Overall, Zenebesh is doing amazingly well. I can't believe she's been home a month already. She started preschool this week! My Mom stayed with her the first day and for half of the second day, and even when this "transition period" is over my Mom will still be close by because she teaches Aaron's class in the room next door.
The attachment process is just that: A process. It takes time and lots of intentional bonding efforts but it is a beautiful thing to see develop. I was so excited this week because Zenebesh gave me a spontaneous kiss for the first time. She just wrapped her arms around my neck, kissed me on the cheek, then flashed a huge smile! The whole attachment thing can be hard for me as an older sister because I am definitely a "nurturer" and it is easy for me to fall into the mothering role. Especially after being in charge of so many little ones in Mexico this summer my instincts are to take care of kids, yet I know that I need to let go of that on some level and allow Zeni to attach to my Mom first.
For example, my Mom spends a lot of time feeding Zenebesh from a "bottle" (aka sippy cup), which is a really good attachment exercise for many reasons. Zeni loves pretending that she's a baby and for a girl who is normally very head-strong and independent, it is good for her to allow herself to be taken care of. However, she loves doing this so much that she will often run up to me with her sippy cup and say "Zeni, Kelsey's baby!" and want me to feed her. If my Mom is around I just redirect her and say "Zeni's Mommy's baby! Let's go find Mommy!" which usually works well. It's harder when my Mom is busy--I don't want her to feel rejected by my refusing to feed her so I usually resort to the art of distraction and try to get her interested in something else.
If you read the first few posts after Zenebesh came home you may remember that she had two primary fears: Dogs and snow. I am thrilled to say that these fears have been faced and she now loves both dogs (wushas) and the snow!
This is her "KOWSEY [insert scream]!" face which can be translated to "Kelsey, I need you to pick me up NOW!". Like many kids who are adopted as toddlers, Zeni tends to use screaming, crying, fits, etc...to get her point across. She is getting better with all of that every day and I have no doubt that when she gets a better grasp of English and is able to communicate more easily with us that she will develop problem solving skills that are less painful on the ears :)
Aaron is definitely struggling with the new dynamics. Whenever I see this next picture I feel a wave of guilt rush over me, because he had to actually ask me to take it. I had been so busy documenting Zenebesh's first time playing outside in the snow that I didn't realize Aaron was watching and wondering why I wasn't paying him any attention. Ouch. The poor kid is used to me completely doting over him--even my grandparents lecture me about "spoiling" him too much, although I prefer to use the term "nurturing", and he has always had me completely wrapped around his little finger. Now all of a sudden he has to share all of this with a demanding little girl who screams "ME Kelsey" and literally pushes him away every time he gets close...it's really not fair. He was coloring the other day and told my mom he was making an "angry picture". My Mom asked him what the picture was angry about and he replied "sisters!". Then my Mom said something along the lines of how hard it is to have a new little sister come and change lots of things and he just burst into tears and curled up in her lap. I know things will get better, but to be honest right now I'm feeling pretty guilty and wishing I was better at balancing the needs of both Zeni and Aaron. If I was to use see-saw imagery, Zenebesh would definitely on top right now and that's not just fair to Aaron! Maybe I will sneak him away to my house this week to bake cookies or something.
Despite all of the struggles, it is a **JOY** to have Zenebesh in the family. She is beautiful, fun, spirited, sweet, loving, and hilarious. Sometimes I can't even wrap my mind around how much of a gift I have been given in my family--sibling bonds are so strong and unique, and I have EIGHT of them! Eight people to love and eight people who truly love me. It doesn't get much better than that...
Regardless of your politics, I think we can all agree that yesterday's inauguration was an incredible day for our country. We elected an African American president. Hallelujah! I think celebrating Martin Luther King day the day before the inauguration was a beautiful introduction to a new season here in the United States. We had a convocation at my school that included members of Cornell University's step team, a gospel choir, and guest speaker Hollis Watkins who was a key player in the Civil Rights Movement and continues to be Civil Right's activist today.
We really wanted to drive home the significance of yesterday's inauguration, so we had an inauguration party with the little kids that included pizza, Bomb Pops (red, white, blue), and balloon volleyball.
I know we have a long way to go in our country in regards to racial reconciliation and true "liberty and justice for all" but I have to say that yesterday when Aaron sat down to do a coloring page of the 44th president of the United States and the first words out of his mouth were "I need a brown!", I was overwhelmed with hope.
Most of the time Zene is loud, full of energy, and seems to have and endless supply of giggles. But there are also moments that are just hard. The other day the weight of everything that has happened seemed to catch up with her and she got really quiet and sad. She wrapped herself up in a scarf and curled up on the couch. She didn´t want anyone to hold her or talk to her, and retreated under the scarf if anyone tried. She clearly wanted some space, but not too much space because she picked a spot near where my Mom was sitting.
She stayed like that for awhile and then she sat up, took a deep breath, put a smile back on her face, and ran off to play.