Our big 6-year-old. Full discretion here, we nickname our kids. We have nicknames that we share with our kids and then ones we do not. Zach and I like to
talk about our kids behind their backs talk about my days with the kids so we need nicknames to do that.
Tomas? Well Tomas we named “Beefy”. That sounds bad to those who don’t know him but believe me when I tell you that this kid is solid. As an example, Trysten is 1″ taller and 10lbs lighter than Tomas. It’s amazing. Tomas has a barreled chest, and a thick waist (it has gotten so much better since we got rid of his giardia though). Solid kid, absolutely.
I’m bringing this up so you can picture the effort it takes to pick him up and rock him when he’s hurt or how difficult it is to
not wince smile with pride when he runs headfirst at top speed into my arms.
But he’s starting to do both of those things with me, which is a huge improvement from just a few weeks ago.
Tomas has started to look at me with a warm smile and a giggle on his lips. He’s started to tease me and come to me with a question or a problem. It’s no longer exclusively daddy, and in a lot of cases he even seems to prefer me.
Our relationship has been very organic, I’ve purposely let him take his time getting to know me. I don’t force anything (though once in awhile I would do attachment related eye contact things) because I knew for the first few months he just needed to start to like me, then we could work on the love and trust deal later.
I think for him, and this probably wouldn’t work for everyone, giving him the freedom to come to me on his terms has been exactly what he needs. I think he needed to feel in control of the relationship with a woman for the first time and in letting him have some control in that, he has allowed himself to feel all kinds of things he was holding back for me.
Because of our newfound budding relationship, we have been able to see more of Tomas’ personality that the nannies/caretakers told us about in Ethiopia. He is fiercely smart, really funny and playful, he is helpful and kind. Tomas is
wimpy at times sensitive and full of joy. He has also gotten so much better at resisting the urge to “mommy shop” and, for the most part, no longer looks longingly at various dark-skinned dudes in hopes that they’ll be his dad.
Tomas sleeps well, takes naps well and is overall just a great kid. I am a little nervous the caretakers might have told him that he has to “be good” or we’d send him back, that is how good he is.
Tomas (and Trysten and Tariku) start school tomorrow. Trysten will be in 2nd, Tomas in 1st and Tariku in K. We have switched schools from last year (I’ll go into that more in another post) because this new school has a terrific ESL program. We’ve spent the last week working with the ESL teacher and the boys’ teachers on getting them ready.
Tomas is so excited to go to school. His teacher seems awesome. She came up to us last Thursday and told us that she had told the whole class about Tomas. They found Ethiopia on the globe and then she told them about what she had learned about Ethiopia. The kids fought over who could be his “school buddy” and by the time we went in to see his class on Thursday the teacher had picked out his desk and a water bottle. His face lit up.
I am nervous on so many levels for him to go to school but we know it’s the right thing for him, he is ready. I am nervous that all of the relationship stuff that’s been built between us will suffer, I’m nervous kids will tease him at school for not speaking the same language. I’m just nervous.
But I also know something that probably even Tomas doesn’t realize. I know that this is what Tomas looked like when he came into care in Ethiopia:
See that smile? Tomas knows not just how to live through impossible circumstances, but thrive in impossible circumstances. I know his strength in that thriving will be one of the things we have to break down a bit in order for him to fully trust in us and love us as his forever family but I also know it’s what got him through the last 2 years of his life. I’m not willing to break down the walls yet when he still has much work he needs to do.
But you guys, I’m telling you this without a shadow of a lie, I love him already. In truth, I thought I’d be much more attached to Bini than him right away because of his age, etc. But probably the nature of our relationship and the pace we are letting it go has helped me too. I’ve never put pressure on myself to feel something that wasn’t there with him and, in the end, that has been the sole factor in why I love him so much already.
We have a ways to go, me and Beef, but we’ll go there together and I’m sure
months years from now he’ll be calling me “Beef” and I’ll be looking him with the same googly eyes I reserve for all of my kids.
And really, how could I not?