Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Knowing Papa

Do you remember this post? It was my very first day having custody of Axel. It was a rough day, and that's putting it mildly. Axel spent the entire day testing every possible boundary, laughing hysterically when he did. OH he is SO FUNNY that he can hardly contain himself.

At first I tried some of the behavior techniques we learned for attention-seeking behavior with Angela. It didn't work. Axel is just a different kid. But time outs ARE effective for him (they were NOT for Angela) so that is what I used while in Serbia.

It took me about a week to recognize "the laugh". It's a special laugh reserved for only those times when he's about to do something he shouldn't. I know "the laugh" now, and know to get him busy with something else (Axel, Can you carry this bag for me?) or keep my eyes trained on him.

But really, although the first day was HORRID, each day after that was better than the day before. By the time we flew home two weeks later, he was good 90% of the time. My biggest fear was that he wouldn't be ready for being in crowded airports and sitting on a plane. Not only did he do all that, he did so with incredibly fantastic behavior. However, I warned Dean that when we come home, he would start again at zero, testing Papa's limits just as he did mine.

And that is exactly what he has done. Laughing all the way.

The difference between Dean and I is that Dean is a softy. He has a hard time being firm with the little boy who's laughing and having a good 'ole time.

We came up with a game plan. Lets say Axel hits Papa. (happens about 10 times a day right now.) Papa tells him once, "No." (which Axel very much understands.) If Axel hits again (almost always does so immediately) Axel is brought to a rug we've put in the hallway. He is sat down, facing the wall. This removes ALL attention from him. He is still within our eyesight, but he his back is to us. He is only left there for a minute or so, then we go back and say, "Axel, let's try again." (another phrase I know he understands.)

When I do this, he comes back to us ready to play nicely again. When Dean does this, Axel laughs hysterically, challenging Dean even more. He won't stay in the spot and spins around on the little rug, happy that papa is playing this really fun game with him. But, if Mama comes around the corner, suddenly Axel turns around and sits quietly, ready to do whatever Papa says. In fact, I can now point to "the spot" and tell Axel to "Go sit" when he has done something, and he sticks his lip out, hangs his head, and takes himself the spot.

Papa has about had it.

I reminded Dean that I had a two week head start with Axel, while he has had only four days. It WILL get better. What is most frustrating for Dean is some really special times are interrupted by naughtiness. Like tucking Axel into bed for the night. It's very likely he will slap Dean in the face at some point in the tucking in process in his attempt to engage Papa even more. If he does it to me, I only have to get him to look at me, and say, "Mama said NO!" and he will stop what he is doing. If Dean does that, he just gets slapped again.


So we have to find a way that they can both enjoy the tucking in routine, without the slapping. Axel loves to be tucked in. If he understood more English we would tell him he has to put himself to bed because Papa doesn't like getting slapped. A couple days of that and Axel would want to "try again". But Axel doesn't understand that much English, so we're kind of stuck. Just walking away and turning out the light (removing the attention) doesn't seem like something he would understand right now.

So we're muddling through those types of things. I'm doing fine, but Papa is struggling a bit. I need to let them find their own way, while at the same time Dean and I maintain consistency in our discipline of Axel. We're getting there.

Other than that, Axel is doing fantastic! He is now enjoying the dogs most of the time, and his favorite activity to do with Angela is play doctor. In fact, I'm pretty sure Angela's doctor kit now has a permanent spot in Axel's room. LOL (Angela doesn't seem to mind, she had forgotten she even had it. LOL)

The behavioral issues we're having really are minimal, and they are NOTHING compared to what we have dealt with over the years with Angela (who spent several years being one of the most aggressive kids with DS we knew!) Both Dean and I were expecting much worse from Axel.

Dean said yesterday he's just amazed at how much he loves this boy already. Axel is easy to love.


  1. OK, I love your posts, I look forward to them! Thanks for sharing. I have 3, as you know, so i know how different they can be. My suggestion was going to be exactly what you said Axel would not understand, and that would be to end the tuck in right there. What if Dean acted really hurt by it, like touch his face and make a really sad face, or even pretend to cry? Maybe that is sill, I don't know. But he is obviously getting something out of doing that behavior with Dean, so I would def change the consequence.

  2. Love the pictures of Axel in HIS bed. Angela looked very happy to have you home in that Perkins post.

    Hoping Axel starts listening to dean better.

  3. We went through this too with our Samson. He always knew I was serious, Dad....well what can I say, he is a softy for a cute face! Axel is awfully cute! :o)

  4. Very cool that he is so easy to makes life post-adoption just so much more fun! :) Tessa was the same way with Greg...playful and then quickly more disrespectful, but would behave with me much sooner. At some point, he figured out she would push him as far as he would let her so he had to get more took almost a year to get a balance on this though. Sounds like you might get there a bit sooner with Axel :) What an amazing journey you have shared! Blessings, Jennifer