What a busy game-changing year it has been so far. For me, the changes have all been for the better. Richie is re-finding his shiny happy side, which was buried last year. Richie participates in soccer and boxing and music and his only concern at school is that there might be an extramural that he HASN'T signed up for. I am so happy I can't really overstate that.
Felix is suddenly a whole new animal, one who, despite a wobble in the early weeks of this year, reads street signs and shop windows as we drive past ("Mom, it says Adult World!") Felix is unrecognisable. I sometimes tease him about how shy he used to be and how he never wanted to leave the house, when he pesters me to go sleep over at Tomas' house. He laughs in his honest, shy way. He has a blue stripe on his karate belt and has been picked for soccer matches and will even get to GO ON THE SCHOOL BUS (be still my beating heart) to play an away game soon - the culmination of all his hopes and wishes. He is really a super little guy, prone to sudden outbursts of love ("I love my family most of all!" - "Oh, were you talking about families in school?" - "No, I just felt like telling you.") Felix has joined up to play netball one day a week (soccer is his first love, and he has quite cooled off over art and music), but he is the only boy who plays netball, apparently, and is being teased by some Grade 2s about it. He's unperturbed about it, just shrugs and says they are silly, there's no such thing as a boy game and a girl game. Long may that last. And even though everyone was all worried about his reading (and he is currently quarterway through a 12-week visual therapy course, whatever that is, at his local optometrist, and he underwent extensive battery of tests with an ed psych AND has started twice-weekly OT) he is reading everything he sees. He loves OT. Loves it. Loves his therapist "as much as I love you, Mom", apparently. Felix isn't going to play for Pirates anytime soon but I hope he can continue to enjoy the game. If I remember my school days I was under such a misconception about sport - that if you weren't "good" you shouldn't play. It never occurred to me that there were three "good" kids on the team and four "average" and then me and the rest - the "not so terrible as to be barred from the sport". Also I never demonstrated to myself that practice can and does actually lead to improvement, I simply never stuck to a sport long enough.
Felix has already told me that he is not good at soccer and that nobody wants to pass to him and against my coddling instinct I just said a mild "really?" and suggested me practice a bit more, and agreed that Child X was excellent at soccer - just as we all have our own talents. He doesn't need to believe he is potentially excellent - just that he can make a contribution, from the back of the field, to the team. (Felix was made a defender in his first ever match; Child X was nominally a striker and in actuality played midfield, attack, defence, scorer, goalie... it was very funny, and very cute)
Richie these days replies to my I Love Yous with an occasional "And I also love you", or when I go sleep with him when he's sick he asks me to do it again the next night, and he wakes up in the middle of the night and strokes my cheek - even once planted a kiss - and I am finished. These caresses were unheard of last year and when I remind him of our silent car journeys daily to and from school Richie concedes that they were as I dscribe them but won't be drawn on why he was so unhappy, barring telling me "There are bullies at school" and when I point out that the child he means left the school and that his great friend Eli was there he says nothing.
We spent a week in Hazyview again at the end of the first term. Both boys had such positive memories of our time there that it was almost guaranteed to be an excellent time. We managed two trips into the Kruger this time (we didn't see any rhinos... which felt ominous) and loads of hanging out, and as these times do, it was a watershed in that Felix and Richie slept together in a room and woke up together in the mornings and dutifully "kept quiet" for hours on end because we told them "other people are still sleeping" (not a favour, I must add, that was returned by our neighbours at 3AM) and so we found that we had regained the lost arc and golden fleece of the LIE IN. It was divine. Since then it has happened once that I woke at home in a shock at 8AM and found my two boys playing peacefully together.
Richie's bowel washout programme also got refined - because he was getting an enema I was putting him on a potty afterwards for upwards of half an hour, but on holiday I didn't bring the potty. Richie sat on the grownup toilet instead, and the first two times he was "scared!" but by the third time he was totally happy to go there, and as a result his poo time has reduced to like 10 minutes (probably has to do with better poo-ing posture on a real toilet).
Happy for small successes, and large ones.