama's car.
3. Play nice with kitty. Done, although someone got a swipe because the kitty didn't think it was nice enough.
4. Walk on the trail and eat treats. Done.
5. Sleep well before school and not be late.
6. Read books before bed. Done.
7. Make chicken tortilla soup. Done.
8. Make bowtie pasta.
9. Make pimento cheese. Done.

We've been adding to the list as the day goes on:

10. Get Caroline's backpack that she left on the trail.
11. Go to the park if we take a good nap.
12. Get some chicken broth for the bowtie pasta.
13. Paint Caroline's fingernails 3 different colors.
14. Have "time in" where we talk about the safety C is studying at school.
15. Watch Thomas. Guess whose request that one was?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What kids can do

Spence and I have wimped out lately on hiking with the kids. With one at 35 pounds and one pushing 40, we're approaching that no-man's land of too heavy to carry, too slow and whiny to walk. But cabin fever got the best of us and we ventured to Big South Fork two weekends ago...we feared against our better judgment. 

Once we got there it took about hour to prep (pee, put on layers, put on boots, pack diapers and lunch, dig snacks back out of the pack because "we're hungry", adjust straps, find trekking poles, load everyone up) and head off.

Five minutes down the trail, we stopped to do this because somebody pooped.

Another somebody melted down because we were walking too fast. By the time we got reloaded, we each had a somebody screaming in our ear. But we pushed on, until...

And lunch always makes it better

After lunch we tried letting everyone walk 
Stopping to throw stones...

And cross creeks

And walk on logs
Until Dawit designated himself hike leader. He hoofed it like nobody's business

Occasionally he got off course and took a tumble

Trying a little bouldering with dad's help...
...and without
We start 'em early in this family

By trip's end, Dawit had hiked more than a mile on his own, and Caroline more than 2 miles -- and a good bit of that in wet shoes as we had to ford a creek about 20 times. We were proud as punch at the oomph these kiddos showed. And we look forward to subjecting them to even more suffering adventures this spring.

Since this trip, Dawit has hiked 2/3 of the trail at our farm -- about 2 miles. That boy's going to be running circles around us soon. Spence is already planning a boys' backpacking trip.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

River and rock

This weekend Spence and I got a little taste of our pre-baby days, our extreme weekends. It's not often the stars line up so beautifully. Granted we didn't experience these adventures together but instead did a swift kid swap so Saturday was mine and Sunday was his. I did not get any pictures of my climbing trip to Black Mountain, which was fun and challenging, and the weather was spectacular. But this slideshow of Spence's day totally makes up for it. I know, videos on blogs suck, but this one is cool. The day was misty and overcast and it made for stunning pictures of two gorgeous gorges that are right in our back yard. Spence is not in the photos because he was the photographer.

Sometimes we get bummed that we can't do these trips together very often. It's kind of like being divorced (with the kid swap) but still in love. But we'll keep it up 'til the kids get old enough to be dragged along on our adventures. Maybe this spring...