Sunday, November 29, 2009

12 Week Kendi Update

Tomorrow, Kendi will have been home 12 weeks. It seems like yesterday, and it seems like forever ago that she joined our family. If there was ever any wonder if she was supposed to be in our family (by certain unnamed spouses) it is gone now. She was meant, for whatever reason pleasing to God, to join our family.

Sibling Relationships:

-Samren: When Kendi first came home she did NOT respond well to Samren. Kendi had experience with rough and tumble 7-8 year old boys in Ghana. While I'm sure some of them were caring, others probably took advantage of her size and took things away from her. At least, that's what her behavior towards Samren suggested. Every time Samren walked towards her she would curl into a ball and try to "protect" whatever she had in her hands. It wasn't a week or so before she stopped assuming Samren was going to bully her. And after 12 weeks a special relationship is growing. She goes to Samren to protect her (exactly like a baby sister should) and lovingly calls him "brudda." She runs to give him hugs and kisses "just because." Things are good.

-Taevy: Since day 1...well, maybe day 2 Taevy and Kendi have had the classic big sister/baby sister relationship. They love to spend time together. Kendi knows that "sissy" (as Kendi calls Taev) can help her when she wants a drink or a snack, or just to play. Taevy loves to dress up her "baby" sister as if she were a doll. But she also is very good to help with other caring tasks like diaper changes. With all that said, there is also the girl/girl jealousy that happens sometimes. Taevy doesn't always like when I spend time doing Kendi's hair. Taevy asks if people always talked about how cute she was when she was a baby (because people go ga-ga over Kendi in stores). Kendi also gets jealous when she sees mommy and Taevy going off to do something in the car together while she gets left alone. But there is lots of love there. Things are good.

-Bright: The first few days Kendi wasn't sure what to think of Bright. Like Samren, she assumed he was going to bully her. Probably more so than with Samren because Bright also looked like the older boys in Ghana. Bright was awesome though, and was so tender and caring the first few weeks. Even when he was tempted to throw a fit he didn't. I think he intuited that it would make Kendi fear him. Now, 12 weeks later, these two are thick as thieves. They have the classic "close in age" relationship. Best friends one moment and worst enemies the next. They love each other FIERCELY! LOL! They will play for hours with one another. But they don't always want to share mom and dad's lap during cuddle time. And they get into normal toddler fights over whatever toy is the best toy of the moment. Things are just as I would expect them to be. Things are good.

Language: It's not like Kendi has just EXPLODED with language since she got here. I know some kids do, but not her. However, she understands most everything we say (either through actual words, body language, or context). Communication is not difficult. She doesn't seem to add language one word at a time. She adds it sentences at a time. This is so Kendi. She wants her WHOLE point to get across from the get go! So instead of a child who might decide that "no" gets lots of things across, we have a child who will say "Stop it!" when it's that type of no and "I don't want that." when it's that kind of no. It cracks us up when she pops out a new sentence with no warning. This weekend we heard "The turkey is dry." It sounds more like "De turkey es dry!" We also hear....I need my cup. I don't know! Where my shoes? Go out front? (she likes to play in the front yard) and my recent favorite, "Mama, Bright no bi' boy. ee (he) bebe. Go poo pants!" Bright still has poop issues and she is aghast that her BIG brother hasn't mastered pooping in the potty yet, since Kendi hardly ever had a poopy accident. LOL! One funny misunderstanding is "yummy" and "yucky." She has them backwards. So when we're changing her diaper she says "Yummy!" but when there is good food to eat she will say "Yucky!" but mean "yummy."

Attachment: I know it's fast, but I think we are will on our way to a good firm attachment. I did not expect to be writing that with this child! Her personality is so much like Taevy's, and Taevy had such issues. Just goes to show that personality doesn't have as much to do with attachment as I thought it did. Kendi has done phenomenally. She's made the cross now. She is no longer willing to go to any stranger that wants to hold her. Yee-haw! Just like any other toddler, she will go to her loved ones when she is in the mood, but will squiggle to get down when she wants to run off and play. We are also starting to see separation anxiety. Maybe this isn't a traditionally good thing, but for her, right now, we see it as good. I don't mind that she cries when I leave to go to the store (she settles down a few minutes after I'm gone). And I definitely don't mind when she RUNS out of the door yelling "Mommy! Mommy!" when I get home. That is the best feeling in the world! I will also be more paranoid about attachment issues than some other parents, because I didn't recognize them for over a year with Taevy (and she paid the price). But so far, so good with Miss Kendi Mae.

Other Issues: I had a little epiphany the other day. I focus so much on attachment issues that I have not given enough attention to other issues that may be there due to traumas in her early life. We're learning this the hard way with Bright, who is fine attachment-wise but has food and control issues (we believe) related to his early starvation. I know less about what Kendi went through before she came to Eban House. I know she didn't have a loving mother. But I don't know how long she was with her before she went to be with her father. Her father didn't seem to abuse Kendi, but had very little to nourish her with. What messages did this send to her little heart? Time will tell us. So far she has some of the same issues with food that Bright had when he first came home. She loses it around meal time and cannot stay in control during meal preparation (even when she's holding food). There is just such a deep fear that she will get no food. The only other issue is her diva attitude. I don't know how much of it is learned behavior from being the youngest at the orphanage, and how much is just her--a child who fights for what she wants because that's the way she has survived so far. It all looks the same--spoiled child! Kendi will plop herself down on the floor and kick and scream like crazy! When she first came home these little fits could go for 1/2 an hour or so (not an adoption rage, but just a classic spoiled FIT!). Now that she knows me as disciplinarian I can look at her and tell her "Stop that right now!" and about 60% of the time she will stop mid scream and go on with her day. The other 40% of the time we'll do a time in until she is in control of her body. That usually takes a few minutes, then we're off again happy and jumpy as ever. When she realizes her fit isn't going to get whatever she wants, she gives up on it pretty quickly. She just hasn't learned yet that her fit will NEVER get her what she wants, so we hear them about 50 times a day! LOL!

Mine and Eric's attachment to Kendi:

This will be the shortest entry. It's as if she were always here. I love her with the same depth I love the rest of the kids. I know that it's perfectly normal for the newest child to take a while to settle in a parents' heart as deeply as the previous kids already have. But I guess that's just now how it happened to work for 3 of my 4 kids (Samren took longer). She is mine. I am hers. For me, she just fills a spot that was always being held open for her. Eric is basically the same way. He feels basically no attachment for our kids before they are home, but once they are home he is 100% committed and there is no looking back. He would die for Kendi just like he would die for our other children.

It's like this. Our family had a really good taste before Kendi came home. But she has added a flavor that the rest of us could never add. And together, the flavors have all combined to make something that tastes better than it ever could before. We needed her to make our family better.


Ferenje Mama 4:03 AM  

What a wonderful milestone for all of you! Congratulations Kendi!

Renee 8:20 AM  

What a blessing to read about your sweet girl. It sounds like you are all doing amazing. God is so good.

Amy 9:01 PM  

What a great update! Wonderful to hear how everything is going!!! Love to you and yours!