Saturday, September 29, 2012

Zeke Catches the Thief

     The following story is not exaggerated for affect.  I really couldn't make this up.  We may have a lot of stress and dysfunction, but I am fairly confident that my family is one of the more interesting ones you know!
     Molly has been saying for months that she is going to go with Ryan and me to Rwanda next summer with Visiting Orphans and we have made it very clear that she must come up with the funds ($3500) if she really wants to go.  I know, I know we are tough but we both feel that if she prayerfully made this choice, than God will provide her a way.
     Hence the face painting.  At her back to school carnival, Molly made $49 painting cheeks of her fellow classmates.  She also got a dog walking gig and some motivation out of it.  Last night was the Abe Lincoln High School Homecoming Game.  She sent the Principal an email earlier in the week asking if she could paint   faces at the game.  Bless those teenagers!  The student council donated tail gate money, all the dance team girls got in line, and  by half time Molly had made over $200.  So proud of her.

    Meanwhile, back at the grassy lawn behind their sister, the boys are playing catch.  Of course, where there is a ball, boys will come.  Before long, Blake, Etienne and Zeke have quite a crowd of boys playing 2 hand touch.  Along came the middle schoolers to ruin all the fun.  I was close by and trying not to interfere.  Before I knew it, I see Blake and Zeke bolt toward the parking lot.  A good 25 yards away.  I started running after them, yelling in true mom style "That's a dark parking lot, you turn yourself around!!"  They are long gone by the time I enter the parking lot, but I see a lot of commotion on the ground up ahead.  Zeke has passed up a COP who is chasing a rather chunky middle school kid.  The cop is screaming something about stealing as Zeke dives onto the kid's pants and the kid hits the ground.  Followed by the cop.  Chunk the thief is fake crying as the cop gets on his phone to call the kid's parent.  By this time a small crowd of older kids is now cheering Zeke for tackling the thief.  Ball back in hand, he smiles in true Zeke style and says "That kid tried to steal my brother's ball."  I was so surprised at the whole ordeal that I forgot to tell him to leave catching the bad guys to the cops.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where his heart is

My mom shared this story about E that brings me to tears.
     Sunday she and my dad were running late, so they did "church in the park," singing songs, telling bible stories and spending time in prayer.  The entourage walked near a Vietnam Memorial as well as a MIA/POW statue.  My folks explained to the kiddos what those words meant, then E asked to pray for the soldiers that were MIA/POW.  After praying, the rest of the kids headed off to the playground but E stayed with my mom, saying "I don't think church is over yet."  He prayed some more for those soldiers.
     Later that night, with me, Etienne asked me to help him pray for all the soldiers that weren't with their families at bedtime.  Remember this is my E.  My hurt-my-folks-to-guard-my-heart kid.  This is what encourages me.  This is why I know that my son's redemption story will be worth it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Darn Shoes.

     First, I need to say that I am so appreciative of everyone that served Ryan and me the past few days.  We were able to attend a Visiting Orphans training workshop in Nashville, TN.  We're officially Team Leaders.  Just as importantly, we got 2 nights of >8hrs sleep, a 48hr date, met and worshiped with lots of inspiring people AND had ZERO phone calls from the Principal.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.
     I wanted to share a little bit about how stress looks differently in kids.  It's no secret we've been in a valley lately.  By God's grace, Molly and Blake take it all in stride.  Mr Ezekiel, however, has really been battling his sensory issues.  When Zeke gets stressed, it manifest in how he feels about his clothing, sounds, touch and movement.  It's not exaggeration to say that getting Zeke into shoes each morning takes an hour, followed by lots and lots of whining, adjusting them and tears.  This goes with the waistband and the sleeves of his shirts/shorts.  Ask my folks or the sitter about how long and how many times Zeke changes clothes.
     Sensory issues are common in kids who have been adopted from orphanages, foster care or spent a long time hospitalized.  In simple terms, these kiddos need rewired after spending months or years not being touched and held, not being exposed to various textures, sounds, lights, tastes.  For Zeke, he can't get past how shoes feel.  This is also why he talks exceptionally loud,  could have Ryan spin him around for hours without getting dizzy, likes really, really strong tastes and freaks out about cold/hot.
    Of course, just like everything else, God has got this.  Zeke can't help that he is oversensitive to so much. Often, I wish I could walk into every college Developmental Psych class and say "this is your answer for nature vs nurture."  It matters.  Every loving touch, snuggle, rock, hug, eye contract, gaze and affection a child receives, it all makes a difference.  To the new mamas that just want to get their baby on a schedule and are tired of cuddling their toddlers to sleep, all those moments make a difference.  There is nothing that can replace love.  I can't ever undo that Zeke spent most of his waking hours in metal crib, surrounded by other quiet babies conditioned to not cry.  But I can continue to take a deep breath, pray over him and rock him until he doesn't notice the threads in his socks.  I can have faith that in God's time, this too shall pass.
     Most mornings, unfortunately, I have had to resort to threats to get him out the door because I can't physically stop  our routine to rock him and squeeze him tight for more than a few minutes.  It's easy to get frustrated with the nonstop whining , but Zeke deserves the extra patience, the extra minutes getting ready and the elimination of choices in his wardrobe!  We've dug out our box of rice and I've added a heavy blanket to his bed.  We're encouraging him that God gives him strength to overcome any feeling that he has and that what's real is our touch.  Our love.  Here and now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The best gift.

     Today is my birthday.  We celebrated by going to piano/soccer/football/theater.  Just kidding.  I love my crazy life.  It's no secret that my crazy life has been a bit more painful as of late.  Tonight I  got a great gift.  Like a little encouragement straight from God.
     The entourage was in the midst of bedtime chaos.  Nudity and noise.  Etienne somehow got hold my wedding ring and I heard it clang into the sink.  It spun around the drain but managed to land directly in the middle of the cover.  Whew!  Of course, I didn't react with my "trust based attachment mode"  I scolded him and then moved on.  A couple of minutes later I glanced over at the unusually quiet kid sitting against the door.  He had 2 big tears sliding down his face.  Wasn't screaming, yelling or pounding anything.  I asked him if those were tears.  (I know, stupid question, but it was genuine shock).  He nodded.
"I just feel sad that I almost lost your wedding ring."
      What?!  I hugged him tight and cried.  I told him that I wasn't sorry that he felt sad for hurting me because it meant that a little corner of his heart got a bit squishy and open for love.  I told him that this was the best birthday present I could have asked for.  It was.
     Side note: my card from Blake was signed "Your son, Blake," while Molly made me a paper heart and the above sunglasses.  Then there is Zeke.  He drew a picture of him and I both turned into tornadoes, holding hands.  Nothing says "I love Mama" like two twisters.

My  Molly got me super hip Ray Bans that are covered with peace signs and  anti-war slogans; very  midwife-ish. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I got it, thanks.

     He was having a melt down about getting dog poop on his snowboarding boots.  I helped him clean them up and calmly asked him to please open his eyes and look at me.  He opened his eyes, but looked past me at the trees.  I took him by the hand to go inside and cook dinner together.  He slapped my hand away and whispered, "why does she make me hold hands. I don't ever want to hold hands."
     Well if I hadn't picked up on the looking through me part, I got that message loud and clear.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Button Down the Hatches

     Molly and Blake are amazing.
     If anyone was wondering.  Case in point.  Yesterday was a long, rough parenting day for Ryan and me.  Etienne had spent some time in the Prinicpal's office.  No one needs to go into the 'whys,' but it was behavior that infuriated (maybe even a bit more his teacher daddy than his mama) as well as exasperated us. When discussing the day, Etienne said "I don't even care when I get in trouble" to the two of us.  We believe him on this too.   Needless to say, we were brainstorming our next moves.  We decided to mention the brother in the office to his older siblings; knowing full well that Blake is by far the most influential person in Etienne's life.
     At the dinner table, when they heard that little bro had been to the Principal's, Molly and Blake were bummed.  Then Molly said "I wish I could be a little angel on his shoulder,"  Blake followed with, "No, he needs a camera on his head, then I could whisper into a ear mic what he should do next."     
      They preceded to explain to Etienne all the things he could do at school and for mama and daddy to get "good attention."  The list included playing kickball on Blake's team (he knows E's talented!), walking in the hallway, buying lunch sometimes instead of "always making mommy pack," and saying his teacher was pretty.  This encouraged me so much to see them love their brother well. And serve their parents.
     It's time to say no to everything.  We need to stay in, stop participating and stop pretending we are normal.  This kid is struggling.  We are seeing hoarding, lying and digression.  Tonight I was bummed to miss our first missional community (small group) of the year.  I was having a pity party that this kid can't handle going to other people's homes.  That our anxiety is high all the time.  Than I looked at my big kids; pulling out coloring books and trying to work on the alphabet with him.  Not asking.  Just loving.  I may be stinkin' at parenting the RAD-kid-at-school thing, but God's grace is sufficient for the six of us.
Check out the Sam's Club carrots.  He had just finished 2 bowls of soup,  2 salads, 2 tomatoes and a Popsicle... insecurity= hoarding

So awesome.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Beautiful Things

Sparrow #2 has lasted all week.
        Someone sent me a text today, "I've been checking your blog, how are you?"  So sweet and  yet brought so much guilt.  I know to many people that  it's messed up that I can put it all out there quote, unquote.  If someone asks me how I am, I refuse to give the "I'm fine" answer.  Really, I just found my 13yr old aloe plant in the bathroom sink and I'm pretty sure the dog is wearing my perfume.  Really.  Most people don't know if it's okay to laugh or cry at the absurdity of our daily life.  So instead of making everyone feel uncomfortable,  I reflect, I blog, I see Beautiful Things.  It's a roller coaster here; we go into survival mode, riding out the latest battle that Etienne fights.  Usually, by the time I'm on the pantry floor, in a tearful, snotty mess, it's about to be over.  That's when I can look back at it and see some beauty somehow.
     Tonight it was just Molly, E, Zeke and me.  We had a fun evening and I was aware of how sweet each moment was.  Coming home, there was some lying and some destruction.  I acknowledged his lie, didn't give him opportunity to  make it a bigger whopper and as I was talking, it was like I could hear Karyn Purvis or our counselor saying "Don't further talk in the moment, he isn't hearing you," but I couldn't stop myself from reminding him that lying makes the problem way bigger.  He turned into this screaming, hollering, kicking mess.  I hugged him with my whole body to calm him down. What he did next broke my heart. He squeezed his eyes shut, his hands balled into a fist and his shoulders hunched over.  It looked like he is afraid for his life.  And I know that although there have been countless times that I have wanted to squeeze him with anger, I haven't ever physically hurt him.  But his physical response, it breaks me and it takes me back to the moment I saw him sitting naked on a cold concrete slab.  Getting a bucket of water dumped on his head and having some rough hands scrub him with lard.  I can't ever erase that image from my head and I share it because I know that many people will live life without witnessing injustice like that.  But God burned that glimpse into my son's former life on my heart to give me just a little bit more empathy, a little bit more patience.  That little boy has had more wrongs done to him in his life than I can count.  His body language reminds me that this is the reason he hurts me.  It isn't about me.  It isn't about my walls, his classmates or any of our stuff.  It's all about a broken hearted little boy that still doesn't believe he is lovable.
     I continued to hold him.  I prayed aloud, like I have started to do when I don't know what else to do.  Than he stuck his thumb in his mouth, closed his eyes and put his hand on my heart.  Patting my chest, he felt my necklace and said "There is your sparrow."  That is beauty out of ashes.