Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hell Week (Part One) --It's always longer than I expect it to be...

Vitals: Week of Jan 3 to 11.  Hell Week (speaks for itself).

OK.   In all honesty, Hell Week was kind of a blur, but I remember that it was bad.  It was the first week of school after Christmas break, a week of homework, cleaning, discipline, doctors appointments, phone calls and bodily fluids. 

Monday morning, before dawn, I woke to the sound of my epileptic dog vomiting in my closet.  By the time the sun was up, the vomit was cleaned (in a relative sense) and the dog was recovered.  This was the first day of school after Christmas Break so Reilly, Sharon and Ruslan went to school, leaving Matt, Paul and Roma home with me. 

When I am under a huge pile of things to do, I generally try to determine the most important goals for the day and at least try to get those one or two things done.  My goal for Monday was phone calls.  We were having trouble with our health insurance company, who seemed to have NO DESIRE to add Ruslan and Roman to our insurance policy.  Once I got that straightened out (or so I thought), I had a ton of appointments to get working on for the boys.  Ruslan still had not started physical therapy (he still hasn’t as I write this), because our insurance doesn’t have any pediatric physical therapists on their policy.  In addition, I needed a general physical for Roma (to get him referred for physical therapy and his other appointments), then an appointment with a dentist, an orthopedist, a pediatric ophthalmologist (his eyes are crossed), I needed to harass the people who still haven’t gotten me Ruslan’s walker and I needed to confirm both of them at the international adoption clinic at UVA.

So, I gave Matt and Paul their homeschool assignments and tried to get on the phone.  However, this was not meant to be.  Roma was EVERYWHERE.  For the most part, I had been insulated from having to go one on one with him because between company and my other children, there was usually someone around to keep him occupied.  Now that everyone was gone and the boys were working on school, Roma-care fell to me and, sadly, I had planned to spend the day ignoring him, which I really TRIED to do.  We have a whole room full of toys, right off the kitchen.   How hard would it be to keep him in there playing while I was on the phone? 

I don’t think he stayed in the playroom for two minutes.  He got into EVERYTHING.  He was like a toddler on steroids.  Every time I tried to get on the phone, he would disappear, destroy or dump something.  He got into the spice rack and dumped a bunch of spices.  He figured out the refrigerator’s water dispenser and just held it down, pouring water everywhere.  He figured out that if he just wiggles the door knob enough, he can unlock our cheap doorknobs.  FREEDOM.  He got into the girls room and dumped their scrapbook stuff, their markers, and their paints.  He got into the boys room and messed with their lego creations.  He was now able to get back into the bathrooms and play in the toilet water, and etc, repeatedly, all through the day …on infinitum. 

Honestly, all of this was annoying, but not totally outside toddler realm.   Most of it, I could handle Ok.  It was usually a matter of trying to take things away and get them out of his reach, which I was used to from our own toddler years.   The real problem was that since he had basically spent all his life in a dark closet, he really didn’t know how to play.  He’d just take things out and look at them and then move on.  I couldn’t get him to play or get him interested in anything for more than a few minutes.  Also, he really hates to be told, “no.”  So, whenever I would take something away, he would have a meltdown: cry, scream, try to hit me or one of the boys.  He generally required monitoring, even if he was in time-out.  It was a mixture of Sesame Street and Nightmare on Elm Street. 

For another thing, he was drinking all the time, so he was peeing all the time.  It was a constant dribble into his diaper.  Even if I put him on the potty every hour, his diaper was wet.  Plus, when he did happen to go on the potty, half the time he would forget to aim his little wanker and he would wet his pants, or his hands, or the floor or all three.  In addition to that, he finally decided the house was dull enough to go off into a corner and poop.  He pooped at 10am, he pooped at 11am, he pooped after lunch, he pooped after snack.  OH MY GOODNESS!  And, none of this was in the potty mind you.  I eventually switched from pull-ups to diapers, because diapers don’t require taking off his socks and shoes.  In the late afternoon, I put him in the bathtub so I could have a moment’s peace and I have to say, that was the only quiet 30 minutes we had all day long.  While I was making dinner, I put him in the high chair at the kitchen table and belted him in.  He actually sat there quietly, totally ignoring the toys I had given him and played with a plastic plate.  At least he sat still.  That night I went to Wal-mart and bought a baby gate, a bunch of plastic doorknob covers (worked for two days), some more, better cabinet locks, and some bubble bath.

Tuesday morning, I had high hopes of confining Roma to the playroom.  Not all day mind you, but at least for a few minutes because I still had those calls to make and I wanted to get some laundry in and at least get the dishes done!  The playroom in our house is the room that most people turn into a formal dining room.  I know that the general rule is to put a playroom in the basement, but dining rooms always seemed like a waste of space to me and I like to have the kids nearby.  Since I’m usually in the kitchen, the dining room is perfect.  It is close to me, sunny and there are enough toys in there for a whole pre-school.  Sadly, the toys were just not a draw.  I tried music.  I tried videos.  Whatever the curse, as soon as I put him in the playroom, he would head straight for the door.  There are two entrances to our dining room.  The baby gate was great to block one entrance, but the other entrance is double French doors that open into the front hallway.  They have a lock, but he figured out how to spring it.  He also figured out how to slip off a rope I used to tie the doors shut, how to jimmy the toddler-doorknob locks from Wal-mart, and how to push aside the toddler kitchen that I used to block the doorway.   Without going into details, suffice to say that whatever I tried, didn’t work. 

That afternoon, out of total desperation, I put him in the tub (again) and brought the cordless phone and my phone list into the bathroom. I completed one phone call and as I was dialing the second, Roma said, “Mama!”  I looked over to see that he had a huge smile on his face and a up through the bubbles rose his little hand, holding a giant mass of poop.  …bath over. 

On Wednesday, God finally had mercy on my humble estate.  I carved out a place for the boys to do their schoolwork in the playroom and put Matt in there with Roma.  I didn’t do this for social reasons, I did it so Matt could keep an eye on the door.  However, Roma didn’t head for the door.  The next time I looked in, Roma was on the floor, playing with the pirate set.  Don’t ask me why this finally worked.  He’s not exactly social.  In fact, one of the problems on Monday and Tuesday was that he was always going off into rooms by himself.  Since he was generally trying to get away from us, it never occurred to me that he would want anyone else in the room. 

So, Wednesday, I finally got most of the calls made and this is when I really put my foot down about Roma’s name.  I had been trying to get Bill to agree to change it from the moment one of us said, “Ruslan” and “Roman” in the same sentence.  I tried in Ukraine when we were all there together.  I tried when Bill went back alone to get Roma.  I tried when the travel agent confused their birthdates.  I tried before we got his birth certificate made—and, I have to say, this would have been the perfect time to do it.  No extra paperwork, just change the name as soon as we got him and it would be as if it had never been “Roman” at all. 

Sadly, Bill just WOULD NOT BUDGE on this one.  He was certain that changing his name at his age would be an overwhelming trauma and mar the child for life.  Honestly, Roma’s just not that bright.  He doesn’t always respond to Roma, so I personally doubted very much whether it would make any difference at all, but things here had been so upside down in so many ways, I decided to avoid a  huge fight about it.  UNTIL I had to start making their appointments.  Every receptionist I talked to got them confused.  I was short tempered anyway, but words cannot express how time consuming it was for me to keep spelling and re-spelling and differentiating between their two names. It was bad enough at home, since “Ruslan” and “Roman” actually sound very similar when you are yelling it above a house full of kids, but the thing with the receptionists and making all these appointments just put me over the edge.  Besides the similarities between the two boys names, I also just don’t think that “Roman” nor “Roma” are reasonable names for this day and age.  Would you rather be named after a Greek or a tomato? 

In fact, I was explaining this to Matt, my 13 year old while we were in Keiv and pointed out that with a name like Roman, you’re going to get teased.  It’s just not a common American name.  Matt gave a little giggle and said, “you mean you’re worried that people will start calling him ‘spartan?’”  ….Yeah.  Exactly. 

So, I brought all this to Bill’s attention for the hundredth time and he again said, “No,” he really didn’t want to change Roman’s name for the hundredth time.  And so, I kept trying.  For good or ill, after those few days of phone calling, all my desire for family harmony was superseded by my irrational fear that I was going to spend the rest of my life spelling out those two names.  I approached Bill for the hundred and first time.  But, this time, things were different.  This time, I was on the edge.

We finally compromised.  Since Bill was so, SO very concerned about all the paperwork (and I have to admit, we now have Roman's birth certificate, adoption papers and insurance information all under the same name) we decided to call Roman by his middle name, which is William and we shortened it to Will.  This sounds nothing like Ruslan and, since it’s his name, it will not require any additional paperwork.  Don’t ask me why Bill finally agreed to this. All I know is that a major conflict, lasting several months had finally been won and I was out from the pile of spelling and speaking those two very similar names for the rest of my life.  My pile was reduced by at least one annoying irritation.  My load was lightened, however slightly.  A burden had been lifted.  A battle had been won.

Ten minutes later, I realized that “Will” sounds remarkably similar to “Bill” and resigned myself to the fact that, no matter what I do, there will always be bewilderment all around.


  1. ya, he sounds real slow, slow as Houdini..figured out the turn knobs in a day huh..hmmmmm, can open paint cans, can open safety locks, ya kid has some fine motor skills, makes you wonder.
    Any reason his is not going to a school district preschool? that would get him some major attention and therapy. He should be evaluated immediately by the school district for part C services-usually called "child find". You should be able to get this set up now and get him in a special education preschool so they can work on these skills with him several times a week.

    Also, if the primary care physician writes a script for OT, the insurance company should have to pay for out of service providers in your area.

  2. He was evaluated for the Special Needs preschool the last day of Hell Week and passed, er...qualified... with flying colors! He started the next Monday.

    Insurance is a different story. There was some sort of paper we were supposed to fill out within 60 days of the adoption, but, since we were in Ukraine for 30 of those days, and since the holidays slowed everything up, I didn't even GET the paper until after the 60 days were up. Therefore, there is now a "case file" for us and we are in the midst of eternal insurance negotiations. Stay Tuned, there's more fun coming up!

  3. well that is a bummer on the insurance, wonder if you contact your state insurance watch dog group they could look into it if it stalls much longer? Put the heat on! ;)
    What is his preschool schedule? I am sure you are loving have the kids in school, gives you some time to catch your breath. Looking forward to hearing about William's preschool and Ruslan's physical progress!

  4. I have just read your entire journal, and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of have a definite knack for writing! and a great sense of humor! Good luck to your whole family!