Wow. What can I say about Paul? Its so funny because I was almost apprehensive about our being together again . . . he can be so quiet and distant and here I had invested myself so totally into Sam during the hospitalization and even immediate return home.
Paul is . . . remarkable is just lacking. He is a dichotomy. He's the caregiver, nurturer, advocate, bossy organizer and assistant. He's the clown who loves to elicit laughter. He's a prankster. I've found him to taunt and tease and have to admit that I have probably been too lenient in overlooking some things simply because I am amazed and relieved to see him reverting to being a little boy.
He is so open to love, to insights as to his foundation and life before in Ethiopia. I love him so fiercely. He regales us with tales (some of which are questionable in truth I may add) but I relish the details. We talk often of his Ethiopia Mama and Daddy. We talk of things that are far beyond the scope of what I would discuss with Mary, who is six months younger.
Paul and I talk of Sam and his emotional well-being and what we are facing as he is just realizing his physical limitations as the Wisconsin landscape emerges and awakens. We have to be supportive and yet not wallow in pity. He is worried that Sam will have too many challenges on the playground at school.
Paul is a student. He has an agenda . . . that boy. He yearns to learn with a fervor that astounds me. His fine motor skills allow him to write and draw with meticulous detail. He used to sing in the back of the van to himself often in Amharic and teach his sister words. Now he is singing in English. Just a few weeks back he was wanting to sing in Amharic and kept messing up - my heart lurched. I asked if he minded that he was forgetting and he just gazed at me with his "old soul" eyes and said . . . "No, I LOVE English." I admit my heart aches a little though at that thought.
Last week Paul and Mary had a patriotic musical program at school. We have been singing "Oh I love America" at the house for weeks but I when seeing my children march up on stage while playing their kazoos, and then seeing Paul with his drum . . . I cried. I was trying to shush the younger two sitting with us during the program to keep them from singing (laughing).
Paul can be such a tease. He is actually advanced in so many areas over Mary and at times will berate her schoolwork. Because of the accident we were allowed to advance them both a year in school and I believe without a doubt that Paul is in the place he needs to be . . . Mary I'm not convinced that another year of 5K wouldn't be most beneficial.
Paul's relationship with Julia is touching. She will often wake and stumble in the room to seek him out first before either Marty or I. I love it. Sam . . . well, that is sometimes a point of contention.
Paul will often care for Sam without my knowing. I have caught him carrying Sam up/down stairs to the basement or he will carry him out to the van before I even realize he's gone. He loves to help me cook and THAT is when I hear more stories of his Mom. When I am vacuuming, he will often hound me like a pesky fly . . . trying to take the attachments/unit from me.
And we talk of how we came to be here. I tell him that I love his Ethiopian family and that while I wish he had not known the pain of loss/separation that I am proud to be his Mama. I tell him of first learning of his existence and how we viewed our first photos of them (after we had already accepted their referral) and what we thought when we saw them. I told him that I saw him trying to smile but seeing fear and hope mixed. He sighed and said "I was scared." I tell him that I saw that and that my "mama heart" just ached to simply reach across the miles and pull him to me and whisper that it was going to be okay. And he melts against me with contentment. We talk often of his friends from both the orphanage and even before and he has stories and smiles.
Paul has selective hearing. He can be manipulative. He is normal. We just recently allowed them to even know we have a Wii gaming system (bought before travel to hopefully get us through a long homebound winter) and he's hooked. He is a competitor. He is as persistent in his requests to play as he is in schooling. We strictly monitor its time in use. The boys love it - the girls could care less. Paul will often look for things that Sam can play with one hand - always looking out for him . . . yet specifically choosing two-handed games when he is wanting distance. Paul is experiencing a growth spurt. He was wearing size 11 shoes when he arrived and is now needing his 1-1/2 shoes retired.
I never thought I'd be applying lotion and a hair pick each morning to my son's hair. This is one task that Paul used to insist he do himself and now it is something I am allowed to do with pleasure - no matter how late we are running. He realizes that I love being able to mother him in this way and I think he's enjoying giving up just an iota of responsibility as well.
His smile is quick and easy and ready. His eyes are windows of his being. He's so eager to please. I think of how we advocated for these boys and realize that the parent/child bond was forming before we met.
And I had brief moments of doubt about "older adoption" . . . especially when trying to be open to the situation and discern between legitimate issues and simple nay-saying. I still contend that their transition has been far easier than Julia's into our family - even with the accident.
Oh what I would have missed! Boys are really different - and coming from the perspective of having only sisters myself, then three daughters . . . I delight in my education for mothering my sons.