Last week Grammy and Poppy, my husband’s parents, were here for a wonderful visit. I am acutely aware of how very fortunate we are, and the kids are, to have two sets of loving, dynamic, attentive grandparents who are embracing Alex, Melkam and Eliana. It doesn’t always happen like that, and it is so evident how much these kids are loved and accepted into the family. It warms my heart so much!
Grammy and Poppy helped us tremendously, and were here long enough to establish a firm foothold in the kids’ lives. It was just great!
We have been talking to the kids about extended relatives for the past few weeks. We’ve drawn family trees and shown them how Mommy’s sister has three children and here are their names and how old they are and whether they are girls or boys, etc. They are very interested, but don’t quite grasp the cousin thing. Nevertheless, it prompts discussion about family and who is in THEIR family.
Melkam has taken to announcing to us that he doesn’t have a family. “Melkamu no family.” He says. “No Mommy, no Daddy, no Brother. Me no family.” This is usually after Alex has been reviewing the family tree and remarking about how HE has a “BIG family.”
So Melkam is a bit contrary. I chalk it up to his age, but it’s also part of his personality. Or it’s part of the damage that comes from how unstable his early life has been. Melkam’s default in times of stress or anxiety is to go off by himself. He quite seems to think of himself as a rock or an island. It’s still one of the greatest challenges for me, to not be able to comfort this little guy who is so tough.
But we are making headway. Melkam now is the one who more often says ‘Yes!’ when asked if he wants a hug. Melkam just got his training wheels off of his little bike. It took him no time at all. Daddy took them off two nights ago and worked with him for a while, and the next morning when I took the kids to the park, Melkam was so excited to show me that he didn’t even need a push to get started…he could do it all by himself. He is amazing! AND, he really was excited to show Mommy his mad biking skills.
So it’s part of our job in this parenting journey to teach Melkam the beauty of inter-dependence on family, friends and community. To help him see the beauty of being comforted by someone who loves you, the love of a friend when you are in need, the way we can all get more done if we help each other. Fortunately, we have an amazing group of friends who regularly demonstrate this love. I’m convinced Melkam won’t choose the ‘island’ route for too long and I’m hopeful for the day he will relax into a family he knows and loves, and enjoy all that that means.