Monday, January 16, 2012

Five Months in Derschdom

How could I not write a quick something about 
Life in Derschdom 
when Maylin has been home for 5 months?

I would love to recap the month in some tidy little capsules for you to ingest, and let you get a feel for what life is like in Maylin's world--Our world. 

I had an appreciation tonight, while I wrote the name of each family member in her little pink notebook ("my book. not Beff. Grammaaaaaa, give Beff book. Mama, Maylin book") that Maylin is (and will be) who she is (and will be) because of all those names we were practicing.

I alluded in an earlier post that it is fun to watch the personalities that God put together in our family help Maylin grow in various ways. Tonight I wrote each name and we compared 

M-m-m-m-Maylin and M-m-m-m-Mama. SAME!
B-e-th is like B-e-n. Buh-eh,  Buh-eh, Beth. Buh-eh,  Buh-eh, Ben. SAME!

When the line-up of names have a pattern, like ours do,
it makes for some built-in phonics lessons.
Look carefully for the stocking on the "stairs"
 I confidently bought "our final and forever" Christmas stockings in 2009 
and had them monogrammed:

Conveniently, Mark was okay with giving up his stocking, so the M that used to mean Mark now represents Maylin. Mark and I will get new ones that don't "match-match" the rest.  It's all good.

I must admit in the quietest corners of my Mother-heart, I wondered back in 2006, with the adoption of Matthew, if  one day, we'd have another M coming.  

My hat is off to those who bring home an older child as an "only." I am not sure Maylin or I could handle that kind of pressure. I like her. I love her. I enjoy her. And after a school day alone with her, I quietly breathe a tiny sigh of relief when she heads off to interact with someone other than me.

But there's also a down-side to those taking the pressure off me.
She is like most six year olds: a sponge.
She is learning English at a staggeringly quick pace (of which our friends learning Czech were jealous) and she is beginning to share some Chinese words for items in our daily life and she is 
Americanizing in remarkable ways, including the intonation of 

Taunting a sibling, just like she'd been taught: by that same sibling.

The youngest three are at difficult ages in the maturation process, regardless of any other curve balls they might experience: 6, 9, and 10. The 11 year old doesn't factor into this particular discussion because he has a whole different set of dynamics at work in his relationships with the other Littles. From 9-12 are the years that I have found my kids need more assistance in learning what 
kindness means in day-to-day life. They have gained the independence of having their own extensive interactions, well outside of adult earshot at times, while not having an fully developed sense of self-control when it comes to handling (or avoiding) conflict.

What that looks like for this season in our home is that two of the kids gang up on the third by being unkind, or exclusive, and just plain mean. And tomorrow, the dice are rolled again, and a different two kids turn on the third. What one used as a taunt yesterday is turned back on their tender feelings today...and it isn't nearly as fun to receive as it was to give! 
(See? Your mom was right: "It IS better to give than receive." But not in ways I'd prefer...)

When I'm not over-tired, I actually think it's a great thing that we're at this annoying spot. It helps me know that Maylin's emotional age is pretty close to her chronological age, and that she is right about where my other kids have been developmentally at 6 years old. While I don't enjoy the discomfort of dealing with the issues, it gives me very concrete examples for us to consider how we feel when we are treated "that way." 

A character issue that dove-tails with this is the sibling who assumes the authority of the parent over their sibs. Every kid is susceptible. I don't think we parents sound as bossy as they sound when they try it.

 (ha! as if I ever sound like that....uh, only occasionally...maybe...)

A friend with kids of similar ages to ours has instituted a delightful thing in her home. If a child wants to exert parental authority over a brother or sister, they pay by getting parental responsibilities. She starts with the especially fun ones:  like toilet cleaning. They have more than one toilet in the house, so she can add to the list if the child choses to not respond quickly, sweetly and completely. Isn't that a clever training tool? She's proving to be a resourceful mom and great friend in my life.

It helps to have a good sleep, and remember that I'm in this training thing because God has put it all together in this way, for this time. I'll embrace it, as much as possible.

So, now I owe you an update on Maylin, specifically.

She is amazing in the most amazing ways. Her Chenglish continues to add vocabulary and speed. She is more comfortable, or her brain is more accepting, of using both English and Chinese. She'll correct our pronunciation when we ask her about words/items. (So, we'll probably sound like fluent 6 year olds when we use Mandarin!) She can count up to 60 almost independently and then tires out (it is boring...) but makes it to 100 with few mistakes when we count along. Maylin recognizes the written and oral numbers 1-10 and can put them in proper order. She enjoys doing household tasks, and forks are never lined up neater than when she helps me unload the dishwasher. She plays favorites between Mark and I. We don't let it faze us, and she switches randomly. She's still pretty impressed with the size of the family. "Many, many. Beeg." was repeated several times as she looked over the list of family names we wrote in her prized notebook this evening.

The highlight of the month for me was the Children's Christmas Musical at church. Maylin glowed as she dressed in her new clothes. She sparkled as she took the stage with the other kids. She radiated pure happiness for 45 minutes while she stood and sang (and occasionally bellowed) the songs she had practiced daily for the past 4 months. Her lip sync was off a little on some of the trickier lyrics, but her heart never missed a beat of the music. Pure joy. It makes me cry again as I remember it. She was the happiest she's been since she came home.

I probably have hardships coming this year, and maybe some things I'd consider unbearable. I'm pretty certain I have great joys headed my way, also. But regardless of the circumstances, whether I'm refereeing round 6 of Childhood Squabbles, or wallowing in sweet hugs and Christmas performances,

I want to take joy in it.
Be intentional.
Smell the roses.
Remember to make memories.
Do my best to make Derschdom Home Base,
where they can run back to when they need to be safe.
Or if they need ice cream.

Our Pigs' Trough of ice cream. Oh, yeah.


  1. I was amazed on Saturday how much Maylin has changed in just 8 short weeks. Our interaction while adding paper towels was so different. I asked questions and she answered. She asked for help and I gave. She laughed and laughed as she beat me after a sprint down the hallway. This time she also willingly gave up her package of paper towels when it needed to be added. She's a great helper.

  2. Your four littles at the Christmas play = precious. So glad we were able to spend time getting to know the newest Dersch. It was a highlight of our trip for sure! :)