I love this kid so much! He is still the child of my mind, who is the first one I think about in the morning and the one who fills my head as I go to sleep. He is a great kid in so many ways. He still loves to read and draw, eats me out of house and home, enjoys helping me with household chores and football is his new passion. His favorite activity is still to spend time with me one-on-one which is no small feat given he has three younger siblings. I am so proud of him. Two years ago, at almost 8 years of age, he couldn't write his name and could sight-read maybe 10 words. Today he devours books, is reading at the 4th/5th grade level and manages to amaze his language arts teacher with his ability to do analogies and get to the heart of any story they are reading. He is still a special education student BUT he is in a regular 4th grade classroom. This is the first time he hasn't been in a special education classroom and he is struggling with the transition but academically I cannot complain. While he still has gaps in his knowledge base and has to learn many of the skills that he missed over the past four years of schooling he does really well. He has mostly A's and B's and he takes great pride in learning something new. (Today, I won't discuss the battles we go through to get some of that schoolwork done...:)) He even aces most of his spelling tests with fourth/fifth grade words!!!
Emotionally and socially he is still very far behind but he has made strides. Tortuga is a very hurt child and a seriously neglected child. He still acts like a 3-4 year old in many instances but he has learned most of the self-care routines that he didn't have when he arrived. While I still have to supervise his play with Corazon and Pollito, he actually is quite wonderful in playing with the baby. He seems like a pretty typical big brother as he watches out for her, lets her take things away from him, or "mistreat" him without missing a beat. He couldn't do that with any child a year ago.
Unprompted, I get "I love yous" and "glad you are my mom" from him although the "I hate yous," "you are the meanest parents in the world" and "I don't want to live here" haven't gone away by any means. He offers affections in appropriate ways and he is working hard to remember all the things he has to keep track of. I love talking to him about what he learned in school today and what he wants to study. After a big battle to get his science fair project done, he came home and asked if I would give him another one to do? He will read a new book and ask if I can "assign" him a book report! This from a kid who still struggles with grammar and syntax. Even when he has those horrific meltdowns and rages, he seems genuinely sorry and distressed that we might actually believe the ugle things he said. If this isn't progress, I don't know what is.
As I write this I am aware of how many changes he has undergone and I am thrilled that it is so tangible. I am also cognizant of the fact that we are in the midst of a really difficult time with him and that last night I was pulling my hair out trying to strategize about where to go next with him. But for this moment, I am basking in the progress and hanging on to my hope that one day he will come into his own and grow into the happy, healthy adult he deserves to be. I am so very, very, proud of my son.