On the flight home I realized how easy the trip had been and how the real difficulties lie ahead. It wasn’t the length of time (a 2 week trip vs. the rest of our lives), but the lack of responsibility for daily duties during the trip. No work, no cooking, minimal cleaning, no financial concerns as long as you stay within the agencies suggested guidelines. Your focus in on your new child and spouse or travel companion. The CCAI reps were outstanding and ensured we were where we needed to be when we needed to be there. They made sure our i’s were dotted and t’s crossed.
We return to our old world with a new addition. An addition that transforms the fabric of our lives. Penelope has been grafted in and what will grow in no way resembles what existed before. Exciting and terrifying, like sweet and sour.
As I write this I’m watching Penelope squirm in her crib thanks to the wonderful technology of WiFi web cams. Her eyes are concealed behind a post in the crib and I cannot tell if she is awake or asleep. If I go in the room I know which one she’ll be. I keep wondering is she laying there because she doesn’t expect anyone to pick her up? Is she resting, not wanting to shake off the feeling of peaceful sleep? I wish I could tell her to enjoy ever nap. I’m not sure it’s as sage advice as Warren Zevon’s to enjoy every sandwich, but it’s true none the less. As time goes on and life advances rest is a precious commodity.
Since we’ve returned Jenn and I experienced the typical jet lag, feeling tired, intestinal challenged from the diet change, and generally weak. Jenn has the worst of it at the moment, the backpack she was using digging into her back and a swollen ankle from the long flight. If only they had treadmills on the plane! We’re hopeful her acupuncture treatment will boost her strength.
Penelope was added to the insurance while we were gone and has her first doctor’s appointment in the States tomorrow. She’s been coughing steadily since Saturday. It could be the dry air from the flight, congestion, or bronchitis. She had a bloody nose during the flight and my nostrils felt paper thin after a few hours over the Pacific.
Penelope was coughing so much at 5 AM I got up and brought her some apple juice to soothe her throat. It was game over at that point, she was awake. After taking her out of the crib she went to her toys, pulling out one Melissa and Doug toy after another. First it was the food set. A squat wooden crate holds imitation fruit, vegetables, and bread, held together with Velcro. A flat wooden knife and cutting board teach the task of slicing. We can’t start learning soon enough how to do the things many of us wish someone else did for us.
After a solid 20 minutes carving up the same three slices of wooden toast she moved on to a great shape toy. It has 4 shapes (rectangles, circles, triangles, and squares), 4 colors, and 4 different sizes of each item. Once the pieces are taken out the child has to figure out how to put them back in the proper place. She did great with the rectangles and triangles. Then she got to the squares. She was literally trying to put the square peg in the round hole. As much as I wanted to direct her to the proper location I sat back. I’d rather her figure it out now, experience that frustration and satisfaction of problem solving now. I see too many people who must have had their dilemmas simplified, only to be foiled later in life when no one is there to help them with the adult versions of square pegs and round holes.
She put that away and rolled the IKEA block set around. I was sitting in the rocking chair close to her. A child’s rocking chair was next to me, and she decided to have a sit with me. I steadied the chair and she climbed in, her legs dangling over the end, unable to provide the support and momentum she saw me displaying. A few minutes of sitting there and she was back up, pulling books off the shelf. I was amazed when I looked over a few minutes later and she had put the Golden Books together and moved all the other books to their own shelf. She is exhibiting a knack for organization. Jenn and I will afford her many opportunities to put that skill to use. After an hour or so Jenn was up and we had breakfast.
She’s doing great with the pets. On the flight I was having fits, all the scenario’s rushing through my mind. Will she be scared, thrilled, abusive, will the pets harm her? Reality was more complicated than my mental constructs. When we got home she was in the living room with Jenn, my dad, Stephanie, Steve, Charlie, and I. She was the most content, happy child on the planet, playing with her new gifts and looking adorable with barrettes in her hair. Once the company left and we moved into the kitchen she caught sight of Tima, our tortoise shell cat, and had a fit, crying and directing us to move her out of Tima’s presence. How would she react to the dogs? Shudder to think.
The next day we acted like there was nothing to be concerned with when the cats were around. In a matter of minutes she seemed to catch on and has not had a fit with the cats (unless they get too close to her food).
We then ventured to let Topeka, our small black mutt out of our bedroom. A bit of consternation, but nothing too serious. Diogenes, our lab mix, was next. He has a habit of barking at the slightest thing and being rambunctious. As expected she cried when he got close to her. She still does. As long as he keeps his distance she is OK. Diogenes appears to be protective or overly curious though. We have seen Diogenes sleep by Penelope’s door and show concern when she cries. He hasn’t barked at her once.
This week will be an adventure for all of us, but mostly for Penelope. I wish I knew what was going on in her head.