"You know, the 4 stages?" she said. "They all begin with H?"
"Of course! The good 'ole four stages!" I lied. "What kind of legal guardian would I be if I didn't know about the four stages! Ha! Um, like for example, as we all know, stage one is.... picking up the kid and bringing him to your house...."
She explained it to me. First is the honeymoon stage, where everything's peachy and new and exciting. Then comes the hostility stage (or was it hatred?) where reality sets in and everything becomes really hard as everyone tries to adjust. I cannot for the life of me remember what stage three was supposed to be. Happiness? Honesty? Helplessness? Hesitancy? Horticulturalist?? The last stage is home, in which the newcomer is finally acclimated and feels like they belong in their new place.
(Side note: I just looked it up. The four stages of acclimation is a thing, and the stages are Honeymoon, Hostility, Humor, and Home. Effie, you were right on!)
We didn't really go through these stages with Jason. At least, not in defined and distinctly separated phases. It did take us all a while for Jason to feel like part of the family, instead of an extended house guest. And there definitely were rough patches, where our habits, standards, and expectations were very different from the ones Jason was used to.
But mostly, it just feels like home. And I mean that.
Today Jason turns fourteen. Fourteen! That's old! I mean, the kid is almost as tall as me now!
Lately, we've been in a really good patch with Jason. To be honest, January was really rough. But February was good and March has been fantastic. We have lots of chats about music and career paths. He makes us all laugh with his impressions and anecdotes about dumb things teenagers do at his school. He does his chores without being reminded. He's doing really well in school. He has a good group of steady friends.
And you should see Claire with Jason! She is so obsessed with him. If you don't believe me, come over at 3:30 when Jason walks through the door. Giggling, gurgling, flapping her hands in excitement, beeline crawling right to him. She doesn't even let him go to the bathroom or have an after-school snack until he's played with her for a solid 15 minutes. And Jason, awesome dude that he is, does anything and everything to make her happy. Something about these two together makes our entire family a little happier, a little softer, a little more kind.
So happy birthday to the most independent, hilarious, non-complaining, handsome, talented, weird, resilient teenager alive. We love you Jace!