Deni Updated

December 2008

Since the time of origin of the book Don't Shine in My Repro! already more than two years passed and many things have changed. The development went on even with Deni herself although in some areas only minimally, but in some others rapidly. Thanks to her extraordinary ability to "record in her head" overheard phrases and "overlooked" situations she slowly but surely learned to "grab in her own way" the daily routine both at home and at school. I know that this is normal process of learning but it takes her more time and she does not connect component areas of life together. She is not able to use what she learned from a detached point of view, she cannot generalize. For example, she knows that the children's car seat belts can be unfastened only after the car stops. But the problem arises when car stops at the intersection. While you wait on red Deni concludes that the wheels do not move = we are getting off and unfastens both herself and the sibblings. You step on gas and seatless children are "floating" throughout the car.

Well, this case is an old one. We worked on it and after a year of explanations Deni understand the situation (unfastens the belts only when we tell her to do so). But it perfectly illustrates her way of thinking. We have to keep her under controll permanently because it is never clear what she may come up with.

Thanks to her "recording ability" she can say many words, complicated word groups (overheard from the CDs, from the sibblings etc.), and the action scenes. Thus she confuses the people around her because she gives the (first) impression of being very smart but in reality she often has no idea of what is going on. We get confused, too, and so we oscilate between a great trust and the disappointment and distrust.
The last time we got caught was due to her love for computer which they have at school. The teachers praise Deni how she enjoys "working on a PC." So we set up one with some simple games for her at home. However, her way of controlling it (switching on and off just for fun), running the software (when she kept clicking her way deep into a program and many times totally froze it), even operating the printer (which she unnoticed opened and made herself and everything around dirty with an ink) has not convinced us to agree with the teachers.

Nonetheless, entering the school (September 2007) brought about big changes for better. She found herself in the Special school among other mentally handicapped children where the teachers and other educators have specialized approach. This initiated a great jump ahead, especially in the areas of self-service, over all independence, endeavour, purposefulness, in a way even the responsibility. I am not againt an integration but our Deni felt pushed aside among her peers for her last two years in the kinderkarten. They played games which she could not understand, got prepared for entering th Elementary School and both they and Deni felt the difference which kept growing between them. Of course, the teachers tried their best but the thinking of the mentally retarded is so much different that they require completely special approach, asa well as the company of the children with similar handicaps.

Deni is now absolutely satisfied. Her classmates are around sixteen but mentally approximately on the same level, and they love one another so much that our other children, struggling in their classes with the peer-pressure ("I have a better mobile!" "I am not going to talk to you jerk!") envy them and suggest that they also switsh to the Special School. Especially as they see that Deni brings home all A's and rewards and she calls her teacher by her first name! They all envy her!

And so Deni slowly learns the printed characters, slyllabas, she can already read few simple sentences! She recognizes numbers, learns to count. It is still in the "process of recording"but for us it is a huge miracle. Great thanks belong to her teacher.


Update in our place

December 2008

Last few months we live by the coming of Patrik and Tomáš in our family. The family system is a precious hierarchy (to put it better: the hierarchy is hard, solid, but senzitive, very senzitive to changes in the balance of power). When a new child comes in, everything explodes and then slowly sits back to NEW places. At first everybody calls for attention in various ways (disbehavior, being angry, destroying things). They fall back in their development and are nasty to one another, too excessively they protect their boundaries and make sure that the parents still love them. The use various ways to check what advantages and disadvantages the new situation brings them.

So the first two weeks are very demanding. As one of my friends (fostering mother, ten children) put it, "you get ready for mental clinic."

Perhaps the worst reaction to the Kangaroos' coming experienced our little Betty. When she realized that they would stay for good, she ceased to eat and drink. In the mornings she ate a little, but in the afternoon she would vomit it and for the rest of the day she just lay down, twisted, with her eyes closed. She did not talk nor communicate, totally apathetic. After a week of hunger strike she ended up in an Emergency Room in Brno Children's Hospital on infusion, dehydrated, exhausted. After another week she was released to go home as healthy because all the tests and ultrasounds were negative. At home she ate almost nothing againald kept lying the whole days, not taqlking, just crying (artificially, baby-like). When she did talk she demanded diapers and being fed in bed. (Before she was a smart little girl talking in sentences and capable of self-service.) Now she ate and drank only of the fear of being hospitalized again. Virtually all the time she kept her eyes closed, especially when we tried to communicate with her. One more week later she opened her eyes and started babbling like an infant (hammy, etc.) and moved by crawling on four. She kept doing this for a whole week!

That was when we realized it. (Until then we feared some ugly disease!) We prayed for it and on the very same day Betty suddenly declared: "I am not a baby anymore! I had changed into one but from now on I will be a big girl!" And since that moment we have our sweet Betty back.

But the others also had to get used to one another. The oldest Domino walked through the house, scolded the children for every little detail, and shouted: "I am territorial and I hate everything here!" Berenika put Patrik down in front of her friends and Deni tried to get attention by destroying expensive things that belonged to the sibblings and by watching her meal like a dog ("so that they would not eat it!"). The twins competed in hyperactive performances and Betty, as has been said above, went back to the development phase of a baby.

The boys from Kangaroo also had to be in a shock by everything. To get to know new sibblings, parents, rules of the house, relatives, friends, neighbors, schoolmates... They too reacted sometimes by crying or by explosions of hidden anger, expressed as distrust, suspecting that we didn't want them, that we were rejecting them etc. In spite of that we could observe from the first moments how well they fit among our children.

We have little "calculated" the age of our new children according to what was missing in our home. We put together not only the knowledge of our children but also one derived from various psychological books in order to well think over both age and sexes of new children. It sounds horribly but in a family as big as ours everything simply has to function. And the laws of functioning of family systems do work and it is good to respect them. So we combined and thought over everything and decided that we needed two boys, one to our oldest boy, and the other to the twin boy, Mikuláš.
Domino had nobody as a game partner, next to him, Bebe, was not a good one. Five years of age difference, a girl, a different nature... They often fought over something and proved who was better. Patrik fit in ideally. He is a partner to both Domi and Bebe. It is not that they would not fight, but they have many interests in common, and they do not have to stay alone. Before, Domi "suffered" when mucking out. He hated to do it alone and we had to help him. Now it is the task of the two of them and theš work goes faster in two, every now and then they fill in some "horse-dung battle" of hay-jumping and it is fine.

Mikuláš, on the other hand, was surrounded by girls only. Julinka, his twin, was much more active since the birth, she tended to "run him over." He was literally in her tow. Bebe, Deni, and Betty played girls' games with him and he was way too far from Domi. Coming of "action Tom" was like a redemption for him. Finally the swords are swinging through the air, the Ferraris are racing on the carpet and a motorway is being built.

Little Tom fit in just about perfectly and it is a joy to watch it. He is spontaneous by nature and loves to caress which often makes the rest of us laugh. For example, not long ago he sat on the sofa next to Juli as they watched children's story on TV. Suddenly he grabbed her with his big hands, turned her face toward himself and gave her a big kiss on her mouth. This gave Juli a start and in turn she slap his face. But Tom did not mind, they both kept watching the TV as if nothing happened.

It is also fun to watch the boys wonder over the village life-style. They see and do many thing for the first time in their lives and it amazes them. For example, Tom wondered that from the goat we have not only milk but also saussages; he asked me where the saussages grow on the goat. It must have kept bothering him because next time he asked me whether the grapes are also goat-given. Another time I have found the llama-dropping on the sink, carefully washed by soap.

I would like to thank to Fund of Children in Danger for mediation of the foster care for Patrik and Tomáš. For them listening to our both desires and fears, for their own suggestions concerning the best choice of the children suitable for us. Our great thank belons to the Aunts from the appartement "Lemon" in Brno Kangaroo for the care for the boys prior to the release into out family. Thanks to their care the boys did not suffer with emotional deprivation neither were they behind in their development, as we know it (and as it is typical) with the children from the orphanages. The people from the Fund do a big piece of praiseworthy work and our thanks do belong to them. May the Lord bless them and may they find appraisal also in the eyes of our law-givers!

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