Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Boys and Vehicles

D is crying because airplanes go faster than buses. He stomps upstairs to find something that goes faster than a plane. He comes back with a race car. A laughs at him, causing more sobbing. I look up passenger jet plane speeds: 500-700 mph. I look up Bonneville Salt Flats racing, which eventually leads to a video of this car. 763 mph. Crisis averted.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


When our boys had been with us for ten weeks, it was already clear that A was ready to go to school. It was also clear that D was not.

D and I spent almost every waking moment together for eight months. And then he was ready for school. Not full time, but a gradual easing in.

This month I began to investigate nearby preschools and I found one that we both really liked. Me because the teachers seemed happy to be there and engaged with the kids, the kids were a diverse mix of ethnicities, and the space was big and bright, and D because there is a bus-shaped play structure out back with REAL TIRES.

He started preschool this week. Just two mornings a week, from 9:00 to 12:30. He LOVES it. He is SO excited to be going to school. The first day there were two special guests - a science teacher and a nurse talking about toothbrushing - and he learned about volcanoes and proper brushing technique as well as the letter Q and pandas. On Thursday he learned about dinosaurs and made fossils out of clay and drew lots of vehicles. I am so proud of him. That first day he was so brave when I dropped him off and so happy about his day when I picked him up. Best of all, he is proud of himself, that he has entered the realm of school-goers. He is officially a BIG BOY.

The first day of preschool for me, on the other hand, was pretty hard. It was way too quiet at home. I have gotten so used to hearing about imaginary vehicles all day long that it has become part of my normal background noise. I made the mistake of using those first few hours to myself to begin investigating job options and completely stressed myself out. The second day of preschool I did much better because I got out of the house and ran needed errands to stores I know D doesn't like.

Now on the weekend D is sort of flipping out, with lots of yelling and continuous jumping up and down. And I'm thinking about how to best make use of my time to myself. I'm sure in the next few weeks we will both settle into our new routines.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Like many families adopting from Ethiopia, we don't know when our sons' birthdays are. On paper A turned six this summer, but he is likely older. On paper D turned five this summer, but he is likely younger. The pediatrician and the dentist both thought their legal birthdays were off by a bit, but by less than one year. So we decided to celebrate A's birthday six months early, and D's birthday six months late. This will make them be two years apart instead of one (anyone who has seen them can tell you that they are at least two years apart). We are keeping their legal birth dates, at least for now, because changing them by less than a year would be hard, and would require letters that their health care providers would be reluctant to write. But we are now referring to A as seven years old, and to D as almost-five years old. The boys know that their "important papers" list their birthdays in the summer but they know that their papers are not accurate.

We celebrated A's birthday this month. What was going to be a small celebration ended up growing to 19 kids and their accompanying adults in our little house, and this was with no school friends here. We invited the kids from our street and from the park, our usual playdate friends E, J, and M, and friends from the Ethiopian church. It was a lot of fun. The kids played, we had pizza, there was a treasure hunt, and there was cake. Simple and happy. A loved it.

D had a hard time both with the attention A was getting and with all the noise and people. His birthday celebration will be much smaller.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God and Jesus

We are not remotely religious but Christianity is all around us and I decided it would be good for my boys to have at least a nodding acquaintance with God and Jesus. This was one of my projects for December.

The Christian god was hard to introduce. I couldn't find any children's books that presented God in an age-appropriate story kind of way. The books that had stories were super violent - rivers of blood, dead children. The books that weren't violent assumed the reader thought God was real and didn't give any information - "God made me, God loves me" doesn't explain who God is to someone who doesn't know.

So I decided to introduce some friendlier gods, and we got books of African and Greek mythology and read those instead. We talked about how people long ago didn't know much science and told stories of gods to explain the things they didn't know. After a few of these books A concluded that a god was somewhere between a superhero and a magician. I couldn't think of any reason this definition was wrong, so we went with it.

For Jesus, I found a book that focused on his birth. D got a little fixated on King Herod and it became more a story about a king who didn't want anyone else to be king. I told him King Herod was real but he didn't really have all those babies killed (I researched this to be sure). He eventually asked what Jesus did when he grew up and I told him he was a carpenter and a teacher who told everyone to be nice to each other.

I told the boys about the original December celebration of the solstice and the origin of the Christmas tree. I told them how later people chose December as the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and that for some of our friends and neighbors, Christmas is about Jesus.

Now D likes spotting manger decorations when we're out walking the dog and yelling, "Jesus!" at the top of his lungs.

Interestingly, none of our conversations about God or Jesus triggered any kind of memory of church or teachings from their early life.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Post-Christmas gratitude

  • visiting with family and friends in Virginia
  • first snowball fight
  • my mom coming and staying for five days to entertain the boys and give me a break
  • a smooth transition for A back to school
  • D regaining his sanity, stopping the repeating loop, and going back to just talking all the time