We haven't had a "shut down" in almost 2 weeks and when we did have that last one it only lasted 30 mins (record time for him). Now in the last 2 weeks when we say "no, we don't do that", "yes, you need to eat that", "that isn't nice and you need to say I'm sorry", etc, he might give me a look like he doesn't want to but he does what we say without problem. He has never given us any problems when it comes to showering/bathing, brushing teeth, doing his hair, settling down at night or going to bed and he still isn't....he is almost easier than our Jalen at all of these things!
The BIGGEST thing is that since I have last posted I think I have only used Amharic because I want to because I don't want him to lose the language and because I love it but in conversation with him, he is full English! I can't say he is fluent yet but he ONLY speaks English now (and honestly as much as I love this, it makes me a little sad too and I try daily to get him to speak Amharic which I think he thinks is weird). If you are around him and he isn't jabbering away it is solely because he is shy but he is overcoming this as well. It cracks me up because people that aren't around him all the time will get so excited when they hear him say one word in English but I promise this child understands just about everything you say to him and can (if he wants to) reply back appropriately. He will say "mommy, bike ride after dinner?", "shower then movie, I pick?", "more meat and cheese please" (this is in reference to a turkey and melted cheese on whole wheat tortilla that he loves) and during match game play with his little brother we often hear "daddy/mommy Jalen cheating!"
We live in a smaller town and Fetinet goes to a school that is well known for its academic achievements and is K-12 (I didn't know those still existed until we moved here) but how crazy is it that his teacher is the wife of a local pastor who began a ministry with a mission to change one AIDS orphan (in Malawi, Africa) at a time so that they might grow up to change a village, or a nation. Check out what they do at their website Malawi Orphan Ministries or on their M.O.M.S Facebook Page. We had first grade night yesterday which is so funny to go from having a 3 year old in daycare to having a school-aged child and being in a classroom for a meeting, I felt so old! After the meeting was over I talked with Fetinet's teacher and she said he is doing great, participating and talking to her and doing activities with all the other kids and she said it is very rewarding to see his eyes just taking everything in and learning. I would agree, this child loves to play but I do see a side of him that likes to learn and loves to do something right and be proud of himself to the point that he giggles and gets embarrassed by it. Now let me say tonight was our first night of homework with him, sounding out sight words and reading 2 short sentences in a reader. In his little Ethiopian accent he sounded out: can, cat, bat, at, an, on, back, sack, tap and a couple others. We helped him but most of them if he took his time and looked at the letters he would say "B, buh, buh-aah T, tuh, buh-aah-tuh, bat!" I mean learning how to speak a language is one thing and I can attest learning the amount of Amharic I know wasn't easy but it didn't take long to say something a couple times and have it committed to memory. I still cannot write or read it because they don't use letters that we do, they have their own characters, over 150 of them! To write the word "Ethiopia" in Amharic looks like ኢትዮጵያ. So imagine trying to see our "characters" that look just as crazy and trying to remember what each one sounds like, especially when an Amharic letter that sounds like "je" looks like and English "P" or a letter that sounds like "ha" looks like a "U". All this to say I am one proud mom, he is going to do great!
Last update that is very VERY special to me is that as of last night, I got some full, very tight hugs from him on his own doing. We all sit on the couch and let the boys lay down and watch a movie to relax before bed. Last night I had 2 arms wrapped around me tightly with a big squeeze every now and then, this was a first and in my opinion a BIG first for him. Then tonight as I was typing he came over and just sat on my lap and then when he got up and I said "can I have a hug", he gave me a full hug right away with both arms fully wrapped around me just like it was the most normal thing in the world. This may seem so small to some of you and maybe your adopted kids did this day 1 but we are on day 51 and in the past if I asked for a hug and gave him one, I might have gotten a single limp arm kind of reaching around me but usually just both arms hanging down at his sides so this was HUGE! There has honestly been a corner turned in his transition and it is just crazy to think back to 2 weeks ago where we were at and where we are now. I hope this gives anyone struggling with a new transition or getting ready to bring their child home, some hope, insight, and faith that the rough times will become less and the wonderful times will become more and although every child is so different and has had a very different past they do all need time to transition and when you start seeing them act naturally as part of your family it might be the best and most rewarding feeling ever!
I will leave you with something that brought tears to my eyes tonight from my little one. Jalen is our youngest son and our only biological child and he is the most compassionate, sweet, polite, smart, caring and loving 3.5 yr old boy I have ever met (yes I am partial but seriously, he is something special). He thanks us for everything without us asking, "mommy, thank you for making dinner for me", "daddy thank you for letting me ride my bike", "Petinet I love you and missed you at school today" and the list goes on. He loves his "Petinet" and tries to talk like him. That love isn't always reciprocated by "Petinet" though and when Jalen runs up to give him a big bear hug, Fetinet usually just stands there or turns away but Jalen doesn't give up. If Fetinet plays a game with him and plays nicely, it warms Jalen's heart and he gets so excited. If Fetinet gets a question right about something or speaks in good English, Jalen smiles and says "good job Petinet!". Now they do play together at times and Fetinet does seem to like having him as his brother but if I was giving someone so much love and they weren't reciprocating, I'm not sure how much I would be happy about that at Jalen's age. Tonight Jalen ran up to me and gave me a big hug and a kiss and said "mommy I miss you when you were in Africa!" I said "I know baby, I missed you too but do you know why I was in Africa?" then he said it..."Yes, to pick up Petinet, Mommy thank you for bringing my brother home to me". Jason and I both looked at each other just in awe of Jalen. I am SO proud of that little boy and it makes me cry just re-typing this.