Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hair and Siblings

Tonight, Nastia asked me to wash her hair.  ASKED me to wash her hair.  I'll tell you, I don't think I have felt more important in a long was like having her give me a gift.  I had no idea I would feel that way about such a change in her desires until the moment it happened.  It felt as if there was another wall suddenly crumbling and she let me in even more.  She opened a door I think I only subconciously realized was closed.

The truth is, there is a surprise around every corner.  I feel like I should have expected that this might happen one day, but I didn't.  I have decided I can't ever feel like I know what I'm'd think after all these years I would have already figured that out.  I'm sure I'll go full circle and end up needing to figure it out again in some fairly short period of time.  But, for now I'll just try to enjoy this moment and work to make sure we keep moving in the direction of tearing walls and building doorways.

Now, about siblings...

Months ago, the thought had crossed my mind that there might end up being some tension in the heavenly brother/sister relationship Ruslan and Nastia had in the orphanage.  We were, after all, taking them out of a situation where they spent very little time together and could find safe harbor with friends if they ever got on each others' nerves.

In the orphanage, they slept in separate areas, went to public school in different grades and played with different friends on the playground outside.  They ate together when they felt like it but rarely interacted the way brothers and sisters usually do.

They have been through the greatest of life's trials together and Ruslan was the father she was lacking.  This is very common among sibling sets in orphanages and some older children embrace the role while others shun it.  Ruslan embraced it.  When we were in Ukraine, we watched him take sweet and gentle interest in what she was doing, complimenting her and encouraging her.  We knew of their private decision to not allow one to be adopted without the other, even deciding that since their chance of adoption together was so slim, after Ruslan "graduated" from the orphanage, he would find work and support her until his support was no longer needed.  They had planned to find an apartment together and Ruslan would find a job to provide for both of them.  It was storybook enough to take our breath away.

Then we brought them here.  The dynamics of their lives and their roles were literally changed overnight.  Ruslan became a younger brother, Marsh took over the father role and Nastia, rather than being the baby of the family, suddenly had younger siblings and a mother again.  Never mind changing the culture, language, expectations and living conditions.

We homeschool and live in a fairly rural area with a little farm on 2.5 acres.  We work together, eat together, play together, pray together, do everything together.  As you and I well know, that is recipe for angst occasionally.  :)  And Ruslan and Nastia are not immune to the typical brother/sister relationship we so hoped they would somehow avoid!

It didn't start until about the end of the second week we were home.  A few days into week three, Marsh asked me if I realized that Ruslan was saying things to Nastia that weren't all that nice and that Nastia was doing things that irritated her brother.  Of course, it was all happening in Russian so I had no idea it was going on.  Marsh was able to talk with both children about the issues and began working with them to resolve some of the concerns.

I have since begun to tune in to the little Russian comments happening between them and can put a stop to it myself...amazingly.  I also had a full conversation with Ruslan in Russian about how much he liked my cooking.  (I was quite impressed with myself...but then I started to wonder why I'm learning so much Russian if he's supposed to be learning English...)

So, the reason for my writing this post was because of what happened in a brother/sister squabble between the two of them made me smile so I had to share.

Nastia was doing something irritating to Ruslan and Ruslan pushed the door closed (or something like that) so Nastia, who was perfectly fine, tried to cry about her arm hurting and blame Ruslan, claiming total innocence (like I've never seen this act before).  I, of course, went to Ruslan to get his side of the story and he claimed innocence as well. 

At that moment, Nastia came out of the girls' room and started talking to Ruslan about what he had done to her and then he came back with his rebuttle.  I stood there smiling was all in ENGLISH.  It was the first time I had ever heard the two of them speaking English to each other and it was in an argument.  Hilarious.  And it probably shouldn't be too surprising, either.

Upon mention of the fact that they were speaking in English (and bringing to light the fact that they were both at fault in this case) the issue dissapated and that was the end of it.

So, as much as I dislike the brother/sister issues that occur, maybe they have some grand purpose for these two kids.  If nothing else, they will learn to speak the language because they had no other way to get their way or be heard in a moment of heightened emotion.  Nothing like necessity to encourage survival.


  1. amazing! This means that they are relly comprehending English. I can remember, while I was in Germany for only 3 months, I began to dream in German!

  2. Love this post! One of my major concerns over adopting two at the same time is that they will rely on each other too much and not try to speak English at home. It's nice to hear that soon enough they will even *argue* in English!
    Sounds like everything is melding beautifully in your house - so happy to hear it!