What you could see… and what I struggled with for a few weeks this month before being able to put it into words:
-A slobbery little boy who usually has snot crusted around his nose, goobers in and crusted around his eyes and slobber-crusted lint on his cheeks.
-A little boy who might use you as a prop to help him stand up… and whose hands are wet and cold and with sores between the fingers because they are constantly covered with his saliva.
-You could hear and watch him rock… over and over and over in a number of different ways, usually groaning in time to the rocks and with one or more fingers being chewed on in his mouth.
-When you approach him, he will barely interact with you, mimic you or make eye contact. You might be a prop for him to hold onto. You might be the bringer of food (which doesn’t have a significant emotional connection associated with it). You might just be and unwanted interference of his “stimming.” (self-stimulating behavior, like rocking and chewing his fingers)
-You could see a child who is almost three years old, but who has no verbal recognition and who crawls and wears diapers and is in almost every way a baby.
And you would wonder… how do I love this child who knows nothing of love?
How do I love this little boy who I cannot connect with?
And how do I even get close to him when he is so covered in sour-smelling slime?
What I see today:
Then I think about where he came from. Over two years in an orphanage. He had enough food, but it was only provided on a schedule and he was not held for feedings. He was alone. He was alone. He was ALONE. Have you had the honor of raising a newborn? The closeness and constancy of physical touch and the frequency of need that newborns have? And every little milestone that your little baby reaches… finding their hands, finding their toes, learning to roll over, learning to sit up, learning to crawl… each of these things brings with it fear and excitement and wonder to their little minds, experiencing things for the first time. I do not think that there was someone there beside his crib every day, every hour whose heart was filled with love and the desire to help him navigate the world as he began to experience it.
He WAS alone.
And now he is not.
Oh my heart, but he is a SON! He is MY son. He is here in my home every day and I am home all the time every day. When he cries, I come. When he is surprised, I respond. When he laughs, I laugh with him. And you know what? He’s starting to notice. He’s starting to realize that not only is he safe here, but there are people here! People who pay attention to him. Who respond to him. He’s never imagined a place where he wasn’t alone in his thoughts and games. But his world is getting so much bigger!
- So I see a little boy whose face I love to wash. I love to take his little snotty boy’s face and wipe it with a mother’s touch (which sometimes involves restraint – haha) and see that handsome little glowing face look back up at me.
- I see little wet hands that are learning to play with toys and which are not so insistently in his mouth. His chewing is less aggressive. And I love to dry his little hands a bit and hold his hands as I play his games with him. I help him stand and bounce, I help him walk here and there, I put toys in them and we bang on things together.
- Oh, it is sooooo good to see him begin to understand affection. Sometimes if I sit on the floor, he will come over JUST TO BE NEAR ME. My dear sweet child will crawl onto my lap or lean back against my shoulder or even bury his face on me for a moment, enjoying the warmness of loving touch. He loves to be tickled… and that he accepts touch… oh, it’s wonderful! My heart is so proud of my son for not running full speed away from something so frightening and intimate as touch and play.
- When he rocks, my heart is sad for the time it took him to learn it. But you know what? I am PROUD of him for his self-sufficiency. He could have broken so much more in his semi-isolation. But he didn’t. He pressed on and he coped. He has what it takes to overcome hard things!
- Oh, and you know what? When he came home, he had trouble standing up and sitting down again because his legs weren’t very strong. And he rarely crawled anywhere. He didn’t manipulate anything except a rattle banged against his own chin. Know what he can do now?
He bangs on his toy piano
He bangs on the big toy piano too, the electronic one that requires you to keep banging on it to keep the programmed song playing
He plays with drumsticks
He plays with swinging/dangling toys
He crawls ALL OVER the house
He goes to the bathroom and cries by the tub after dinner because he knows it’s bathtime, his favorite time of the day
He developed food preferences
He gets grouchy when he’s bored
He gets whiney when he’s hungry
He tries to get his sisters to play with him
He accepts bites of graham crackers
He can drink from his special straw
He makes eye contact with his immediate family
He initiates tickle time
He stands up in the middle of the room
He takes sideways shuffle steps
He is taking forward steps… no, he is beginning to WALK!
He has learned that he can move toys around the house – he’ll bring a toy all the way to the kitchen (not easy for a mostly-crawler)
He has discovered how fun it is to change things in the house… by clearing surfaces and emptying buckets of toys. (oh my, but this makes him laugh so hard!)
Yes, he is starting to laugh about things that we can see and understand too!
And he wants us around. He really does. He is starting to understand a little bit of what family means. And he likes it.
Oh my sweet boy, we love you too! Welcome home!!!
God has been so good to us. He blesses us with every good thing. Thank you Lord, for my husband and children!
Silly time in the morning:
(p.s. Videos of Jordan walking will be forthcoming – I have my camera ready today!)