Friday, March 02, 2007

We've come a long way...

Two weeks and no blog. Yet the news is mostly good. We survived the Massachusetts winter break. Schools here close twice during this semester for a week. I felt tremendous anxiety leading up to this first break. I kept having acid flashbacks to last summer, when both kids were home every day, clawing each other's eyes out. No preschool for Liam. No Coop for Kalian. Egads.

In fact, the week was quite pleasant. More than that, it was a lot of fun. And when it wound down, I realized just how far we've all come since last summer.

The biggest and most obvious changes are in Liam and Kalian. Besides being six months older, their relationship has changed dramatically. It might be too much to call them buddies, but they play together quite a bit, cracking each other up, talking to each other. Kalian has taken on the role of troublemaker, inducing her older brother into trouble by throwing food, standing on her chair, and causing mayhem. Occasionally, the fun turns into naked aggression. But not so much.

That meant that during the off week, I didn't wake up with stomach-churning stress trying to figure out an activity, or a trip, or something to soothe the savage beasts. Instead, we spent several mornings, the three of us, just leisurely hanging out in the apartment and playing.

For the most part, this was made possible by some dramatic changes in Liam, and mostly for the better. The little guy has really blossomed in the last few weeks. If you read my posts from last fall, when we were so worried about his development and stuttering, it would have been hard to imagine. But his language and speech have improved dramatically. He has become far more coordinated. But most interesting, his range of interests have radically expanded.

While he still likes trucks, legos, and trains, he's far more interested in imaginative play, and doing art projects. A few weeks ago, he was barely interested in picking up a crayon. Now he hatches these elaborate schemes for creating things and plunges right in. It seems every time I turn around, he's picking up some scissors, or string, or tape, or crayons, to make some project. One day, after reading a Curious George book where he goes fishing, Liam wanted to act out most of the book, including making a fishing pole from a mop and a hook in the kitchen.

After attending a recent Chinese New Year parade in Boston, we came home and Liam wanted to make a lion out of a box and a blanket so he, Kalian and I, could parade around the house all afternoon. Liam helped tape up the box, paint it, cut out eyes from paper, and tape them on.

Beyond the kids themselves, our social scene has begun to feel more expansive. During the week off, we hosted two of Kalian's friends from Coop, Maya and Alex. Another friend, Charlotte, came and played one afternoon. The next morning, a little girl from preschool that Liam adores, Katharine, came over to play. The two of them sat at our craft table for an hour just pasting and taping stuff together.

On the social front, things have been feeling more casual, and easier. Strange, of course, to think we'll be leaving in three months, just as we are feeling more embraced.

We even had a friend visit from New York, Alayna, who took the bus up here and stayed over the President's Day Weekend. It was great to see her, and selfishly, I'm always happy to have someone help the kids. She was even gracious enough to babysit one night so Jen and I could see a movie. ("The Lives of Others." Great, even though I fell asleep for 20 minutes in the middle.)

By the end of the week, I was definitely ready for a break. But for the most part, it was a wonderful time. And as we begin to think about returning to Oakland, it even makes me a little sad to think that I won't have many more months to experience these kind of extended moments.