Yikealo has been really settling in over the last two weeks. He seems to be loosening up around us - which sometimes means he doesn't listen quite as well - and he seems honestly happy and comfortable in our home. He doesn't get at all frantic or worried anymore when David leaves for work in the morning, and I think that he's beginning to understand that Ababa will come back later.
He's still very cold to nearly everyone else, which is fine for now. He is definitely starting to like the extended family members, although he really hasn't been himself around any of them yet (with the possible exception of my sister Erica and her kids.) When we're around other family, he speaks in a babyish voice and uses a very fake, high-pitched, slightly manic sounding giggle. On Sunday evening, we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday, and the Ohio members of the family were all together for the first time since we've been home. Yikealo wasn't quite sure what to make of eating supper with such a big group. He ate really well, but he was very quiet, and just stared around at everyone. He was impressed with the lit candles on the cake and everyone singing "Happy Birthday" though, and he's been walking around saying "Happy Birthday to you" over and over since then. After supper, he completely ignored the other kids, and probably spent close to two hours just riding a tricycle around and around the driveway...definitely a bit of a loner! That's not a problem for anyone except for his cousins, who are all thinking of him as the exciting new toy in the family. They just want to love on him and carry him around and show him every little thing that they think might be new to him, but he wants nothing to do with any of it! Instead, he's thinking, "I'm not a baby. Leave me alone so I can ride this cool mekina." Anything with wheels is a 'mekina' (car) to him, including mowers, scooters, and strollers.
Today is one of the days when I wish that we could communicate a little better though. This morning he named three more of his stuffed animals: Mihiret (his birth-mom) and Genet and Alem (his two favorite special mothers at Hannah's Hope.) He spent a half-hour painstakingly going through the photos in his album of HH pictures, and he wanted me to sit down with him and show him all of the pictures of Alem and Genet. He then asked, "Alem, bahala?" (his word for later. He says this several times every day about Ababa, when he knows that David is at work, and he wants to be reminded that he'll see him again later.) He seemed just fine when I told him that we wouldn't be seeing Alem later, but I just wish that I could explain, or at the very least get into his head to see what he's thinking. He has to miss these people dreadfully. He seems secure with us, but inside is he wondering when we're going to disappear too? We try to tell him every day that he is ours and that we are his and that we love him. Those statements usually produce huge smiles and tight hugs from the little cutie, along with an impassioned "Thank you!" I think he gets it...I just wish that I knew for sure.