Started out like any Sunday morning. ("Boys, what do we do in Sunday school?" "We don't jump out the window, Mom.") There was a bit of drama in the car and some disrespect toward me from Etienne as I dropped him off in the classroom. Really nothing that isn't par for our course.
An hour plus later, we go to pick them up. The initial report was "We had such good listeners today." As I am embracing all three boys, all three chattering, all three pulling on me. Than she leaned in with a whisper.
"May I suggest, and I know that this is hard, but may I encourage you to correct the action, not the child. "Well that stopped me in my holding all my kids like an mama octopus tracks. I nodded, unsure where this was going. She continued about how "as Etienne was acting out," (wait, didn't she just say they were good listeners?Honesty, people! I only want honesty!) that Blake made a comment along the lines of "sometimes it is this way when you adopt." I nodded again, at this point only half listening and focusing more on hiding my emotions Then I bolted out as soon as I could, sunglasses indoors and all.
Now I know her intentions. Her intentions are that all children should be seen as loved children of God. I know she meant to encourage me. I appreciate that this is an elder, a mom with a wealth of knowledge, but NO. Nope. I can't treat my adopted kids the same. Reality is not the same because my son doesn't believe that he is loved, that he is wanted, that he doesn't need to do anything to receive his family's affections. I can not correct the action but not the child. He doesn't deserve to be treated the same. Any time that I think back to the rows and rows of cold metal cribs or I remember him being bathed with a bucket of cold water and a bar of lard, I get a bit defensive for my E. He deserves more grace and more patience and more efforts to reform his confused heart and mind. My job is to pray that I am a vessel from my heavenly Father to my earthly son. When your child doesn't believe that he is loved, you have to change your child. His actions will than follow suit.
That doesn't mean that I don't believe that he is worth more than gold. I know, I absolutely to my core know that my son is worth dying for. On a cross. With suffering and the sin of the world. My Etienne is worth that just like Molly and Blake and Ezekiel. But until he believes that God loves him that endlessly, I will continue to correct my child.
In the van, a midst the Olympic armpit hair jokes and singling Vanilla Ice off key, I let a few tears slip past my sunglasses. Ryan knew better than to ask. I prayed that I would remember that my value is not in what others think of my parenting. I prayed that next time I can have the courage-with tact and grace-to explain why I can't correct just Etienne's actions. That I can explain that I am working with God to remold his whole heart. I prayed that I could just rest in Him.