For the first week-ish of being parents, we had the head knowledge that we were parents...but the "We are actually parents to these 3 children for the rest of our/their lives" hadn't quite sunk it yet. We've both taken care of nieces & nephews for a weekend or even longer at times. Obviously this has a different perspective than taking care of someone else's kids, but I don't think I really 'felt' like a Mami until the last week or so...it took a while to truly sink in!
Robert and I have the desire to start from square one with our children and 'train them up in the way they should go'. The unique challenge with our children is that they have received 'training' from other people in their lives before they met us. Direct and indirect training. Training that has been helpful to us, and training that maybe has provided us with some challenges too.
I try to imagine being in their shoes. For Juancho & Laura - the first 5 to 7 years of their life they were with their biological mother (and possibly father). They learned to operate under her rules, her discipline, possibly learned how to manipulate their mother into getting what they want, learned values (both positive or negative ones), etc. Then the 3 of them, after Angie's birth, lived with a foster mother and her two children for nearly 3 years. They learned a new set of rules, a new set of family dynamics, a new way of discipline, and so many other new things (both positive & negative).
Now they are with us - their 'Forever Family'. But yet they are in a place where they are again learning new personalities, new family dynamics, new rules (we made a poster of "Las Reglas de la Familia Dressel" (Rules of the Dressel Family) and hung it on the door in our room the other day), new discipline, new values, new expectations, new ways of love being shown, so many new things. What the children may not fully grasp yet is that this is the LAST time they will have to learn it all again for the first time. There will not be another new family 2 or 3 years down the road. We are it!
We love being parents. It is wonderful in so many ways. In the first few days of getting to know each other, and even when the more challenging days come - as we teach how our family operates, what is expected, and what will be the outcome (positive or negative) of a given behavior. Those who have adopted sibling groups in the recent past have all said the same thing..."Just wait until you are 4, 6, 8 or 12 months into your life as a family and see how far you have all come". Right now I cannot imagine my children speaking English to us and each other most of the time. But I know it will happen. I can't imagine Juancho or Laura consistently choosing not to pout and storm off if Mami or Papi says no to something they want (though we are already seeing some small improvements in this area), I cannot imagine the day when Laura won't whine about something or there won't be any fights between the 3 children, but I believe all of these days will happen!
In the meantime, when we find ourselves faced with a new challenge, with something that makes us say 'Huh, we haven't talked about how to handle that', we go back to what the foundation of our parenting - and truly the foundation of our lives and our marriage is...Christ. We have been given the gift of raising up these children - to serve as godly parents that parent them in a way that reflects the attributes of Christ as best as we can in our flawed humanity. When I find myself exasperated, frustrated, at a loss of knowing what to do, my desire is to more and more say a quick prayer - "Lord give me your wisdom, direction & strength...show me how to be the best Mami to Juancho, Laura, Angie right now and always." We are all learning together...it is a beautiful thing.
We spent the morning this morning working on homework with Juancho & Laura - they are working on colors, animals and the words 'big' & 'small'. Later we played Monopoly (the Colombian version) and Battleship. We then went out with our friend Tamara & baby John to pick up a couple Christmas presents. Later we had lunch at our favorite burger place (El Corral) and poked our heads in a couple stores before walking by a park on the way home. This afternoon Juancho played a couple online ESL video games while Mami & Papi rested by watching Narnia. Laura played outside with her friend Jamie (whom Juancho declared tonight is his girlfriend...uh oh - it is starting already!) and Angie napped (so did Mami & Papi a bit). After dinner tonight we played Alphabet Bingo with the older kids and then watched a pirated version of Ratatoille that someone left at this residence! As the kids were going to bed, Laura told me the story of Little Red Riding Hood in Spanish ("Abuela, que grande ojos tu tienes!"). They went to sleep pretty well...though that may be in part due to them being able to stay up past their normal bedtime as a treat.
Pray for Robert as he has been sick with a sinus infection and an ongoing tummy discomfort. He got a Z-pack today to hopefully knock out his sinus infection in the next couple days...but it is never fun to be sick!
Tomorrow we are planning to go to the Sunday markets to do some bargaining! We will let you know how it goes!
Good Night! With love from the Dressel's!
Juancho & Laura putting together a puzzle this morning
Juancho & Angie ready to head out for a walk to the park
Angie "playing dead"...one of her favorite games
Angie & Papi taking a nap this afternoon...so cute!
Angie brushing her teeth with nothing on but underwear, and shoes & socks, of course! She does like to brush though (that 's good news for Dr. Perry's office!)