Little man had a birthday a week ago! We were so excited to celebrate him and make a huge deal out of this milestone. Because we both had to work on the actual day of his birthday we decided to celebrate on Saturday. At first he was less than thrilled (or so he said, we are learning that the words he says usually isn’t what he is truly feeling, but a defense mechanism), but as we were walking through a store he said to a complete stranger “I get to celebrate my birthday on two days!” So truly, he was thrilled on the inside that we were making the day all about him.
We had decided one of his gifts from us was to pick out new bedding for his bed. We thought how fun for him to be able pick whatever “print/character” he wanted and know every time he looked at his bed that he had made that fun choice. So, we told him that we all were going to the store and he was allowed to pick out new sheets, pillowcases and a comforter…he was again less than thrilled. He said “I don’t want to pick out new sheets.” Wow…yet once again our idea of something that might make him feel special and included he was not happy with. But when we got to the store and got to the kids bedding aisle…he went crazy! He was so excited he wanted to get 3 or 4 sets and he just couldn’t decided. Now, just about every day he mentions something about the sheets that he picked out, or comments about something on the sheets, etc. It is amazing how a 6 year old tries so hard to shield himself from enjoying life and having fun and celebrating those special moments…why, we don’t know, but sadly we can only imagine.
We continued the day with another one of his favorites…Happy Meal from McDonald’s and 6 helium balloons and then Ryan cooked his favorite spaghetti and we had candles on chocolate cake for dinner.
He has taught us so much in the last 3 months and we pray that we can celebrate his 7th birthday with him also and see what else he can teach us in the next 12 months.
“Grief” can come in many forms and can rear its ugly head so quickly with just a word or something that might remind of the past. Little man has been dealing with a lot of sadness and missing his birth mom and grandfather lately. He has just recently become verbal about it and when we sit and talk about what he is thinking and feeling it is interesting to hear his perspective. With him being 5 he remembers so much, and we don’t want him to forget those good things but showing and teaching him that acting out and bad behavior isn’t appropriate when he is sad is an on-going challenge.
Try to imagine 5 years of your life just being snatched away in an instant and not being able to go back to those familiar places right now and have those familiar things and see your family daily; that is traumatic right there. I can’t even imagine. Everyone keeps telling us that those first 5 years are the foundation, building block, and formative days of a child’s life, so that “foundation” that he knows is completely different than what we have at our home. So not only is he dealing with loss, but also a 360 degree change from what he has known and in his little mind he most likely is thinking, will I leave this “mommy and daddy” and go to another set of “parents”?; that is so much for a child to process. It is no wonder that those thoughts and feelings of “grief” come out in his behavior.
We let him talk when he wants to talk about his past, we let him share with us the things he misses, etc., but we still are not the life he “knows”. He laughs a lot, he has fun playing, he gets along great with the kids he knows, he is very affectionate but still there is that part of him that is “grieving” but we will continue to love, protect and care for him even in those moments of “grief”.
He has impacted our lives so deeply in the short 50 days that we have had him in our home, we are blessed.
In 7 weeks…we have learned or been reminded that:
- we may never know what all is going through little man’s mind
- “things” don’t “satisfy” because there is always the thought that he needs something else
- we have so much to learn
- little man LOVES grilled cheese sandwhiches
- affects of rejection can rear it’s ugly head in the most unlikely ways
- I hate high-top sneakers with zippers!!!!!!
- support system is definitely needed and valued
- a five year old can get up with an alarm clock
- just plain tomatoes are a hit
- toothpaste all over the bathroom sink is the new normal
- remembering to flush the toilet is so hard! 😉
- when you drink something super cold, really quick you get a “freeze brain”!!!
- making up songs to sing means he is happy
- “homework” is more frustrating for mom than little man
- dad is amazing at helping him make his treasure box for school
- swimming is definitely a favorite
- his hair stands straight UP without gel
- Tristan is now “Christian” because Tristan is “too hard of a name to say”
- prayer warriors are so treasured
- baths with cold water is the only way
- the reward for eating lunch is “a fully belly”
- the county is very hard to deal with
- document, document, document
- 18 more weeks of parenting classes is too long!!! 😦
- stalling tactics at bed time can include literally ANYTHING
- whatever “dad” eats is what he likes also (seriously…even salad)
- in his opinion I have “big hair”
- hiding when he knows one of us is coming home and wanting us to find him
I am sure there are things I have forgotten but in a couple of months to be able to look back and see how much we have grown and changed will be fun! Seven weeks today…
It is truly hard to believe that just 6 weeks ago today we met our little guy for the very first time. It is hard to believe just how much we have learned from him and have grown as people. It is crazy to think that less than 24 hours after we found out he would be coming to our home, we became parents for the very first time and less than 24 hours after he was in our home he was calling Ryan “Daddy”. It has been six weeks of immense change for Ryan and I, having been married over 3 years and just the two of us in the home and only two schedules to think about, things changed OVERNIGHT! We have had to make changes and I am sure we will continue to make changes as we adjust and adapt to meeting the needs for little man, but it has been good!
Yesterday he started school, Kindergarten! He was so excited and had a great first day. He has an amazing teacher also that he talks about all the time, so we are excited about this new adventure for him.
Last night after a full day of work, school, working on getting into a good routine, I looked at Ryan and said “some days it feels like we have had him forever and other days it feels like we just met him yesterday”. We have definitely tried to establish routine because he thrives on knowing what is next, what is happening the next day etc. He knows that weekdays we have school, then play time, dinner, bath and bed. Weekends are not as much routine but typically include Birth Mom visit, errands (when needed), lots of play time, church, etc.
This morning after I dropped him off at school I got to thinking, I wonder how he feels? Does he feel like he has known us “forever” or just a day or two? Does he feel like this is “home” (even if just for a short time or forever)? What goes through his little mind? We may never know the answers to these questions, we may never understand what is going through his head, although at times some things he says and information he shares gives us a little more insight into what he has experienced.
Each day I try to remind myself to take each day one moment at a time as we have no idea what the next moment may hold.
There is so much to say, but it feels so hodge-podge just bear with me, this is definitely one those posts that makes sense to us but most likely will feel so “unconnected” to others.
Little man had some hard days at the beginning of the week but Thursday morning he woke up completely different than he had been, this was a HUGE answer to prayer. You see he is 5 (almost 6) and he remembers EVERYTHING it seems from what he has experienced in the past. So one small thing that seems insignificant to us can be HUGE for him. One emblem on a car reminds him of people that he loves but that he doesn’t get to see hardly at all anymore. One picture in a book can bring back a flood of memories, some good and some not so good. One trip in the car can make him remember trips in the past. One sighting of a dog that looks like his dog makes him reminisce about the dog that he loves but no longer sees. But the opposite is true also, he knows that in our home he has his toys, his bedroom, his familiar things that he knows and things that are his and he loves to be at home in the familiar space.
He has been with us for 20 days…that is all but we quickly established a routine and the week days are very similar each day and he thrives on that routine. He knows that Monday-Friday he goes to “school” for a couple of hours and then Ryan picks him up. He knows that on Sunday we go to church. He knows that the bedtime routine includes a song, Bible story, prayer and lots of hugs and kisses. We also want him to know that we love him and each day the decisions we make we are trying to do what is best for him.
Ryan and I were talking last night before falling asleep how much we have learned in the last 20 days about parenting and how much we have yet to learn but are thankful that we don’t need to know everything right now, but take things one moment at a time. People have said to us many times in the last 3 weeks they don’t know how we are doing it but to be honest we don’t know how to do it either, except by God’s grace and wisdom for each new moment. We never in a million years thought that our first experience as parents would be with a 5 year old, but God knew. God knew exactly what that would look like. Right now we have an overwhelming need that we didn’t foresee two years ago, when we made a huge decision but God knew and God has it completely under control. Do we know how He is going to take care of that need? Absolutely not, but He didn’t bring us to this point in our lives to just let us “hang out to dry” so we will trust knowing that His plan is perfect.
Our dear church family is doing a “Welcome to Parenthood” celebration and we are beyond blessed that they are celebrating with us this new chapter in our lives just as if he were our biological child, even though he is our foster son. We are thankful that the Lord lead us to our church only a year ago when we moved an hour away from our families and our familiar territory. Once again God had the perfect plan.
You see what I mean…complete mis-match of things but things we don’t want to forget and we want to be able to look back and remember.
Little man told us on Sunday that he liked Chicken Noodle Soup! I tucked that away in the back of my mind to plan to have some when the weather cools down but little did I know that Chicken “Noodle” soup would be served only one day later.
I have a very dear friend at work that is super sweet and we help each other out and just are a support for each other. She has been so excited for us on this journey of foster care. I have also met her mother several times and she volunteered to help me with an event last fall, she like her daughter is just so kind and genuine.
Fast forward to yesterday, she (mom) knocked on my office door and I was excited to see her it had been several months. She had purchased a couple of games for our little guy but she also had a large cooler in her hand…she had 4 quarts of soup and 2 quarts of spaghetti sauce. She wanted to give us some quick easy meals for those crazy insane days so we had something easy to prepare. She wanted to be a blessing to us. She wanted to support us in a way she was able.
I share this because she had NO idea that little man had just told us the day before that he loved Chicken “Noodle” Soup and neither of us had any idea that when Ryan picked him up from school that he had a fever and just wanted to lay around. But…God knew exactly what we could use, God used this sweet lady to be a blessing to us in a most unusual way…chicken noodle soup. Little man loved the soup for dinner and we have several more quarts for future enjoyment.
This was a HUGE reminder to me, that I can be a blessing to so many people…so often I don’t think I have enough to give, so often I am embarrassed because what I can give might not be “good enough”, but I just need to be a blessing no matter what, I need to find ways (no matter how simple) to help others. We never know what God is going to teach us through this journey and I need to be willing to learn and grown more than just in helping little man but also in every day life.
Remember in the Hot Potato post when I mentioned that after I got little man to give up the games in bed, he wanted to sing…well it just wasn’t as simple as singing one song.
I told him we could sing one song (he LOVES to sing) he reaches for my hands and holds them and picks Jesus Loves Me. But wait…let me go back and explain a little. On Thursday just him and I were in the car for a long period of time so I started singing “Sunday School” songs, he seemed to really like them and would start asking for them by name or give me a couple of words of the song and I would know which one he was wanting. We sang and sang and sang, but his favorite by far was Jesus Loves Me. So back to Thursday night…he reached for my hand and holds it and I told him he could pick which song, he picked “Jesus Loves Me”. We sing it (he tried to sing as many words as he knew), we finished that song and he says “just one more?” well I totally gave in to that cute face and beautiful brown eyes and I said okay, he picked “ABC”. After that one was finished I got up to leave and he wouldn’t let go of my hand and he says “can we sing Jesus Loves Me again?”, weak Momma caved, how could I resist?
This boy of ours has completely changed our home for the better! He is growing us in ways we had no idea, but it is so good! I am thankful to be his Momma if only for a short period of time or forever we will never forget the impact he has had on our lives so quickly!