Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hi! We are just to the east of Hurricane Irene. The wind is fun to watch; we didn't leave much outside to blow around in it. Anyway it seems to be in the 5-20 mph range - no 50 mph gusts yet. No basement flooding (yet).

I have several half-finished posts in 'edit' mode on this blog. I guess I haven't felt like writing much. AwesomeCloud is in a true language explosion, and half the time he has me cracking up. The other half he makes me groan and bang my head on the nearest solid object. For instance, I asked him to do something and he replied, "No, too late." A few minutes later he was plunging an open sharpie into his mouth.

"Really?" I asked. "You were going to eat a sharpie? Really?"

He just grinned and headbutted me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sneaking adoption into casual conversation with a 3-year-old

My newest dilemma: AwesomeCloud is almost three and a half and I've hardly made any effort to talk to him about adoption, families, our family, and China. He's overheard me talking about those topics to other people, but those conversations happen less frequently as he gets older. There was a time when random people on the street would come up and boldly initiate conversation, and I would share and educate. Because I was lonely, because they were interested, because they needed to be corrected.

Nowadays, not so much. People are less bold and I'm less sharing.

Cloud is old enough to understand what's going on; I think people are able to correctly assume that at first glance. However, he's not verbally articulated enough to hold a conversation about such topics on his own. If you want to talk about trains, trucks, or cats, he's all there - as long as you don't need him to utter all the words that form complete sentences. He kind of skips around like someone on a cell phone with a bad connection. That's fine if he needs to ask for apple juice. It's not great if he wants to inquire about his first mommy.

I thought maybe I could just start rambling to him about it while we were doing other things. But that's easier said than done. It's not like talking at a wordless baby anymore. He interrupts me to talk about trains or trucks or cats, because there is usually a train or truck or cat nearby to be discussed. So far, he's done it every time I've mentioned adoption. But so far, I haven't mentioned adoption very much.

It's not like he's living in a vacuum. He has picture books. He goes to adoption agency events. A couple of times, we've spent time with other families with mismatched races. We don't have travel group reunions like some other families, because we didn't have a travel group. We don't have any China adoption BFFs. I am possibly failing my kid by not immersing him in Adoption-World or China-World. But he's not completely isolated from it, either.

I don't know what I plan to say when I do get to talk to him. But I'm not anxious about it yet. I just want to get the basics out first. I hope he'll ask questions when he can; I may need the extra prodding. THEN I can be anxious. But I'm much better at answering questions than I am at blurting things out.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The wonderful thing about tiggers

Cloud thought my rendition of Tigger's theme song was HILARIOUS.

Also, he was awesome in KMart. I'm so proud of my well-behaved little shopper who keeps his hands to himself. And this was AFTER I got him a smoothie at McD's for no reason at all except that I had a coupon. It used to be that treats made him want to whine more, not less.

Actually, he hasn't whined more after a treat since last spring, when I had some harsh words for him about a lollipop. I said, "You know, I gave you that lollipop because I thought it would make you happy. You don't sound happy. Maybe lollipops don't make you happy, and I should just stop giving them to you."

I had to say it twice, on two different incidents, for it to sink in. But if I managed to sound serious, I was. I wasn't trying to manipulate my kid by scaring him. I was seriously giving weight to the idea of no longer giving him lollipops, and being honest and up front with him about my concerns. In some cases, this approach might be a poor one. But in the case of treats, it totally worked.

Now, when he's anticipating a lollipop at the bank or a cookie at the supermarket, he'll sometimes say, "Happy! Happy!" It sounds odd to an observer, but he does it to remind me that he's happy and deserves a treat. I encourage it and I hold him to his promise.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sometimes Mama is cold and distant

Today was a bad parenting day for me. I wasn't exactly a bad parent, but I was a very reluctant parent, and I'm going to blame it on the disgusting mess I found lurking in rarely-checked corners of my kitchen. And also all over one of the kitchen chairs.

It's going to be okay. However, I've been breathing in cleaning fluid fumes all day and I still smell it on me, and I've gotten to the point where if I hear a small child's whine coming on, I run away.

Cloud tried to initiate a make-believe game with his two Beanie Babies, and I went along with it for a while, but my make-believe stamina was very short today and I feel a little guilty about it.

On the bright side, I made fried rice for supper and I think it was my best yet. I'm learning some tricks. For instance, make sure the rice is cooled all the way down before adding it to the veggies and meat. And garlic goes really well with soy sauce - so well, in fact, that I don't have to add anything else.

I've had a few off days lately. Today was the offest day so far. I'm sure it'll get better, though.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Small linguistic improvements

Yesterday, Cloud and I were driving by a certain pond and looking for the resident swans.

"There they are," I said.

He replied, "Right, right. She's right."

If his reply sounds oddly out of context... well, it is. But it has two things going for it!

1) Correct gender in gender-specific pronoun.
2) Expressing a positive thought.

It just so happens that he was talking to me when he referred to me as 'she'. And while 'right' is a synonym for 'yes', it is not always an appropriate alternative.

But I don't care! My kid is saying new things. He's experimenting with language. He'll get the nuances down later.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A cat named Cat: an attachment story

Here's Trixie, the real deal

Here's Cat, with Ban Lu

Somewhere in my pre-adoption reading, I came across an explanation for why children have loveys - toys or objects that they project their feelings of attachment onto. For instance, the security blanket that Linus is so attached to in Peanuts. The book mentioned that adopted children who struggle with attachment issues may not have enough feelings of attachment for a lovey. They're working so hard to form attachments to their adoptive parent(s) that they have nothing left over for the toy or blanket.

Okay, fair enough. But we bought a few Beanie Babies for AwesomeCloud just in case. In case he needed something soft to hug. In case he found it easier to bond with the toy than with us. In case he happened to like stuffed animals.

Well, he didn't. We brought the calico cat with us to China. We chose it because it resembled our cat Trixie, who, we assumed, would be a fixture in his life when he got home. He wanted nothing to do with the Beanie Baby cat, and after all our cajoling and patience, the toys he responded to were made of hard plastic and had buttons that beeped or played tunes.

I understand why some people gripe about electronic baby toys, but for us, they were the only toys that would draw his gaze. Eventually, he also grew to like plastic trucks and matchbox cars. Soft toys, toys with faces, and especially stuffed animals repelled him. Sometimes they terrified him. To this day he still has a little problem with puppets.

He learned to like real cats; however, Trixie died two months after he met her. She was very good with him, but she lost her vision, and then her balance, and then she was gone. (So, as most people reading this know, we got two more cats! But neither of them are calico, so the Beanie Baby no longer resembles a household member.)

Cloud's Early Intervention teacher went to work on his phobias. She brought in all sorts of toys he was afraid of, and put them away when he cried. I was almost amazed that he didn't develop a phobia of her, she did it so frequently. But, nope, he grew to like her. He really dug her. And one day she invented a game so irresistible that he didn't even mind that it involved the calico cat. See, she started playing a wonderfully silly song about cats running around in a circle. And then she made our two Beanie Baby cats run in a circle. After a few runs, Cloud even wanted to hold one of the cats himself.

I don't know what happened to the leopard-print cat. The calico was his preferred Beanie of the two. He called it "Tat." We started calling it "Cat."

He started taking it in the car with him once in a while. Sometimes we'd bring it back into the house, and sometimes he'd realize he wanted it and we'd go into the car to fetch it for him. One day he brought it into a store. Sometime later, Daddy let him bring it to church. He began asking for it as "Tiy tat." (Kitty cat.)

His k sounds are improving, and sometimes he calls it "Cat" now. Recently, he has begun taking it to bed with him. Several times, when he lost track of Cat, he began to cry.

We bought a spare.

We're not going to do anything elaborate, like secretly switch the cats so they age similarly. No, he's already seen that Beanie model in the store, shiny and new, while he clutched his dirty old one. In fact AC Moore carries hem, and he likes to bring Cat into the store to say hi to all the other Beanie cats. Someday, if he loses the original Cat, we'll pull our replacement Cat and tell him the truth about it. Then he can make the hard adjustment in his own time.

I don't know how amazed I should be that this has happened. I don't know what the statistics are for attachment-challenged children growing into the ability to keep a lovey. I do know that not every child with healthy attachment engages in this behavior - 'normal' does not necessarily mean 'universal'.

But I'm glad that he's growing and learning and developing a personality. I'm glad that he's mindful of his surroundings. I'm glad that he's doing things that almost any mom can totally relate to, even if her kids' circumstances were nothing like mine's.

One think I am most definitely amazed about, though, is the Kid's ability to keep track of Cat. Admittedly we live in a small house, and there are only so many places he can leave her. But today in Trader Joe's, he showed remarkable mindfulness. He was pushing one of the kid-sized carts, and when we emptied our groceries onto the register, he announced, "Cart back!" I encouraged him to go put the cart back and then return to our register, and as I watched him, the lady behind me observed, "He put his stuffed animal in the cart. Will he remember to take it?"

"Oh yes," I assured her. "And if he doesn't, I will."

Well, I didn't. He lost sight of me on his way back - he got caught behind a cluster of other customers - and I was waving so hard I forgot to notice he didn't have Cat with him. No matter! He realized it right away, ran all the way back, and had an easier time finding me the second time.

I should probably put our phone number on her tag, though. Just in case. He can remember her just in time 30 times in a row, but it's that one time he completely forgets that matters.

Still, I was impressed, and so were the lady and the cashier.