X and Bini, in a rare moment of brotherly harmony.
X and Bini, in a rare moment of brotherly harmony.

We’ve been back a week and three days. I’m sorry to have neglected my blog, but I was in China, and WordPress is apparently blocked (along with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google). I kept somewhat decent notes in Word, but I don’t feel like writing about China right now so just BE PATIENT, for the love of God.

Right now, I want to write about having two kids. It’s a lot harder than having one kid. I know lots of people have two kids, three kids, six kids. But until three weeks ago I had only one kid, and he’s nearly seven now. He can dress himself and make his own bed. I had blocked out the toddler years, and the trails of crumbs and the snot-covered napkins shoved into pockets. If I’d remembered, I might have stuck with just one kid. (Oh hell, I’m JOKING.)

The problem, actually, is Bini. All this time, I was worried about how the new child would be — if he’d be afraid of us, our dogs, the grocery store. But X is a trooper. He likes our pets. He was totally unfazed by Target. He’s happily engaged in every activity we’ve introduced: Play-Doh, sitting with the Easter Bunny, bouncing on the trampoline.

Bini is infuriated by the attention X is getting, from us, and from everyone. Steve and I tried to make things equitable (losing battle), we tried taking him off for special time, we gave him a notebook so he could vent. But he’s still impatient and mean. He rages. He wants us to carry him, he wants to eat the toddler food that we’re giving his brother. He teases X for not knowing English, and the “stupid noises” he makes. And X, who has learned a thing or two about staying away from mean kids in the orphanage, is steering clear of his big brother. It makes me sad.

Occasionally, Bini is kind. On the day that we got X, Bini was amazing — I don’t know what we would have done without him. Today, he went bug-hunting with his brother. But there have been deep, deep lows, too.  On our drive to the airport in Xi’an, X was screaming because he didn’t want a seat belt on, and Bini started screaming because X was screaming. Steve and I were screaming at them to be quiet, and then at each other for screaming. The driver and our guide sat stoically, facing forward, most assuredly judging our weak American parenting.

Bini isn’t the only problem, though. Little X does not like going to sleep — although he’s Rip Van Winkle once he goes down. In China, he slept like a champ: One two-hour nap and a full 12 hours at night. Jet lag hit him like a semi truck, and for several days he was up in the night for a couple of hours, totally awake, wanting a snack, play time, etc. Thank God my parents were here to help keep the wheels on the bus or we might have survived on condiments and uncooked penne.

The adoption experts do not recommend sleep training for a good while, so here’s our current bedtime routine: The lights go out, and X goes ballistic. He kicks, punches, pinches and screams. To avoid being injured, we put him in his crib (they keep kids in cribs until 3 in China) and that makes him madder. Once he calms down, we pick him up and walk him around the room until he just sags into us.  Sometimes, we can put him back in his crib without incident. Other times, we put him on the floor and he falls asleep there.

Is this interesting to anybody? I have no idea.

So, other than grappling with jet lag and sibling rivalry, we’re all still alive and (mostly) talking to each other. We’re running two dishwasher loads a day, doing mountains of toddler-sized laundry and today I caught the cat sleeping in X’s crib. I’m exhausted and stress-eating and drinking more wine than usual. But I also know, from doing this before, that we’ll get into the swing of things sooner or later.

If not, there’s always Xanax.


  1. Hang in there. This sounds soo normal and the best part is you are going with the flow. Bini will learn over time that he doesn’t need to fear X stealing the attention. He can use him to his advantage to get extra attention if they work as partners in crime. Awww. Look at the brothers together. Remind him of that bonus if he can try more productive approaches to combating the situation he dislikes.

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