This weekend was spent recuperating from the first full week of school, and doing some home improvement projects. We are painting our family room which is a huge room, and thanks to a friend who actually does have some design sense we are also putting up some crown molding, if we actually get it finished! A mishap with Home Depot's Paint Department caused us to repaint the room twice thanks to an incorrectly mixed color batch. But as of this evening everything is looking nice and I think we might get it done by the end of the week...hopefully :-)
Kenny's first full week of school was up and down. He made a new friend, he cried 3 times on Friday because of various confusing problems, he wore his Cub Scout uniform proudly for the first time as we recruited at Back To School Night for our Pack, and overall I think he wore his poor teacher out!! Overall, the various adults he has come in contact with at school seem to think he is a sweet kid and have been very understanding about his lack of understanding of proper school behavior at times. They have been stern in correcting him when needed, yet applauding his successes and encouraging him at the same time...all much as what we have been doing here at home. We have a very long way to go, of course, but we have started down the path and as his teacher said this week, she is sure that the changes will be extraordinary from the beginning to the end of the school year and it will be wonderful to watch...if we all live through it! Hahahaha!
I am finding myself having to correct him constantly at home about a couple of things, one being that he is NOT to snatch things from people's hands even if it is because he is trying to be helpful. He does not seem to understand how rude that is, and I am sure it is going to anger kids at school if we can't get him broken of that habit. Another is that when I say "no", I really, really, double ditto mean it. Over and over he will stop, listen to what I say and then go right back to doing what I asked him not to do. I think honestly at times this is not as purposeful as it sounds, as I also have found that when I say something to him during a conversation we are having he is so focused on saying what HE wants to say, that he may be quiet while I speak but it is as if I haven't spoken and he blows right past what I may have just said...not sure I am explaining this well, but he can pause his voice but his brain is still on his own thoughts and I am not sure things are getting in the brain when he is in that mode. So we are working on having him repeat back to us what we just said, so that we know the message is getting through. Not sure if this will work but we'll see this week if we can gain some ground in this area.
I had a very understanding friend talk to me for awhile this weekend about all of this, and she knows our family extremely well. It was so nice for me to have someone sit back and say "You must be SO tired sometimes with all of this! He's doing great, but it is hard work!". Just knowing that someone understands how wearing all of this is helps enormously, and I think there are times when I myself am discounting how much work parenting is right now. I am having to think about every single step I take, what approach works and what does not, when to make an issue of something and when to recognize that I can't correct everything all at once and I need to step back. I am constantly looking for teachable moments, encouraging and steering, correcting and disciplining. As tiring as it can be it is also very rewarding to watch the slow yet steady changes being wrought.
In other areas, he is doing SO well, and actually although much of the behavior is annoying and exhausting to continually correct, it is all very minor stuff. He had great fun this weekend working with us as we painted, taking light switch plates off the walls, using a cordless drill, learning to use a paint roller, and even taking apart an old slide projector to see what was inside. He is definitely going to be our Mr. Fix It to put Matthew's Mr. Build It plans into action! I realized he may never have had the chance before this weekend to really work side by side with an adult learning these kinds of tasks, things that we have taken for granted that our other two sons have done all along. Watching him sit on the floor with projector parts strewn all around him was quite a sight to see! And all the boys were a big help when it was time to clear out the room and get walls prepped. Kenny taped off windows like a pro, surprisingly, and Matthew helped Dominick put up a new ceiling fan while Joshie picked up trash throughout the weekend. Finally, we are at the stage that we can joke about all they will be able to do around the house and see that it might come true eventually! Hahaha!
As a reward for all the hard work, we went to the Drive In movie last night with our buddies, and hearing Kenny's shrieks of laughter at Shrek 3 made all of us giggle along with him. He has this high pitched squeal when he laughs that is so funny. He also has fallen into some interesting verbal patterns, for example saying "Free me" instead of "For me", and if something is difficult to do and we would normally say "that is hard" he says "That is heavy". He probably has a vocabulary now of about 300+ words which are being used properly in context which is just amazing to me. But I have to say that the funniest saying going around our household right now is Joshie's when he talks about me having my Diet Coke and he asks if I want a "Toka Tola". I remember one of Matthew's was saying "World" as "Worled". Don't you just hate it when those little mispronunciations disappear?
We leave this next Sunday for Denver for our visit to the Cleft Clinic at Children's Hospital where we will hopefully get a good idea of what lies ahead in terms of surgery and dental work for Kenny. We have had friends kindly offer to take Matthew and Joshie so we will only be going with Kenny, which will really be our first time alone with him since we returned home in June.
So we will see what this next week brings with school and doctors. We also have friends met via the internet who are on the Board of the Antares Foundation who will be heading off for Petropavlovsk at the end of this week, and who will be able to visit Angela and Olesya while they are there, so we are keeping them all in our prayers and asking them to give our girls big hugs from us. Part of me wishes I was going with them, and another part of me realizes how utterly impossible it would be for me to see those two little girls again and leave them behind. They surely have my heart, and as school has started here I would give my right arm to be taking back to school pictures of them and seeing them pack up new backpacks and wear new clothes and march them into their new classrooms leaving them with a hug and a kiss and a promise to return at the end of the day. The joy we felt at receiving photos tonight of Turat and Askar as they visited with their soon-to-be new parents was sadly a bit tainted by the knowledge of "our girls" who do not have that and may never have that, and of all the other children we have met in our travels and orphanage visits who will never, ever have the love of a family to prop them up when the going gets rough and to cheer them on when they excel. But even as I type this there are three little guys sharing a bed in the room next to us who are deeply loved and cherished, and for that I am very grateful. Good night!