Saturday, April 24, 2010

Up Where The Air Is Clear

Life is almost back to a normal-esque routine. We are all sleeping better (and more) at night. We are eating home-cooked meals around our dinner table (less forgetting to eat and take out). And Daniel's pink eye is pretty much gone (which he got from me, which I got from changing too many crazy baby diapers). Even after dozens of drop administrations, I STILL have to pry his eyelids open to get those blasted drops in. At least he doesn't scream now. :)

Violet and Daniel are interacting very well - he loves comforting her by telling her, "It's ok - I'm here and I just want to make it better." Precious.

The weather was absolutely perfect yesterday - blustery and almost chilly, strange for April in Phoenix. Daniel and Fernando went to the store to buy the perfect thing for the weather: Kites. We packed up some snacks and walked to the grassy park across the street.

My Grampa taught my sister and me to fly kites when we were young, on the same hill where he taught my mom and uncle. Kite-flying runs deep in my family. There is just something about it... the refrain from Mary Poppins echoing in your ears... "with your fist holding tight to the string of your kite"... it's simply impossible to be in a bad mood when you're flying a kite.

And Daniel flew his first kite yesterday - with pure joy on his face the whole time. Fernando helped him launch it in the air, then with his little fist holding on tight, Daniel went racing through the park, shrieking with glee. I think Violet even shrieked with glee - watching from her perch on the picnic blanket.

Hopefully we have more windy days than usual this Summer - this kite-flying bit could become a routine at the Amaro house.

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Sweet Boy

I keep waiting for the big signs. The billboard from Daniel that tells me he is not happy about baby sister being here. I keep waiting for the "I don't like her anymore" or the "When does she go back to Ethiopia?"

And in looking for the big signs, I overlooked the little ones.

He shares his toys and plays with Violet. He is excited to see her when he comes into a room, or when we pull in the driveway. He says he loves her and delights in making her laugh. This morning he even hugged her and told me, "Look Mommy, we love each other!"

Everything on the surface is fine, but underneath the water isn't so smooth.

He constantly role plays with his toys a scenario where one is crying because they miss their parents and aren't happy until they are reunited. If you ask where the parents went, they always went on an airplane (once he said "to get baby sister"). But he never cried while we were gone.

He hasn't regressed in a "I want to be the baby" way at all - and he's very calm and understanding when I am taking care of Violet. However, other things have started happening. His potty accidents have increased as have his listening issues - he tunes us out in a way he never did before. He doesn't like it when Violet touches him, usually scooting away and staying just out of reach. And at least a few times a day, he is either emotionally and physically distant OR overly affectionate with us.

I suppose that everyone who's ever had a second child wonders if they have "ruined it" for their first child. (Which is funny because just weeks ago, we wondered if we had "ruined it" for Daniel by not having another child already!)

It breaks my heart to see Daniel like this. I think I have cried more for him this week than collectively in his three years. Fernando and I were in the kitchen last week, struggling with this very thing and Daniel ran up and asked for a "family hug". He wrapped his arms around our necks and said "I love you guys." More tears.

Like us, he has to grieve the loss of his family. It won't ever be the way it was, and for a three year old brain, that's tough to grasp. And I think without meaning to, we suddenly started treating him differently - like "big brother" - and asking too much of him. And I think we realized that maybe we had been babying him too much before - not letting him grow up as quickly as he was ready to.

It's a tornado of emotions this week in the Amaro house, and strangely, I think Daniel (not Violet) is at the center.

I know this is a process... I know he'll survive... I know it will be great to have a companion for him... I know I know I know.

But all THAT doesn't make any of THIS any easier.

What does help are the other small signs I see him displaying - the ones that tell me his love for his sister is already growing. The way I hear him talking to her when I'm not in the room - the way that her smile can make him smile - the way he wants to crawl in the bath with her - and the way he put his favorite curious george stickers on her bedroom door when we weren't watching.

Little man, I am so proud of you. And I love you more than you will EVER understand (at least until you have a kid of your own!).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

While We Were Gone

On April 5th, we left Daniel for nine days. That's eight days longer than we have ever been away from him... and each one was painful.

Fernando and I packed up a bunch of big bags and headed to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to bring home Daniel's baby sister, Violet Mariam. It was a grueling journey, and I'm glad we decided to leave Daniel in Arizona. Still though, it was tough not to see his sweet face every day.

We left him videos to watch each morning, with a corresponding present to open. His beloved aunt Keila (TK) was wonderful enough to stay at our house with Daniel for the entire nine days and told us that he didn't cry once - just happily told everyone he saw that Mommy and Daddy went on an airplane to Ethiopia to bring home baby sister.

He met us at the airport, standing in front of a large group of family and friends, carrying flowers and a doll for Violet. He ran towards us, yelling "Baby Violet! It's Baby Violet! My sister! That's my sissy!" He was all smiles and sweetness.

After nine days away (spent holding a 16 pound baby) Daniel looked older. Stronger. Fuller. Taller. He felt much heavier. And surprisingly, his brown skin looked whiter than I remember! (I guess that happens after a week in Africa). It took a few hours to get past the distance between us - he felt just a little standoffish and uncertain towards us, but by bedtime was hugging and kissing us like before.

On the way home, Violet was not a happy camper in her car seat. And Daniel wasted no time in showing off his big brother skills. "It's ok Violet - we're almost there!" "Mommy Daddy, if you let me get up out of my seat I can give her a bottle!" And my favorite, he sang her songs so she would stop crying and clap along with him (which she did).

I hope that I don't have to spend that kind of time away from him again anytime soon. It was uncomfortable for everyone involved, but for a good reason - Daniel has a baby sister. Here's hoping the next few weeks make for a smooth transition.