When D first came to us, he couldn't carry on a conversation. I'd ask him what shirt he wanted to wear, and he'd tell me that crocodiles have big teeth. In fact, I remember the first actual conversation we had. We were walking by the grocery store and he asked if dogs could go in the store. I told him about guide dogs for blind people and asked him if he could think of any other dogs that could go in the store. He said maybe police dogs. I remember being very excited about having a real back-and-forth interaction with him.
When D first came to us, he had missed out on having his own special adults in charge of him during a critical period of his life. Part of teaching him how to be part of a family again was to make it very clear that we were in charge. I heard from many people (who were not adoptive parents) that I was too strict and too controlling. But it was what D needed. At the age when other three-year-olds are just beginning to separate themselves from their parents, he and his brother were having to figure out how to live first in one orphanage and then another. He needed the chance to go back to that time for a redo and experience not making any decisions beyond what shirt to wear.
Yesterday when I was checking D's homework, as I always do, he explained to me clearly and calmly that turning in error-free homework was my priority and not his. That the worksheets that are sent home each week are repetitive, boring, and not important to him. That for him, "pretty good" on these worksheets was good enough, and that if he made mistakes, he wanted his teacher to correct them and not me.
Now we have a new homework routine in which I am only helping when asked, and I'm wondering when my little boy got so mature.
Update: This morning D fought off some ninjas in the bathroom and then scored a touchdown, so that little boy is still around.