Thursday, February 12, 2009
Feedback from school
We recently had school conferences for our kids in elementary school. Maea had the customary good report and we were looking forward to talking in-depth with Jayden's teacher about his progress. We know at home that he looks forward to school every day. He finally has our schedule figured out - five days with school, 2 days with no school. He is always happy to be going back to school on Monday mornings. I wish I could say the rest of us looked forward to Monday mornings like that!
In Ethiopia, going to school was a privilege reserved for the wealthy and Jayden still maintains that point of view. He was eager to start school when we arrived in America - it was the first thing he asked for and insisted upon, and ended up starting school one week after we arrived home. We help him with his homework each night and it is certainly a challenge. He memorizes letters and numbers but doesn't grasp their meaning or how they really work together. So we were looking forward to his school conference to get a better understanding of his progress.
His teacher was just beaming as she explained how amazingly well he has adapted to the class and how adept he is at picking up social cues from the other kids. Jayden works with an ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor 2-3 times per week at school and she too was very complimentary of his progress. Jayden's teacher reinforced our perceptions that he is an extremely bright little boy. In first grade, oftentimes kids are overwhelmed and exhausted by the new information their little brains are working to comprehend. Attention spans are typically short. But with Jayden, he has an amazing attention span and despite the language barrier he demonstrates remarkable patience and determination. Once he grasps the concepts of letters and numbers, she said his learning curve will really rocket!
At home, we have noticed him starting to put more and more words together - up to 4 words at a time. Early on, Jayden would go into lengthy explanations in Amheric. Lately, he chooses to converse with us in English only - partly because of his determination to master the language, and partly because we have no earthly idea what he is saying in Amheric.
As a family - we continue to find our balance and feel more like a normal family with each passing day. Jay commented a few days ago that suddenly he can't imagine not having our 2 little boys. We have been home from Ethiopia a little over 2 months and what felt all "topsy turvy" for the first 6 weeks, now feels like it has always been this way. Looking back - I am amazed at how far we've come in such a short amount of time!
And now for a little commentary on the idiosyncracies of life with adopted kids ... I copied this quote directly from Bethany Taylor's blog because she summed things up perfectly. Bethany and her husband are first time (brave) parents of two kids adopted from Ethiopia - Tigist (4) and Fikadu (6). Jayden and Fikadu were buddies at the Transition Home in Ethiopia so we have followed the Taylor adoption journey closely. Here are Bethany's words about the EXTREME curiosity of children who have never been exposed to the every-day items we take for granted in America ...
"and to constantly have to micro-manage two children who want to touch EVERYTHING, (really, EVERYTHING think, toilets, trash, outlets, stove tops, EVERY button on your computer, EVERY button on your phone, EVERY button on your camera, EVERY button on the dishwasher, EVERY button on your sewing machine, EVERY button on your coffee maker, EVERY button on your printer, EVERY button on your microwave, flip EVERY light switch (multiple times) - get the point???). =)"
I smiled knowingly as I read her post because this extreme curiosity was one of the first things we noticed upon arriving home. EVERYTHING had to be touched, pushed, pressed, toggled and fully investigated. I watched Jayden try to climb a floor lamp once so he could twist the switch on and off. Nevermind that he had just twisted the exact same type of switch on every table lamp, but now he needed to attempt to climb a floor lamp so he could twist that switch too. He has since satisfied that type of curiosity and in this scenario too we have settled into more normalcy. :)