I figured it was time to give a good update to what’s happening around our house these days. Although the game of “Whack A Mole” is still going on, Tom and I are getting better at it so we are winning more often than losing now. We’ve realized that staying calm during storms is the key to winning this fight. Fight you say? Yes, fight. This is a fight between good and evil and the enemy is roaring about, so angry that we’ve taken 4 teens off the street where he had them and we are teaching them how to be great people. He is doing his best to keep them in his pocket.
We’ve had no more runaways or run-ins with the police. I’m sleeping at night again. Whew! What a relief that is!
It is coming up on 2 years since Vlad came home and he has many, many more good days than bad. He mightily resists his dad’s influence and when Tom speaks Vlad’s ears close. He is slowly learning that dad holds the keys to a great future and to ignore that causes more mistakes, which in turn, cause him to lose out on things. His mantra, “I’ll be 18 soon (April) and I can do what I like then” is followed by one of us saying, “yes, as long as you are either paying the bills here, or have your own place”. Followed by a defiant, “fine, I’ll move out then”. Followed by our, “OK, what is your plan for that”? Followed by silence. And there it ends. We have to try hard not to laugh and incur more anger.
Mornings are much better after I had a talk with him about the words, “Good Morning” and how they are meant to wish someone a good day. When he comes down it’s polite to wish the other people a good morning instead of being a sour Ukrainian pickle. He thought that was funny and has been quite humorous in the mornings ever since. That has made the chaotic 75 minutes before school much better for everyone. Although he still resists being the leader, he does set the tone for the rest of the Ukrainians, and if he is jovial then they will be, too.
Yuri is very hard to read. I’ve never had a teen like him so we are still feeling our way with him. He is smart, and wants a lot out of life but would rather it be given to him on a silver platter. I think he wishes his family was enormously rich and would just buy him everything he wants. I keep telling him that Yahweh put him in the family that was right for him, for the right reasons, to bring him up to be the person he is supposed to be. We are working diligently on his work ethics and his propensity for having others do his chores. More times than I can count I will see someone else doing something I told Yuri to do. He’s learning that he gets double chores for that trick though so it’s not happening as often. Smirk!
We are so proud of him for his work in school. He was moved up from ESL communications to English 9 and that’s a huge move. His ESL teacher raves about him. His grades are decent and being in 9th grade he has an excellent chance at a pretty decent GPA upon graduation if he keeps this up. Again though he puts off doing things he doesn’t like so much of his grade is low simply because work hasn’t been done.
Daniel is having fun in school and that’s what I’m sticking with. This term he has two gym classes as electives and is over the moon. He wants a job really badly so we’ve applied a few places. He has selective hearing which I told him would keep him from being hired. Selective hearing?? Yes, Daniel, selective hearing. When I tell you to do something you say yes and then you don’t do it. No employer is going to accept that kind of behavior. I don’t think I can allow you to get a job if you don’t do what mom and dad say. You should have seen him move!! Love having stuff to hang over their heads. (Yes, I’m that mom!)
It’s true in a job. When we owned the salons I had to fire many a teenager because they thought my orders were just suggestions. Why parents don’t teach their children about this I don’t know. Bosses are not going to tolerate it. The act of agreeing to do something does not cause that thing to magically happen. Weird, I know.
Anna is the girl we met in Ukraine. Happy, smiling, hugging me all the time. She is my shadow and I can barely leave the house anymore without her tagging along. On Saturday I had an Arbonne event and left before 8 a.m. She was up and showered and ready to go with me. After sitting in the event until well past 1 p.m. she was all smiles still. On the ride home I asked her if she had fun and got a big nod yes. Go figure. I don’t even think she understood most of what was going on. Last night I did a presentation at the Mercedes dealership and she went again. On the way home she asked if she could have the presentation on the computer so she could translate it. She wanted to understand it. OK then! Future Arbonnite! 🙂
We have her doing Horizon’s kindergarten and she translates all of the instructions herself. After just a few weeks she is half-way through the entire curriculum and her English skills have improved dramatically. It was a huge breakthrough when we started having her translate the instructions instead of us showing her how to do something. We actually can converse now. On our way home on Saturday I asked what she was going to do when we got home. She replied, school. Love this girl!!
After all that we went through with her I can’t believe she is even the same girl who was screaming at the police and wanting another family. That rough road has led to this. It can only be Yahweh’s hand. Wow!
Katherine made a stuffed animal in sewing class and presented it to Anna last week. Anna sleeps with it every night and now they are best friends. Much better than the sworn enemies of a few weeks ago. So all in all we’re doing good. It has made me reflect on a few things pertaining to bringing teen orphans here. I’ll share them in hopes it might make a difference to others. This comes from bringing 4 different teens from 3 different orphanages at 2 different times. A good variety I would say.
None of this is in any particular order.
1. No one is alike. They all have different personalities, different backgrounds, different trauma’s and different ways of expressing themselves. What works for one causes another one to explode.
2. American sarcastic humor is hard for them to understand and we simply say, “American sarcasm” so they know we’re joking. Then we ask them for some Ukrainian humor. If not, it will be WWIII with them thinking …. well, they can be thinking just about anything, none of it good.
3. This goes with #1. Just because public, or private, or whatever school works for one doesn’t mean it’s going to work with all of them. Or at the same time. We’ve made our share of mistakes on this one. Looking back we should have kept all of them home until they at least had basic English skills. Communication is so critical and they are missing out on a lot. Now that Anna is home we’re seeing that she is going to far exceed any education the boys will get (with possibly the exception being Yuri simply because he has good English skills already). She is learning at a far more rapid pace.
4. Bonding. This cannot be overstated. Give them time to bond with your family before putting them into another institution. Again, mistakes made on our part. Anna is now bonding with us. We almost missed out on that and it was causing so many of the problems she had. The bonding that should have happened with Daniel and Yuri has not. I don’t know if it ever will at this point. They are now immersed in the school culture. They don’t spend time at home unless they are eating or sleeping. They want to be going, all the time. I believe we are no different than the caretakers to them. Except that we make them do chores and yell at them if they don’t take a shower. Really. No joking here.
I have more of these but will save them for another day.
Lastly, my birthday was extra special this year. Anna made me a poster board sized card and glued lots of pictures cut out of magazines of things she thought I would like. (We had a dream board making night for my Arbonne team recently and she was very intrigued.) She put an old picture of herself in the middle and a big “I love you mama” with her name. Then Vlad spent hours drawing a large card and put everyone’s name on it, then wrapped up one of his only Ukraine treasures, a orthodox cross. From a boy who came here with nothing except a couple of things like that and he gave it to me. AND said it was from all the Ukrainians. What a giving heart he has. And he said, “I’ve never given a mom something for her birthday before”. Awww…. Katherine made me a family video to music. My heart is full. Love, love, love home made gifts and the hearts they come from!
We are coming along here at the Ray house. One day at a time.