Thursday, January 24, 2008

Affirmations and Confirmations

The past week or so has brought about new revelations where Kenny is concerned, one a confirmation of my initial thoughts in the first couple of days after we met him in Bishkek, and the other an afirmation that one of our disciplinary tactics worked it's magic.

I often take Matthew with me to work on Saturdays, as he enjoys getting some one-on-one mommy time during our 2 1/2 hour round trip, and because he likes to earn a little money working. I pay him $5 for the day if he helps out, and he does things like dispense drinks for customers, teach other college aged employees how to count change (No's a hoot! Sadly, he's had to do it more than once.), call out orders, etc. It is fun for us both to be together, and also helps build his confidence in many areas as he has to be prodded sometimes to be more interactive, socially speaking.

Well, this past Saturday we were going to be slower at work, so I thought it would be a perfect day to give Kenny his first opportunity to work. He was so excited and jumped right up out of bed while the others soundly slept nearby. During the drive I tried to prep him for the kinds of things he could do there and what to expect, as well as that I needed him to be on his most-grown-up behavior. I was curiously anticipating the day, as I had a gut feeling he might like it and I wanted to see how he would handle himself.

Upon arrival, I quickly realized that my statement early on about him being a young Bill Gates was not too far off target. If this kid isn't meant to be an entrepreneur I don't know who is!!! Holy Toledo, he walked in there, tied on his adult-sized apron with a few adjustments to it, and went to work...and I mean Work with a capital "W". He immediately grabbed a damp towel and started wiping down tables, dispensed drinks as best he could while being too short to even see over the top of the cup, filled bottled Coke coolers, yelled out orders like a pro, went from table to table asking people "May I take your trash? Can I help you? Would you like a refill?" as if he was born to do this. Needless to say I found myself involved in several conversations with people asking about him, all of whom were astounded that this little guy had only been with us for 7 months. Talk about some serious Mommy Pride kicking in :-) One woman, who happened to be a elementary school teacher commented "I have never seen a 9 year old work like that, and be so happy about it too!" and another woman said "One day that boy is going to own this place.".

While of course it was kind of fun to sit back and visit with people about our adoption adventures, I was fully aware that this was also a terrific oportunity for others to see that older child adoption CAN work beautifully, that sometimes all these kids need is a chance and they can acheive far more than anyone might expect. Surely someone walked away from there Saturday who will one day be involved in a conversation concerning adoption and Kenny's little face will pop into their minds.

I also walked away myself with a newfound respect for my son. I also realized that Harvard Business School is very expensive, so we had better get him thinking about scholarships right now...hahahaha! Of course, perhaps we better work on learning to read first . But this is the kid who already has talked about shoveling snow for neighbors and charging them $5, so I guess he will probably be able to come up with creative college cost solutions himself.

On to the affirmation, Kenny has been involved in a couple of incidents at school this week. As best I can tell, the first incident somehow involved a group of 2nd grade boys of which Kenny was one, rocks in someone's pants and a show in a toilet. Hmmm...if you are confused now, then we are in this together. Try hard listening to that being explained in broken English and not laugh out loud! Whatever occured, the principal was the one who stumbled upon this scene and handled it very well. Today Kenny's teacher asked to speak with me as Kenny had a little trouble on the playground this afternoon pulling on others kids jackets and choking them because he was running interference with a couple of kids who were picking on one of his friends.

Sooo...I decided it was time to have a quick sit down with the Principal and make a statement in front of Kenny. We walked down to the office and asked to meet with him briefly, and I could tell Kenny was nervous. Mr. B is a GREAT principal and has been very supportie of our family in many ways. I asked him to explain what had happened earlier in the week, and he said he was very proud of Kenny because he was the only one of the group of boys who admitted immediately that they all were involved in the shoe somehow ending up in the toilet on accident, and that all the other boys involved tried to pass the buck and not accept responsibility. Kenny looked at me and told me "You told me not to lie and I not lie...I did do it too...we all did." and so I congratulated him on telling the truth and said I too was proud of him. Mr. B did not know about the event this afternoon, so I explained it to him in front of Kenny, and also discussed how Kenny often thinks he is the adult in charge and he needs to learn to go get an adult if there is a problem. Dear Mr. B immediately seemed to instinctively know what was going on and he looked at Kenny and said "I can help you when something happens, come and see me or any other adult, that is our job and it is not your job.". We talked for a few more minutes with Mr. B reinforcing that Kenny is not in charge, being kind but firm about it just as we are at home, and I was so grateful once again for the people that have been put in our lives that make such an impact in our kids in so many ways.

As we left the school, Kenny looked at me and said "Mom...I told you I try hard not to lie anymore." and I told him that not only did he not lie, but he had also told me about it all before I heard about it from someone else, and I was proud of his honesty and was beginning to feel I could trust him again, and at that I got a huge grin. It is moments like that which are the payoff for the moments of guilt when they are laying on their beds sobbing because you have left them out of a fun activity to get a point across.

And then I repaid his honesty by taking he and Joshie to get vaccinations...Bad Mommy that I am!!

In other medical news, we took Matthew to an orthopaedist this week because he has been walking "pigeon toed" and it has grown worse over time. We explained to him that they would only look at him and maybe take X-Rays, but they would do nothing to hurt him. Though I know he understood that, it was obvious he was nervous as he was very clingy with me the entire morning before the appointment, and Matthew...while a very affectionate and "huggy" little guy with not in the least clingy. Once we were in the middle of the examination he became more relaxed. The MD determined that it was not joint related, but was most likely related to his malnutrition in infancy, and the X-Ray showed that his tibia actually had a bit of a curve to it. When we arrived home Matthew weighed a mere 14 lbs and was in the beginning stages of rickets. Contrast that with the 8 year old boy whom the MD said quietly to us was likely one of the strongest she had ever seen at his age, and it seems a long time ago that the tiny, spindly little boy was in my arms. She was actually stunned at how well developed his leg muscles were, and overall how muscular his body was. He has always been that way, and even his pediatrician when he was only about 15 months old said that he had never seen a little boy who already had a sturdy little V-Shape going on with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. We were advised to get him some expensive, well built shoes and keep him in more Walmart cheapies, and to come back again in 10 months for a recheck. He is on the borderline of needing medical intervention and she wants to see if the problem worsens over time or if it stablizes with better shoes.

So in spite of the weeks ahead filled with doubt and hesitation, the week of affirmation and confirmation has brought a much needed respite.


imtina said...

My gosh Cindy, that's a lot on your plate and a lot for a mom to worry about. I'm glad things are going well with K too!

I worry about Isabel's health with regard to her first months. I know the orphanages do the best they can, but she wa sooo tiny and could hardly move. All us moms can do is be on the lookout and deal with it all when these things come up. Sounds like you're doing great in that department. I would love to see those boys at your cafe.

PS did you get my emaiL?

Anonymous said...

Cindy - thanks again for more chapters in the Life of the LaJoys. I want to put into words how real and warm it feels to read your blog but I can't find words that seem to fit. Knowing you all as I do I visualize your experiences and appreciate being able to be a part of your lives through your blog. I hear myself, after each story, thinking to myself, "go, Kenny, go!" or Matthew or Joshie or you or Dominick or your girls. You have a cheering section, even though you can't hear me! You go girl! And the God stuff - inspiring, at the least - obviously you are "precious in His sight." Love you much! Joan

Ivy Lee said...

Cindy, it's always great to catch up on your blog. Kenny seems so rock solid. I can't help but be proud of him when I read about his newest adventures and accomplishments. You can't help but root for him.