It went waaaay better than I'd expected...my first day alone with the three kids. It helped that I got up early and showered and did a few basic chores before I anticipated they would wake up; I also filled water bottles and little emergency cheerio containers, and packed them into the backpack in anticipation that we might have somewhere to go. A wonderful blessing was that all three kids slept in until 7:45 (the latest the younger kids have slept so far was 6:50), which allowed me to get even more done before they were up and about.
When they woke up, we did the bathroom routine (they had dry diapers!!), then went down and I made breakfast (cream of wheat, toast, fruit). We spent our usual hour or so at the table...you can tell that the two younger kids fit right right in because they're slow eaters, just like Matthew! While I cleaned up breakfast dishes, they actually played - played together...they haven't been that great at playing together yet. Then we headed upstairs, got dressed, made beds, brushed teeth. And it was 10:00.
I'd been debating whether or not to try to get an errand done yesterday, and when Seth A. asked to go into the makeena/car, I made up my mind to give it a shot. I got all three kids onto the toilet and then we climbed into the car - very eagerly on everyone's part. We headed towards the provincial Health office, so that we could register them our our health card - something we didn't get to last week and which I've been feeling some anxiety about.
When we finally got into the office, I was floored to note that, based on the number that we were given, we would have to wait for thirty people to be processed before us! I almost turned around and walked out the door right then. But then I thought - well, why not give it a try and leave a bit later if necessary? So we waited....for 1.75 hours before we made it to the counter for our fifteen minute chat with the clerk. I'd not brought any toys with me (silly me) but the kids were actually pretty great. The younger two stayed close, stared at the may people jammed into the hot room with us; we did a lot of running up and down the hall outside the office; we did bathroom breaks; and, most importantly, they nibbled at their cheerios. Finally, finally, we were next up. As we were waiting for our number to be called, Lizzie S. asked to be picked up - I was happy to oblige. A few minutes later, Seth A. asked to be picked up, but she wasn't ready to go down yet. I told him that he would have to wait a bit. Well, he did not like that. At. All. He suddenly bolted towards the door of the room, intending to exit. I put Lizzie S. down and asked Matthew to stay with her. I ran for the door (he hadn't even made it out; he was an easy catch) and, as I ran, I processed that I had just seen Seth A. turn around and see me put Lizzie S. down and he smiled. I knew that he knew that he was about to get exactly what he wanted - to be picked up. What to do, I thought in that moment. That's an easy question to answer for bio kids, but not so easy when it comes to how to deal with kids who are adopted and struggling to attach...especially to his new mother. I also had to factor in that this is a boy who can scream for a very long time, and we were in a public place and our number was about to be called. I decided that I've been a parent long enough that I could take whatever fallout came.
All of this went through my head in the two or three seconds it took me to reach him. I swung him up, made a light-hearted comment to him (which he wouldn't understand, but he'd hear my tone of voice being positive/cheerful), walked quickly back to where the other two sat, watching, and I plunked Seth down on a chair with another cheery comment. I then sat next to him, so that our sides were touching, and I picked up Lizzie S. again. Well, as anticipated moments earlier, Seth A. did not. like. that. He generally has an issue with Geoff or me picking up Lizzie S. when he has a desire to be picked up (and both kids, thankfully, love to be carried), and so he lost it. In the same moment that our number was called by the clerk at the front!
And that's how we got to the desk to have our medical card reissued: With Seth A. screaming at the top of his lungs. I put him on the counter in front of me and pressed him against my belly so that we had body contact and he felt assured of my presence, and I put Lizzie S. on the counter beside him so that she was touching me, too. Matthew graciously stood beside me and made the suggestion that if I could "get him to stop, that would be appreciated, because everyone in this entire room is staring at us." I told Matt that it was just fine, that we wouldn't be too long, and he was ok.
The only time I just about lost it was when the clerk (clearly rattled by Seth A.'s tortured screaming) told me that I should have brought additional documents. I told her that I had phoned the office just three hours before and had confirmed exactly what they needed to process our new card, and that I had brought those documents. She said that she needed some sort of proof, ideally airline boarding passes, that proved that we had landed. When I heard that, I pointed to my two brown children and said: "well, here they are...we landed." I suggested that we bring her supervisor in on the issue and, when she arrived, she too questioned boarding passes. I gave her a similar answer. She asked if we could come back with them. I said, in my nicest possible voice, while pointing to Seth A: "No, I don't think so. I have been waiting here for two hours now, and I have a child going through attachment trauma. I phoned the office this morning and confirmed what I would need, and I would appreciate if you could process the card." She answered that she would make an exception in our case and (with eyes mentally rolling) I said that it didn't matter to me how it got processed, just that it did. Three minutes later, our new health card was printed up with all three of my children registered on it.
I packed up my backpack and put it on, picked up a still-screaming Seth A., grabbed Lizzie S. by one hand and asked Matthew to hold her other hand, and I apologized loudly to the entire room of 80-100 people for the noise we had been creating. We were back in the car five minutes later.
Seth A. was still screaming as we neared home about twenty minutes later. Just then I spotted a bakery at the side of the road and it prompted me to think that the kids were probably really hungry, too...cheerios only do so much to fill the tummy, I'm guessing. I pulled in to the bakery, got the kids out (carrying Seth A.) and walked in, knowing that Seth A.'s favourite thing in the universe is dabo/bread. Sure enough, he took one look at the inside of the bakery, said "dah-bo?" in a questioning voice, and I said "yup, more bread than you've probably ever seen in your life, buddy," and I told him that he could pick whatever bun he wanted from the bins around the room. He understood immediately and ran around the room to survey all of the bins. Matthew and Lizzie S. did the same. After the buns were bagged (I got small cinnamon buns, too, cause all of the kids were ogling those!), I went to the deli counter and ordered eight slices of balogna (yeah, I know, crappy food) and we paid and left.
The kids were eyeing the food so intensely that I said ok, we were having a picnic in the car. Matthew got his siblings and himself buckled in to their car seats while I made sandwiches, and we ate right there. It tasted terrific! We then launched into the cinnamon buns and I must say that it was a pretty perfect little picnic altogether. When we got home, Matthew was desperate for a slice of toasted and buttered raisin bread (I don't usually buy any white bread stuff, but Matthew wore me down on that one while in the store), so the kids all had toasted raisin bread, too, and loved it. I hate raisins, but even I choked one down when Seth A. picked it out of his toast for me and handed it into my mouth. I figured after what he and I had been through together, I'd eat that thing if it killed me. It didn't.
Anyway, after they finally finished eating their white-bread feast, I put Lizzie down for her nap (a tricky thing to do because we don't ever let her or Seth A. fall asleep by themselves at this point, and I can't really trust the two boys to be alone together yet). When she was asleep, I sat in the family room with the boys - I turned on the tv for Matthew (neither Seth A. nor Lizzie S. will watch more than about two seconds of tv) and gave Seth A. a basket of toys to look through. That was an awesome forty-five minutes because I got to drink a cup of tea while being with the boys; it was a very needed break by that point. I was also able to download a bunch of pictures from my camera onto the computer (I finally found my cable yesterday), which is great because I can finally start posting some more pictures here.
After Lizzie's nap was over, I took the kids into the backyard for a while, which they loved. When we came back in, I oiled both younger kids down from head to toe with coconut oil (I neglected to do this yesterday and, sure enough, Seth A.'s skin had already started to dry out and turn greyish in colour), and let them all three run around in their underwear (kids all over the world seem to love that!). Somehow, a pillow fight got started between the boys. Normally, I'd be uncomfortable with a pillow fight that was clearly hard on the lovely fake plant sitting in the corner of the family room, but when I saw how both boys were suddenly laughing, I realized that this was a great bonding opportunity for them, and I let it go on. They went at it for close to an hour! And throughout it, they laughed and laughed and laughed! It was an awesome sight/sound. Lizzie S. tried several times to get into the middle of it, but she never actually liked being there and always came back to me...where we watched from the sidelines.
A good friend had dropped of a dinner for us last week, and so I pulled it out of the freezer and, when Geoff finally got home, we had a lovely lasagna and garlic bread ready to eat. It was a great ending to the day.
One note of interest. When Geoff got home, Seth A.'s behaviour immediately changed. He started to whimper and cry and, after a brief pick-up from Geoff, he went off into the library, where I found him crying moments later. He gave Geoff the cold shoulder for a little while, but then refused to be parted from him, even during dinner (he sat on Geoff's lap). He continued to whimper off and on throughout dinner (even while eating three helpings of lasagna) and we could tell he was priming for a big tantrum. Sure enough, after some rough-housing and playing with Geoff after dinner, he was ready to start screaming as we got him ready for bed. He wailed and cried for quite a while with Geoff in his bed beside him. I really think that Seth A. was very glad to see Geoff, but it was equally clear that he didn't know what to make of the fact that Geoff had suddenly showed up after a long absence. He didn't know anymore if he could depend on Geoff. It's going to take time. During the day, both kids asked numerous times about "Daddy?" I had looked up the Amharic word for office work early yesterday, and Seth seemed to understand - he even corrected my pronunciation. But it was when Geoff actually re-appeared that the whole thing seemed to really hit Seth. I wonder how he'll be today.
At any rate, that's enough of a blow-by-blow tale of my yesterday. But I really, really, really want to thank every person who prayed for us yesterday, and/or sent me comments or emails. I feel so very supported, and it's awesome. I totally think that prayer got us through yesterday as well as we did, and I'm grateful beyond words (well, I'm rarely beyond words, but that sounded good in theory!). I'm ready for day #2, and I will also treat you shortly to some photos I prepared last night for your viewing pleasure!