The kids get overwhelmed easily, because they have had limited experiences. And when they get overwhelmed, they don't melt down and cry, they get crazy. Like someone put a firecracker in their behind. (They're not unhappy or mad or grumpy - actually they were so excited when we pulled up this morning and so excited to hang out for the day!) For instance, before we picked them up to come to the hotel, I thought I had child-proofed the room so there wouldn't be anything to get into - wrong!! (I have been saying that alot lately) Those kids were ALL OVER this room within seconds, turning lights on and off, flushing the toilet over and over, picking up the telephone, grabbing my camera, locking and unlocking doors, putting their fingers in light sockets. They were like toddlers but with better fine motor skills. You name it, it was happening. I could have sworn that someone was in the wall with candid camera. I mean, who would have thought it with a 6 and 7 year old? But you have to watch them at all times. And run after them. Now, they weren't misbehaving or "being bad". They weren't trying to be defiant or not listening to me. Their little brains were just on overdrive and they couldn't regulate what was happening to them (another thing I read about but never really understood until I saw it). And, to top it all off, even when I was talking to them its not like they could understand me. I can say "yes" and "no", but after hearing "no" a few hundred times, the novelty wears off. The good news is, after an hour of pure craziness - when the newness was gone - they were able to settle down and play "normally". Not because of anything I said or did, but because the overstimulation wore off. I have seen this happen in the park we visit as well. The first time we were there, they ran around in opposite directions like little banshees (sp?) and couldn't figure out what to play with or how to play with it, when there were so many choices. But on the subsequent visits, when the environment was predictable, they were able to play and enjoy themselves. I am so glad that it doesn't take long for them to be able to do that.
Anyhow, back at the hotel (once we all calmed down), it was fun. Well, I think it was fun for them the whole time LOL, just not so much for mom. We had a snack of goldfish, then we played with some toys. I brought a little purse that came with a toy phone, pretend eyeshadow/blush, a pretend credit card, and a little mirror for Sofia. I also added a tiny lip gloss, nail polish, hair brush and barrettes as well. Sofia knew immediately what everything was (except the credit card), and she put "makeup" on her and then me. Then I painted her nails, but couldn't communicate to her that it takes more than 30 seconds to dry, so there are little spots of pink nail polish around the room. Oops ;) They both had a great time playing with that phone. Did I mention that phone makes noise and lights up? Ugh - I vowed NEVER to start buying those kinds of toys ;)
Oh and yes, they are wearing their clothes from yesterday :) They wanted to wear the new clothes, even though Sam's are 3 sizes too big. And it's not really cold enough for Sofia's jacket :) I told the group home they could just keep the big clothes for one of the other boys, but they ended up back on Sam today. Oh well!
I brought little cars for Sam and also a bouncy ball that lights up when you bounce it hard enough. I was excited about the cars because yesterday he was playing with a toy car at the office and loved it. Today, he didn't want anything to do with the cars - of course. But he did like the ball. He planted himself on the floor in front of the metal trash can and would make the ball light up and hold it up to his face, or right beside the trash can so he could see the reflection. He can look at something forever if it is giving him any kid of visual stimulation. I can't wait to get his eyes checked out.
Then Sofia found the remainder of my coffee from breakfast (you get straight up espresso here!) and started playing with it. At this point I was like whatever, I'm picking my battles, have at it. So she put sugar in the few millimeters of remaining coffee, then would stir it up and feed it to us with the stirrer. She seemed to enjoy "cooking". She then added water to it and put it in and out of the little fridge in the room, acting like she was cooking something. She also made sure to include her brother :)
Then it was time to leave for lunch - HALLELUJAH! This is another area where I can see some institutional behaviors :( My mama heart aches when I see it. My kids are always asking for food. When we were in the room, right after we had our snack, Sofia kept saying the same thing over and over, like 20+ times. So I had to call Toni and ask what she was saying. She was saying "When are we going to eat?" and then "I'm hungry". Once Toni explained to her that we were going to lunch soon, she was satisfied and stopped asking. I can make Sam stop doing ANYTHING if I put food in front of him. During his crazy-man session this morning he stopped cold when I gave him the goldfish. I couldn't even get him to come over and sit on the bed and be cozy and eat, he was just so intent on that food.
Another thing I noticed (and I'm almost done!) is how behind they are at socializing with their peers who have families. Once again, I knew it was that way, but actually saw it today. When we went to the park this afternoon, there was a birthday party with a bunch of kids jumping on the trampoline and playing with each other. My kids would just stand and watch, smiling, but when the kids interacted with them, they didn't know what to do. They weren't being shy or weird or anything, but they don't understand how to have fun and play with a group of kids. I thought this was surprising, even coming from an institution, cause there are lots of kids there. But I don't think they were taught to play. You can just tell there is something missing. These kids are so precious, I can't believe they were ever abandoned or put in this situation. I am thanking God so much for that wonderful group home and staff they will be with until I return to pick them up.
Anyhow, that's what I learned today :) I'm not going to be able to bring them home, have them walk off the plane and just seamlessly integrate into normal family life and routine (although I know they will do very well, probably relatively quickly!). They won't be able to come home for Christmas and enjoy the holiday and appreciate the details and presents that were bought just for them. They won't be able to sit nicely at church with their hands folded. No, they will most likely freak out from over stimulation. At least this year. I really do have high hopes for next year, and even a few months of being home. So, if we see you when we first get home, give us some grace :) Just this morning I read on a friend's blog that she has to watch her 7 year old at every moment, and that it is exhausting. I totally get that now. And it was only 2 hours of alone time. (I at least better be skinny when all of this is over, and we are settled at home :)
Anyhow, tomorrow is the BIG DAY when we officially get to tell them that I am "mama". I will be so excited to let you know how that goes! Although, Sam already called me mama today and Sofia has said she is going to America twice already. So I don't think it will be a big surprise :) But still fun!
Oh, and I can't give away Sam's real name here just yet, but I will give you a hint that you should be able to figure out so maybe you can help me decide what to do about his name. (I hope that's not too "illegal" :) His name is a noun, I have used the word (in the plural form) in this post. This noun lives in heaven and has wings. LOL. I'm sure you know what it is now. See my dilemma?? Poor guy. (And it's not pronounced like it is in Spanish)