In the last three weeks we've gotten into a nice little routine. The boys have started going to camp at the neighborhood park on Monday and Wednesday mornings. It's a good chance for them to play with other kids and do little craft projects. D has been a little resistant about going, especially on Mondays, but when I pick him up at noon, he always has a big smile and says, "Fuuuun!" His high schooler "teacher" apparently spends hours with him on the monkey bars. A doesn't tell me what he does, but his counselor told me he's made some friends. So camp has been good.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we usually bike ride or take the dog in the car and go explore some of the area walking trails. Then the boys have swimming at 11:00, which they LOVE, and on Thursdays they have soccer after swimming. Friday mornings are free so we can do a more involved outing like to the Please Touch Museum, or we can play at home.
Afternoons we usually have some quiet reading time after lunch and then run various errands. I try to get some phonics work in with A. We also go to the library a couple of times a week.
On weekends Daddy is home! The boys love their Daddy time. We've taken them into Center City, to the beach, and to Maryland to visit family and friends and go to an Ethiopian festival. Weekends are also time for yard work and swimming at the Y.
I am really liking our new town. One of the reasons we picked this area was that there is a large Ethiopian community nearby. On Saturdays there is always a group of Oromo people at the pool. There's an Ethiopian boy in our boys' swimming class. We've run into Ethiopians at the supermarket. I commented to A that there are a lot of Ethiopians in the area and he looked puzzled and said, no, there are only a few Ethiopians. I guess it's a matter of perspective. He did agree that there are a lot of Ethiopians at the Ethiopian church.
I've been taking the boys to the Ethiopian church every couple of weeks. They hate it. HATE IT. While it warms my heart to see them rejecting organized religion, I do think it's important to maintain that link to their culture, and if we time it right, we just show up for the singing, which is very pretty. Anyway, it's not the religious aspect of it that they hate so much as the being around so many Ethiopians. I think it's confusing to them, and they might think that West Philly is actually Ethiopia and that we're returning them to Ethiopia. I'm not sure. Last time was a little better in that they actually interacted with a few people. I think it's been helpful to meet the little boy in their swimming class and the families at the pool and to see that they can speak Amharic to Ethiopian people while still doing something fun with us.
In terms of grief and adjustment, I feel that D's behavior has moved into the realm of a normal 4-year-old. A has generally been pretty happy, but his meltdowns have changed. Before he would just go limp and drop to the floor wherever he happened to be standing. Now it's more anger - kicking, pinching, spitting, trying to bite. I don't know if this is progress, but it seems he's taking more control of his feelings, showing that he's mad as hell instead of just taking it lying down (literally). We haven't yet learned to predict these meltdowns, but I'm hoping we'll figure out how to channel the anger in a healthy way. Suggestions from adoptive parents are welcome.
Language is developing very quickly. True, 90% of what D says is, "How many wheels (vehicle name)?" and "(Animal name) dangerous? (Animal name) sharp teeth?" but that's because he never stops talking and he only has so many things he knows how to say. A talks less but has more original sentences. Both have developed their listening comprehension so much that I can speak to them pretty normally in English. Both seem to acquire new grammar structures as they sleep. Early on A woke up suddenly knowing possessive 's, a few weeks ago D woke up knowing the auxiliary verb "do" and today D suddenly figured out Subject-Verb-Object word order.
Overall, I am so, so impressed with our children. I am impressed
with how they can take so many new things in stride. In the
last week they saw a clothes dryer and a houseboat for the first time,
and they were surprised and pleased and then immediately accepted them
as part of their world. I could tell them that I have a machine that
will change our dog into a cat, and they would believe me. It's pretty
incredible how open-minded they are.