Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day one at home

April 3 2010

Our first day full day home with our new sons was quite the rollercoaster. Like a rollercoaster, it was fun, in spite of the sometimes scary ups and downs. First of all, I had trouble with Austin, our bio 14 year old son. If you know Austin at all, you know that he is a complainer. No matter what anyone says or does, he always can find something negative to say. I woke him up at 8am, and that started the first crisis of the day. I didn’t want anyone to sleep-in too late because we need to get back on US time, which means an early bedtime the first few days. We headed out at 8:30am to pick up Luke (the dog) and Cheng (our exchange student). Austin complained and had attitude the whole ride. I pointed out the school to John, and Austin corrected my lousy Chinese accent, using his most sarcastic voice. When we got home, I told Austin that I decided to switch his room with Cheng’s room (to give the two boys that are sharing, Austin and John, both age 14, a room double the space), and Austin had his first real fit of the day. He didn’t want to move his stuff, and he certainly didn’t want to share a bed (queen-sized) with John. Ok, we will bring in a second bed (twin-sized) for John, since the room is three times bigger than Austin’s original room. Cheng, bless his heart, was totally upbeat and positive about moving into the very smallest bedroom, and he got right to work. With Austin, lots of arguing ensued, and at 10:20am I called John, Connor and Ben to head out the door to Tae Kwon Do while Austin stayed home to re-arrange rooms. John was silent and sullen the entire car ride. I did notice that John did snag the front seat though. Both Ben and John watched Connor intently during the hour Tae Kwon Do class. After class, Connor asked John (in Chinese) what did he think of the class. John simply ignored Connor. Connor asked again; John refused to respond. Sigh. This will be a long day, I can tell already. After Tae Kwon Do, we stopped at Tops to get a few groceries. John asked me to buy Cola (Coke) and I told him no. In our home, children don’t drink soda; I spend way too much money on their teeth, so our children drink milk or water (unless it’s a special occasion). That did not go over well at all. John pouted and sulked. When we arrived home, I was pleasantly surprised that John did help unload the groceries without being asked, and Cheng put them all away. In the meantime, Austin still had not finished moving his stuff into the larger room, and we’d been gone over 2 hours. Another big sigh. I go upstairs, yell some more, and get the task done finally. I decide that I had better unpack our suitcases, and I sent the boys all go outside to play. We were very lucky that the weather was unseasonably warm. In fact, it was a record high of 86 degrees! The boys dragged out the water guns, and for the first time in several weeks, everyone was happy all at the same time!! Even Cheng joined in the water war, and my vision of a big, raucous family was briefly fulfilled. One thing I haven’t mentioned is David’s frustration with Connor. Connor has regressed several years in age since adopting Ben. For instance, Connor has a newfound interest in matchbox cars, and he needs to relearn some basic rules, such as we don’t run in the house. We both know that playing with a six year old is part of the problem, but we also know that Connor was the baby of the family, and suddenly he’s the big brother. A little attention-seeking behavior is not uncommon when a new child arrives in a household. Austin, on the other hand, is trying to exert his independence. Sharing a room has never been a problem for Austin. In fact, until a few years ago, we kept trying to put the boys in their own bedrooms and they kept sneaking into each others’ rooms during the night. We gave up, and put them back together in a room (and made the extra bedroom an office). Suddenly, now Austin is complaining about his lack of privacy. I told him to get over it; he’s a member of a big family and we all have to share a bedroom, including me! I pointed out to Austin that he’s lucky that our house is over 4000 sq. feet, and he has lots of elbow room, in spite of having five children in the house. I know lots of big families who live in smaller houses. At 3pm, the big boys (Cheng, Austin and John) decided to bike into town. Hooray!! Have fun, don’t get hit by a car, and here’s some money. Go for it! Whew. If they can do an activity together, the three big boys, maybe John and Austin will be able to bond. Connor and Ben also went outside to play, and I started dinner. At 6pm, we all sat down to our first family dinner. I had to rearrange our “spots” for eating because Ben needs to be next to an adult. As I’ve mentioned before, he is a picky eater, and he has the table manners of a 3 year old. We said our prayer, ate, and went through our normal “good thing” and “bad thing” conversation. We have a tradition at the table that each person says their one “good thing” that happened during the day, and then their one “bad thing.” Austin’s bad thing is that he had to come home from his Aunt and Uncle’s house. We have always had a hard time with Austin’s behavior after he stays at their house. They buy lots of junk food, let the kids stay up all night and sleep all day, allow endless gaming (and rated M games!), and basically have no rules or structure. It’s like a paradise to our kids, since it is the exact opposite of how we live. Since the kids were little, we would spend a week getting them back to normal after a weekend at Linda and Victor’s house. Here we go again. After the English speakers said their good thing and bad thing, I asked Cheng to ask Ben and John to say their good thing and bad thing. John, at first, refused, but Cheng kept encouraging him. Finally, John said his good thing was the water fight, and his bad thing was the bike ride. John rode a bike that didn’t shift gears, and it was quite a workout for him. Ben said his good thing was playing. He didn’t have a bad thing. It was cute and Austin said that it reminded him of when we had our four foster children. Logan used to say, “My good thing is…, and my other good thing is…, and my Other good thing is…” He would list 10 good things, and he could never come up with a bad thing. He was almost six years old, and we simply adored him. Chasin, age 2 ½, would say the same thing for his good thing and his bad thing. He never quite figured out what we were trying to accomplish. Skylar would always say, “I don’t know.” Yep, even with five children in the house, we still miss our foster children and talk about them almost daily. For the 30 minutes of dinner, things were looking positive. Not too long after dinner, at 7:45, I called the kids up for bed. Austin had a major attitude, and I lost my temper big-time. We traveled 30 hours, had jet-lag, and needed to get the kids at least in the direction of bed. I told Austin that he could read for awhile (he has a book due for school anyway) and he still fought me. I really, really, lost my temper with him. He is not being the role-model I had hoped, that’s for sure. Five minutes after everyone grudgingly went upstairs Ben, Connor and John were asleep. An early bedtime was the right thing to do. Day one at home--

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