Sunday, January 6, 2013

What It's Like at Home

Kibrom and Semira hanging out last weekend
Inquiring people want to know what it's like to have Kibrom home. Well, three weeks is not enough to tell you much. Just that the initial transition is hard. Unfortunately, it probably won't get much easier for a while (based on our experiences with Semira). Kibrom's world has been turned upside down. Everything is new...the language, the food, the smells, the people, the weather, the dogs, the routines, etc. It's as if aliens abducted him and took him to their planet! It has to be overwhelming to anyone, never mind a scared, little five year old boy.

So, let's start with the challenges:
  • The most difficult thing to deal with is his sadness. Kibrom can be a very happy little boy. But then a switch flips. He gets this vacant look on his face then starts crying for at least an hour to two hours at a time. It's difficult to watch. It's more difficult to sit there trying to comfort him. And, in truth, it takes the patience of a saint not to lose it yourself. The meltdowns can be triggered by anything, but they usually correspond to when he is tired or overwhelmed. So evenings and late afternoons are tougher to deal with. We are all tired at that point.
  • We have also discovered how difficult it is to figure out if Kibrom is really sad or just not getting what he wants. There is a fine line between providing him comfort and allowing him to run amuck. Sometimes I don't know which side of the fence we should be sitting. His emotional fragility makes it difficult to predict how many normal parent/child interactions will unfold. But we have figured out that he is a bit of a whiner and is used to either people doing things for him or not having to do anything at all. Perhaps that is how it went at his care center. I don't know. But at Chez Prager, the kids need to actually do a little work. Like I tell Lily and Semira all the time, Mom is not your maid. I just don't know how to say that in Amharic:)
  • Ok, so now onto my confession. Going from two kids to three has meant a lot more work. I won't use any of those stupid sports analogies because I don't give a crap about sports. Let's just call it like it is. The dishwasher and washing machine seem to run daily. The food consumed is astonishing! Both Steve and I feel like we are always in the kitchen. There are many more combinations of kid interactions to mediate on a daily basis. Instead of two little birdies chirping "mama" or "papa" at any one time, we now have three in unison all wanting or needing something at that very moment. Unfortunately for me, our house is not big enough to escape any of this. Alone time no longer exists, if it ever did before.

    Mail order injera is a life savor. This stash lasted only about 10 days.
Now onto the good things because you should always end on a positive note.
  • Kibrom is a very loving boy. He likes to play with his sisters and they like him. Overall, he is pretty well-behaved and is a good listener. He is curious and smart. He is open to receiving affection from Steve and me. Overall, I think he is starting to bond with us. I definitely see potential in the long run for him to be a happy, well adjusted little boy.
  • Things are pretty positive regarding communications. Kibrom has already learned some English. He is now asking Steve in Amharic to tell him the English word for something. My Amharic is limited to a handful of key words and phrases while Steve can explain things in more detail. I think this makes Kibrom feel a little more secure about going into new situations. He at least knows what to expect. And he doesn't feel as lonely not speaking English. He is quite chatty with Steve when he needs a real conversation fix. I am sure that Steve's Amharic skills have saved us from having more meltdowns than we have had.
  • Kibrom loves the dogs! This was actually a big surprise. Semira was terrified of them for over a month and that got old fast. It's cold in Wyoming so keeping the dogs separate from the kids is no easy task this time of year.  For that, I am thankful. This could have been another seriously stressful issue to navigate.

Well, so far our transition seems "normal"...

-A lot of work
-Pretty darn tiring 
-A constant ride on the emotional roller coaster

While there are a lot of "firsts" to be thankful for, I can't wait until we are done living in survival mode.

Next up, school time. Kibrom (and I) started kindergarten this week. Now that is another story!

Kibrom and Semira being silly
Kibrom after his first day at school - Eating popcorn and watching "film" as he says.
The little chef

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