Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rubber Ducks and Rainbows

Perhaps the most frustrating thing to me about our entire post-placement time, from GOTCHA Day on, is that Thunder and Lightning do not know how to PLAY.

It's true.

From day one, they have had little to no interest in "things".

Toys have NEVER excited them, NEVER held their attention, NEVER left the shelf for more than three minutes at a time.  In Colombia, the Imaginex building blocks would entertain them briefly, especially when they discovered they could make PISTOLS out of them as long as they told Mommy that they were "TOOLS"!

The match box cars, the Mr. Potato Head, the Cooties, the coloring books, the deck of UNO cards, the blocks, the TOSS IT game, the Etch-a-Sketch, the stuffed animals, OLD MAID, the MATCHING GAME, the action figures, the Little Pet Shop animals, the puppets, the bug collection box, the binoculars, the race cars, the puzzles, the construction vehicles, the train track, the LEGO village, the Ninetendo DS, the Leap Frog lap top computer, the name it, they didn't use it.

After being home, it dawned on me that perhaps PLAY had never been modeled for them.

For example, they would carry their big Brueder trucks around the house, set them on the sofa, then return them to their rightful parking spot in the playroom.  They would snap the train track together, push the toy engine around it once, then disassemble the whole thing and push it back under their bed.  They would look at a LEGOS brochure and create what was on the cover, then stare at it.  Within seconds, it was taken apart and put away.  They colored pictures using only one color of crayon although 20 or 30 were available to them.  And PLAY-doh?  What were they supposed to do with PLAY-doh?  We spent more time picking it up off the floor and washing the residue off the table than we did doing anything else with it.

I found this frustrating.  I thought ALL kids LOVED to play.  What was I going to do?

I began to intentionally model "PLAY".

I made roaring engine noises and raced their trucks through the house.  They laughed so hard, I thought they were going to pass out.  Then they started doing it.  They started having fun.  I gave them sticks to haul and empty egg cartons to transport to the grocery store.  I reenacted a conversation at the loading dock and at the gas station and at the garage.  Next thing I knew, they were PLAYING...not for long, BUT they were PLAYING!

We set up a LEGO village together and used True Princess G.A.'s Polly Pockets to live in the buildings we constructed.  The little people would go from their home, to the store, to the doctor's office, to the school, to work, and back home again.  We used cats and dogs and pretended to take them for walks and feed them.

They watched me pick up pretty stones and catch lovely butterflies that I put in a collection box.  The next day they were filling their boxes with sparkly stones and big stones and small stones....all treasures in their eyes.

Today, they color pictures using a rainbow of colors.  Their world has gone from mono-chromatic to COLORFUL!

Their knowledge bases are expanding day by day as are their life experiences.

Life is no longer viewed through the bars of an orphanage.  Thunder and Lightning are immersed in a family and immersed in daily activities.  They go to church and to school and to the super market and the pet store and the doctor's office and the dentist's office and to Daddy's office...WOW!...what exciting and new experiences their days are now comprised of!

Today, they make pizza and popcorn and hot dogs and ice cream and strawberries and chicken legs and pancakes and eggs with the PLAY-doh.  They also make shapes and numbers and letters and animals.  Most impressively, they make people out of their PLAY-doh...a mommy and a daddy and an Aidan and a Bryan.  ISN'T THAT SWEET!

With an old, pink BARBIE cash register, they have started playing store.  They use grocery bags and play money to purchase items throughout the house and from their toy baskets.  It sounds like this:

THUNDER:  "Hello!  How are you?"
LIGHTNING:  "I am good thanks.  How are you?"
THUNDER:  "I am good.  And how are you?"
LIGHTNING:  "I am good.  Have a nice day."  (he pays and walks out the door with his bag of goodies)
THUNDER:  "Have a nice day.  Thank you for coming.  See you soon."  (and they do it all over again)

I filled an old egg carton with plastic Easter eggs and gave them some plastic bowls and spatulas and paper plates and measuring cups to play with.  They love it.  For weeks they have been watching me in the kitchen and now they have a chance to be creative themselves.  They cook up some delicious meals!

A few weeks ago Lightning had no clue how to put a puzzle together.  This weekend, HE DID ONE ALL BY HIMSELF.

Thunder often disappears into his room to read...he loves books and rarely watches t.v.

I am discovering new things about my kids everyday.  For instance, Lightning enjoys pushing a baby buggy around the house and whenever "the baby" cries, he feeds it because it is always hungry, and  Thunder loves basketball, not the soccer we thought he would.  He is also an amazing artist.  

I think they themselves are also discovering who they are day by day.

Last night Lightning sat in the bath tub with his 20 or so mini rubber ducks and two buckets.  He began to sort the ducks.  He told me (in English) that one was full of "RED" ducks.  They had made "bad" choices at school.  They didn't listen to the teacher, or sit on the carpet, or stay with the class.  Some of them had been fighting with their friends.  Not good.  The other bucket was full of "GREEN" ducks.  They had made "good" choices at school.  They listened to the teacher, they kept their hands to themselves, they sat on the carpet all day.  They were helpful.  And then Lightning showed me the little duck he clutched in his hand.

I questioned who that duck was and why he wasn't in a bucket.

Lightning just smiled at me and said, "Mommy, this is Aidan.  He is "PURPLE".  He made VERRRRY good choices today!  Are you happy?"

Yes, my friends, life with children is all about rubber ducks and rainbows.

1 comment:

  1. I am familiar with all of what you posted. Justin too still struggles with "play" . Weirdest thing because we take for granted that all kids know how to do this. He does not like to spend time by himself. He is constantly engaging someone and sometimes that is not well received. The best thing i read in an adoption book was too give yourself at least a year off from volunteering for, school, community, wherever. It was the best advice I followed because my days were so unpredictable. Even if you had the physical strength to do something it always was not with the right heart or it was just little enough to send you over the edge after an emotional taxing day. So that it to heart too. Thinking of you and your family.