Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hearing and speech

AwesomeCloud had his hearing test, finally, after months of me not making any effort to schedule him one. He did wonderfully and his hearing is very good. I was afraid he wouldn't want to sit still and pay attention, but remarkably, he did. He had a few things working against him, though. First, the facility had a fabulous set of stairs that he wanted to go up and down and up and down and up and down. Second, we had to sit in a tiny metal box of a room, which was a real letdown after discovering those wonderful stairs. Third, after each beep he was rewarded with a glimpse of Elmo. That's not much of a reward. AwesomeCloud dislikes Elmo.

I really haven't seen any reason to acclimate him to Elmo. TV and movies don't interest him after a few minutes, and he doesn't like any stuffed animals or toys with faces on them.

Then we had speech therapy, which I'm starting to like. The speech therapist is very mellow, but she keeps Cloud moving at a very quick pace. She really makes him work. At the end she told us how impressed she was that he was so neat - he didn't strew her toys and props around at all.

It's true. He doesn't try to play with everything at once. It takes him days to cover the floor with toys - I'd have to never clean up, ever, if he were ever to succeed.

That's good for our cat Melody, who hates to find plastic toys all over her beloved living room rug.

Last night the three of us went to a library fundraising event. We were asked to come onstage and talk about why we love the library. Cloud was soooo good onstage. He just sat perched on Daddy's side and gazed cutely at all the wealthy people looking up at him.

The O'ville library conundrum is a sad one. In a town this rich, the library shouldn't have to struggle like this. There's a lot of story behind it, a lot of drama and sabotage and just generally people being unhelpful. There are not a lot of ordinary people like ourselves who appreciate the opportunity to borrow books and movies for two weeks and then return them and get more. I hope seeing Cloud's cute, wide-eyed face softened people's hearts and made them want to donate more.

Some people have said it was a mistake for Barnstable to have several small village libraries and we should have just built one giant one like Mashpee. I can see their point. But we didn't.

I can always just go to Mashpee. I can reserve the books online - they're all the same books. But that's not the point.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I have fun without the kid/the kid has fun without me

I just got back from my vacation in the White Mountains all alone (plus my old friend Jen). It was niiiiiice. It was... well, mostly nice. It was nice but with a lot of rain, and with poorly matched expectations and sleep schedules. It was a five-hour drive to get there, through Boston, and a five-hour drive back, also through Boston. But I finally managed to hike in the woods early this morning (without Jen) and I got a lot of drawing done.

The Boyz weren't home when I got in, so I called my husband's cell phone and left a message saying I'm home.

He calls back. "I'm on a boat," he announces."

"Oh," I say. "Is AwesomeCloud also on a boat?"

"Yes," says my husband. "We're having a great time. We're coming back from Martha's Vineyard."

Ohhhh. My two-year-old son has now been to Martha's Vineyard and I haven't. (It's true - I've lived here for 5 years and have still never been to Martha's Vineyard.)

I took pictures during my trip, but they're all bad. I mean all of them. At one point I was playing with the camera's manual settings, and then I sort of forgot I'd done that. At another point, I attempted to chase a fox whom I'd narrowly missed photographing, hoping for another chance. Haha, not likely. Those things are fast. I was... haha... outfoxed.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My son doesn't need to be on a leash

It's been awhile since I posted about AwesomeCloud's growth and development. He has done some new things lately, though. For instance:

*He learned how to throw two balls at once.

*His street safety skills and traffic awareness are improving dramatically. He actually stops at the end of the driveway and... what he does next varies, but he's beginning to understand that the huge cars and trucks racing by are relevant to what his next move should be. (I think he's too enthusiastic about practicing this skill - we keep having to call him back from the end of the driveway or from the occasional parking lot.)

*He comes when called. This is awesome. Like, all I have to do is shout his name once and he comes right back. (I think I astonished one of the moms at playgroup with this. She saw him dashing toward the parking lot and ran to grab him. I didn't even bother to get up from my chair - I just shouted once and he came right to me. She looked rather surprised.)

*Today we went to a Father's Day cookout at Grampa's house and Daddy took him into a pool for the first time. He was not enthusiastic about being in, or above, the water, but he loved standing at the edge and throwing two balls in at the same time, and then having Daddy or cousins throw them back out at him.

*He's actually developing culinary preferences. Amazing! He finally dares to reject foods based on their taste rather than their texture.

*Unfortunately, he no longer eats sweet potatoes. But he adores fries and potato chips. Mama is not happy with this.

*He has learned how to dig weeds. (Well, he can dig. Weeds, not so much.)

*He can mow the lawn with me. In fact, sometimes he begs to mow the lawn with me. This puzzles me, as our lawn-mowing efforts usually end with him getting bumped aside and then crying when I try to turn a corner. Or he walks into a tree.)

*He has finally figured out drinking straws. And there was much rejoicing. (Yaaaaaay!)

*He still can't talk, but his facsimile of speech improves by the day. Between "doo," "gah," "dah," and "guh," and all the gesturing, he probably has upwards of 100 distinct communication units.

*He sings. A lot.

*Today he learned to put candles on a cake. He also put the leftover candles back in the candle box.

*He will make an effort to stop crying and smile for the camera if asked to.

*He understands hot food and will approach his food with caution if I warn him ahead of time. When he's not sure, he tests his food with his fingers. He will sometimes blow on his food.

*He has discovered ice cubes and asks me to put some in his sippy cup.

*When there are other drinking vessels available, he will choose them over the sippy cup, and his ability to drink out of an open glass or a travel mug is improving.

*He can't jump yet, but he jumps anyway. A lot. Maybe by next week, his feet will finally leave the ground.

*He can't count to ten yet, but he does anyway.

*He showed concern when Riley walked outside with us. Riley was previously an indoor cat, but this week we gave her a dose of Frontline and began letting her out into the yard. I think it's an improvement. She's very restless by nature, and she's been doing things that cats do when they're unhappily stuck indoors. I feel bad for the birds in the yard, but she hasn't caught anything yet, so maybe she's not a hunting cat. Anyway, it was interesting to see Cloud show concern that Riley had 'escaped'. I assured him it was okay, and he let the matter drop.

(One of the alternatives we were facing was to treat Riley's hyperthyroid with radioactive iodine, which is very expensive and requires quarantine and boarding. As my husband pointed out, "Thousands of dollars spent on a cat? When last week we'd been talking about just letting her outside? I don't think so." So we nixed the iodine treatment and went with the lifestyle change.)

My son is turning into a person now. It's amazing. Spending time with him is like real social time. The conversations are even almost not one-sided. When he learns to talk, it'll be even better. And then someday he'll learn to talk in sentences, and bring this whole social interaction thing to a whole new level.

What a difference this is from eight months ago, when sitting quietly or sitting and crying were practically the only things he could do.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The long-term adoption plan, revisited

New info on the state of China adoption. New decisions.

I just talked to a different woman, from the other agency. (Sorry I'm being so vague - I have two agencies that work together, and I know some people reading this also use these agencies and would be perfectly cool with me actually naming the agencies when I write about them. But this is a publicly accessible blog, so forgive me for being extra cautious about throwing names around.)

Anyway, I talked to N. at the other agency, and she's deeply involved with the state of China adoption. She's one of the people who goes to China, speaks a little Mandarin, makes friends and connections, and does the legwork to make international adoption possible.

She said that there aren't enough families signed up for special needs. This is a problem.

The agent I spoke to last week put a positive spin on it. "There are so many children available! Your opportunities right now are very good!"

This other agent put it more frankly: "The list of children is growing, but we don't have enough families to match them in a timely manner. If China feels we are unable to keep up our end of the process, they may reduce the number of agencies they're willing to work with, or close the special needs program altogether."

We already know they're working hard to close NSN. China would like to end international adoption altogether, but the belief was that they wouldn't be able to end SN because they didn't have the resources, or the adoptive families in-country, to take care of the SN children without allowing families from other countries to adopt them.

But if China decides to end SN adoption prematurely, it won't be unprecedented. Nations close themselves to international adoption all the time. Two years ago, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Colombia all closed in rapid succession, cutting adoption opportunities significantly and causing a mad scramble for many families to switch countries. None of those countries made the decision because they were suddenly able to finance their own social services systems. They did it because of scandals.

Now Russia is essentially closed, too, and Kazakhstan is making closing noises for similar reasons not related to whether they can afford to take care of the children internally.

In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, N. did not think it was a good idea for us to sign up now and then drag our feet for four years.

For one, sure, then they'd have another family on their list, but China doesn't care how many families are waiting. They only care how many children are adopted. (And how well each adoption goes. They do watch us to make sure each adoption is successful.) So we wouldn't be an asset to the agency in any way just by having our name in.

For another thing, if the agency is forced to close, then we'd be left in the lurch. We could switch agencies, but we wouldn't get our money back and we probably would lose our access to China. Because if this agency can't sign up enough families to stay in business, then a bunch of other agencies will probably find themselves in the same boat.

Ironic, isn't it? Usually you hear that there are too many families and not enough children.

The problem is that this is Special Needs, and Special Needs is scary. If you feel confident enough to purposely sign up to adopt a Special Needs child, your opportunities abound. DSS would love you, and adopting from them is free! No travel! There may be lawyer fees, and original family members, and you can't move out of state without legal implications.

That last bit is what makes us cautious of DSS. Not being able to move out of state... that's severely limiting. Those other things are concerns, too. And we like China. We want our children to share the same heritage.

Nothing is a guarantee. If we sign up now, we can't really hang back, and if we try to hang back, we may lose out.

If we wait and see, China may close its programs, but at least we'll have lost nothing.

If we sign up now and adopt within a year, it will be too early for us and we may feel overwhelmed. I at least want AwesomeCloud to be in school. Otherwise, the child we adopt may be his 'twin', or even be older.

I asked N. about the possibility of signing up for NSN, which would allow us to wait a few years, and then switching to SN when we were ready. She said, "That might work, but it actually doesn't solve anything. And there are very few agencies left who will take you."

And it sounds complicated, and underhanded.

What we really need is for a bunch of families who are ready NOW to sign up for SN children, and to be matched, and for the adoptions to go well. That will convince China to keep the program open for a little longer. Four years longer? One can hope.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An amazing sight at the butterfly garden

I saw this amazing fellow today. It is a Virginia ctenucha moth. Seeing him makes volunteering at the butterfly garden totally worth it.

Alas, I didn't take this picture. I didn't even have the camera with me. This picture came from Cirrus Images.

I really do need to start keeping the camera with me. I also saw painted ladies and pearl crescents, two species of orange butterflies, and a solid white butterfly that I failed to identify. The flowers are abloom and the butterflies are aflutter.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What do I think about China?

I called the adoption agency today. My agent was busy, but I talked to one of the other staff members for a while.

"I wanted to ask you," she said, "what do you think about China?"

"What part of China? The politics, its general existence, adopting again?"

"Adopting again," she clarified. I'm only sharing this part of the conversation because I thought it was cute, in a charmingly absurd manner. As it turned out, adopting again was exactly what I'd called to talk about. I won't transcribe the rest of the conversation here. It was long and rambling with lots of false starts, tangents, and personal information.

But it was a worthwhile conversation. We didn't have any groundbreaking revelations, but it helped to discuss my pros and cons with someone with her own life story apart from mine, and for her to compare my thoughts with her experiences and her knowledge of the adoption system.

One of my primary concerns came up: timing. It was quite a while before I made it clear that once we sign up, we want to wait awhile before adopting an actual child. She was looking at the waiting children available NOW, saying it's a good time to sign up because the opportunities are good NOW. If we wanted, we could do what we did last time and scramble to get a dossier done in record time for a known child.

That's what the agency expects, and that's what it defaults to. The ladies have one browser window open to the Waiting Children list at all times (metaphorically), because that's how they operate. They don't think, "How do I best meet this family's needs?" They think, "What can I do for this child? Which of my family clients would be the best match?"

And that's how it should be. But that would also mean that our names would come up again and again in the next few years, and we'd have to respond each time with, "We're not ready yet."

But then we'd fall in love with one of the children in spite of ourselves, because they're children after all, and we'd say yes. Once we say yes, we'd have to rush to complete the paperwork, because once you know who your son or daughter will be, you have to rush. You HAVE to.

Then we'd be in China, with a 3-year-old AwesomeCloud instead of a 6-year-old AwesomeCloud, and then AwesomeCloud would have a sibling, and there goes all that waiting you'd been planning on doing.

But now is a good time to sign up. The agency is accepting new families, because the list of waiting children is long. In five years, three years, even one year this may change, and we may learn that right now we have a wonderful window of opportunity.

I think a lot of things about China. I love China. I admit I'm a sinophile, in perhaps a limited context. I want to go back and spend some serious time there, someday. I have romantic dreams and fantasies about our future with China and with another child born there. But I'm not in a hurry. I have a toddler. I love having him, just him... our happy family of three.

This whole "sign up and wait" idea... it sounds good for us, but I don't know if it's even possible.

It's still less of a risk than "wait and then try to sign up."


The woman at the agency then asked me if we wanted a boy or a girl. I struggled with the answer, giving her a long, complex, and extremely indecisive response. I always struggle with that question. It's not a fair question. When I'm not thinking about it, I know the answer, but then when you put me on the spot I totally lose focus.

It should be a simple question. Humans only come in two genders.

But that may end up being another problem. As we learned the last time, if you're not giving an outright and vehement "No" to boys, the phone starts ringing.

He's an absolute doll, and he'd be perfect for you. I'm sure of it. C'mon, just say yes. We'll put a rush on your paperwork and you'll have him home by August.

I love having my one little Cloud.


It's the start of Daddying Season

Summertime! School is out! Do you know what that means?

Daddy has his days free. As of today, he is now officially spending more time taking Cloud out of the house and leaving me behind.

The plan to have an adventure a day, some small, some bigger. I get a chunk of each day with Cloud, too, while Daddy goes off to work on his Daddy projects. So it's not like I'm being left out.

The timing couldn't be better, let's just say. The house needs a Major Cleaning, and I'm gonna spend all this alone time doing it. Clean house, here you come!

Also, I think AwesomeCloud is starting to exit his "all Mama all the time" phase and maybe... maaaaaybe.... start to prefer Daddy a little bit more. He still loves me. But he seems pretty cool with time away from me so far.

Also, I'm reaching a stage myself where I'm tired, I'm emotionally distant, and although I'm still being Mama, maybe I take advantage of Daddy's increased availability a little more than I absolutely have to. Maybe a little alone time will be good for me. It will certainly be good for the house.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's that time... language comprehension time

Do you ever find yourself saying something that you wouldn't want your child to hear, and then look at him and shrug it off because he's far too little to understand? I do that aaalllll the time. I've always known that I'd have to stop sometime; I couldn't keep talking "grown-up talk" around him forever. But at first, it wasn't a pressing issue. All he heard was my tone of voice and the general patterns of the English language. It didn't matter what I actually said or who I said it to.

Well, that time is beginning to come.

Cloud can follow directions better and better. He listens to explanations of what we're going to do in the immediate future and more-or-less understands what to anticipate. He still can't talk coherently, and that's a little misleading. The fact that he asks for milk by saying, "Guh? Guh?" and pointing at the fridge doesn't make it seem as if gossiping in front of him is any big deal.

We have to stop and think about what we want him hearing, because he's starting to be able to hear it now.

One big issue that's relevant right now is whether we want him to grow up with parents who relate his adoption story over and over to any stranger who asks. A lot of strangers ask. It seems polite to answer questions posed to us, so we do. It's a social norm. Lonely old ladies at the mall, or people at your church, waitresses at restaurants... you don't want to be rude to the people who, these days, qualify as your neighbors - even if you'll never see them again, but, y'know, you still might. People being friendly to each other have to talk about something, and AwesomeCloud is awfully cute, and his story might be awfully interesting.

But I don't want that for him. My mother hardly ever went up to random strangers and told them all about me, but when she did mention the occasional personal fact, I got annoyed. Why wouldn't Cloud get annoyed, too?

If I'm aware of this problem, why do I keep doing it? Because I don't know how to stop.

I need to practice stopping.

First lesson: walking away. Look around for something that would interest Cloud. Point it out. Take his hand and walk over to it. Say, "Bye!" over my shoulder at nosy stranger and then lead Cloud away from her to the interesting object. Become completely engrossed in object. Don't look back.

That "Bye!" part is important. Otherwise she may try to follow us to continue the conversation.

I'll find other conversation-ending techniques, such as the semi-polite retort, and add them to my list of alternatives.

Yes, we encountered such a person today, and my first approach was to sideline the conversation with a question of my own, which failed. Finally I thought up the "walking away" technique and unfortunately left my poor, hapless husband to finish the conversation alone.

He's not that hapless. He likes to talk. Sometimes.

But, yeah, I can't help thinking back to my own childhood, when I resented being talked about. I try to imagine what it would be like to hear your own adoption story over and over and over and over again, retold for every schmuck your family meets in public, and I think it would be horrible. Just horrible.

Yes, our family is in the "obvious adoption" category. You can look at us and guess half our story, and maybe think the details would be just as interesting. But it's still horrible to be the one whose story it is and have to endure listening to it that way repeatedly.

I have to find a way out of the politeness trap. Why is it so hard?

Because, years ago, I vowed I would not turn into one of those people with social anxiety who ducked and sidestepped every human encounter that came my way. I would smile and be pleasant. I would enjoy the company of my neighbors. I would chat and not be awkward.

I'm just following a behavior pattern that I've worked hard to teach myself. I didn't know it would lead to this.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cyclone hits inside of house

This house looks like a cyclone hit it.

Which is odd, because we don't have cyclones around here. We have hurricanes.

Must be a freak act of nature.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

AwesomeCloud saves O'ville Library

AwesomeCloud and I have been invited to go to O'ville Library tomorrow morning to be interviewed for a library fundraising project. We'll be asked to explain why we value the library and why it deserves a brand shiny new building with a working septic system.

We had plans for a new building, but the architect passed away 3 or 4 years ago. He was a pillar of the community, and the whole village mourned him. The post office put its flag at half staff. The funeral procession passed my workplace. Many of my customers expressed sadness as they ordered their sandwiches.

The library plans faltered. For a while, the architectural drawings were displayed, but over time, the status quo took over. The library fundraisers went back to paying the utility bills and draining the septic tank.

Then we had a recession, and all that.

Now the new library plans are back on track, it seems. And we are among the local people chosen to sell the project on their fundraising media.

It's not tomorrow anymore. I just got another call from the organizer saying she has to postpone it to another day. I'll keep you all informed.

Life is so wonderfully strange! I'm glad I'm keeping a blog. There's no way I'd be able to remember all these little adventures and newspaper appearances and tell Cloud about them when he's older. My mother and I were talking about my early childhood last night, and even though she told me a thing or two that I hadn't known already, it struck me that so many of the details have been lost forever.

The beginning of Cloud's life is shrouded in mystery, and may always be inaccessible. (Unless China changes a lot of its social policies, which we keep hoping for.) But this stretch of his life is being well documented, and that's a plus.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Do leukemia patients think about interracial adoption?

Does your family get stared at in public? When you do, do you assume that people are staring at you because you're a multiracial family? Do you wonder what, exactly, they think of your situation? Do you think they're making pleasant or unpleasant assumptions about you?

Today AwesomeCloud and I passed by a teenage girl in a wheelchair with a scarf over her bald head and a surgical mask over her face. She gave us a good, long stare. The person pushing the wheelchair gave us a brief glance, the kind you give when you don't find a passing stranger interesting at all. Or when you're too polite to let on that you may find a stranger interesting.

I gave the girl the same kind of glance. AwesomeCloud stared.

Did the girl think we were wondering about her? Was she hyper-aware of our attention? Or was she momentarily too intrigued by our differing races to think about herself?

When strangers stare, do you feel like you're always the center of attention? And if so, do you get tired of it?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weird baby names

I admit it - I'm fascinated by the new baby naming trends. They're so... weird! No boy named Jasper or girl named Peyton would have gotten away without merciless teasing when I was a kid. I love reading baby name articles and laughing, cringing, or boggling at the creative names. People not only took the time to dream these names up, but loved them to the point of choosing them for their children, above all others.

Here's a sampling of all kids' names I found from a random blog search here on Blogger:
Eliza, Delia, Andrew, Joshua, and Sophie
Robbie, Alexa, Rachel, and Cole
Cali, Nyah, and Carson
Galla, Ryken, and Paisley
Oscar and Pippa
Sadie and Trent
Caden and Aliayah

There are some familiar ones in there, and some not so familiar. The current Top 50 lists are looking a bit unfamiliar too.

But it occurs to me that AwesomeCloud won't think these names strange at all. In fact he'll be growing up in a society that has, to some degree, lost its stigma over unusual names.

What a dramatic change. And this change is thanks to people of my generation (and a little younger). We were the ones who dared to buck social norms with our kids' names, and by doing so, we have changed social norms en masse! It may be a fad, but it's a fad that genuinely changes the way people think about each other. I wonder what naming conventions will occur in the next generation, when our kids have kids.

(Note: AwesomeCloud's legal name is an old timeless standard, so when I say 'we', I'm not necessarily including my husband and myself. But it's not out of the question for our hypothetical second child. We'll see.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

AwesomeCloud's ghost tour

Last Saturday, our friend Joe came to visit, and in the course of trying to find something to do, we decided to attend the Barnstable Ghost Tour. I'm not sure how many two-year-olds go on the tour. The guide warned that there would be darkness, and therefore possibly crying, but he didn't seem terribly concerned and welcomed us along.

AwesomeCloud was awesome. He was so good. He got to run around in a grassy field (AKA a cemetery) and eat a muffin (from the haunted general store, which was kind enough to stay open while we wandered the aisles looking for grey-haired ladies out of the corners of our eyes). He even made a new friend - the college student assistant. By the time we got to the old Barnstable jail, which is 400 years old, it was quite dark and we only had the guide's flashlight to see by. We all gathered in the largest jail cell and the flashlight was turned off.

Pitch dark.

We grownups looked around us hoping to see a ghost - since it was too dark to see anything real.

AwesomeCloud giggled. Stomped his little feet imitating the guide. Giggled some more.

Then we stopped for a diaper change, and went to the last house on the tour. While the guide told the scariest stories of all, AwesomeCloud got to sit on a stone wall, hold Joe's bottle of cola, and go up and down the handicapped ramp. And he got to say, "Woooooooo!" in a creepy voice.

All in all, a very enriching experience for him. Not a trace of crying! Not a trace of ghosts, either. But we got something out of it, too. Daddy enjoyed the history lesson, and Joe showed off some of his impressive knowledge. And I... I ate the other half of the muffin. Yum!

It turns out the Ghost Tour has a Part II. Rick and Joe are attending it now. We decided it was too late to bring the Kiddo - and too long. And too boring. It involves listening for ghosts with a tape recorder. Rick made some jokes about pointing his camera at streetlights and saying, "Look, it's an orb!" Apparently, he did that on his last ghost tour. I wish I'd been there that time.

The problem with the tape recorder method is that the ghosts tend to be very monosyllabic. The guide asks a yes or no question and then you can hear a very faint "Yessss."

If I were a ghost speaking into a tape recorder, I'd go ahead and be long-winded. I'd tell them more than those living humans ever thought they'd wanted to know. I'd go off on tangents. Then again, if I'd been God, I would have gone ahead and told Moses all about evolution. And germ theory, while I was at it. I dunno, I guess the spirit world would consider me pretty offbeat.

Fortunately, I enjoy the state of existence in which I'm still pretty offbeat, but reasonably so.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Only child

There's something to be said for having an only child. You don't have to give up your lifestyle so much; you just integrate the kid into it. You may have to ease up for a few years, until the kid is old enough to tag along on your grand adventures. But you don't have to give it up for good. You don't have to become those parents who wail, "Children RUINED my life!"

Those people do exist. I've seen them leave comments on other people's blogs.

Once you add the second child, familyhood becomes The Thing. It replaces any former kinds of lifestyle you may have had. Getting two kids to tag along is probably more than twice as hard, I'm guessing. I don't know. I've never tried it. But I do know that my two siblings and I did not travel well, and my parents were very reluctant to bring us on grand adventures. By the time they tried, two of us were already teenagers, and by then it's too late. Or it was for us, anyway.

I'm just thinking about this because it's time to plan for the fall convention season. Our grand adventures are on the convention circuit, and our lifestyle involves our small business, hotel rooms, and dealer tables. I can totally see AwesomeCloud getting absorbed into this lifestyle. What I'm not so sure of is having two kids along for the ride.

Maybe I shouldn't compare my kid(s) with my siblings and me. We are all different people. And our parents have different expectations. My parents expected my siblings and me to be all kid, all the time, and we were. My husband and I expect AwesomeCloud to participate in all levels of family activities, and we're already getting in lots of practice. We take him to events that are far above his age level, like the Audubon butterfly garden. (Children of any age can enjoy a stroll through a butterfly garden, but we're the ones who maintain it - Cloud has to tolerate hour-long weeding sessions and wheelbarrows full of mulch, and he does great, all things considered. He'll do even better as he grows up thinking this is normal.)

Same thing with dealer tables. We're easing him into it, testing his stamina, and as he grows he'll get used to the convention culture and it will be normal for him.

But how would we do that with two?

We're currently assuming we'll adopt another someday, and that may happen, but I want to weigh the pros and cons. One could say, "Who cares about your stupid comic book business when there are kids to be concerned about?" But, see, there aren't 'kids' yet. There is only 'kid'. If I'm going to have this thought process, now is the time. Now, before we drop the money on another adoption process. Once we sign up, we're going all the way.

Another one of my concerns is that if we sign up now, hoping the process will take awhile and give AwesomeCloud some time to grow up a bit, we'll end up rushing again and have our second child too soon. We say we're going to drag our feet, but the referrals came quickly last time - less than 8 months after we first signed on with our agent, we were matched with AwesomeCloud. There was another match, earlier, that we rejected because it was too soon. And then at the last minute I was actually considering adopting two at once, just because the opportunity was there.

A couple of adoptive mom bloggers are in the middle of discouragingly long waits, and I feel bad for them, but that doesn't happen to us even when we want it to. You say you're going to take your time accepting a referral, but when you get caught up in the process, you forget to wait. You just want to adopt everyone! Right now!

It's a lot to think about. Am I happy now? Will I have self-control if we try again? Does the benefit of a sibling for AwesomeCloud outweigh the benefit of the convention circuit? If having two children kills Dandelion Studios, will I regret it? Having one child could have killed our company, but it didn't. It just got us a junior partner (a very junior partner).

You know he'll be minding the table by himself by the time he's ten. And you know we GOTTA go to San Diego now. There's no way around it.

What a great childhood that will be.

Would a second child share that childhood, or prevent it from happening?

I don't know. You can't predict these things. But it's important to consider them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baby word counts

Today at Early Intervention, AwesomeCloud uttered 10 separate, distinct words. The EI lady thinks he's capable of around 15.

I'm not sure what the cutoff line for "distinct" is in language. One of his words was "crash," which sounds like "gah" to me. By that standard, he has at least 50 words, maybe up to 80 or 90 now. There are 15-20 words that sound like "gah." 10 or so words sound like "doo," and at least 20 words are pronounced "da." The esteemed Dr. Miller seemed surprised when I estimated AwesomeCloud's vocabulary at 40-50 words a month ago. I guess I was following different standards - I was counting words I could understand, and she was counting words she could understand. (She was also unimpressed when I told her AwesomeCloud could imitate five birdcalls and meow very convincingly like Ban Lu.)

I've done it. I've become that mama who has conversations with her incoherent toddler. Wahooo!

However, the number of words in his official paperwork is 10. For all official purposes, he currently has a vocabulary of 10 words, because that's what his assessment says.

There's a difference between official reality and actual reality, it seems. I knew that already. Anyone who's ever gone to school and had their complex hard work reduced to a letter grade knows that. Anyone who's ever paid taxes knows that.

There may be such thing as hard truth, but most truths are soft.

AT LEAST 80 separate and distinct words, I'm telling you.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Advice to my son - be nice

Someday I'd like to tell this to my son:

Be nice. Be kind. Be upstanding. Be honest and fair.

Show kindness especially to the people who you feel are below you. There will be kids who are a little bit odd, socially awkward perhaps, unkempt or poorly dressed, sad or serious, shy or clumsy. The other kids will tease them and it will seem to you that you should tease them too, just to be safe. Don't do it. Be nice to them. Maybe they'll never be your close friends, but if you're cruel to them, you will forever be their enemy. If you're kind, you may become their ally. If you think you don't want to be their ally, just wait. You may change your mind.

If a classmate says something careless or hurtful, stand tall. You don't have to smile; you don't even have to answer. But don't let yourself be crushed, either. Everyone says mean things sometimes. That kid probably said something thoughtless or mean to some other kid yesterday. If he's trying to push your buttons, don't let your buttons be pushed. If he's being offensive by accident, forgive him and let it go. You have more power by ignoring him than by reacting to him. If you ignore him, he's helpless against you.

Share. Especially if you have food to spare. Nobody can truly dislike a person who offers him food. Especially cupcakes. One of my closest childhood friendships started with cupcakes.

Kindness won't solve every problem. It won't guarantee that you'll be the most popular kid in class, with everyone clamoring to be your friend. It won't fend off every bully. But it works a lot better than a lot of other things you can try.

Remember, the nice guy always wins. You may not win immediately, but just wait for your reward and it will come. Even if your reward is just better self-respect, that alone is worth it. You know you did the right thing, and that's worth it. All those kids being mean to each other - they're going to regret it someday.

There will be times when you can't be kind, you forget to be kind, or being kind is not the best thing. There may be times when letting the other person have their way will actually hurt you, and you decide to stand up for what you want instead. That's okay. In time, you'll learn when it's important to oppose someone. But even when you do oppose someone, do it respectfully and honorably. Don't kick them when they're down. Your adversaries are people too, and if you're kind to them even while you compete with them, they'll remember.

Most important of all, be kind to weird people. Having some weird people among your friends is valuable. You'll find out how valuable they are as soon as you make some weird friends. Just trust me on this.