Monday, June 29, 2009
I wish I could tell you everything was puppy dog-kisses, hearts and butterflies all the time, but that would be a lie. Although it's pretty close a whole lot of the time. These two girls are so sweet natured it just amazes me. But they are also children. Hurt children. Underdeveloped children. Children with some physical ailments still lingering.
It's hard to remember all that in the heat of a tantrum. And they both have them. Princess Pistolera started almost immediately. While we were still in Haiti. While she is more frequent, in an odd way she's more manageable to me. Her tantrums are sort of age appropriate. I can put her in the time out chair, which is not isolated, and she eventually comes around and reverts to her sweet little self.
Little Miss Lady has other methods. And they have not surfaced until quite recently. I knew it was coming because it's not possible for a child to be perfect all the time, and she is naturally very pleasing, very easy going. She does like to control her environment. She likes to control her little sister...not always possible....and she has a little temper that shows itself sometimes. Lately, that's everyday.
She can be VERY stubborn, and I have been getting discouraged. Mainly at myself because I have been succumbing to anger, and when that happens, guess what, she knows she pushed my button, which is what she wanted to do in the first place. Last night I brushed up on my "Adoption Parenting Toolbox", trying to remember why she was throwing these troublesome tantrums in the first place.
Oh yeah. It's about control. And anger. As in "I'm a 9 year old child, and I don't really have any control. My birth parents made the decision to give me away. WHY????????????"
I have to remember not to take it personally.
So this morning, she started first thing. Why this surprised me I don't know, but it did. She did not want to get up, get dressed, or go to 'summer school' and she cried and pouted and stalled the whole time she got dressed. Then she refused to brush her teeth. Refused. I told her if she did not start by the time I counted to 3, I would be brushing them for her. She chose to go there. Matter of factly, and rather vigorously, I brushed her teeth for her. Boy was she mad. But I'm thinking she may not do that again cause it was not that fun for her. In the car she threw her banana and her bottled water at her sister. I calmed glanced back at her glowering face and told her she would NOT be watching High School Musical tonight when we got home. No Gabriella (whom she idolizes) for her tonight. Then I turned up the volume and sang with the radio the entire way to daycare, like I was having the time of my life. She was less pouty, but still rebellious when we arrived. She had taken her sandals off and hidden them under the seat. She put her shoes on S-L-O-W-L-Y when I asked her to, and did not resist going in which was an improvement. Last Friday she had a full-on melt-down when we arrived. But today I said "I'm going to tell you a secret. Mommy does not like to get up and go to work either. So I understand. Just like you don't like getting up for summer school. But it makes us better, so that's why we have to do it". She accepted me giving her a hug, even tho she was still really mad, and then for good measure she stomped off to join her classmates.
I'm getting ready to go pick them up now. Undoubtedly she will be little Miss Sunshine. This is how it goes. She will be the child she is 95% of the time. But I don't expect all this negative stuff to stop right away. I don't know when it will stop. I know I felt better not losing it today. I know she has to learn about consequences of her behavior. I feel like I made some progress today. I was able to show some empathy, instead of my anger, and it was not easy. I'm not that patient. It's true what they say; anger usually just continues a bad cycle. And I really do feel for her. I can't imagine what goes on in that head sometimes. I am in awe that she is as easy and loving as she is considering all she has been thru.
Anyway, just didn't want y'all to think it was all puppy-dog kisses hearts and butterflies all the time. And I think we will be washing the car tonight since we won't be watching HSM.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Princess P, on the other hand, while extremely bright, is less interested in this kind of thing, but is very driven athletically. I can't wait to see where that takes us. She is fearless! Her language comprehension is fine, but she does not speak in full sentences yet. Why should she, her sister does it for her! They are very naturally intertwined. Someday I will write about the pros and cons and funnies and difficulties of that.
They still have full on Creole discussions between themselves, but that is diminishing. Many people say they wish their children would retain their native language, but it's not really possible for a child to be bi-lingual unless they have constant exposure to two languages. Their brain has to shut out the one language in order to absorb the other. So I am happy with the progress. It has to do with school. Of course I don't want them to get left behind academically; they start behind their age group as it is. And for us, school is only 6 short weeks away...starts the first week of August. I want them to be as ready as possible.
Here's a short clip of them playing with their brother. They can play rough. You ought to see these 3 with water guns. It's brutal!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Memorial Park has a pool and a play ground, a lake, cook-out areas, a theater and a small wildlife zoo. So off we go!
First stop: the alligators! It reminded me of our trip to Haiti Baptist Mission exactly one year ago. And they had a crocodile. To me, both equally yucky...I'm not a big fan of most reptiles.
Turtles are OK, we saw those next.
We also went to the reptile house and there was a guy there holding a rat snake. Obviously I'm grateful for rat snakes but I don't want to hold one. I did my best not to display my prejudice however and encouraged the girls to touch the snake, but they declined (smart girls) except little T barely put her finger on it after much ado.
Next, the birds. There were several types of owls but this picture of the horned owl was the only decent shot I got.
Red Tail Hawk, which is native to this area, but rare. They also had some wild turkeys and that species is also native but rare, although I have one that shows up in my front yard periodically.
Then on to the big (literally) attraction, the Black Bear. Doing what any respectable bear would do in the heat, take a nap!
Princess decides she is a bear too...
Did I mention it was hot? 98 degrees and 88% humidity. At least the trees helped!
Little Miss Lady took this shot
Then we went to the play ground for awhile.
These girls love to swing...
Then a walk in the heat up a hard hill to the parking lot (I felt like the turtle) and we were done!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Some of you have asked me for some Princess Pistolero stories. They are not all silly or funny. For instance, she was in meltdown mode all day yesterday because I did not do the bottom row of her braids to her satisfaction. After almost 8 hours of hair and a severely cramped left hand, I did not intend to make this minor adjustment, thus the meltdown. But...then we met some friends, we went to Barnes and Noble for the first time, and then went to the Mexican restaurant, and she was back to her silly sunny self.
And no, I did not redo her braids. Perhaps that seems heartless to some of you, but as I wrote in my previous post, she tests every limit, and as hard as it can be sometimes, she has to learn that there are some. My palsied hand testified.
If you ever met her, chances are the person you would see would act shy, quiet and polite. It would be awhile before you saw this:
Sunday, June 14, 2009
"I can't believe it's been 6 weeks already. So much has happened and it seems like the girls have been here forever. I think it's the compressed time aspect. I really wanted to be at home for 6 weeks with them, not 30 days. But...life and reality demanded otherwise. Aside from getting up so early in the morning they are adapting well to daycare. I put them in a smaller environment on purpose and it has turned out to be the right choice. I am also happy that they are in a diverse group right now. The school they will be going to will not be nearly so diverse, but I am OK with that and more importantly it appears that they will be fine. Ours is one of the best school districts in the state, and that trumps all else. Since my older kids went there I am familiar with it, I feel like the girls will be fine there. Little Miss Lady is aware of racial difference, but it does not phase her. Princess seems unaware, which is appropriate for her age. There is alot of good information on this kind of thing in the book "I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla". The author is very straightforward (and in my opinion accurate) about different school settings for minority children.
Language is coming around. Everyday there seems to be a little progress, so sometimes when I look at it like that it seems slow. But when I look at where they were 6 weeks ago, I see a tremendous amount of progress. Miss Lady understands most of what I say to her and is able to convey to me what I ask of her, either in language, or panamine. We do alot of that. I am worried about her education level. I am afraid they will stick her in the first grade, because that is about where she is. But with a little (professional) help I honestly feel she is ready for the second grade, with a little catch up help. She will turn 10 in this school year and I just don't want her to be in the first grade.
Princess, on the other hand is going straight to kindergarten, no question. While she is very very smart, in many aspects she is developmentally in a wide range. For the most part it seems she is in the 3 to 4 year stage, emotionally and developmentally. I agree with my friend Courtney. I was thinking this, but I could not find anything written about it...but it seems to me that emotional developement for some of these kids stops when they get to the orphanage. And no wonder. I always say, they are raising themselves there. In the best of circumstances they get some attention. But not enough. So they survive, but development stops or slows. The school at the O really helped my girls keep moving forward, at least somewhat, but that is not the same as emotional development. I think Princess was one of those kids in the O that cried alot."
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I am teaching them how to bead, and they made their necklaces. (I centered the charm and attached the hardware) Now they don't want to do it by themselves anymore, they want me in on the fun! They are very mechanical, but I find their imaginations to be somewhat dormant in this respect. Initially they only wanted to use the same bead continuously (see the bracelet) but I'm showing them how to mix it up. Their play, however, like all kids, IS imaginative, so it's not like they are lacking, just under-developed in some areas. We are having fun with the beads, and working on it!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I have not dropped off the face of the earth, although I do feel like I am in an alternate universe right now.
We opened it. Still tweaking it. I'd like to say I can't remember the last time I worked this hard and have been so totally exhausted, but actually, I can; that would be right before I went out on leave. That was long hours and mental exhaustion. This is shorter hours and mostly physical exhaustion. Such is the reality of the business I am in. It happens.
Happy IT people. Happy 'cause Blue Shirt Guy gets to go home to Raleigh today, and Red Shirt Lady almost has all this stuff right where she wants it. That menu board above is computerized and displayed on a giant flat screen TV. Pretty cool, huh? I have to say I'm extremely happy the way that everyone has worked together to get this whole thing going. It was definitely a departmental effort. It has also been very political, and I have not been really happy about much of that, but I'm asking for God's protection everyday and the ability to navigate these waters with grace. So far, so good.
Here is Hotei, famed Japanese Buddha, and mascot for one of the concepts. As you can the staff has been blessing him monetarily. We opened on Monday, and patrons have also been blessing the concept he is named after, so I'm happy about that in the midst of a slow summertime opening (the students don't even come back until Friday) AND a slow economy. The other 3 concepts are also doing very well.
It's been another adjustment for the girls. They come from a culture that is slower and in many ways more socially genteel. Also, most people do not have structured jobs, so it is hard for them to understand our fast pace. Bless their hearts. I'm so freaking tired I'm not sure I understand it either. I'm ready for life to get back to normal, whatever that is!