Friday, November 30, 2012

Turning a corner

Adults who meet our boys (even us, when we first met them) think that D is the outgoing, social one and A is the reserved one. But the truth is, D is the adult-oriented one and A is the peer-oriented one. When our boys meet adults, A has little to say but D is quick to grab hands, climb on laps and talk, talk, talk. When it comes to kids their own age, A quickly makes friends, while D clings to us, or engages in parallel play without really interacting.

Open House at A's school back in September was a proud evening for us. We walked through the halls of the school with A greeting and being greeted by dozens of kids by name.

I have been a little concerned about D because of the possibility of indiscriminate friendliness. He is incredibly charming with adults and older kids and almost too quick at making them fall in love with him, but often says, "I don't like kids my age." This has been a factor in our decision to keep him at home rather than enroll him in preschool. We wanted to be sure that he bonded to us more than to any other caretaker.

So I'm very happy to begin seeing D develop some peer relationships. Over Thanksgiving he had moments where he wasn't just playing next to his cousins, but actually playing with them. You know, where one kid starts a game, and the other kid introduces a new idea and the first kid builds on that, and there is that awareness that there is another person in the room who is fun and not just there to be an audience. Then yesterday he had the most awesome playdate with his friend M. They've played before, side by side, but each in their own game. Yesterday they were riding bikes in the basement of the Smith PlayHouse and they created a game for both of them. It was a super fun game that involved stacking tricycles and scooters into piles and then crashing into them full speed and yelling. Even the things they were yelling built on each other, with M starting with "yahoo!" and D picking it up and adding "whee!" and M picking it up and so on. And then they climbed on the roof of the toy train together, and built and knocked down block towers together. I think we are turning a corner and it makes me so glad and grateful.

 . . .

I am grateful for (a mishmash):
  • Thanksgiving with my whole family, 15 of us gathered at my brother's house.
  • six cousins all within four years of each other.
  • good planning that allowed us to intersperse family time with the train museum, connecting with another adoptive family, and meeting a real, live fire fighter.
  • that A moved smoothly back into his school routine after the holiday.
  • that D had only three days of extreme neediness before adjusting back into his routine (that sounds passive-aggressive, but it could have been a lot longer than three days).
  • that we can live on savings while I stay home with D and build attachment.
  • Mr. C, D's swim teacher, and Ms. R, his story time librarian.
  • A's school success.
  • homework time, which tells our kids that education is important more than anything we actually say.
  • blue skies and red Japanese maples, which do wonders for everyone's mood


  1. Wow! That's one long list of impressive milestones to be grateful for. So happy for all four of you.

    Just a thought, based on our experience with our kiddo like your D. i would argue that she actually has learned more about peer to peer relationships by being in school because she has had to practice it. Just this week we had a parent come up to us and exclaim that he wasn't sure what we were doing, but he was so impressed with how much she'd grown over the year. Last year she was all over this dad and it made him uncomfortable. This year, she just greets him politely and then runs off to play with her friends. The adults in a school setting can't spend as much individual attention with a needy/clingy kid because there are so many other kids to also pay attention to/work with. (Oh, and we also made it really clear to her teacher at the beginning of last year that boundaries was something we were working on and she was super supportive, and we were very explicit in our teaching to said kid as well). Of course, your attachment with D is the most important and you know him best. I am not questioning your approach in any way, just offering a different perspective based on our experience.

    1. Of course, D will best built peer relationships when he is with peers every day. I guess I see putting him in preschool as a "point of no return" decision. He would love preschool after an initial adjustment, I am sure, so if we decided it was threatening his attachment to us and he needed to come back home, it would be very hard. So better to wait until we are sure of his attachment and start him then, so he can continue on to kindergarten, first grade and high school (he says he's skipping a few grades) uninterrupted.

  2. Excellent stuff! Having lots of peer aged cousins rocks. And a real fire figher? My guy would go bonkers. So much growth going on, and it is such fun to see them actually play and interact with peers. Congrats.

  3. Interesting how most adults peg your kids. That must be most adults who don't understand the dynamics of older child adoption, because I would have described them exactly as you have. A didn't seem at all shy to me, just preferred interacting with and hanging with the other kids, as opposed to us big, boring people. And D is hard to resist -- he is very much a charmer. If I didn't know to watch out for indiscriminate affection I would think, "Oh, what a friendly little boy. Look, he loves sitting in my lap!" And yay for only a three-day adjustment period. Funny, three days was the norm with us. There must be something about that 72-hour period. Sometimes we got a one day honeymoon, followed by two days of "adjustment" to put it mildly. Lately we seem to down to a day. Or maybe we got a week honeymoon this week and this is our adjustment weekend.

    1. You're right, someone who had adopted an older child would probably spot the indiscriminately affectionate charmer immediately.
      About the 3 days of adjustment, the mistake I made was trying to "accomplish" other things. Next time I will set aside 3 days where my only accomplishment will be getting D readjusted.

  4. Those friendships will come with time, whether he's in school or not. I think you're right to focus on attachment with you and making you his only caregiver for now. That can only work in your favor. He is quite a charmer, so I can see where you're coming from. And three days is awesome...sometimes it takes us three days after a NORMAL weekend!

  5. Sounds like a really great corner was turned!