It seems as if I just wrote the two months home post and now it’s time to write another one. I’m planning to wait until six months to write the next update, and I think that will be a good amount of time for there to be more to report. While this month was busy and Leo has made slow and steady progress, there isn’t as much to say as there were in the first few updates.
Leo had his surgery scheduled in early November, but he had some time to enjoy the fall weather the week beforehand. One day the older boys spent a lot of time making a giant leaf pile. Since it took so long for Leo to feel comfortable on the grass, I expected him to be really unhappy with leaves, since they’re so much crunchier, louder, and scratchier. He was a little skeptical at first, but he picked a few up and crunched them. Before long, he was tossing handfuls in the air and rolling around in the leaf pile with his brothers. It’s so wonderful to see him trying new things like this. He is feeling much more secure at home, and now that makes him more likely to explore and try new things like this. He is still very shy and often scared when we go out other places. He is now used to going to church or the grocery, but when we made our first visit to a friend’s house to play, he sat on my lap the entire time. I’m starting to take him out more places, and I hope that in time he will feel more secure and not be apprehensive that going to a new place might mean that he leaves with a new family.
Fall was fun, but then it was surgery time. Everything went very well, and he was able to come home after only two days in the hospital. He was very scared of all the medical personnel, and when he finally got back to the house he went skipping around the living room (and he hasn’t skipped before!), giving everyone hugs and kisses. He had to stay on a pureed food diet for two weeks, and that became difficult for him as time wore on. We were hoping it would make him less picky when he finally got solid food, but that didn’t happen. The first day he was so excited when we kept giving him solid food. But when we got to supper, he didn’t like what we served him and started crying. Hoping for a quick fix, we just made a bowl of instant oatmeal, but when we brought him that he took one look at the bowl of goop and started crying even harder! We finally found some leftovers in the fridge that were acceptable and that calmed him down.
Although the surgery and recovery cleared our calendar for most of November, we were still able to get in two speech therapy sessions. Both times, Leo started saying new words a few hours after the therapist left. The therapist has encouraged us to start using some signs with him, and he has picked them up very quickly. One day after I fed him a pancake, his favorite American food, he went into the dining room where Gregory was having seconds and signed “more” to Gregory, hoping to get a few bites. He will sign more, drink, and all done, and just as the speech therapist predicted, he will sometimes say the words as he makes the sign.
Leo has turned out to have the typical two year old zeal for cleaning. He loves sweeping the floor with this child sized broom that I keep in the kitchen next to my broom. He feels it is his job to close the dishwasher any time he finds it open. When I am trying to empty the dishwasher, he will close it every time I turn around to put dishes in the cabinet. He has figured out what the clothes hamper is for and always takes his clothes and puts them in the hamper after he gets changed, often clapping for himself when he’s done. He scouts out the bedroom floor for clothes left behind, and that’s usually not a challenge if he’s in the boys’ room. Matt is now teaching him to bring me my coffee travel mug, which is a two year old job in our house. We’re also working on having him throw things into the trash can, although anyone who has had a two year old knows that’s a double-edged sword because anything can end up in the trash can. All of these things show that Leo knows daily routines, can imitate what we do, and follow simple directions, all important developmental skills.
Leo was slow to see me as more than the house nanny, but he has really bonded with me now. He is a very happy, good-natured boy. He loves us all so much, and is very affectionate. One thing that I find especially touching is that he has a lot of empathy. If one of the children is crying, then he always goes over to give him a hug and pats on the back. It is such a good sign of the care he received in China that he expects to be comforted when he is hurt or upset and he wants to give comfort to others.
While Leo is still jealous of Vincent, as his closest in age competitor, they play together very well. As we begin the season of Advent, the three older children have said several times how excited they are to see how excited Leo will be about his first Christmas. They can hardly wait until he sees the tree, the lights, the stockings. I usually find baby’s first Christmas is overrated since baby just lays around on the floor blinking at the lights and chewing on paper, but I have to agree with the children that baby’s first Christmas is going to be a whole lot more exciting when “baby” is two!