I've been thinking that I want to write about the things happening now at the beginning of Year 2 with Lucas and how they are different from the things we dealt with a year ago or over the past year. I also want to note things this year that I think may change and evovle over time in years to come.
Bits and pieces were coming together but still there was a lot of chinese being spoken. He used a lot of pointing, or trying to show us with his hands or actions what he wanted. He would ramble about things as if we knew what he was talking about with scattered words in Chinese, but many times the information was sketchy and we were guessing.
Absolutely No more Chinese. He turned his back on it and didn't want anything to do with it many months ago. If someone speaks it he just looks at them and has no idea what they are saying. Recently we talked about using Rosetta Stone Chinese and letting him re familiarize himself with his native tongue, and he was open to it. He listed a handful of words he remembers the other day. (spelling?)
Wa Ai ni=I love you
I reminded him of a few more:
Moto che= motorcycle
Gong gong Che= Train
He is less resistant to relearning Chinese now. The truth is, I don't think he had a really great understanding and mastery of Chinese anyway. Even in China, native speakers had a hard time understanding his words or the way he put them together sometimes.
Regarding his mastery of English, it is pretty good. But, there are a few "hinks" in it still. It is understandable to most people most of the time, but now, because he speaks it so fluently, the little things can be a hang-up for people talking to him that don't know him. He figures it out and clarifies it most of the time by himself.
He has a little thing he has carried through into this year that he actually made up.
"Ya' cou' ya' "----he uses it in place of "can" or "could"--for example
"Ya cou' ya go to the store." instead of "you can/could go to the store"
I've been correcting it recently and yesterday I found him launching with it and stopping himself and correcting it.
His sentence structure still needs some work.
He still confuses "he/him with she/her". For some reason that is still a sticking point for him--referring to girls as "he" and boys as "she" but sometimes getting it right other times wrong.
I think as he begins reading more and more, it will improve. The main thing I want to note as we enter this 2nd year is he still has some fine tuning to do. Although he functions fine for the most part.
He didn't want anything to do with books. He didn't even want to look at them. I was so saddened by that. I get it. He didn't understand anything, but I'm such a "read books to your kids" kind of gal. It just broke my heart in the early days/weeks.
He loves them. We read every night before bed. We are still in books with pictures. And of course the obsession is Firetrucks/Police stuff. He went through many weeks of loving simple books like Clifford, Barenstein Bears, etc. He loves Franklin the Turtle. And Peter is trying more and more to read our huge volume of Classic Winnie the Pooh. But, he doesn't always like it. The language is not real straight forward in it, so I think it's hard for him to understand some of it. The cool thing is he is paying attention to the stories and asking questions and following along with good attention. Whew!
Learning in School
(August was when we started home schooling)
Ugh! Can I just say the beginning months of home schooling were soooooo frustrating both for him and me. It took until December for him to even master the alphabet.
Discipline wise--he was a terrible student (self proclaimed) in China and he attempted all the tricks of the trade with me too. We fought. I won't even try to deny that. He wanted to play, be the boss of the whole thing, and just struggled with "sitting" and learning at all. I couldn't read ANY books on topics like science/history to him because I think the language and ideas were just so foreign to him. All the things we learned about science or history topics have primarily been "hands on" or "experiential". We talked about stuff a lot, did shapes, colors, numbers, letters for months. But, that was all he could handle.
I realized in those first months that he was seeing English letters like Chinese characters. A=Apple...literally. But, then I'd show him A=Alligator. So he would just say "A" then the whole word "Apple"--as if it were a character in Chinese. Getting the idea of "sounds" per letter was tough.
He is finally reading small books and mastering letters have sounds. We are not "breezing" through it but he loves the fact that there are a few small books he can read.
I'm talking about books like this:
"Cat" ; "Cat sat"; etc.
"Tag"; "The rat ran."; "Can Cat tag the rat?"; "No, the rat ran and ran."...etc.
He came recognizing and able to write our numbers. But, of course needing to know the language of our numbers. I remember him stuck for days on "15". He would skip right over it for some reason.
He can skip count by 10's, 2's
He struggles with the transition to the next "10" when counting up to 100... 29...30 or 49...50, etc.
He is doing just simple math. But we switched mid year to the Math U See program. That has been Awesome for him. However, I do notice sort of strange gaps. We went through all the "plus one" facts. Then, onto "plus 2" then onto "Plus 9" and "plus 8". When we come back to "plus 2" he just guesses. He can do "plus 8 and 9" in his head without blocks but "plus 2" zip...right out the head. Not sure what that is all about. It's always the "plus 2"
But, this is what I've noticed about his learning process over this school year. Once he has an error or gap in his head about something he cannot shake it or relearn it for days...or weeks. He holds tightly to whatever he has learned--right or wrong. And retraining his brain--well, let's just say there are often tears and fights over it. (not me, but within himself--which then gets taken out on me, but that's another story)
I'm not sure "when" the firetruck and police car obsession started. It seems like right away. But, it hasn't changed much. Still a complete and total obsession...
We have a ton of toys related to the topic.
Could not just "play" at first. Everything he wanted to do was "real" life stuff like washing the car, or doing dishes, or pounding nails, or taking toys out and lining them up and then putting them away--very neatly, but still not playing with them. He did this for weeks. And every time we'd sit down to play he would walk away or change what he was doing. I think the turn around for him didn't come until around September after his surgery.
He loves playing pretend. He lines up police car and firetruck scenarios all over the house. We are learning more about board games, etc. But, he really doesn't have a lot of patience for them. We are trying to teach him that not everyone that comes to the house or is on the playground, may want to play police officer and be handcuffed. Again, trying to get him to think "outside" his own box.
He obsessed over "Buddy" movies--the Disney dog that does all kinds of sports--for a long time. Then he began mostly preschool shows.
He loves "Emergency" but we have started to reduce the more "intense" t.v. and required him to watch more "sweet" shows. He went through a real phase of loving "Calliou" and "Barney" "Kipper" and other preschool type shows. He still likes them, because they are very understandable and easy to grasp. But, he will watch full length movies now and understand them and be able to talk about them later. Sometimes he has a hard time identifying the difference between "real" and "pretend" on some of the shows.
We've also reduced the "amount" of tv for the most part. Unfortunately, I do have to admit he has watched a lot more t.v. than my other 2 kids. But, I really think he has learned a lot from the shows he has watched.
We started out with some very mixed up sleeping arrangements. Often at the beginning we would lay down with him because he was scared being in a big room all by himself at the end of the hallway when all of us had doors closed and it was quiet. For 9 months we attempted a wide variety of sleeping arrangements including him coming into our bed or starting off in our room many nights. I read things about "co-sleeping" that is suppose to be good for attachment. Well, that's all well and good to an extent. And maybe it did contribute to his comfort with us. But, 9 months into that arrangement...Peter was about done with it. So we began the challenge of him laying down at night alone, etc.
Most nights we still read stories, pray and lay with him for a few minutes but then get up. Almost every night he wakes up. We are not sure why. He doesn't have nightmares. We've never experienced what some people call "night terrors" or nightmares with him at all. But, his wandering at night has been a challenge. He goes in search of someone to climb into bed with. It sounds so cute...but, really can get tiring. He will crawl into bed with Isaac or even our guests if they are here.
So, now we have a light in the hallway near his room. It is on a timer. It goes on at 5 a.m. If he wants to climb in bed with us at that time, he can (although most days we are waking up at that time). I think we finally have him in a place of staying in his bed most of the night until that time. This could change next week. He sleeps with his door open.
He's always been a pretty good eater, but the first days/weeks/months he still really wanted me to make his favorite Chinese flavors--like soup, noodles, congee, fried rice, dumplings. He never liked cookis or much bread. Not a huge fan of cheese. He never was a food "hoarder" like many older adopted kids are. We think he was well cared for.
He still likes those foods. They are still "comfort" foods to him and his "go to". Noodles of any type with anything are his favorite. He LOVES Pho which is actually a vietnamese soup, but he begs for it. For the most part he eats everything and eats a lot of it. He does not like brocolli or mushrooms. He loves spagetti and pizza. Does not like cookies (except oreos). If food is slightly over cooked or grilled and has a little "dark" mark on it, he questions whether he should eat it or not.
Overall, he really wasn't a huge problem, but when we had meltdowns, they were ugly. I remember the first all out meltdown and how much it freaked me out and how ill equipped I felt. I didn't respond the best I'm sure. But, when a kid's whole demeanor changes and he turns into almost a "creature" before your eyes it's a little freaky.
He had no sense of behavior/consequence or logic. It was always "our fault". He had no self control. Going through the day you might never see this in him. But, if he wanted something and we said "no" it was ugly.
Strong-willed would definitely describe our boy. still.
He still has the same issues, but with the development of language, consistent discipline, and self-awareness evolving, we get through things in a more civil way most of the time. There is a lot less of the physical responses of hitting, kicking, biting, etc. Very rare for that stuff to happen. But, he still is very stubborn and now he is playing around with sassy words. "Dumb, stupid, hate" etc. I'm hoping this phase flies by rapidly because in the middle of a grocery store it is just as offensive as an all out meltdown in the aisle. Especially when he yells it at the top of his lungs. It's really toddler behavior and I remember Isaac doing similar things. Recently, I have found diffusing it with laughter or tickling to be very effective. Or to take him away from the table at a restaurant where he is being obnoxious and not giving him the audience he is seeking.
I do have to say, his whole demeanor is much more relaxed and reasonable this year. Communication makes a HUGE difference. And he is learning what it means to be in a family.
I feel like he came to us not having a clue what "love" meant--understandably so. Not having a clue really what "mom" and "dad" meant. "who are these people and what are they trying to do?"
"What does it mean to have a brother?"
He has some pretty clear definitions in his head, but is still learing. He has always been very affectionate and remains so. I like to say he has a "Passionate" personality. He loves to cuddle with us. He loves to have his back rubbed/tickled. He does NOT like being alone.
As we enter this year, there are a few rough edges that we are working through, but this boy has come so far. I think about where we were and where we are and how much he has relaxed and become a part of our family. We can have conversations and feel understood-both directions. He knows that when I say there will be a "consequence" it is something he may want to reconsider (I never thought he would "get" that a few months ago).
I looked at him the other day as I was having a conversation with him and realized how far he has come and that he was understanding me and how thankful I am for each day with this boy. I wonder what he will be like as an adult and what issues he will carry with him. I wonder if there will be complete and total healing of his little heart from all he has been through. I know that healing can only come through prayer and the Power of God. So that is what I pray for.
He still has some rough spots we need to work through. But, wow! He has come so far already!
We love you boopski!