Today was a very difficult day. The boys did NOT get along at all. Valerii tends to become very frustrated when Zhenya is not on his best behavior. In many ways it takes away from Valerii’s ability to enjoy himself. Zhenya has struggled from the beginning. He came here without us knowing that he had been taking herbal supplements in the orphanage for anxiety and stress. Within a few days, it was clear that something was terribly wrong.
Zhenya’s issues never made me frustrated but they certainly made my heart break for him. He is extremely impulsive and often can’t control himself. He lashes out at those around him and immediately realizes what he has done when it is too late. We have worked so hard with him and I am so proud of his progress. But today was a bit of a set back with Zhenya because he took it too far with his brother and gave him a bloody lip.
During these trying times, I always take a minute and remind myself what I love about these boys. It is easy to be caught up in anger, disappointment, and frustration. With a little extra work, I am able to look at this whole experience in a totally different light. The constant reminder that we only have three short weeks with these boys allows me to look at moments like this in a much different way. While Valerii gets angry, I sit back and remind myself of all the good qualities that Zhenya has and what I love most about him.
So here it is. Ten things I love about Zhenya:
I love the sound of his voice in the morning as he abruptly wakes me up banging on my arm yelling MOMMA followed by a long story in Russian that I understand none of.
I love Zhenya’s smile. He smiles with his whole being. When Zhenya is happy, you can’t help but he happy too. Zhenya’s smile is crooked but that’s what I think makes it so perfect. I love the slope of his teeth.
I love his hugs. Zhenya gives the best hugs. He squeezes you with every muscle in his body. He makes it hard to breathe in the best way. When he hugs you it is because he means it.
I love the excitement he displays when he sees new things. The gasp that drives my husband crazy because he thinks something wrong. The tone of his voice as he yells something like MACHINAAAAAA when he sees a new car. I love experiencing the simple things that I take for granted through the eyes of an innocent child who is experiencing many of them for the first time.
I love his energy. I wish I could bottle it and keep it in my purse for my extra tiring days.
I love Zhenya’s appetite. He will eat everything and anything at any time. His stomach is a bottomless pit. He is taking it all in while he is here and he makes me laugh at his ability to pack it in even after a large meal.
Zhenya loves being taken care of. Something simple like helping him into his pajamas or letting him take a bath brings him great joy. Every night when I help him into his pajamas, he pats my head and kisses my face. I love how he appreciates the things I do for them even though they are what every Mom does for her child. I love that the small things I do seem to mean the most to him. I love how he lets me help him.
I love Zhenya’s efforts to speak English. He sounds much older than a 7 year old boy. He drags out the final syllable of words with such emphasis. He tries so hard to speak like all of us. He sings songs like Dominic the Donkey and On My Mind by Ellie Goulding and it makes me laugh so much. I love how hard he tries.
I love how Zhenya snuggles. He sucks his thumb. It has obviously brought him great comfort in his difficult life. He gets into bed with us in the morning and wraps his four fingers around my nose while he sucks his thumb. He giggles uncontrollably while he does this and I can’t help but be proud that he trusts me enough to comfort him along with the only comfort he has ever known.
Finally, I love that he lets me love him. It hasn’t been easy. But I see the look in his eyes when he knows he has done something wrong. He instantly kisses my cheek and rattles something in Russian that ends with “I Love You Momma!” He knows I love him too and I think I love that the most. We have heard so much about how children coming from orphanages don’t allow adults in, they have a hard time trusting, and they are reluctant to allow themselves to be loved. Zhenya has many qualities that are difficult to deal with but he is one extraordinarily loving child who deserves all the love a Mom and Dad have to offer him. I love that he is giving me the opportunity to be that person for him right now. I love Zhenya. I love him so much!