We absolutely love having XiXi home. As we go about our normal everyday lives, I marvel to think that for 3 years, XiXi never went anywhere. Literally, the only time he ever left the orphanage was when he had surgery at 8 months. Even doctor appointments happened at the orphanage. In the life of a typical non-institutionalized child, they're going places usually on a daily basis--the grocery store, the dentist, the mall, the bank, play dates, church, parks. Even a trip down to the mailbox is something. XiXi didn't experience any of those things for over 3 years. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around that. When he moved to the foster village 6-8 months ago, I'm sure he was initially in stimulation overload; but I'm also sure that he embraced that new life with all of the zest and passion that he so clearly possesses. Still, the things he experienced in a village in the Chinese countryside are very different from the things he's experiencing here in the United States. As we drive around town, I steal glances at him in the rear view mirror and his eyes seriously never leave the window. He's drinking it all in.
|I was at a stoplight when I took this picture, really.|
To know how far he's come in his attachment to us, I have to only think about that Gotcha' moment. To him, I'm sure it had all the earmarks of an alien abduction. When Auntie let him leave the room and have that time to himself, she knew him well enough to know that he wouldn't race down the stairs and into the street and she also knew he needed that moment. When he walked back into the room, back to the aliens, it was his decision and he did it on his own power. I pray we'll always live up to that amazing faith that he showed in us.
|With Rose, his favorite person to act silly with.|
And speaking of speaking, we had a friend visit yesterday to talk to our XiXi. Judy helped me with Mandarin before both of our adoptions and was so kind to come for a XiXi playdate. After his snubbing of the strangers in the Beijing airport, I wasn't sure if he'd talk to her, but I'm so glad that he did. I certainly get a strong taste of his personality through his actions and expressions, but to understand what he's saying is such a gift. At one point, he was carrying a doll and Judy asked him if he was the daddy. He told her no, that he was the doctor. XiXi, MD. I can totally see it. I absolutely must get him on video speaking Mandarin. He won't be able to do this for long. Not long at all. A study done with internationally adopted children in XiXi's age range of 3-4 years said:
One of the most shocking discoveries in the field of international adoption is the swiftness with which children lose their native language and the profound nature of that loss. In a situation of full English immersion, it takes these children (3-4 year-olds) seven to twelve weeks to reduce their expressive language to a practically non-functional state. Their receptive language may stay four to six weeks longer, but it is barely functional even in familiar situations with the support of gestures, voice tone, and other non-linguistic means of communication.
I must get him on video and do it soon. The challenge is that he loves cameras. When a camera comes out, he can think of nothing else. The only video capabilities we have right now are with our plain old digital cameras. If anyone has any ideas on hidden surveillance, I'm all ears.
|He won't always choose chopsticks over fork.|
As he's losing his Mandarin, he's gaining English fast. This is a sampling of the things he can say with meaning:
*Look at that!
*one, two, three
and many, many more. And the things he can understand far surpass that. I just asked him if he wanted to go play the piano and he nodded, left the room, and is now plunking away.
The skill he most needs to work on right now is sharing. Feel free to ask Cholita about it. She has a lot to say on that matter. I think that in the orphanage and maybe in the foster village as well, it was survival of the fittest and I'm pretty sure that XiXi was the fittest. Even with the sharing though, it's coming along and he's doing better. His tantrums are decreasing and life is just so much easier at home as opposed to a hotel room. I know it will only get better. He has dished out nothing that makes me terribly worried.
His "firsts" are still so fun to watch. In his 4 days at home, he's seen and experienced:
*picking up siblings at the school bus stop
*a construction site (very appreciated by XiXi)
*petting the horses next door
*big dogs running to greet him
*helping Dad make dinner
*bath time with Xiao Jie Jie
*Sitting in the seat of our neighbor's tractor
*vacuuming (he thinks it's great fun)
|You'll have to trust me on that. He just thinks Mom taking pictures is getting old.|
*Family Home Evening
I will never forget XiXi's first hymn. He stood on my lap and so closely watched the chorister. Then he looked at the organ. Then he looked at the people holding hymn books. Then he grabbed himself a hymn book, opened it, looked at the gibberish on the page, and my boy tried to sing! Forevermore, when I hear "Joseph Smith's First Prayer", I'll think of our sweet XiXi. When we pulled into our driveway after church, he said in Mandarin, "We're home!" Music to my ears.
Life with 5 children is busy. This post has taken me all day to write.
|But not without sharing one more photo. In China, XiXi decided he'd mix things up a bit in the clothing department.|