Thursday, July 14, 2005

Michael ANIMALU day nine

[this takes discipline.]

Dear Michael,

you've gone swimming with the kids every day since Sunday. Yes you actually went into water! You have even put your face underwater a few times. You have tried cherries, biscuits, my birthday cake. You told a joke: Why was the broom late to work? It overswept. We've caught you smiling on several occassions, especially when you and Katie play tricks on Zack!

You have fallen in love with the kids' Pixter, playing the cartridge games over and over and over again. You have taken lots of alone time and lots of play-together time. You have gotten a few mosquito bites. I have a feeling that you don't like bugs.

We have played backgammon a couple of times. You haven't quite gotten the hang of it, but you like playing, and that's all that matters.

You generally are not willing to try new foods. This morning we put orange juice in a blender and added cherries to it. You liked putting the cherries in and watching them get chopped into the OJ, but you wouldn't try our new concoction. You even tried to tell me you didn't like cherries. BZZZT. You do like cherries. Then you told me you didn't like orange juice. BZZZT. You've been drinking OJ. But the two mixed together? Nope. OK with me.

You have an interesting word for "undershirt" which I've never heard of before and can't think of now. You've never heard the word "undershirt" before, either.

You hate not knowing where your bathing suit is.

You have a nickname but prefer to be called Michael.

You still don't like to be asked a lot of questions. You still don't know where your wallet is.

I can't believe you've already been here nine days. I hope you're having a good time. We've loved having you stay with us.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Michael ANIMALU day two

Dear Michael,

You spent more time outside today. Hurray!! Strangely enough, so did I. Interesting match-up. You, Zack and Katie all played in our back yard for a while. Later on, Liz took you all to the school playground up the street while I stayed home and worked in the yard. Then you all came back and had lunch and ice pops. It was neat seeing you outside with a red ice pop in your mouth.

I invited you to come smell the rosemary and sage bushes. You seemed a bit interested. During breakfast I had invited you to try using a grass trimmer, and you seemed interested then... but later on you changed your mind.

What Liz and I keep reminding ourselves and the kids is that while the four of us have one new person to get used to, you have four new people, a new house, a new state, a new everything to get used to. I can't imagine how overwhelming that would feel.

You are to me like a detached observer, very interested in knowledge, reading, learning, counting and playing games... but not outwardly curious. You've been playing with the kids somewhat but not really interacting with them... perhaps it takes too much energy to do that? Or maybe you're nervous? or not trusting? It's hard to tell, but I don't mind. You'll make your own way through the whirlwind of energy that is our home, and if you don't want to be put on the spot then I certainly won't put you there. Rather than try to figure you out, I think it's best to knock gently at your thick wooden door once in a while and wait to see if you'll open it a crack. Certainly the crowbar technique wouldn't be appropriate or fair, plus I think it would only drive you further inward.

You don't have to speak if you don't want to. I have an innate need to connect with people that is tempered by an equally-innate need not to connect with people... so I spend most of my time in ambivalence, bouncing back and forth between connecting and not. So from the outside looking in you might not know where I'm at. But you should believe that I understand your need to remain detached. I just wish I knew if you were having a good time.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Michael ANIMALU day one

Dear Michael,

Welcome to our home in Northern Virginia. I really hope you like it here. You arrived today by bus from NYC... I think I overheard one of your fellow passengers saying you all got to the Port Authority at 7:30 this morning. I've known you for about five and a half hours and I already believe you are the bravest kid I've ever met. Can't imagine getting on a bus at age 7-going-on-8 by myself with other kids I don't know to travel roughly 400-ish miles to some place I'd never been before or to stay with people I'd never met. Oofah. That takes trust.

I assumed you'd be pretty scared when you got here... when you got off the bus you were pretty reserved and quiet, choosing not to make much eye contact. That's understandable. I do the same thing when I'm feeling out of place or afraid of not being accepted. Perhaps that's what you were feeling, or perhaps you felt something else. I also found myself wanting you to like me and realized there wasn't much I could do about that. We all have had so many questions for you, and it didn't take long to realize that you weren't interested in answering questions. That's understandable, too. My hope for you is that you'll be willing to ask us some questions now and then, and I hope you will feel like it's okay to do that.

After we had lunch and drove home, Zack and Katie showed you all their toys in about an hour. You liked the Hulk Hands immediately, and pretty soon you and Zack were going at it. That was the first time I saw you smile, and I have to say you have a very nice smile.

Liz and I thought that you might spend more time playing with Zachary since he is also a boy and only a year younger than you. When I came upstairs just before supper tonight, you were playing Strawberry Shortcake with Katie on the floor. Surprise, surprise! Later when I wanted to join the game, you decided to sit it out at first. Later you wanted to spin the spinner for me and flatten my pieces down on my playing card. That was nice.

During supper I asked you a question while you were chewing, and you held your hand up, firmly but politely, asking me to wait.

Then I asked you to play snakes and ladders. You had never heard of that game, but you picked it up very quickly! You won the first game and came in second the second time around. You were very focused when you played, and you took your time. I liked that. Also you were a good sport when you didn't win. Your impatience showed when Zack was fooling around instead of playing. Were you really impatient or was it something else?

Liz just put you all to bed. You chose to sleep in Zachary's room tonight instead of by yourself in the basement. You surprised me again there. I thought you would want some alone time.

I'm looking forward to the next two weeks! Hopefully it won't go by too fast.

Post the First

W00t. Thus begins my foray into the strange new world that is blawgin'. Dear God: please give me something to write about. No wait... this is supposed to be one of those Test Pls Ignore posts. Right. Ignore away.