Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We knew it would happen someday.

    I missed a phone call from the Principal today.  A voice mail said that I had nothing to worry about, "E is fine, just an incident over lunch time."  Before I had a chance to return the principal's phone call, Ryan called me with update on what went down.
Our E was mocked because he is black.
His friends told him kids from Africa are toilets.
They said because he's adopted his real mom didn't want him.

     I hung up the phone and puked.  Then I cried and I prayed for my son.  After that, I put on my best face and headed to get my kiddos.  The principal and his teacher told me that he "handled it well."  By the time he went back to class, he only mentioned to his teacher that a couple of other kids had been good friends to him when he was sad (thank you, God, for this).  Sweet boy.
     But his daddy and I both know how he internalizes everything.  After school he came up to me and pushed his head hard against my stomach, his form of affection.  Everyone climbed into the car, all chattering at once and no one listening.  I asked E if he wanted to talk about what happened.  He started to cry and told his siblings about his bad day.
     Ezekiel cried.  Blake yelled that he wanted to beat the kids up.  Molly hugged him and told him how much we wanted him even before he came home.
     We decided that we would sit in the van, in the school parking lot, and we would pray for those kids.  So we did.  E said he had already forgiven them.  We talked about how God love those kids too.  And that we have to forgive because God forgives us.  E's so awesome sometimes.  Then everyone cried some more together.  Molly and Blake both prayed again for how thankful they were for their brothers.  Followed by McDonald's for ice cream.  I can't even believe how the four of them handled this.  All of them lost a little of their innocence today.  Those bullies, they hurt all four of my babies with their words.
     Sigh.  To be honest, it was hard for me not to show how pissed off I was.  Now I am just sad.  These classmates, they've heard my adoption speech.  They've all had E help them tie their shoes and hold the door open.  And still, this.  We knew that someday our black boys would face racism.  I think that I had convinced myself that our family's presence, our feel-good adoption month speeches and our frankness at discussing our various shades of color would somehow avert my boys from the sin of the world.
     Really, a parent can only protect their child for so long.  It sucks to see your baby hurting.  It sucks even more when it is because of discrimination.  And it reiterates my belief that being "color blind" is stupid.  I won't fool any of my children into thinking that race doesn't matter.  Because, unfortunately, as we were reminded today, our family's love is indifferent to skin color, but the world's is not.
    The only remedy here is God.  Those parents and their children, we can try to remold their stereotypes;  kill 'em with kindness.  Ryan, Molly, Blake and I can tell our boys over and over and over again how much we want him.  We can take E to a black barber shop, we can move into an all African town, we can read every book written on trans racial families.  Yet until Etienne and all of his little classmates know their worth-that Christ died for them- then I don't know that much will change.  Come Lord Jesus, come.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


     It's been a couple weeks since I've written.  In the back of my head, I have a little reminder button that alarms after I hit a week mark of no writing....I've hit snooze a lot lately. :)
     For 2014, I have decided that my word is SWAY.


verb  /swei/
1. To swing back and forth or to and fro. See Synonyms at swing.
2. To incline or bend to one side; veer: She swayed and put out a hand to steady herself.
a. To incline toward change, as in opinion or feeling.
b. To fluctuate, as in outlook.

I always have a prayer for the year that I write for each of my family members.  The first week of the New Year, Ryan was working in Rwanda, so I had extra time to pray and reflect. Something God revealed to me in choosing this word was that maybe some of the struggles that we have in our day to day functioning wouldn't be such a struggle if I could bend a little, like a tree.  Maybe if I let go of what I want.  Like, if E can not walk upright, if he persistently crashes up and down the stairs, but he doesn't do structural damage, how much does it matter?  Why do I need him to fix his gross motor skills?  Sure, we need new pants every 3 months but the thrift store is just down the street.
 If Etienne constantly fills his pockets and hands with trinkets or trash, it really doesn't matter to the rest of the world.  He can just check all pockets, crevices and holes for garbage before we load the laundry in the washer.
Yet there are some things that I can't sway on.  Trust being one of these absolutes.
Overnight, I heard Etienne up in his room.  His diaper layers had leaked and he was crawling back into a soaked bed.  I whispered for him to let me take the sheets off and after some resistance, he moved out of the way for me to strip the bed.
Later on in the morning, I reminded him that we don't want him sleeping in a wet bed and that he never, ever "gets in trouble" for wet bedding.  He looked at me, with that flat expression that splinters my heart, and said

"I can do it because I don't need your help."
 On the surface, maybe this isn't a big deal.  Maybe it's just him voicing his desire for independence.  But coupled with leftover breakfast bars hidden in his pillow case or the temper tantrums when I cut his food reminds me that there was a time before I was E's.  There was a time when he had no one give him food, wash his hair or kiss his boo-boos.  
So I can not sway on that.  I won't sway on earning his trust.  That's our absolute.
In case you missed it, Ryan and I, along with some dear friends, have started a foundation.  In the first 3 weeks of January we have both returned to Rwanda on individual trips to work.  I feel the judgement, "Well, that can not be good for the children, when their parents are coming and going."
 Let me tell you this.  Me coming home to my Molly, Blake, E and Zeke is healing.  It's promoting trust.  It's a live demo of what we've been trying to teach E for four years.  Our family, our love, our commitment, it doesn't quit or go away.  (Honestly, the reprieve is great and E's behavior is a little better when we get home.)
 So if you notice that E's clothing is falling apart, it's because his mama decided to sway on that.  His crazy 'fro may look increasingly disheveled but he won't be alone in the middle of the night.  I may force him to cover every cut and scratch with a band-aid and I will probably continue to annoy him when I try to rock all 65 pounds of him after a hard day.  That's what mamas do.