Monday, November 17, 2008

The Birthday Aftermath

The Kyrgyz Squat

Kenny had a terrific birthday, even though it was relatively low key. We took our three plus three other friends bowling, then back to our house for pizza and cake...and of course presents. We adults shared in the celebration with some adult friends as well who are close to our family and Kenny, and we ended up having a really nice time with everyone, visiting and enjoying the kids.

It was great to watch Kenny this year with his gifts. While he was definitely VERY excited, we had a long talk ahead of time about trying to be more careful now and not going crazy and opening everything up all at once, losing parts and then having toys that couldn't be played with. That happened with at least 3 or 4 gifts last birthday and Christmas, and we let it go realizing how new all of this was and that his need to touch, feel and experience it all was ultimately more important than the toy itself. But now he is a bit more mature and we wanted to make sure that what he got remained something he could play with for awhile rather than having game pieces end up inadvertently thrown away or mixed up with another game and lost forever.

He did a great job...and so did everyone else! We have struggled this past year in the whole "gift buying" arena, as his developmental needs dictated that he have toys that were much younger than he is, and that was what he made a beeline for at the store (and still does, actually!). However, his cognitive skills are well at or above his developmental age level, and so those toys that captured his attention first only held it for a short time, then he was left with nothing to really play with long term. He flitted so much from one thing to the next, in a way that is hard to describe as it was not at all a lack of attention span, just another way of him showing this dichotomy of being 4 years old one minuter and 12 the next...we almost NEVER see a full on 9 or 10 year old boy, which believe me can keep my brain humming as I try to keep up with who he is at any given moment! Even at the bowling alley, he ended up playing with Joshie (5 years old) and Joshie's buddy who Kenny also adores who is the same age rather than the boys from his class...he preferred at the moment to play imaginary super heroes than to hang with his friends! Luckily they are really nice boys and it didn't bother them at all as then Matthew was close enough in age to be their playmate for the time that Kenny was a 5 year old :-)

I know we are not the only parents of older adopted kids who struggle with such things, and we were very pleased this time around though to find that Kenny was far more focused on his gifts, and they all seemed quite appropriate for his age/developmental level. I have been secretly disappointed in myself this past year at not being able to key in on things that would work well for him, but I also let myself on the hook when I realized that a difficult task that is at times. A few days before his birthday I sat him down with a toy catalog and asked him to show me the kinds of toys that most interested him. He gave me a few ideas...some from all age categories, many of which most 10 year old boys would have nothing to do with...but he did seem to be fascinated with magic kits and science kits, things that were really interactive. He also loves cooking in the kitchen with me, and had expressed a strong interest in this new kind of robot called a "tribot" which is read and wheels around on three wheels. I gave others asking us what he would like hints about what direction he was going and their thoughtful gift selections really showed. Our "adopted grandparents" got him a FANTASTIC cookbook for kids and then created a cover overlay for it that said "Kenny's Cookbook" and took a picture from the blog and added it. Kenny got a huge kick out of it, and actually looked at it several times over the weekend...for those with adopted kids learning English at about this level it is a perfect book to work with as it has drawings of every single item needed...not just ingredients...and Kenny reading at about a 1st grade level could sound out many of the words and figure it out from the drawings. The book is "Paula Deen's My First Cookbook" and it would make for some GREAT bonding times in the kitchen as your child tried to figure out how to make some very good recipes with a little help from mom or dad but being able to partially figure it out themselves, giving them a little independence in the project. Kenny also got a magic set, and some sort of Alien Making Factory which makes little plastic aliens. Of course, the ever present Nerf Gun gift was also a huge hit, as it is for ANY boy around this age.

We looked at the Tribot but couldn't afford it, as it was $100, but as we were looking found another robot which was FAR cooler than the Tribot (which seems to be this years "it" toy) called a grabs, it even farts and burps...yes folks, we DO have boys and they LOVED those features, gross though they may be. This robot was half the price, did far more, and I had a sneaking feeling it might be exactly up Kenny's alley. Wow, did we score on this one...and for the first time as Kenny's mom I felt I truly gave him something (other than love, of course) that he was thrilled with. I must admit, after feeling like a bit of a "loser" in the gift department, it was nice to think I made a good decision this time.

After all the excitement died down and all our guests left, Kenny and I sat on the couch and talked about his birthday, and the conversation turned deeper than I expected. We spoke about how he did much better this time with not losing things, even keeping his friends and brothers from opening everything up and spreading it all around. He talked about how his first birthday everything was so new and he didn't know what to play with, how exciting it was but how much better this birthday felt to him. I think he too has enjoyed settling in. We then talked about how we were all finally feeling as if we knew each other very well, and that he himself knew more what he liked and disliked now. He told me "Momma, how you know exactly what I want this year? I didn't know about this cool's different than the other one I said I you know I like this one better?". I told him "Because I am your mom, and we finally know each other really, really well. It takes time, Kenny, to get to know someone and it took a long time for you to get to know your new life too.". He sat there and thought for a moment then said "I think your the best mom in the whole world, you know what I like even if I never see it before!". I, of course replied "Well it's about TIME you figured out I was the best mom in the whole world!! hahaha!" and that was met with a huge grin.

I think what I loved most about the evening aside from Kenny's obvious joy was something more subtle, and that was how happy Matthew and Joshie were too about the day. There was no jealousy as he opened his gifts, there were excited squeals as he got something they knew would be totally "cool" to play with, neither of them had to be the center of attention and take away from Kenny's special day. They really were just as excited as Kenny was, and Kenny, in turn didn't want them left out of a single thing. In fact, when I took cupcakes to his class earlier in the afternoon, there were a few extra and he asked his teacher if he could go give one to each of his brothers, which he did. That thoughtfulness and joy they share with one another is so unique, so special, and I feel like a privileged observer as I see them with one another. Sure, they have their moments as all kids do, and they have disagreements once in awhile, but overall I am so thankful to have sons with such kind hearts.

So, Kenny's 2nd birthday has come and gone, and we now have Christmas and Joshie's to look forward to. I admit that seeing the number "10" on the cake made me feel a bit sad, as our children are growing up far too quickly for my liking, but of that I have no control and I am trying to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of each day, as they sure don't remain children forever.

1 comment:

Lori said...

I just cried and cried thinking about how magical you must be to Kenny...him wondering how you are able to know what he would want when he doesn't even know he cold want it. Perspective of a child is truly amazing and so innocent...but purely magical. I love it.