5:45 the clock read. A mostly full night’s sleep to start the day.
6:30. Slowly, I opened the door to the boys’ room, fully expecting everyone to be sound asleep though Jacob and Zachary needed to be up getting ready for school.
“Hi!” It was the first time I heard him speak. The nightlight silhouetted his beautiful smile. Movement spread in all the beds. For the first time in history, all 3 of my boys bounced out of beds with cheerful hearts and sunny smiles. They were dressed and ready for school in 5 minutes compared to the typical 40 minutes it takes them. There was no bickering, no fighting, no complaining. It was a parent’s dream morning on a school day. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
First meal together as this temporary family of 6. The blessing was said, little was eaten. Excitement maybe? Steve voiced concerns that he hadn’t eaten anything and got out the translate app to make sure Viktor understood to let us know when he was hungry. What he didn’t eat at breakfast he made up for quickly. He basically ate all day long. An entire bag of carrots, 4 hotdogs, banana, 4 pieces of cornbread, 5 slices of ham, 3 cheesesticks, almonds, 3 glasses of milk, 5 glasses of water, full plate of spaghetti, and I’m sure more I’m leaving out.
Boys headed out to school, Steve off to work. “Come on Andrew, let’s take Viktor upstairs and show him his clothes.” The 3 of us made our way into the guest room where we have drawers set up for his clothes.
I waved my hands at the items of clothing in the closet. “These are for you,” I said to him as I pointed to him. I lifted out a polar bear shirt and pants. “You like these?” I asked showing him a thumbs up with a smile or thumbs down with a shake of my head. He responded with a thumbs up. The soccer shirt received the same response. The hand-me-down guitar and peace frog shirts got thumbs up. The one shirt I picked out, he tilted his head to the side, with this sheepish little grin and shook his head side to side while he gave me the thumbs down.
Clothing settled, we moved into the bathroom where I showed him how to operate the shower, how to adjust the temperature, how to use a washcloth, how to brush your teeth. Still few words coming from him.
The 2nd word I heard from his lips. “Mom,” he called out to me as he pointed to a pack of floss broken on the floor. I always wondered what he would call us. Would he call us Steve and Renee? Would he never address us by anything? Or would he call us what he heard our own boys calling us?
He led me around our house pointing to our family pictures. He touched my arm as he pointed to my picture. “Mom,” he said. He pointed to Steve. “Dad.” As he pointed to each of our boys he held up fingers to show me how old they each were. Steve had shared this information at breakfast with him.
I began bathing Andrew while Viktor played with cars on my bathroom floor. “Lay back so I can wash your hair,” I instructed him. Viktor set his cars aside and joined me at the side of the tub, his arm resting into mine. Touch doesn’t bother him. In fact the more we give him the more he wants. He watched closely as I washed Andrew’s hair. He leaned in and touched his little blond curls. And he smiled. Then he turned back to his cars.
As Andrew played in the tub, I brushed my teeth. Again he stopped what he was doing. And he watched me. Closely. The entire time I brushed my teeth, he never broke concentration. When I made eye contact, he just smiled at me and looked down.
He raced through the house going from window to window, door to door. At the first opportunity to go outside, we were out. Being with him was like being with a toddler. Not because of behavior, but because of his sheer delight in all things new, all things simple, all things we typically rush right past or take for granted.
Cars whizzing by made him nervous. Each squirrel he spotted caused him to call for me so I could see it. We biked down the sidewalk and he ventured off the path mesmerized by the creek, the birds, the rocks. He noticed everything. Delighted in it all.
I did life with Viktor today, like I should do life every single day. I was 100% fully in every single moment. I ignored the phone most of the day, my house did not look the way I like, I didn’t stick to my typical schedules. But I was WITH him. When he rode his bike, I rode mine with him. Because he asked me to. When he asked me to ride electric scooters with him, for hours, I did. The looks I got from cars passing by were priceless. How many adults do you typically see scootering with their kids. This was a first for me!
Every white car that went by he would call out, “Dad?” To which I’d answer, soon. He continually asked me how long until the boys got home from school.
And I was so invested in the day, I actually did forget to go pick up carpool! Completely lost track of time and Steve bailed me out.
I have never been prouder of my boys than I was tonight. They took to Viktor immediately. They treated him like he was their brother. Or better. They had his best interest at heart constantly.
Bike riding and balls are instant bonders. I walked outside as the 3 older boys were heading my way on bikes. Viktor hollered out, “Mom!” as he wildly waved at me. I heard Zachary say, “Did he just call her mom?” Immediately, I began to worry my boys would feel jealous. Bringing their bikes to a halt in front of me, Jacob wore the most beautiful, genuine smile on his face as I confirmed that he did in fact call me mom. Zachary replied, “That is so cool.”
The evening was full of basketball with Steve, park trip with Steve, soccer match with boys and friends up the street, games, hide and seek, and simply being together.
So many times through the night, Jacob came to me and said how much he loves having Viktor here, will we ever have him here again, etc.
Our family already loves him to pieces. And he seems to love us back.
As I read bedtime stories, he would lay his head into me. If I were near him, he would reach his hand up to touch my shoulder. You can tell he likes the touch, he just doesn’t know how to do it. With the boys, he tickles them constantly. Maybe it is the only way he knows how to show affection to our boys? To Andrew, he will gently touch his curls. He will walk by the boys and tap their head, which lights them up! When Steve reached for his hand to pray at dinner, he didn’t hold back. When we sat down to lunch and I didn’t pray immediately, he said, “Mom.” I looked at him with his hands together and head bowed. He saw us do it one time, and he knew it was important and a part of our family and he wanted to take part again.
This post only gives a surface glimpse written in scattered fashion of what we experienced on our first day with our host son. We are exhausted, but full. A different kind of joy was experienced in our home tonight.