Now that we have had our son for a full week, we feel like we are getting to know him a little bit. Obviously, he will continue to change as he gets more comfortable with us, and we both know that there is a lot about him that we won't discover for quite a while. Even so, we are starting to get to know the real him, and he is a pretty great little guy.
He has some very strange little quirks. He LOVES paper. Tags from clothing, labels from water bottles, wrappers from snacks - pretty much any kind of paper. He will walk around collecting it and clutch it in his left hand like it is a treasure. We have decided that he can have any of the paper from our room, but he is NOT allowed to pick paper up off the street. He threw a few fits the first few days when we wouldn't let him do this, but he has accepted our compromise now. He also loves spinning things. Coins, lids, water bottles, balls. He will stand at the little table in our room and spin and spin and spin.
Several things about him have been easier than we expected. Often children from institutions are afraid to take a bath, and we were expecting this to be the case for him. He was a little timid the first two times, but now he loves his bath. When he is stressed or overstimulated, his bath calms him back down every time. He is a great eater. We haven't found anything that he won't eat, although he isn't crazy about tomatoes or peaches. He is a really great sleeper too. He sleeps 11 to 12 hours at night and takes a 2 hour nap each afternoon. He has appropriate fear of danger. He is very frightened of moving cars, and insists on holding our hands whenever he is out of the room. We took him to the park to play with bubbles, and he loved chasing them around to pop them, but he was very, very careful not to go too far away from us. Finally Greg and I moved to opposite sides of the little courtyard, and he was happy to run all around between us popping bubbles.
Other things about him have been pretty challenging. He has no language, at all. Not even one word. We know that he can hear, because he reacts appropriately to many sounds. He turns to the elevator when the bell dings, and comes running to the bathroom when he hears the water running. He often turns when we call his name, especially if the room is quiet. We have tried to teach him words and signs in English. He seems to recognize several of them now - his name, no, shoes, eat, drink, bath, Mommy, Daddy, diaper, etc - but he does not attempt to use any of them. He will communicate in his own way. He slides his water bottle toward me when he wants a drink. He brings me the bag of snack food when he wants a snack. He will bring us toys to turn on or open. Once, he took my hand and led me to the bathroom to indicate that he wanted a bath.
He has a nasty temper. His level of frustration stays pretty high, probably because of the lack of communication, and it doesn't take much to send him into a fit. We are trying to learn the difference between the melt-downs that he can't control because of sensory overload, and the tantrums just because he doesn't get his own way. We are making some progress in this area, but we still have a long way to go. He seems to get mad at Greg even more quickly, and often gives him trouble over things that he does well for me. He really is a Mommy's boy, and wants to know where I am all of the time. Often he doesn't interact directly with me, but he wants to be near me. He usually picks the hard surface closest to me to do his spinning. If I am sitting on the bed, he will spin his toys on the end table. Then, if I move to the closet, he doesn't say anything, or look directly at me, but he will gather his toys and come spin them on the dresser by the closet. He is a funny little guy. He does enjoy playing with us for short stretches of time, and he has even started initiating play with us by bringing a toy over and dropping it in our laps. He also really enjoys books, and will sit in my lap and turn the pages while I read.