Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Family

I don't come from a big family. I lost my grandparents at 3, 5, 14 and 20 years of age, and my aunts, uncles and six cousins all live out of state and we go years in between visits. So one of the greatest blessings of my life is that I was taught through words and actions that the definition of family extends beyond generics. Growing up, our home and table were always crowded with my parents' coworkers, my dad's students, and friends from work, school, church and wherever. Consequently, I readily embrace others and include them as family. Our family here in Georgia included Simon's foster family, our driver Misha and his family and our hotel family. All of them have been wonderful friends and supporters and we look forward to staying in touch and bringing Simon back to Georgia for visits as he grows up.

Ben's last day in Georgia was Sunday and we spent much of the day with Simon's foster family who invited us over for khachapuri (cheese bread) and lobiani (bean bread). We had the most amazing visit. We got to play with all the kids, talk with the adults and eat together. It really felt like a big family gathering! We brought presents from Oregon for everyone and Ana's daughter Elena thought that with all the excitement, there must be something to celebrate, so she kept saying it was Nijatee's (Simon's) birthday! Nana, Nino, Dato and Ana shared more stories of Simon and gave us a sleeper and a onsie that Simon wore when he first came to them at one month old. What a blessing that day was for them, for us and, most of all, for Simon! Their love for him is precious and genuine.

Saying goodbye was very hard. Though I expect to see some, if not all, of the family this week, Ben had to say goodbye. Everyone, including the kids, gave him hugs and kisses. He toughed it out while we were there and saved his tears for later, but I got choked up and tearful watching him say goodbye and could barely talk. Simon seemed to know that we were there to visit, for when it was time to go, he brought me my jacket and led me to the door. He waved goodbye to everyone and was content to leave with us. I held him close as we rode down in the elevator, praying to thank God for the wonderful child and family he brought into our lives.

In the evening, I tried to suppress my mommy tendency to jump in to give Ben as much time with his son as possible. I distracted myself by packing for Ben while he got in a lot of good play time, did bath time all by himself, and cuddled with Simon while they watched a movie. Simon was a bit restless after the excitement of visiting his foster family, so didn't got to bed until midnight. Ben had to be up at 3:30 to get his taxi to the airport and when Simon almost fell out of bed around 1am, I plopped him in our bed and we spent the next hour or so whispering about our son and family and watching Simon sleep. Simon slept through Daddy leaving, including kisses, but I had trouble getting back to sleep. Around 5:30am, I finally broke down and took some benadryl. Luckily, Simon slept until 10:30am, so I did manage a little sleep.

When Simon woke up, he looked to our bed for Daddy and when he didn't see him, he went running to the bathroom calling, "Daddy?!" He was surprised not to find his Daddy. I showed him his airplane toy and said, "Daddy went home, but we will see him soon," but he, of course, didn't really understand. He was distracted by the airplane toy, though, so played for awhile. He was not in a mood to get dressed or put on socks, but I was getting quite hungry for breakfast (and I'm sure he was too), so we had a two-year-old versus Mommy battle over getting dressed (except for the socks). We had a leisurely breakfast, then went out to walk to the little neighborhood play yard. There was another little boy and his mother there throwing the basketball, which fascinated Simon. We played for a bit before Simon decided it was time to go.

Since he wanted to ride in the stroller, we ended up going for a pretty long walk, stopping at the bookstore and to buy flowers for grandma and grandpa. Simon sang songs most of the walk, but also asked for "ebi" (gum) every time we passed a tobacco shop. At one point he even yelled, "ginda ebi" (I want gum) and a man on the street turned to laugh. I was also stopped by several young women along the way who were concerned that Simon's shoe was about to fall off because it was turned sideways. A couple older women also stopped me to feel Simon's ears to see if he was cold because he didn't have a stocking hat on, only his jacket hood. Since Simon had been so good, said "please," and since I was in a sucker mood being a single mom for the day and missing Daddy, I bought him some gum as a treat before we went back to the hotel. This turned out to be a mistake because Simon wouldn't spit it out for his nap. I ended up taking the gum package from him which made him cry and then reaching in to pull the gum out of his mouth while he cried. Not my first choice, but the safest strategy (both for him not sleeping with gum and for me to avoid getting bitten).

Flowers for Grandma and Grandpa
After nap, we ate and played with modeling clay for an hour and then it was time to leave to pick up Grandma and Grandpa at the airport. Their flight was due in at 6:10pm, so we left at 5pm in case of traffic. Unfortunately, Georgian Airways doesn't update their flight status so it wasn't until we got to the airport (within 30 minutes because traffic wasn't bad after all) that we found out the flight was delayed by 40 minutes. It ended up not arriving until after 7pm, so we had a long wait at the airport. Entertaining a two-year old at the airport was not very easy and I had to tell him "ara" (no) a lot. First we colored on paper I brought, then played games on the iPhone, then walked around, then climbed on a railing, then looked at all the advertisements and named colors, then walked around, then went to the bathroom, then walked around, then tried to escape, then watched an advertisement that changed on a rolling screen (Simon thought it was a touch screen because it changed ads several times just when he happened to touch it), then climbed on some chairs, then walked from chair to chair to chair to chair... Simon got hungry and ate all the snacks I'd brought (raisins, pretzels and M&Ms), but I'd forgotten to bring money with us (Ben's handled the money the whole time so I haven't had to think about it), so when Simon spotted the cafe and wanted a snack, I didn't have money to buy him something. So a good bit of the time, I was trying to keep Simon out of the cafe, which was difficult given that it is right next to the arrival waiting area.

"Touch screen" effect advertisement
We had a sign all ready to greet Grandpa and Grandma but because
the flight was late, it ended up in my pocket. They did get it a few days later.
Climbing on the railing
Walking up and down the airport seats
Finally Grandma and Grandpa arrived! Simon was quiet for a few minutes, but warmed up to them in the car. He and Grandpa grabbed at each other's fingers from front seat to back seat and he showed Grandma the little cars we'd brought along. By the time we arrived at the hotel, he seemed pretty comfortable with them. Throughout the day, I'd shown him their pictures and we'd practiced saying Grandma and Grandpa. Simon was very excited to show them all his toys, so we played for awhile before heading to dinner at Guinness. Grandma and Simon shared some Khinkali and Grandpa and Simon shared tomato-cucumber salad. Simon let Grandma carry him part of the way back to the hotel too. Back at the hotel, Grandma helped Simon with his bath while I called Shriners and Simon's pediatrician to make appointments. He'll see his pediatrician on Friday when we get back and he'll have a check-up, immunization titers, get a flu shot and maybe get a referral for PT/OT for his arm/foot. We'll go to Shriners on 12/11 to consult for repair of his clubfoot. After bath time, Grandma and Grandpa cuddled on the floor with Simon and they watched Winnie the Pooh together. Then we all said the bedtime prayer which I learned when I was little and which Daddy and I are now teaching Simon. It is so good to have them here!

Watching a bedtime video

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