Third Letter

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Third letter.

Our First Lesson in Parenthood – May 5th, 2005


As we started our third week, we also started having a lot of problems with Andrei. In the short time we have been visiting him his behavior has changed. The first day we met him he was as well-behaved a child as you would ever meet.  Unwittingly, we lost control of him (I’m sure all you experienced parents are shaking your heads). It all started with a piece of candy. During our first visit, Andrei wanted to look in my purse. He found a container of orange candies and I gave him a couple. (He apparently has learned this from other visitors to the orphanage.)  He looked at everything else in my purse and then wanted to look through Dave’s backpack. He enjoyed trying on Dave’s sunglasses and looking at all the other items.  This all seemed pretty innocent and harmless to us and we didn’t see it leading to problem behavior on his part.


We wanted so much to make him smile we agreed to most of his requests as long as they were not harmful or destructive. He also wanted us to carry him around a lot (there are only two staff for each room and each room has 12 children so the caretakers aren’t able to carry them around).  Thinking that carrying him around was harmless and wanting to give our love and attention to him in every way we kept picking him up anytime he asked.  The caretakers would yell at Andrei to get down and walk, but we ignored it thinking we were giving him some badly needed attention.


After about 10 days of this, he became unruly and destructive (I still can’t believe it).  He became increasingly bold….not only did he want to look in my purse, but he seemed to think he had a right to look in other people’s purses and backpacks. He started throwing things out the window, he started trying to go into offices and he kept running away. He demanded more candy after we told him he’d had enough. If we didn’t want to carry him anymore he would pout and throw a fit. He gave me the middle finger one day when I told him he couldn’t do something (and said something in Russian that I’m sure was not very nice).  This perfectly behaved child turned into a monster in under two weeks!!  Dave and I were shocked!


We talked about it a lot when we were at the hotel trying to figure what was happening and how we could correct it.  We thought perhaps it was just boredom and we tried bringing some new toys to the orphanage, but he only seemed interested in doing the things we didn’t want him to do. Of course, we began to tell him no and he pitched fits. We gave him time outs and had to wrestle him into sitting still.  Two days ago we took him back to his room early because we were at our wits end…..this proved to be a bad idea because we think he got the impression we didn’t want him (he cried and screamed!).  After that incident, we decided that we had to re-establish ground rules and not give him choices about things (having come from such a structured life I think having choices was too much for him).  Of course, none of this went unnoticed at the orphanage, so they decided to speak to us about these problems. They told us we shouldn’t let him do whatever he wants (we really didn’t think we were, but I guess we were wrong). We went through a day and a half of tantrums with him, but our visit this morning went much better. He did not throw any tantrums when told “no”.  He seemed back to his pleasant disposition and we hope we are through the worst (for now).


Throughout all these problems with Andrei, Vera has been a bright spot.  She is a delightful child. She is content and happy all the time. She loves to be bounced and swing around (she will enjoy roller coaster rides with her Dad).  When we go into her room to pick her up she goes crazy, she jumps up and down, hollers and waves her arms (what a great feeling…Dave no longer does this when he sees me now).  She really, really loves her Dad.  She loves to be carried around by him and have him blow bubbles on her tummy….she just laughs and laughs.

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