Saturday, August 25, 2012

School!!! And a Doctor's Appointment

Geri has finished her first week of school, and it is going SO WELL!! I'm in awe, her teachers are in awe, Daddy is in awe... Awe seems to be the catch-phrase of the entire week.

On Tuesday Geri had her first day of school, and I don't know if I've ever been or ever will be more nervous about a first day of anything in my whole life. I was hoping it would all be okay, since she knows the Anchor Center and their staff so well, but we were just home from a week in Rhode Island following a week of family visiting, so she was rather out of sorts. Add to that a much earlier wake-up time (among her many disabilities, she is also "morning impaired") and I was thinking this day was going to be hard. Then we got stuck in traffic on the way up (I fought I-25 North and I-70 West and LOST) and were a full half hour late. I think my stress meter at that moment was pinging off the charts.

But then we walked into the white walled corridors of Anchor, our second home in Denver, and it felt like everything would be okay. Geri joined her class without a single fuss and was immediately participating happily in what was going on. We hung around for an hour to participate in a parents' coffee break, and when it ended the staff reassured me that she was doing fine. Mera and I headed off to the park and then out for lunch. Around noon I got a call that Geri seemed tired and irritable and might need to be picked up, but it turns out she was just hungry. After a snack she was feeling much better, and she did great through lunch and cleanup. About 20 minutes from the end of the day they asked me to come in and join her in class to help her through, and we ended the day on a happy note.

Thursday and Friday were even better. We arrived on time, I gave her a snack before school to help her get through until lunch, and she made it all the way through to the end of the day without a problem. The teachers raved to me about how she is participating in all the activities and doing a great job. They all oohed and aahed over her expanding verbal skills, told me how much she enjoys class and seems eager to learn, and waxed poetic about how smart she is and how utterly ready she was for school.

Does it get any better than that? Well, maybe. There was also a visit to her doctor on Wednesday.

Dr. Kim has been seeing Geri since before she came home, and he has a lot of experience with international adoptions. I really like Dr. Kim, because he's patient and thorough and kind and caring. Oh, and he's a competent doctor to boot. He's also totally up front and honest with us as her parents, even when the truth is tough. I appreciate that.

When we first brought him Geri's referral info and our stories from meeting her and the photos and videos, he told me that he was concerned that she might be mildly mentally retarded. He thought she showed signs of autism, too. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was also on his radar. When we walked in on Wednesday his jaw fairly hit the floor.

He watched her, playing with books and asking me to read to her and laughing and clapping and interacting... and he used words like "amazing" and "miracle" and "unbelievable." This doctor, who once worried that Geri may be retarded, told me "She's definitely very smart. She has to be very smart to have come this far in this short a time." 

Our God can heal and renew in ways we don't even remotely comprehend.

Lately, with the help of STFU Parents, the term "mommyjacking" has become pretty popular. We all laugh at parents who post a hundred pictures of their child's first drawing or overshare bathroom behaviors because it seems so hopelessly self-centered and out of touch to think the whole world should sit up and applaud when your child does anything new. But sometimes, we parents work so DAMNED HARD for these milestones and achievements. It's hard not to think the whole world ought to notice. The whole way home from Denver on Tuesday, I cried and prayed and felt like there really ought to be a parade for this. This is such a huge development in our family, how can others NOT notice? How can this day seem normal or mundane to anyone, when God reached down and touched our family and made a real, live, modern-day miracle happen? No, it's not newsworthy when Junior poops on the toilet the first time, and it's easy to get out of whack and feel like the world owes us a party for every emotional high (or low) we encounter. Yet, some other times it really is a BIG EFFING DEAL.

Sometimes, you really do deserve a fricking parade. This week has felt like one of those times.

I propose a new holiday. The 24th of August will be, officially, from here on out "Holy Crap Your Kid Is Doing Great!" day. It's a day for all parents who have struggled and cried and prayed and hoped and worried and pushed and encouraged and cried and prayed some more to celebrate that some of the crazy huge effort we put in actually paid off. To celebrate milestones we didn't think we'd actually reach, developments we weren't sure would ever happen, achievements we like to think we had some small part in, or simply the grueling task of keeping a child alive for as long as we have managed to do so.

I get to be Grand Marshall in the parade.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Random Acts of Encouragement

We are finally home from our big trip to RI!! It was awesome, and I promise to share the deets, but not right yet. I left my camera there, for one thing, but I also have something else I feel the need to throw out first.

Yesterday we were on the first flight of the day, headed from Boston to Atlanta. Two adults, three kids, lots of anxiety wondering how it will go. Nick and Mera were sitting together on one side of the aisle. TJ, Geri and me were on the other side. TJ promptly fell asleep under the influence of Dramamine. Geri sat on my lap while I watched the movie (Avengers) and Mera was in Nick's lap, hanging out. We weren't doing anything special, nothing interesting. For a little bit, Geri slept in my arms.

Towards the end of the flight, a woman sitting in front of us passed me a note. It said "I've had a really hard day, and a really rough time recently. Watching your kids has cheered me up a lot. I wanted to let you know that your kids are very sweet and you are obviously great caregivers to them. Thank you for putting a smile back on my face. Sincerely, Seat 30A."

It's such a blessing to be doing nothing special and have someone compliment you, isn't it? Sort of like when your hair is a mess and you have no makeup on and your husband tells you how pretty you are. There's such vast encouragement in being praised for just being as you are.

We spend so much time pulling each other down, perhaps we should put more effort into encouraging each other and lifting each other up. Here's my challenge to you. The next time you see a family out in public, tell the parents something nice about their kids. Tell them what a great job they are doing. Encourage them. Lift them up. And, if you are of the Christian bent, take it one step further by praying for them. Maybe with them, maybe later in your private time.

Let's start a new trend!