I should probably update about Caleb more often, at least to post more photos, if nothing else. The trouble is, I'm not sure how many people want to read: "He's doing great!" "He's happy all the time!" "He doesn't know the meaning of the word 'bored'." "His smile lights up the room."
Caleb isn't speaking as much English as I expected he would, considering he is so verbal and he's been here for nearly two months. Typically, when children cease to hear their first language, it starts to shut down in their mind and they begin to switch to the second language. Caleb hasn't ceased hearing Chinese, however, and therein lies the problem. You see, Caleb talks to himself. A lot. He loves to pretend with his stuffed animals or plastic zoo animals, play-acting elaborate conversations between the animals in quite enthusiastic voices. If he isn't talking with them, he is singing with them.
It's comical to hear him throw in an English phrase here and there. Last night, he had a whole drama going on with stuffed animals lined up on the back of the couch. Amidst the string of Chinese voices, I heard the exclamation, "Oh no! A snake!!" I nearly cracked up.
He mixes the Chinese and the English indiscriminately. Just a few minutes ago he was carrying around a little bird, going up to everything he saw-- books, chairs, Bella-- and asking, "Ni shi my mother?" (Are you my mother?) He'd look at me, expecting the standard response, "No, I'm not your mother. I'm a ______." It's a favorite game we play, and his favorite book to have read to him.
Incidentally, he loves mother-baby, or mother-father-baby animal sets. I noticed that very early, while we were still in China. Anytime he'd see a family of animals he'd excitedly point it out to us...."mama, baba, haizi!" I don't try to psychoanalyze that behavior; I just think it is precious. One of his favorite stuffed animals is a mother kangaroo with the joey in her pouch.
In other areas, he is making great strides. He loves the swings and will stay outside on them when the weather allows. He wanted so badly to learn how to pump on the swing like Maggie does. That skill can be observed, and taught to some degree, but only mastered once the motions are put together with the pushes and pulls at exactly the right places. He worked on it for days, awkwardly and with much effort. We smiled and encouraged, knowing the skill would soon click and be his possession forever. One day he stayed at it for hours, when finally late in the afternoon, he yelled, "Mama!!! Kan Kan!!!! (look! look!)" There he was, big as day, his feet nearly touching the tree tops, swinging like a champ.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of taking Caleb and the girls to Folly Beach, SC for three glorious days spent with some friends. Caleb took one look at the ocean and said, "Oh no!!!!" A look of disbelief came over him when we explained that we were going swimming in that ocean. He informed us, in words and gestures that, no, he would not be swimming in that great, big ocean.
Caleb came to us afraid of the water, having never seen a pool or the ocean in his first five years. We understood his hesitancy, but insisted that, yes, he would be going in that ocean. He very diplomatically tried to talk us out of it, but we held firm. And in no time, he was jumping waves with the best of them and asking for a boogie board to ride on like the big kids.
Now he loves the swimming pool as well and has cast off the cumbersome water wings and floating rings he no longer needs. He has come so far in such a short period of time.
Mealtime and bedtime continue to go very well. He has his favorite foods, naturally, but he'll eat whatever I serve without putting up a fuss. He cleans his plate, knowing that is the only way he's going to get any dessert. He hates to stop for the night and surrender to sleep, but he knows the routine: supper, bath, a short, quiet playtime, then nighty-night. He's out cold in just a few minutes.
And tomorrow will begin just as enthusiastically as today, with Caleb all dressed for the day and wearing a huge smile when he greets me in the morning.
So, there you have it. It is going great. He is happy all the time. He isn't ever bored. And he does light up the room.
No exaggeration. No rose-tinted glasses. Just the facts.
We are so blessed.