Today marks four months. It’s been four months since Jack left China. It’s been four months of learning, adjustments, love and family. He’s changed a lot, a whole lot. Most days, when Jack is chasing Bria around the house it’s hard to remember that he used to be the little boy who didn’t want to walk across a room. When he’s showing Hanan that he has, “Moves Like Jagger” it’s hard to remember that he was probably rarely out of a crib. When he’s playing basketball with Arleigh it’s hard to remember that just four months ago, we were picking him up with only the few small toys we had sent. Jack has been an American for only 123 days. Speaking to a military family that deals with deployments and travel… 123 days is the blink of an eye. Using days like today to take a moment to remember, we can really see just how far he’s come.
Jack has gone from this…
his referral picture, one of the first ones we saw of a very thin, very scared little boy.
This picture really doesn’t even look like the same kid does it? He’s changed so much. He no longer feels like his bones are hollow like a bird’s. Instead, it feels like he’s made of lead when you pick him up. The pains in my back every night are proof. He no longer sits down after walking a few yards. He chases Bria around the park. Clearly, he no longer refuses to eat anything but congee. Thank goodness it’s been 123 days since I’ve had to look at a large tub on congee. Jack plays independently really, really well. He plays with the girls really, really well. He goes to Sunday school. This month he will start a bit at a time, until he’s comfortable at a Mother’s Day Out. His progress is staggering when I stop and consider where he was a little over four months ago.
A little over four months ago. Ray and I waited and waited in a Civil Affairs office in China. We watched as a tiny little boy walked in with no idea what was in store for him. Looking back now, I thought it was so great that we could make him giggle right away. Now I know that often a giggle is a sign of nervous laughter and he’s scared to death. He had no idea who the crazy white people were. He didn’t speak any sort of dialect or Mandarin. He tried hard to repeat anything anyone said. He held onto a little car phone that I gave him for dear life.
Today, he still only calls Tucker by name. He seems to have no idea that he can ask for something and it will appear, like milk. He will go to the potty if we take him, but he never asks to go. He does seem to know that we are who he is supposed to be with. He looks for us in a crowd and wants either Ray or I to pick him up if he has to walk in a crowd. He looks forward, believe it or not, to Bria coming home from school so they can play. He also fights with her like any brother would. I’m pretty sure he feels more secure with our family now even if he doesn’t have the ability to say so.
This week it’s been unusually warm. After a trip to the base, I decided to stop at park near our house. Jack is always a bit like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs when he’s at a playground. He wants to slide like Bria, but he doesn’t want to. He still followed her around and managed to do whatever she was doing. Then she started climbing bars like steps. He looked for me to help him. I followed him along. His legs were shaking as he tried to push and pull his way up. He was uncomfortable but kept going. By uncomfortable, I mean ill as a hornet. When he got to the top where he could slide, he was so proud of himself. It was a good reminder for me that he isn’t like every other three year old. His muscle tone is probably still not where it should be, but we’re working on it.
In four months the only thing that I am not amazed at is Jack’s speech, his vocabulary to be exact. I constantly wonder if there is something else I should be doing for him. I could say the same thing for the each of the girls too in some separate area they are floundering in. I didn’t expect for Jack to have the same vocabulary as Bria, who is only 5 months older. I did sort of hope that he would call me Mama or say Daddy or any one of the girls’ names by now. He has a referral for a speech evaluation. We’re hoping that helps. The other thing that I chose not to do when Jack came home was to sign. Hindsight being 20-20, that was maybe a mistake. He literally repeated every word in China. I thought he would just catch up, enough to ask for milk or potty by now. He hasn’t. I noticed the other day that he was repeating some signs that his Sunday school teacher uses. It’s been a long time since we’ve had babies. All my baby signing books are gone and I am an old dog who can’t learn new tricks much less remember them so I’m no researching signing and hoping we can all start and it will help. Of course, part of all this is that there is a good possibility that no one spoke to Jack on a regular basis. He is a bit like a newborn in some ways, just be introduced to language. Hopefully, we’re well on our way to playing catch up.
The last four months has been a roller coaster. Most days are really good. Some days, mostly because Jack can’t communicate or shots or eye drops or well doctors are not so great. For a family that is always going, it’s hard to remember to stop and slow down for Jack’s sake. That has been good for us. We have been forced to find the balance even with the holidays over the last four months of what we can and can’t do. Slow isn’t always bad. Some times I’m tired of scheduling and records and begging for appointments but I am well aware that it could be worse. Best part is every night, I tuck in a little boy with a huge grin on his face as he says his prayers. It is so sweet, I really need to get a video of it. I can’t wait to see how much change the next four months have in store for us.