Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Time to End this Blog

It's been more than one month since I blogged. This tells me a few things: one, we've been busy. Two, I've sort of lost interest in chronicling Elliot's adventures via this forum. Therefore, I've decided -- after 421 posts over more than five years!-- that it's time to end this blog.

Open Hearts, Open Minds started as a way to vent some of my anxiety over the open adoption process as we anxiously awaiting Elliot's arrival (10 days later than expected!) into this world. In the early posts, I spoke about the surreal experience of meeting our son for the very first time, just hours after he was born. I wrote about our navigation of the open adoption process and my wonder and joy at becoming a mother to my precious Elliot. Over time, open adoption became less of a focus, replaced by my chronicles of the day-to-day pleasures and frustrations of raising a baby...a toddler...and a preschooler...who's somehow now already five years old.

As Elliot got older, I started to also write about my experiences as a non-native Spanish speaker attempting to raise a bilingual child. I also told tales of the family fun vacations we've been lucky enough to take as Tim and I share our love of travel with our son.

So many great times. So many fantastic memories. Our first Christmas as a family. Elliot's first vacation. The day our adoption was finalized. Fun times with family. Visits from Elliot's birth family. Seeing the world through my son's eyes and watching him grow bigger and smarter and ever more curious. Hearing my baby speak Spanish. Letting go as he first began preschool, and now, junior kindergarten.

At five years old, Elliot is smart, curious, hilarious and obsessed with trucks and how things work. He's thriving at school and just started a Saturday Spanish program that's primarily for children of native speakers. He's happy, he's healthy...and my life is so much richer, more fulfilling and happier because I'm his mother.

Thank you for reading this blog and sharing in Elliot's adventures over the past five years. On one hand, it makes me a little sad to end it. On the other, my priorities have shifted and I feel it's the right time. Sometime soon, I plan to be back online with a new blog and website focused on my children's picture book writing.

So for now, hasta luego. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Only One Crying was Mommy

This morning started off a bit on the rough side. Perhaps because he was already feeling nervous about his first day of junior kindergarten at a new school, Elliot crept into our bed at 4:45 this morning. A few hours later, when it was time to get up, he was not at all eager.

The nerves really kicked in at breakfast. Elliot didn't want to eat. He didn't want to leave my lap. He started whining and crying...and then his negative attitude kicked in. As we've done many times before, Tim and I told our son that everything is better when you have a good attitude...and vice-versa. After a while, he calmed down, but Tim had to resort to a baby trick with our almost five-year old and help him get his cereal into the airplane hangar.

Once he got dressed (also a challenge!), Elliot's attitude somehow seemed to change. He let me take a picture of him with his brand-new construction truck backpack. He was in a good mood in the car. Most shockingly, he was fine when we entered his new classroom.

Elliot "checked in" by sticking an apple sticker by his name. He met a few of his classmates, while I struggled to remember both the kids' and the parents' names. And then, as though he was a veteran of the school, he sat down and started to mold snakes and dinosaurs out of green Playdough with another boy.

I was thrilled...and struggling not to cry. Even though this is junior kindergarten (the equivalent of a "young fives" program) and not a full-day, ride the bus kindergarten program, I've been feeling super emotional. My baby is at a new school, not the familiar one we'd gotten used to. He'll be going to school every day: a first.  He'll be in learning in English after two years of Spanish immersion preschool and I'm so worried about how we'll maintain the Spanish. Mostly, my baby is about to turn five (!) and it suddenly seems that he's growing so fast.

Perhaps because Elliot is maturing, he handled his first day of school really well.  When I went to pick him up, he excitedly waved to me from his seat on the floor of a circle in front of the teachers. He told me he'd had a great day. Best of all, when I told him I'd missed him, he told me,"I didn't miss you. Not one little bit."

That made me very happy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The End of an Era en EspaƱol

"Adios, Elliot." "Hasta luego."

A chorus of Spanish-language goodbyes enveloped Elliot. At the teacher's prompting, each child gave him a goodbye hug before he walked through the door of his Spanish immersion preschool for the last time.

After two years, Elliot is moving on...and I'm feeling a little bit sad. Picking him up today for the very last time, I thought back to his very first day at school. We were both nervous. Well, he was terrified, never really having been away from me in a new environment. He bawled when he realized I was leaving. I still remember how odd it felt when I got back home to a completely empty house. So silent.

The first three months were rough, with a lot of phone calls to reassure me that Elliot had indeed stopped crying. But, over time, he started to get more comfortable. He started participating in activities, not merely observing them. He made friends. He gained a lot of confidence. And his Spanish got better and better. I got very used to my baby being out of the house for several mornings each week.

For the past few weeks, Elliot and I have been counting down to his last day at preschool. He's been pretty nonchalant about the whole thing: "Then three days, then two days, then one day, then zero days." But this morning, he was a little upset. His stomach was bothering him. He didn't want to leave the house. "Why is it my last day, Mommy?"

I explained to him again that the school is closed next week, and then he'll start his new school after our Labor Day camping weekend. "But, I don't like new schools."

I reminded him that he didn't like his current preschool when he started. I told him that I also find change difficult. I told him that he's grown a lot and that he's ready for more of a "big boy" experience.

He agreed. On some level, I think he gets it and is ready for a new challenge But, knowing my baby, the transition will not be an easy one. However, I know we'll both have to get used to change and new beginnings because we're going to have a lot of them!