I grew up as an only child. I never knew the battles that ensued in a house with 3 kids.
Some days I joke (with loud angst) that the kids would fight over a dirty piece of toilet paper if I handed it to one kid and left out another. It’s totally true.
I slammed my finger inbetween the french fry cutter today and made a variey of “I’m in pain” noises. Elam says, “Can I see? What happened?” etc. I barely showed him my red pinky finger and XS races into the kitchen “Me too?!” I have cut myself a few times recently and you could just hit the reply button… the sight of mom in pain is super entrancing. Geez, just leave me to my misery folks?
When Brian pulls some new “let’s see how far the kids bounce off the couch” trick or “how can I flip them over, upside down or spin in circles” with one kid, there is a Black Friday sort of reaction.
It shouldn’t be a shock to me. When we first started bringing Elam to school and XS couldn’t stay, he would wail down the hallways the way some Kindergarteners were wailing b/c they had to stay. I stopped going into Elam’s classroom to avoid the embarassment and the noise!
We seem to be in a new phase of XS feeling left out. Whether we are talking about going to the Y, serving dinner or going to church, XS is always in a slight panic until I say, yes, you are included.
This came to a large, fussing peak today: Elam’s 5th birthday. It had been building since big kids were sick, getting neat treats like ibuprofen, their temperatures taken and honey cough drops. He hated not being included in even the medicine doses.
But it really hit the fan when Elam got to open his gift (granted, a Christmas gift we were planned for the stocking but when his birthday gift neglected to arrive on today, Sunday, we had to improvise). It was a Leonardo Ninja Turtle Lego. It was just too much. He couldn’t play with it and then, to make matters worse, he couldn’t stay home to play with us. He had to go to church with ba-ba. It was an ugly morning.
Later in the afternoon, we watched videos on youtube.com from when Elam was born all the way through last spring.
Super fun for 4 of us. Eventually XS got BORED and was so over it. I don’t know if it was b/c he wasn’t in the videos or simply b/c we were lazy, lying on the couch instead of playing trains. Either way, he had had enough.
So we compromised and started to watch the 23 minutes of meeting XS this summer in Changsha. His sullen little face, tucked mostly under his bright blue visor was so quiet, reserved and sad. He sat for minutes upon minutes not looking at either of us, instead regularly checking to make sure his teachers were still near by.
I noticed how often the teachers stroked his arms, hugged him and encouraged him to play with us. I noticed how they smiled at him and at us.
And I was eternally grateful that some of THE last things I packed for our trip were 3 Hot Wheels cars. We connected with him with those cars during the first 30 minutes and well into the weeks as we tried to bond with him.
It was a reminder of how far we have all come: Elam is no longer a grunting “buckethead” and XS no longer has a sullen face, quietly sitting in a corner. We have come a long way.