Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Final Pairing...Not Sure What Kinds of Thieves These Two Are!

Seth and Lizzie have an interesting relationship, and it has evolved considerably over the past 28 months of their being with us.

In the very early days, those first days home with the kids, we observed about Seth and Lizzie that they never spoke to each other.  They would, at times, echo each other's chants and little African-sounding melodies, but never speak.  We didn't realize until many months home, as we began to understand more of Seth's language barriers, that the reason they didn't talk to each other in those early days was because they couldn't.  They had no language in common whatsoever with which to communicate verbally.  The day was a very hard day for me...I felt so horrid for them.  What a loss, a grief all on its own, not to be able to communicate with one's sibling when everything else in life was so strange and new.  It was a little like parenting children who had been raised by wolves...although so not in other ways.

Despite not being able to speak with each other until they slowly began to acquire some English, Seth and Lizzie stayed in close physical proximity to each other, always, and Seth was very, very protective of her.  She totally knew that he would look after her and he did:  He watched over her and wanted to do the caretaking of her; he didn't eat until she also had food; he directed her with hand gestures; and generally maneuvered her about in a kind and gentle way; it was Seth that Lizzie wanted at first, when she was sad or had an owie and he would respond to her always, even if he was in the middle of one of his everlasting grief meltdowns himself.

It was a gradual process of allowing me in there to take on the role of parent.  Even once Seth was comfortable enough to 'allow' us to parent Lizzie, he remained watchful of her.  To this day, there's a part of him that looks out for her...and, in the past year, for Matthew as well.  There's a depth to his understanding of family that is unusual in a child of his tender age.  This loyalty and caregiving tendency of Seth's is something I believe Lizzie totally counts on...she doesn't always feel the need to use her own strengths and ingenuity to look after herself because she knows, deep down, that if I'm not around in the moment, she's always got Seth to look after her needs...and he will.  When she doesn't feel like doing something, she's quick with a little whine:  "Seeeeth, I need you to help me."  If she jumps into the van to go somewhere and hasn't bothered to bring the hoodie that I've asked her to grab, it's usually Seth who notices and reminds her to get it.  That kind of thing.  He's just watchful.

When Seth's heart finally dropped its wall of defendedness a number of months ago, and he was able to express his love for Geoff and me, that was a huge moment in other areas as well...something that also impacted his relationship with Lizzie.  As he began to relax more and more, one of the very clear ways we saw this happening was that he felt freer and freer to misbehave (without fear of consequences, etc) and freer and freer to express frustration towards his sister.  Today, he'll readily shriek at her to "stooooopp!!!!!" when she's exercising her mischievousness on him and he's even been known to administer a little whack to her when he's just completely exasperated.  It's been an interesting change to have to work with Seth on these new/different kinds of issues!

Seth and Lizzie usually play very well together.  Seth really has the advantage here because Matthew, more often than not, has a preference for playing with Seth than with Lizzie; and Seth knows that Lizzie will always play with whoever will play with her.  So Seth is often in the position of being able to choose who he wants to play with.  I think he understands this position of strength very well and uses it freely!

When he's playing with Lizzie, he's more often than not the one who is more in charge of directing their play.  But she's generally good with that, because she just wants to play (though this is changing a bit as she gets a little older and more assertive).  They have this way of chattering to each other that, to me, reflects a level of ease that comes only from having spent their lives together.  The other day, when Matthew and I came into the kitchen after completing his math work, Seth and Lizzie were both sitting at the kitchen table happily playing with her dolls; this is not an uncommon scene.

All in all, I'd say that Seth and Lizzie are very close, although Seth's increased relaxation level tends to make him a little less tolerant of her antics and although I see gender differences starting to creep into their areas of interests.

When, way back when Geoff and I were discussing the possibility of adopting two children simultaneously, rather than the more usual one-child-at-a-time, it began to feel very important to us that we bring two additional children into our family so that they would always have each other.  In hindsight, I am so very thankful that we chose this route, as I think they have both benefited in enormous ways from having the other in their lives.  I think that this will only serve them well in the future, as well, when they experience struggles and have questions about their identity and adoption-related matters.  Thank God they have each other, I have thought often.

More often than I think that, though, I think Thank God we have this unbelievable opportunity to parent these precious children. 

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