Monday, May 30, 2011

Antwan's Got The Whole Situation Under Control.

Antwan's at a tricky age.  He knows he's a kid, but he doesn't want to be treated like one.  Actually, he's always been like that, so maybe it's just that he's tricky.  He doesn't find anything more frustrating than feeling like he's not being listened to.  He has somehow picked this up from Brian. ( :  "Because I said so" is no more effective on Antwan than it would be on Brian.

On numerous occasions, Antwan has lowered his voice, told me to calm down, and explained his point of view when I was expressing my disapproval over any given situation.  He truly believes that once I understand what's going on, all will be well.  But, of course, I really don't want to know why he has water all over the floor or why his clothes are off or why the toothpaste is on the bathroom wall, I just want him to stop. 

Antwan couldn't possibly love Lizzie more and puts up with a lot from her.  I have no doubt that he always will.  But, he really hates it when she yells at him.  And, she does yell.  We've successfully filled her adorable head with enough self confidence to tell any of us exactly what she's thinking at any given time.  So, she does.

I think it really hurts his feelings when she yells at him.  Often, he will break down into tears and come to me for a hug as he explains that Lizzie yelled at him. 

Lately, armed with his belief that we are partners and co-parents to Lizzie, he's been trying another tactic. 

The other day, I hear Lizzie yelling.  Then I hear Lizzie crying.  Then I hear William - "Mom!!  Antwan hit Lizzie!"  So I yell "Antwan!  Get in here!" 

When he comes in, I launch into "You do not hit Lizzie..."  But, I didn't get any farther.
Antwan - "Mommy!  Mommy!  (He put his finger on my mouth.)  Now you just calm down.  Lizzie yelled at me, so I hit her.  (He paused, seemingly for effect).  She shouldn't yell at me."

Now what do you do with that??  I tried, desperately, to regain some appearance of being the parent in the room and explained that I would talk to her about yelling, but it was never ok to hit her. 

So, it happened again.  Same basic scenario.  I hear her yelling.  I'm heading to his room where they are theoretically playing.  Before I get there, she starts to cry and comes running to show me her hurt finger, screaming "Antwan hit me!" I go to talk to Antwan.  He tells me to calm down again and explains again that she yelled at him.  I explain again that we don't hit. 

Antwan - "She yelled at me,"
Me, trying another angle, "Antwan, you can't ever hit Lizzie.  She's just a baby."
Antwan - "Yeah.  She's a baby who hit me."
Me - "Well, yes, but" I stammered.

I really have no idea what I said next.  But, it must have been somewhat effective because I don't think he's hit her since.  Or, more likely, he decided based on his own conclustions that it wasn't the way to handle it.  He is the co-parent, after all. ( :

Monday, May 9, 2011

Three Years ago, we adopted our sons!

Three years ago, today, on May 9, 2008, our adoption of William and Antwan was finalized.  They came to live with us on February 15th, but, on this day, it was made official and legal!

It was a special, monumental day.  And, at the same time, it was like any other day when you have children: complicated, frustrating, exhausting, amazing, and extremely fulfilling. 

In anticipation of the day, I had carefully planned the boys' outfits.  Being a former fashion-obsessed club-goer who turned into an it's only-a-little-wrinkled and basically-matches mom; I was very concerned that they looked nice for the ceremony.  They needed black dress shoes, but money was tight.  (Adding 2 boys to a family will do that to you!), so I scoured the consignment shops until I found shoes in their sizes.  I found William's shoes right away, Antwan's, for whatever reason, were harder to find.  But, I did.  Success! :)

Because it was so close to Mothers Day, we were going to take part in the Annual Mothers Day finalization "extravaganza."  Instead of just our family, friends, and a judge (like Lizzie's, later), it was going to be many, many families all finalizing on the same day.  That turned out to be a really wonderful thing to take part in.

As a perpetually late person, I tried very, very hard to be ready on time.  And I was.  But, I soon was reminded why Brian likes to leave extra early, in case something goes wrong.  Because something went wrong.

On the way, to save time (irony!), we ran through the Burger King drive-thru.  We ordered our food, got trapped in between cars, and learned that the computers were down and everything was being done by hand.  (On a super relevant side-note, our car at the time, was having issues with over-heating if it idled too long.)  So, we sat there in line (at least 20 minutes), unable to get out, and watched the little arrow go up and up.  We eventually got our order, which turned out to be wrong, and headed to the nearest store to buy radiator fluid (or whatever you buy when cars overheat!) and wait for the car to cool down.

With the car over-heated, us at least 30 minutes from the court house, and the ceremony starting in 30 minutes; it wasn't looking good.  I started frantically making calls.  None of my professional contacts were reachable, but my family was.  Because, you see, my parents left super early and did not stop for lunch.  Eventually, my parents tracked down the judge's secretary and we were told to keep coming and they'd work us in.  Yay! 

Good news, but we were still stuck in the Food Lion parking lot with an over-heated, but very sporty Mustang.  I don't remember how long it took to cool down, it seemed like such an eternity, but we finally started driving again, while anxiously watching the temperature gauge.

We finally made it!  The ceremony was only about half-way through.  We found our family, sat down, and tried to decompress.  Decompressing is slightly challenging when you're in a crowded room and have been freaking out for an hour and a half.  But, really, I was just happy.  I was so happy to be there and so excited to finally, truly, officially, legally, become a mom. 

Nothing else mattered.  Not the car, not the money issues, not the run in my hose, nothing.

Then Brian pointed out that Antwan only had one shoe on.  Ok, that mattered a little.  We looked all over, but didn't find the shoe until we went back to the car, later.  Oh well, my boy became a Parker, wearing only one shoe.  In hindsight, that seems about right.  :)

It was a typical day in our life.  Things went wrong, things went right.  It's not easy, it's not normal, but always, always worth it.
I don't have the words for how lucky I feel to have these boys in my life.  My life is the opposite of everything that I expected it to be.  I never thought I wouldn't be able to get pregnant (What the heck?  My sister had 4 kids!).  And, I definitely never expected to become a "local trans-racial family" (as they called us on the news).  Well, maybe it's not the complete opposite, though.  I expected to be madly in love with my children.  And, I am.  And, as much as I wish I could've skipped the heartache of trying to have a child, I know that it had to be that way.  If we had biological children, I don't know if we would've thought about adopting. And, that was how it was supposed to be.  And, if we hadn't wanted children so badly, would we appreciate them as much as we do? 

So, we left that day, parents to William and Antwan.  We felt completely fulfilled.  And, we were.  Little did we know that Lizzie was on the way to fulfill us even more and would be with us in 4 short (hectic) months.  That was also a happy, crazy, things-going-wrong, things-going-right, kind-of day, but that's for another blog.  :) 

This is a video of us of the finalization. :)  (Thanks to Jennice for filming it!)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm not smarter than an 8 year old.

I thought I was pretty smart when I became a mom.  But, everyday, my three children teach me even more.  Either I wasn't that smart at the beginning or I'm really, really smart now. 

Life lessons from William.

1. A high five is appropriate in almost any situation.
 Buying drinks at the convenient store.  William walked up to the counter and triumphantly set his drink down. He looked at the cashier and said "Hola!"  The cashier was ready for him, though, and said "Hola!  Como estas?"  William stared at him with no idea how to respond.  I explained that it means "how are you" and suggested he say "muy bien."  Then the famous William smile showed up and he said to the cashier, "Thank you for helping me learn Spanish!!  High five!"  He high fived William and, of course, the other two requested high fives, too.  Everyone was smiling when we left which can't always be said at 8am.

2. Never forget how lucky you are.
As anyone with kids knows, keeping the house clean is a constant struggle.  I was never a neat freak before, but becoming a mom has made it virtually impossible for me.  I find this extremely frustrating and am obsessed with the day when we move to a bigger house and I can, theoretically, find a way to be more organized. 
Anyway, the other day, William ran across some ads in the van.  He asked if he could keep them and re-use them.  (He's been learning all about helping the environment at school.)  I said yes, but started ranting about how they'll just end up on the floor and how they throw everything on the floor.  (I'm not particularly proud of my early morning rant, but there it is.)  And, my wise son said "That's true.  The house does get trashed a lot.  But, it's not all bad, we have a family."  I then remembered how grateful I am that I have my three kids in my life and in my house, trashing it.

3.  Always pay attention to details.
William is like many adults that I've met, at times.  He speaks with great confidence while sharing incorrect information.  A couple of years ago, he insisted that the principal wanted everyone to bring their guitars in a for a picture.  I found this extremely unlikely, but he insisted that he had heard an announcement.  It turned out that the guitar club was having its pictures taken for the yearbook.  So, he was right in thinking that guitars were involved, but incorrect in thinking that he was.
This morning, after being told by William that there was going to be a contest for who could bring the most donated items in, I gathered up 6 bags of clothes.  I made sure to write his name and his teacher's name on each bag.  This is a slight challenge when trying to write on a plastic bag and you live in a houseful of washable markers.  It just doesn't work.  Regardless, my competitive side came out and I was gonna make sure my kid won!  As we unloaded the van, William said that his teacher wanted them in her classroom.  I thought this was odd since last year, items were colllected outside the school.  But, as long as Willian won the contest, I would take them wherever!  I had visions of William's happy face when he won!  Such a confidence building moment!  As we got to the front of the school, patrols began to collect our items and randomly throw them in a bin.  But, his teacher wanted them in her classroom and isn't there a contest?  They looked bewildered by my questions. They told me that yes, the teachers had bins sitting outside their classrooms, but this was the main collection area.  No, there's no contest.  It would be way too hard to figure out the winner.  (I had thought that part would be very challenging, too.)
So, I dropped the stuff off, said good-bye to my son who never seems to know what he's talking about but will pretend that he does, and took our somewhat anti-climatic coupons for free Apple Dippers.

4. Take pride in your accomplishments.
As I go through the course of a day, I encounter William, in various rooms.  This part is not surprising, of course, as we are in the same house.  But, for William, it's an event.  I walk into the living room, Willam says "Hi Mom."  Moments later, if I wander into the kitchen, he'll mysteriously be the too.  "Hi Mom."  When I come out of the bathroom, there's William with a "Hi Mom."  This does, in fact, drive me crazy.  But, I take a deep breathe and remember how lucky I am and. ( :
After a recent round of "Hi mom's." William looked at me proudly and said "I said hi to you four times!"  Yay for William! lol.  Achievement is good! 
This morning, I walked into Antwan's room, "Hi Antwan."  The cycle continues...

With William's life lessons firmly in my psyche, I start each new day with the intention of saying hi to people (potentially in Spanish), with some awareness of what's reallly going on, with pride in my successes and a true sense of gratitude.  Because I really am, so lucky.