We had a long drive to Almaty after leaving Bishkek, where we would complete the adoption process at the US Embassy there. During the 4+ hour drive I visited with Saule and Toktogul in our car while Matt, Josh and Dominick followed in the next car. Saule asked Toktogul how he liked his new family and if he was happy, which he said he was very happy. She asked him if he was mad when we corrected him, as we have had to do many times over various issues. He responded that he knew it was his mommy's job to do that, and he was not mad at all. She asked him if he would someday return to Bishkek and he made us both laugh when he said that he would come back again, maybe in 5 years, but he could only stay for a couple of days then because his parents would be old by then and need help at home and he would have to buy our medicine for us!! So...look for me to be in a wheelchair by 45 years old, at least according to Tokie :-) We had an interesting conversation about Kazakh and Kyrgyz men and how they always take care of their parents, even if their wives don't like it.
Toktogul is truly an enigma at times, showing this nurturing and mature caretaking role with the boys as well as us at moments, and then slipping into the curious toddler stage just as quickly. It is like have "Combo Boy" live with us, one who we have to watch constantly as he has no idea of what dangers there are (like licking a knife is a "no no", but he's never handled a knife before so how would he know???) and yet he is very grown up at other moments, reminding us that it is time to do things like brush his teeth or take a shower. He was laying on the floor with the boys who had both fallen asleep, and he gently covered them both up with a blanket, wanting to make sure they were warm...and then the next minute had his feet up on the wall while singing a little ditty. We have had to explain about the dangers of light sockets, traffic, stoves (I am afraid to leave him alone with anything on the stove at all as he is too curious and will play with it), and store merchants who are not happy about you touching everything. We have not had to teach him to cut his fingernails, wash dishes, pick up his room or take fastidious care of his body in most ways.
He really bucks against "no" at times, and purposely ignores us when called if he anticipates we are going to tell him not to do something. He makes a HUGE deal out of seeing anyone smoking in public, or even out of seeing an ashtray, and that has provided us with an embarassing moment or two and caused us to wonder where he picked this attitude up from. Glad we weren't smokers!!! He knows how to give us a good pouty face and it reminds us of Josh when he does that once in awhile :-) He has a stubborn streak a mile long, but we are seeing it soften a bit, feeling more acceptance of our parenting each and every day. And actually, these moments are not long in duration or frequent in occurance. We have maybe 3-4 times a day where obstinance arises and we deal with it, and the rest of the day is spent quite happily following our rules and listening to our guidance. He is a genuinely happy child whose heart is full and ready ot give and accept love.
Language hasn't really been an issue yet, and we are communicating fine at most levels with sign language and pointing, smiles and frowns. Of course, things have yet to come up when we don't have a Russian translator around to ask for an explanation to be given, and we will deal with that when the time comes around for it...probably in the next few days. Pantomiming can only go so far. However, already it is amazing what he seems to understand when we speak to him, even without signing it to him. I had been less worried about the language than people might expect because I had heard from many, many adoptive parents of older kids over the years that this had been their biggest concern pre-adoption and their smallest issue post-adoption. It was also the one thing that amazed everyone else when the subject of our adoption came up....that we would have to parent a child who didn't understand a word we said!
All in all, things have been going much better than we expected, and his adjustment thus far has been nothing short of amazing!