Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I'm not that smart...

Brian and I have always loved going to thrift stores.  Something about not knowing what you might find and the fact that if you find "it," then "it" probably won't cost you much, is very exciting.  So, when we have a free afternoon, one of us tends to suggest stopping by one.

And, the kids love thrift stores because we inevitably tell them that they can pick out one toy.  Since the toys are super cheap, it's not hard to be generous and they, of course, love picking out a toy.

So, the other day, we were at one of our favorites and, just for fun, I tried on a pair of fake glasses.  They were bright colored, striped, and all around gawdy.  William took one look at me and with sincere efforts at complimenting me, he said, "They look great, Mom! They make you look smarter than you actually are!"


He's very lucky that he still got a toy... ;)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gotcha Day Celebration Gone Bad...sorta

Wednesday was the 4 year anniversary of the boys' placement with us.  Four years ago, on that day, we picked the boys up from the agency.  The very nice case worker unceremoniously handed us their bags and said goodbye.  She was very happy about the match, it just wasn't her first time doing this.  But, it was most definitely ours. 
We loaded the boys in the car and, with nervous excitement, headed home.  Antwan had no clue what was going on and William only sort of did, but off we went.  We went home, showed them around the house, took them to Burger King, and began our new life.

Taken a few days after we brought them home at my parents' house.  Antwan refused to look at the camera! :)

Every year, we tell the story about William and Monsters Inc.  Since I repeat it in real life, I think I can get away with repeating it in my blog because I'm pretty sure I told this story in a blog before. :)
So, William is naturally energetic and, at the time, had undiagnosed ADHD.  We were two nervous and eager-to-please new parents.  So, when William spent 2 hours asking to watch Monsters Inc, wandering off after we started it, then asking to start it over, wandering off after we rewound it and started it over, then asking to start it over, etc; we happily cooperated.  When they went to bed that night, we were exhausted and had the first 15 minutes of Monsters Inc memorized. 

So, every year, one of us will say, "The day you both came to live with us, we watched the first 15 minutes of Monsters Inc about 20 times."  (This year it was Brian.)  The last couple of years, William has sighed slightly and said "Could you please not tell that story again?"  Of course, we tell the story again. :)

This year, Brian was home for dinner.  When you are a retail manager, that's not a given.  So, I prepared to make a cheesey, big deal about the day.  I made one of our favorite dishes and got heart mugs out of the cabinet.  They are really Valentine mugs, but this day was a day about love, so whatever.

We sat down and I made some sappy comments about it being the anniversary.  It was clear, pretty quickly, that Antwan wasn't planning on cooperating with my plan.  In hindsight, he was tired and he's very difficult when he's tired.  In foresight, he was just plain thwarting me.

So, Brian had barely gotten the Monsters Inc story out of his mouth before Antwan had been told, I don't know, 100 times to stop the various things that he was doing besides eating.  He was as determined not to cooperate as I was determined to have a nice family meal.  So, I sat there, breaking every parenting rule that I try to follow as I bargained with my child.

Then, within minutes, Lizzie was crying because Daddy had (quite reasonably and gently) told her not to use the word stupid.  Lizzie was also tired and really doesn't like it when Daddy tells her not to do something. 

Meanwhile, Antwan was taking advantage of my kindness. 

So, Brian took Antwan to his room after he refused to go himself after I threatened it (because that usually gets him back on track) after he refused to eat after he refused to take the straw out of his teeth after he refused to...etc, etc. 

In that moment, I was briefly (and unfairly) mad at Brian.  But, he was doing exactly what had to be done and I realized that pretty quickly.  But, I was desperate to salvage my meal and it was clear that it was over.  So, as any good, keep-it-together, rational mom should do, I broke down and cried.  

William who had done everything right was the one stuck dealing with an overly-emotional mom.  Lucky for me, it turns out.  He instantly got up, put his arms around me and gave me the hug that I needed.  It was just plain sweet. 

That right there was a boy who scored extra dessert.

When Brian went to spring Antwan from his room, he found Antwan asleep.  It was so obvious, at that point, why he had been so difficult.  Yes, Antwan is a boy who can not handle fatigue.  He can handle many things, but not that. 

I was bummed all evening.  Thirty minutes before bedtime, Antwan wandered out.  (Amazingly, he went back to bed at bedtime with no problem, though.)  He curled up next to me on the recliner.  And, gradually woke up enough to beg for some xbox time. 

I looked at Lizzie.  She was sitting on Daddy's lap, listening intenty as he read her a story.  I looked at the boys; they were both on top of me.  They were all the way across the room from the tv with their xbox controllers because they wanted to sit with me.  Despite the fact that this was fairly uncomfortable, it was wonderful. :)

That right there was the best placement anniversary celebration that I could've asked for.

My downfall has always been that I put a lot of pressure on particular events to live up to my expectations.  That is a really risky move when you have 3 young children involved.  And, that's my bad.  You don't get even a second off from being a parent.  That dinner was my reminder.  So, if your kid isn't eating because he senses correctly that he can manipulate you, it has to be stopped; no matter what day it is.  I'm just lucky that Brian was there to do it.  And, as for Lizzie, we haven't seen the last of her temper because she's sure got one.

At the end of the day, no matter what day it is, we love these children and these children love us.  Family isn't about what we ate for dinner (or if everyone ate).  It's about all the moments; the good ones and the bad ones.  So, I'll take my "mischievous when tired" Antwan, my "don't tell me no" Lizzie, and my "still can barely sit through a movie" William.   Because they are all mine.  And, that rocks.  

And, oh yeah, they do let me color-coordinate them, so there is that.  ;)

Yellow Shirt Day!

You gotta wear red on Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Golden Rule Is Optional, Right?

There is a man that lives in my area.  People have many nicknames for him, but I don't know if anyone knows his real name.  At first glance, he's a random homeless guy.  This is sad enough.  But when you add the fact that he actually has a house and lots of money due to an inheritance (I think) and the fact that he can't enjoy either of these things due to whatever mental illness he has; it's really, really sad.

And everyday, he wanders around town, in dirty clothes and smelling distinctly less than fresh as a daisy.

I've only encountered him a couple of times.  I've seen him, countless times, though, as I've driven through town, but I've only been directly near him twice.  I feel so bad for him and I don't want to do or say anything to make him feel judged whenever I am near him.  So, I do nothing.  I say nothing.  I avoid eye contact.  I told myself that I was treating him like everyone else.  But, I wasn't. 

Today, I realized that. 

Lizzie and I were running into Walgreen's.  As I pulled into my parking space, I realized that "Grizzly Adams" (one of the nicknames) was sitting on the bench in front of my van.  I didn't think too much about it and proceeded to unload Lizzie and chat with her as I always do.  As we were walking by him, I did what I usually do which was nothing.  But, as we walked by, something happened.  My Lizzie, who spent months refusing to talk in school, has hid behind my legs when strangers smiled at her, has glared at people who said hi to her (that was always embarrassing); did something that I wasn't expecting.  She turned to him, waved and said "Hi." 

I looked back and saw him smile and wave back at her.  And, I smiled, too.  At the risk of sounding too dramatic, it was a beautiful moment.

I can say with total honesty that I have never deliberately been rude to this man, never shunned him, or hurried my kids past him.  But, did I ever take an extra moment to show him any basic human kindness?  No.  But, Lizzie did.  And, I don't think it's unrealistic to say that she probably made his day.  I know she made mine.  And, I have ever been more proud of her.

But, I didn't feel too proud of myself.  No, it's not my responsibility to do anything.  But after a lifetime of working and volunteering with people with disabilities, I should have known better.  People with disabilities don't want to be ignored or watch you pretend that they are not there.  They want to be treated like everyone else.  That is tricky, though. I mean, I don't make eye contact with every single person that I come in contact with. But if I walk directly by a person, there's a decent chance that I would. So, I wish I had with him. Just like people say hello to me because they see me everywhere and remember me (well, they remember my kids); I could've said hello to him. I'm sure he realizes that everybody knows who he is. Any man who can navigate his way all over town can also sees all the people who see him but pretend not to.

I'm a big believer in equal rights. For everybody. And, it is one of my greatest hopes that we will successfully raise the kids to feel the same way. I think the fact that we're inherently such a unique family automatically increases the odds. :)  Today, as I watched Lizzie show kindness to a man who probably doesn't see a lot of it; I think we've succeeded.  And, I am so grateful for that.  But, Lizzie reminded of something else.  She reminded me to practice what I preach.

So, off I go to get more practicey and less preachy!  Well, a little less preachy, anyway... ;)