Saturday, August 28, 2010

Can of Worms

I had to process this experience before I could write about it. It's a hot topic in the adoption world and beyond... A couple weeks ago my mom and I were walking out of a diner, with the entourage in tow. As we passed by an attractive African American couple, the man gave a "tisk-tisk," shook his head and frowned at us. Totally, clearly directed at my family. I kept on walking, loaded the kids in the van, then pulled into the handicap stall in front, with every intention of saying something to him. Then I remembered what Jesus commanded: "love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)." To be honest, I couldn't pray for him. I did pray for Etienne and Zeke, that somehow their little hearts would be protected from this. I really didn't have a plan for what I'd say. So my awesome husband and I talked about it and decided "You can go to the orphanage and see 115 kids and love one too" would be the best response. The thing is, we thought and talked about the subject of judgement by other African Americans llloooonnngggg before we'd even completed our dossier. I don't know any biracial family that didn't give a whole lot of thought and prayer to becoming so. I've been told that some African Americans feel that a black child should be raised by other African Americans because they need to know their culture, roots, pride, etc. Every Rwanda mama that I love makes so many efforts to learn and respect AA hair care, to expose their family to black culture, searches high and low for any and everything Rwanda related. So I know that this will happen to our entourage for the rest of our lives. I knew when Ryan and I prayed about becoming parents to a black child(ren). The truth is, no conversation, book or expert could have prepared my heart for the hurt I felt to be judged so hatefully. It isn't about race. It's about love.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

E and the Ergo

I knew that Ryan going to back to school would send poor Etienne spinning. This past week was especially difficult for him to fall asleep without getting banished from the "big boy room," over the top crying and he's had a crazy amount of time outs.
Thursday by lunchtime we were up to 5 time outs, all for either hitting or pushing someone. At the playground, on top of a slide, Etienne pushed Blake full force off the top. I saw the whole thing clearly because I was standing within 3 feet of them. My reaction was to just pick Etienne up, planning to make him sit the rest of the time with me. E had other ideas. SCREAMING "DON'T SPANK ME, DON'T SPANK ME!" over and over at the top of his lungs. Yikes. In front of dozens of other parents. I couldn't get him to quiet down or stop screaming, and the other 2 boys were ready to go. So I put all 43 lbs of Etienne on the Ergo, mostly because I couldn't carry him and hold the other two's hands. At first he became angrier but within a few minutes, Etienne had stopped crying and was relaxing into me. The rest of the day, after every time out, I put him on my back for 10 or 15 minutes. Etienne was able to stop crying more quickly and seemed to love the closeness.
Man, why didn't I think of this sooner? Oh ya. I had all the "experts" telling me about bounderies and discipline; not to mention the physical challenge of my hefty boy being attached to me! Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that my 4 kiddos are well behaved as a result of our strict parenting but we are so behind in the bonding department with Etienne. If I could hit a rewind button, I would totally have given Etienne a lot more affection despite his resistence to it. But life has no "do over," so I have a new approach yet again. I feel rejuvenated too and I know that is just God working within my spirit to see my little buddy through His eyes.
The Ergo has helped in just a few days. Etienne wanted to sit on my lap during prayers last night! I took a brain photo of that moment because this is honestly the first time he ever wanted me. So I may need a back massage and realignment for my birthday, but I will continue to put my 43lb E on my back.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fun Mommy

I've shared before how Etienne prefers Ryan (and basically all men) over me. I state this not for sympathy but simply as a fact. In the night, he calls for Daddy. If there is an ouchie to be kissed, E founds Daddy. I am okay with this most of the time, but the truth is I need to work on not being jealous and instead rejoice that my child has such an amazing, loving, patient father.
Ryan gently suggested to me early in the summer that I be more playful and "fun." Hence the jumping and spinning when E holds hands with me, daily mommy dinosaur wrestling games, and forcing myself to laugh more. This is why I am sharing a photo of me, in a Sunday dress with mud on my cheeks, going down the slip 'n' slide. It was totally fun, memorable and worth it. Molly was altogether annoyed with me but before she could complain too much, Ryan had joined in. It feels so good to have fun and it makes me realize what a rough year its been. Forcing fun is a very good plan indeed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

They still stare

We are adapting to people noticing our family and are well aware that no matter how many years we've had our boys, it will still be new to the general public. That's cool. Most of the time, Ryan and I feel like we get a lot of smiles (who wouldn't smile at those cute kids!). Last night I did not get those smiles... I run a tight ship. Overuse of "please" and "thanks" is encouraged. Look people in the eyes; walk, don't run in public. Don't run away from your family. Ever. So we were at a "kids eat free" night with some dear friends and there were 7 kids between us- we get our $$ worth on a night out! There was quite chatter on the kid end of the table and we'd just commented on how great it is that we can go together and have a pleasant time. Ryan went to take Zeke to the potty and Etienne said he wanted to go. I told him I would take him when they returned and to please wait. I looked away for a moment and he was no longer next to me. The restaurant is huge and there are kids everywhere. I found him quickly running down a hall alone. Of course, we then had to find the bathroom for a timeout. When E gets a time out or any form of discipline, he immediately begins crying LOUDLY and chanting, "sorry, sorry,sorry." You can imagine the stares. I am working on not discplining out of anger and I don't raise my voice. But I still got plenty of judgement with his sobbing and my attempting to address the disobedience. I realized that this is a normal parenting moment whether your kid looks like you or not. We just made it really obvious and Ryan and I are trying to determine how to get a 3 year old to have geniune repentence for a wrong without overreacting and creating a scene. Hhhhmmm....I guess if we figure that out, we could really get somewhere!