Ahhh...I may have been "Mean Mommy Extraordinaire" but I got my Big Boy back! Kenny has been wonderful the past few days, and I am relieved that our tough time in Salt Lake City was the end of it for a bit. We had the most wonderful conversation with Kenny last evening as we were preparing Matthew for speaking in front of a room full of people. I did not ask Matthew any adoption related questions, just some goofy questions to get him used to providing more information than just "yes" or "no". After a few minutes Kenny said "Momma...do me!" so I started asking him questions that turned into an adoption oriented discussion. My, what depth this little boy has, what maturity lurks beneath the surface...and how fortunate we re that we ended up being his parents. He often acts so young, so silly and toddler-like that we forget that there really is a 9 year old in there and he just feels safe enough to regress and relive his younger unparented years with us.
We ended up talking about what it was like for him to learn he was going to America and going to be adopted. He had told us earlier that he overheard a conversation in the Director's office and he and Turat, his buddy, listened at the door and heard he was being adopted. Last night I asked him what he had thought about it as now his language skills are so good he can really express himself well. He said he was very scared as he had never heard of America and he didn't know what to expect. He also was excited. We talked about the photo album we sent and I asked him what he thought when he first received it and was surprised when he said "I cried, I so happy!" and he said that everyone even the adults looked at it and was disturbed that one adult ripped a page. Then he added "I scared of Matthew though, he look big and like he fight me!" and then we laughed as we realized it was because we included a photo of Matt and Josh doing pretend karate chops! So, word to the wise...even if it is funny not karate pictures in your albums! Hahahaha! But when I asked him what he thought of Matthew when he met him he said "Oh, he nice nice brother, not mean...but he's bigger than me!". He said Turat was happy for him, and now he was happy that Turat had a family too :-) I am as well as now I don't have his face haunting my nights.
What a mix of emotions for a very little boy. Can you imagine being in his shoes, or any other older child's shoes who leaves behind the known albeit sheltered environment for the big old world hand in hand with complete strangers? And Kenny did it with such gusto, such zest. I am continually amazed at all our sons but particularly with Kenny's courage.
When I put him to bed not much later after our conversation he gave me a long hug and whispered in my ear "Thank you mamma" and I said "Thank you for what?" and he said "Just thank you..." with a gentle kiss. Reliving those days from 6 months ago (can you believe it has already been 6 months??) obviously brought back some emotions.
Sitting there watching him on the couch as he spoke, I was thrilled as I caught a glimpse of the deep, intelligent child that will eventually emerge. He was so adult as he spoke with us, so serious and thoughtful. Interestingly, af all 3 of my sons, I think it is easiest for me to picture the man Kenny will one day be which is really odd as currently he is the least mature of all 3! Perhaps it is because I see so much of Dominick in him and I know how Dominick turned out :-) Even at this age Kenny is the Protector, he is the Do-er, he is the Fixer. He has more confidence than he has a right to have at this stage :-) He will be a wonderful and loving father, a caring and connected son even as an adult. What an incredible blessing he is to our family!! I am making a prediction that within 2 years we see a much more mature child who is pretty close to age appropriate.
I also sat there in the lowered light of our cozy living room and watched him, and I thought to myself "Kenny is so beautiful!". Of course, I know every mom thinks this about her kids, be they boys or girls, but I was struck by the softness of his features, of his relaxed smile and realized I was falling a little more in love with him every day.
Bringing a stranger into your home, even though they are a child, doesn't mean you instantly love them. That love takes time to grow and it must be nurtured. Now, I have loved Kenny for a long time now but there are still things I am discovering, and to add to that he continues to morph and change rapidly with the love from a family. Just as I get used to one Kenny, a new one replaces him! We go through rough times like this weekend when his behavior isn't so lovable and you get frustrated and angry, and then you come out of it and tell yourself he has taken another tiny step towards learning and growing. Funny, as we drove yesterday to the orthodontist 2 1/2 hours away wee had time for conversation and he spoke about this weekend and said "I no like sleeping while Matthew and Joshie play, I not be bad again!" so perhaps we have found a perfect weapon to add to our discipline arsenal should things backslide again...hahahaha~!
Despite the challenges, which in our case have really been relatively few (or perhaps it is just that Joshie was such a proving ground that Kenny seems easy in comparison!) older child adoption has been a tremendous success for us, something we are filled with gratitude for having God give us the courage to do, He had a terrific reward for us in Kenny!
And now I am off for the weekend with Matthew, who the past three days has quietly looked at me and whispered "Only 2 more days! Only 1 more day!" so someone is very excited about our "Mom and Matt" overnighter. I am so blessed to have children who enjoy being with their mom. I now it won't last as they all grow older but for now I am wallowing in it and enjoying every single moment. We will be visiting close friends of ours who moved to Denver this summer and who we have missed very much, so Matthew gets to visit his buddy as well and they are kindly putting us up for the night. We are facing driving in blizzard warning conditions for 5 hours to get to Denver, so we are hoping we don't get hit too hard. I am a bit nervous about speaking tomorrow at Adoption Alliance's training class, but hopefully I will do well and I pray that someone present there needs to hear what I have to say, that it touches someones heart. Thanks to all for your suggestions, I incorporated almost all of them! Your comments both on the blog and via email really touched me, and let me know that this blog has touched many of you in ways I never would have imagined. It is why I am keeping it up rather than quitting writing it. Thanks again!