Monday, September 24, 2012

Cute Pictures (in case that last post was too grim)

 Playing goalie at a scrimmage.  He got to be goalie for half of the next game.  Being physically fearless and liking to kick the ball as far as possible seem to be desirable characteristics for a goalie.
 Posing with a bear at the zoo.  For some reason, she wanted her picture taken every two minutes that day.  Be grateful I'm not including all of them.  I would also like to state for the record that she chose the dress.  Not my taste at all, but oh well. 
 Hanging with Papa at the Audubon Society trail.  They actually have really cool rehab birds to visit there.  Lived here my whole life, never knew that. 
 Summer's last hurrah. Front row again, baby!
 We were leaving OMSI, and she ran over to the sculpture/sign and demanded I take her photo. 
This is actually kind of old.  He's in the next round of lessons already.  Inesa got waitlisted and is taking ballet instead right now.  I love seeing both his skill and confidence grow.  I keep saying I'm going to start doing laps again...hasn't happened yet. 

In Which I Attempt to Share One Challenge of Adoptive Parenting

I'm going to try to straddle that line between "honesty" and "oversharing."  (My husband is already wincing reading that, right?  Hi, honey!)  I just bumped up against the tip of an iceberg, and it reminded me of how much we didn't know about adoption when we started all this.  Even reading up on it didn't really get through to me until I started experiencing it.  I read somewhere that adoptive families are more like traditionally formed families than they are different, and I wholeheartedly agree. But just as with culture clashes, or like the difference between second language learners and native speakers who struggle in school (to use two examples from my life) those areas of difference are important to acknowledge and address.  So I'm going to offer up one difference for you to ponder: we have to make guesses about our children's past.

We quickly realized that Inesa gets carsick a lot.  Pretty much any time she's in a car, she gets a headache.  After about half an hour, she also gets nauseous.  We resort to medication for longer trips, because otherwise she throws up. 

When she started school, she wasn't on an afternoon bus, because she's in ESL after kindergarten gets out, and there's a separate bus for that, and it took them awhile to add her stop to the list.  She found this highly frustrating.  I don't know if all the cool kids were in the bus line or what, but more than once she got downright snitty with us when we came to pick her up, because she wanted to be on the bus, dammit.  When they did finally add her two weeks ago, she was last on the route.  Since all the kids in the program take that one bus, it must go all over.  Even though we live literally 1.1 mile from the school, she was going to be on the bus 45 minutes.  We were worried, but she insisted it was fine--the bus doesn't make her sick, just cars, she said.  The first few days we asked how she felt, and she said she felt just great.  So we stopped asking.

Today, however, the driver called out at her stop, "She says she has a headache and her tummy hurts."  Sure enough, she was wan and miserable when she got off, and wanted some water and some down time when she got home.  She also asked us to start picking her up again.   Somehow I wasn't surprised.  Yesterday she got a headache in the car.  The car was not moving at the time.  The car had not been moving.  We were sitting in the car in a parking lot on a pleasant day.  This was not a motion sickness event.

Here's the thing:  I don't know if she gets carsick for all the reasons any kid gets carsick, or if she gets carsick because her body is remembering something bad about cars.  I don't even know what "something bad" might be.  It could be completely innocuous.  Or it could be the result of trauma.  I DO NOT KNOW.  This is where parenting adopted kids, especially older adopted kids, really is different.  I will never know their full past.  If something awful happened to her in a car, or if she witnessed something awful while in a car, or if she associates car rides with being removed from her home, we may eventually find out.  Or we may not.  Maybe she really just gets carsick.  But what else is going on that is influenced by pieces of her past that we are unaware of? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Problem solved.

Problem one:the leak between one of the upstairs bathrooms and the living room ceiling, which makes us unwilling to let the kids take a bath.  It could be our shower leaking, but it seems suspicious that the leak developed after people started taking somewhat enthusiastic baths.

Problem two: only Sasha got into the next sessions of swimming lessons. Inesa got waitlisted.

Two in one solution: Aloha swim center has open swim in the afternoon. I took Inesa over and we practiced for 40 minutes, then we both took long showers.


Monday, September 10, 2012

School Stuff, part 2

The kids brought home homework for the first time today.   Up until now, they've brought home some classwork to show us and some 'homework' for us to do (forms and such).  I find myself unnaturally excited, and had to force myself to let them unwind first, instead of diving right in.

I'm worried that I'm going to be one of those parents I've been specifically warned not to be, one who places so much academic pressure on their kids that even if they're perfectly capable of excelling, they refuse to even try.  As I think about it, I'm trying to figure out where this intense desire for them to do well at school comes from.  Yes, there's the expected culprits--how will it look if the teacher's kids flunk out, what will their future be like if they don't do well in school, blah blah blah.  But I can get over all of those (she says after one week).  I think my real issue is--I just want them to like school. 

They are going to be there a lot over the next 12 or more years.  As a teacher, I've seen how miserable that is for kids who aren't happy at school.  The kids who are happy fall into one of two categories--those with naturally sunny personalities, who would be chipper in a coal mine, and those who find learning truly interesting.  I was more of the latter, and even in the darkest days of Mordor middle school, I still remember enjoying several classes.  I was a geek, and picked on, and I somehow thought it was okay to pick on other people who I deemed even geekier than myself, so I also had a lot of self-loathing because I knew that wasn't really okay.  Kids that age can be seriously mean, and they also don't have the armor to handle it, or at least I didn't.  And I don't know why people think "social bullying" is just a girl thing--some of the most painful things that were ever said to me or about me were by boys with half-changed voices. 

But I liked my science class okay.  And I adored my English teacher.  And social studies was great fun, leading me into a history major in college.  I remember the Time Man of the Year (because that's what it was called then!) cover I made for Sir Francis Drake.  I remember tracking John Anderson's failed 3rd party bid in the 1980 election.  I remember reading Shakespeare, and learning public speaking, and spelling bees, and astronomy.  (I hated math, which is unfortunate, and led to a math phobia I'm just now getting over.)  I remember the computer lab that was installed my 8th grade year, and how we'd race for the chair in front of the Apple 11E (because there was only one computer per two kids). 

My point is that even when the social aspect of school was so miserable that I wrote in my (gag) 8th grade diary, "I have cried every single day this month," I still liked school.  Come to think of it, the same could be said of my college experience.  So that's what I really want for my kids--to like school, to feel like they're getting something out of it, to wonder what they'll get to learn next.  I want to pull out their homework and see if I can contribute to the sense of--look at this!  Look what you can do now!  What will you do next?  Wow!

Friday, September 7, 2012

School Stuff. Part one?

We just got the letters from the Beaverton School District with the kids' ELD test scores.  Not surprisingly, they've both been identified as non-native speakers and will be receiving ELD services.  I noticed that Sasha's testing says he is a beginner, as we expected, but Inesa's says she is intermediate--two levels up.  I wrote it off as a) Kindergarteners aren't expected to know much and b) she might have been more engaged in the test.

I put the letters down and came outside to enjoy the evening.  Inesa had been playing with the two neighborhood 11-year olds in the common area.  I realized they were playing "What time is it, Mr. Fox?" a game she's played and loved at soccer practice.  She taught the neighbor kids how to play a game.  One was trying to circumnavigate the rules, and she hollered, "Stop!  No hands!  Only feet!  Is more fun!" 

Maybe 'intermediate' is the correct description of her language level.

In further back-to-school news, Sasha got on the wrong bus coming home on the first day, and Inesa wasn't able to get on today due to some SNAFU.  They seem to like school, but it is still a major change in our routine, and I know how hard it is to spend the day having to listen and respond in a still-new language.  Inesa comes home quiet and prickly, and takes awhile to relax and warm up again, but is still prone to melt down later in the evening.  Sasha has been revved up and unpredictable.  We've been taking a lot of walks around the neighborhood to refocus, and we've gotten a handful of odd jobs done, as "make a repair" is our response to bad choices.  But it was only the first week, and a short one at that, so I'm still optimistic that we will settle into our new routine.

But what a bait and switch, eh?  For weeks and weeks, it's all sunny weather and playing in the park, and then all of a sudden, BOOM!  Get to work!  At least the weather is still fooling them lovely.