Monday, January 28, 2008

Two Weeks Since We Took Custody

Two weeks ago we left Kharkov on the express train to Kyiv with Max, Misha, and Vitali. The first night was not good. The boys refused to go to bed, called us Russian toilet humor names and were just plain BAD! Vitali's lips were so chapped and cracked they were bleeding and his mouth was covered in blood. Misha was very kind but in a superficial way. Vitali would make little eye contact and was afraid of everything. Max was angry and grumpy. The boys were just plain rough around the edges.

We have discovered something. Whenever the boys get in trouble or are being disciplined they suddendly want a drink of water or they have to pee! I like to think of the glass as being half full; so, instead of saying we have some naughty boys, I prefer to say we have some very thirsty and leaky boys!

I am so happy to report the boys are doing well! Vitali is bonding well. There were days I simply could not go into work and one of us would just hold him. Bedtime is no longer a battle and the boys go right to sleep. However, I think the boys are afraid of lightning because tonight Melissa closed the garage door and Max and Misha went into complete meltdown mode crying and carrying on when they heard the noisy rumbling. It wasn't until I took them downstairs and showed them several times how loud the door can be that they believed me there was no thunderstorm!

Having worked as a RN and AEMT before starting my business I had seen people going through withdrawals or delirium tremens. In many ways Vitali went through a very similar process. It was so tough to see the monsters haunting our son as he fought between wanting to let go and love or withdrawing into a "never-never land" of emotional nowhere! Thursday was an important day and a series of connections and disconnections. There were a couple times we just held him as he arched his body, screamed in rage, and was mad at us and mad at the world. As he went to bed he spent 30 minutes telling me I was "ochin malinki" (very small) and he was "ochin balshoi" (very big). Friday morning started the same way and I scooped him up and started to hold him and no more than sixty seconds later Vitali rattled off "Ya loobloo papa" (I love papa), "ya loobloo mama" (I love mama), "Vitali malinki", "papa balshoi", and then in English "water, please."

Since then he has been a new boy: Fewer "nyeets!" He is not afraid of corners, stairs, closets, etc., etc. He will come to us seeking hugs, kisses or to be held. He says he loves us in Russian. He has become the sweetest little boy. Still naughty but sweet and much improved in the behavior department.

Other victories include voluntary seat belt buckling, no calling us toilet humor names, much fewer nyeets(NO), and much less whinnnnnningggggggggg! We have had no more floods because we no longer have a plug in the boys bathroom sink! The boys comply most of the time if they are told "NO". The problem is if they are not specifically told "no" that makes it an automatic YES!

Yesterday We did have incident! The boys have been loving playing outside. They had repeatedly been instructed on staying on our property. We have about one acre and there is plenty to do. Somebody has alway been with them but for just a few minutes they were alone and we had a breach! I left for work and the boys were playing outside. Melissa went inside for a few minutes to take care of something. It was just minutes but before we knew it our boys were on the front porch with a Loudon County Sheriff's Deputy. We live at the end of a dead end quiet country road and they had crossed it and were walking in the self storage buildings across the road.

The deputy realized quickly the boys did not speak English as they rattled on in Russian and sheepishly walked home. When I got home later we had what our pastor calls a "Come to Jesus meeting!!" In my best Russian, which is not good, I gave them a stern talk. They won't be playing outside without an eagle eye on them for a while now.

I have discovered a fun thing to do: make videotapes that I can use for future blackmail! Max will repeat anything I say; so I have some good footage! The boys all like playing with Barbie and will play dress up with the girls. The funniest thing is to see Max and Misha running through the house playing with their airplanes and wearing fairy wings.


PS. Not the usual method, but we use raw cabbage and tomatoes to bribe the boys to eat pizza!
The boys would prefer a diet of juice, yogurt, cabbage, carrots, buckwheat, soup, fruit, and water. If Misha is given any soda, he will say "nyeet" and ask for water!


BethPie said...

Oh wow! Thank you so much for the update on how they've been adapting. I have to admit that I laughed a few times while reading this. ;o) It really does sound like they're doing well. Especially since they're being covered in prayer by a Christian family.

BethPie said...

Oh, I forgot to ask... How are the girls handling all the excitement?

Kathy & Matt said...

Steve & Melissa,
It sounds like you are making great progress with the boys. It's so helpful to read some of the actual things you're experiencing so we keep them in mind when we get back.
I love the video blackmail -- way to plan ahead!!
Keep posting - we love reading!

Tami said...

Sounds like the boys are doing wonderfully, but I hope they got a good scare out of that walking off bit. I'm sure mama did!
Good thinking on the blackmail video. I'm going to have to keep that in mind. (Of course if you saw the video on the blog the other day of Maddie playing dress up you know I already have a little bit on her! :)

christie said...

Steve and Melissa,
You guys are handling them so very well! I'm so glad that little Vitali could feel safe in his rage and because of your loving response, knew it was safe to love you. That is HUGE progress. His whole world is turned upsidedown, and you are helping him to make sense of it.

Since our 2 little Ukrainians have been home we have learned to love,
beets, cabbage, buckwheat.....
and they too prefer water or finally milk, to sweet soda. That is great though!:)

Already caught by the police! LOL
I really had to laugh at that one.
That must have been something to talk about at the station later. :)

Christine said...

Intersting thing about the pizza. If they are anything like my girls were, pretty soon you won't have to be bribing anymore. :)

Funny thing about the water and having to use the restroom. Same things happens at bedtime around our house.

Mom Falk said...

Such great progress in such a short time! I'll say it again: both of you are using such great wisdom in training the boys to listen and love, and you are balancing that with giving the girls the attention they need. Not easy!