Feeling Familial

Four months.

One third of a year.

Approximately one hundred and twenty-two days.

I swear to you that the kid we have now is not the same kid we got on September second.

It’s funny because I feel like I still want to break it down like how the first week and a half we thought he was definitely not going home, and then the next six weeks we thought he was definitely going home, and then the next two weeks after that we thought he probably wasn’t, but then for another 48 hours we thought he probably was again but we weren’t sure, and then for about a week we thought he wasn’t, but then for the week after that we thought he might, and then we figured out he probably-wouldn’t-but-you-never-know and then after a couple weeks we thought ok, well, barring some freak thing (which this business TOTALLY traffics in freak things, FYI), he’s basically here to stay.

And in a similar vein, I keep wanting to kind of talk about it like how the first month he was here was when the baby was here and we were getting ready for him to leave, which I’ve basically kind of explored every possible angle of that particular experience here so let’s not do that again, and then he left, and all of that had a pretty major effect on how things were going in re: our burgeoning relationship and attachment to Mr. Toddler, and all of that could be likewise categorized and catalogued but I won’t bother just now. Time for a post that’s his own.

And then there was the timeline of just him himself, where like the first month basically was Trauma Month with an entirely new set of situations, rules, routines, people, settings, foods, words, toys, you name it, and him at a pretty tender age anyway as far as the figuring out of the various life experiences goes. And then the second month, right before the baby left (and I’ve mentioned this before) there was a dramatic shift where we suddenly just went out of crisis mode and into sorta kinda normalcy.

And then, right around the dawn of Month Three, there was, like, man, I like this kid, without even having to try to. I mean that sounds super cold and it’s not like there was anything remotely difficult to like about him (except for the Toddler part, and the Stranger part, and the Living in Constant Fight or Flight Mode part, and the My Heart Just Got Ripped Out part, and the Are You Staying or Not part, obviously none of which REMOTELY reflects on his personal adorability). And I thought to myself, you know what? It is quite easy now to imagine myself and this child being in a family together till death do us part.

Also, I just went through two quite difficult things: one being losing our first foster child, and two being taking in a non-infant with a very much mind of his own and integrating him into our lives (and us into his) in a fairly effective way, neither of which killed me, and now instead of knowing theoretically that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I know what it feels like, and dude I could totally do this again. Totally.

Because also? Worth it. Super duper worth it.

And then about a week before Christmas I made that step on the ladder that had started with Oh dear God there are still two and three-quarters hours until naptime what do I do what do I DOOOOO; and had transitioned to I have a certain number of tricks up my sleeve and ideas and activities that we have discovered that we enjoy and it’s not such a big deal to keep him reasonably distracted and content until naptime; and had then gloriously morphed into Actually he is quite fun and sometimes I laugh and kiss his face just because I want to, all the sudden, and he actually does the same thing back; and now, NOW, beginning just before Christmas, I find myself beaming with pride basically every time any new person meets him because he is incredible and bright, sweet and hilarious, just rambunctious enough to know that he’s got a bit of kick and a bit of spirit, (don’t worry, at least so far I have a bit more, so we’re good), creative and affectionate, athletic to the point of instilling a bit of trepidation into his spectacularly unathletic musician/bibliophile parents, etc etc etc.

Rather than spending the moments during naps and workdays and after bedtime trying to make sure every T was crossed, every I dotted, every sandwich made, every sippy cup washed, every oatmeal pack set out for maximum breakfast efficiency, every activity planned, so as to make sure things went smoothly… suddenly instead of trying to keep allllllllll the plates spinning, I found myself actually sort of looking forward to the next time we got to hang out and learn stuff together, and kinda chilling out because if he wakes up before me and I have to get breakfast ready, suddenly I can just be like “hey go play for a second” and it’s like, you know, fine. Not necessarily meltdown city, USA.

I think I am finally nearing that blessed place of just… living life, as a family. Not quite as much of the part of trying to anticipate every possible problem and trying to make sure every controllable factor is controlled so that he has a chance to feel safe and heal from the ones we had no control over to begin with.

I feel like I might even at some point soon just, you know, be doing what I do, rather than when someone says “how’s it going” having to be like “Well, on October the 7th he made a shift from this to that, and then on November 9th at noon I realized that this was different than that…”

Or is that just life with a two-year-old? Breaking it down all the time because it changes every two seconds? I mean, a month ago he had a COUPLE of two-word phrases. Now he’s saying things like “Baby Jesus was not a cowboy!” (ask Dane) and “I wanna show Daddy naked!” (maybe don’t ask Dane) and “I want Reesee hold the bubbles please!” etc etc.

Oh, how was the trip, you ask? Well.

No, that’s the answer. It went well. Like super well. He was a dream in the car and an angel at the houses where we stayed. (Well, in fairness, there were a couple Time Outs in the Estes Park house but by then we were on like Vacation Day 8 and I probably needed a couple Time Outs too.)

He played pool with the boys in the man cave. He played piano with Aunt Claire. He rolled in snow with Grandpa. He formed a lasting bond with Tamora’s dog Foot (whom he insisted on calling Feet). He rode the gondola with Reesee and Uncle Cary. He crawled up in various laps and said Please and Thank you and Excuse me and got JUICE which I am like so way too mean to ever stock and serve at our own house. He turned on lights! and turned off lights! with the twins to the ENDURING victorious mirth of all involved. He flew in his brand-new Authentic Superman Cape. He got soooooooooooo many presents (embarrassingly few from his own parents… we kinda figured we’d save the whole Big Christmas thing but the family all came through in a major way) and now has more trucks than a Texas highway. He had so much fun, we had so much fun; sometimes I didn’t even know where he was and that was fine, because he loved everybody there at BOTH families and the feeling (I’m told) was quite mutual.

So. Sorry for making y’all cry and stuff in the past. But there are good parts too. Unfortunately it started to get good right around the time when it started to get Holidays and I maybe haven’t been as good at sharing that part. It’s a chronic problem, ask my mom. Life is usually good, but when life is good, who has time for blogging anyway???

Posted in Fostering, Posts by Abbey

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