One Family's Journey: What we've learned so far

Arnold and I are first time parents so lucky Elian doesn’t just get new parents but he gets some that are learning all the basics. Like, uh, sometimes bottles have a cap on the inside to prevent spills. We’ve been very lucky to have a family friend who used to be a foster mother for ICBF helping us with the technical details and her help was a lifesaver the first few days. In addition, our child obviously lived with a top notch Foster Mother who took very, very, very good care of him so he’s a very-well behaved little boy, you know, for a toddler.

Here’s what we learned so far:

FoFood: Colombian kids eat most stuff liquefied. Elian has an aversion to anything that isn’t liquefied. Things he likes to eat are “liquefied soup” Granadilla, papilla, which is children’s cream of wheat type cereal, crackers that he can hold himself, yogurt and avena which is an oatmeal type drink.

2) Reality Check: It’s nice to establish good habits in your kids from early on but sometimes you just have to get them to do what you need however you can. Especially when they are upset and confused because of the separation with their primary caretakers. I’m not a big “kids should watch TV” person but we couldn’t get him to eat until he was distracted by the Discovery Kids channel. I am now close personal friends with the Backyardigans.

3) Keep things calm: Elian is a very sweet little boy. He is giggly, fun, well-behaved, affectionate and really everything you could ask for in a child but we discovered that he has a problem that many kids exhibit during the transition to new parents: an inability to control his emotions. We’ve noticed than even when something starts as a fun game if he gets over excited it ends up making him hysterical. A good example would be any kind of game. It starts as giggling, than laughing, then shrieking with joy. The second we hear a shriek we know it’s time to stop and start talking in quiet whispers to help him calm because if we continue the next stop is a hysterical breakdown. The joyful screaming is always a precursor to the other kind of screaming. Now that we realize what his limits are we take measures to keep him at an even keel and when we see other people playing with him we intervene before the fun game becomes a breakdown.

4) Diapers: Elian screamed bloody murder the first times we changed him. And I mean SCREAMED! Arnold had to hold him down while I changed him, not fun. Then we figured out something really obvious. Give your child something to play with and they won’t scream. I give him a maraca and now he coos sweetly at us while complying gamely with our fumbly diaper changing technique.

5) Letting Go: We’ve made so many mistakes and I’m sure there are so many more to come in parenting, you know for the rest of our lives. When it’s getting bad and I want to tear out my hair I remember the advice/joke our friend Andres told us after we discovered we’d been trying to feed Elian for ½ hour with a sealed bottle. Don’t worry about it, take some advice from a famous philosopher “Lo que paso, paso” –Daddy Yankee


Jane King said…
It sounds like you have a great sense of humor, too. That will help you with parenting....good job so far!
Anonymous said…
We're doing our best. Toddlers take you from 0-100 MPH quick!

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