Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reporting on the Positive ....

I believe I'm guilty of writing more about the negative aspect of life with James than the positive. So in an effort to redeem myself, I'm taking a minute to report a positive.

James has a scar. Well, James has many scars, but one in particular that he's been elusive about. Though I've inquired about its origins many a time, he's never told me in the year plus that he's been with us. But the other night I was spending some quiet time with him reading and talking. It was quiet and cozy, and he finally just looked up at me and told me he wanted to tell me how he got his scar. And so he proceeded to lay out for me this chapter in his traumatic past. It was private, so I won't share the story except to say it involved James being hospitalized, and that there was a very good reason these kids were taken to the orphanage. But I will say that it was a very special moment between us. A moment of trust and reaching out. Yet another step forward in this long march we have before us.

When he was done telling the story, we looked at each other for a long while. With tears in my eyes, I reached down and kissed the scar on his forehead, then told him I was sorry.
"Why you sorry? You not did anything"
"I'm sorry because you're my kid. And you got hurt, and I couldn't do anything about it."

He continued to look at me quizzically for a moment, then he just smiled a gentle smile, and a look of understanding passed over his face.

I think he's starting to get it ....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Strange Night ....

Last night our family went to the rescheduled Chinese New Year's celebration over at the University of DE. Now, I'm all for exposing my kids to culture, but I'll admit the reason for this venture was because Daniel's Kung Fu school would be participating, and Daniel would be on stage with the group showing off their prowess with their "Arrowhand Set". The festivities were kicked off with a fantastic Lion Dance (like a Chinese Dragon), complete with big drums and all, performed by some of the higher-ups at Daniel's school.
After that, things slowed to a droning halt when the MCs went through a long list of who-all they wanted to thank and recognize for the evening's events. Including Ping and his twin brother Ming. They ended by saying, "Unfortunately, we cannot thank everyone individually ..."
Honestly, I think we were the only ones there not thanked.

They went on to showcase some dancers and musical performers that were at times incredible, at times .... really strange. Including an older woman who seemed like a VIP and was simply God-awful first on the violin and then with her torturing performance on the mandolin when she played Turkey in the Straw. You know, the culturally relevant number Turkey in the Straw.

One of the funniest parts of the evening was when the Mayor of Newark took the stage to make some remarks. Dressed like an 80s preppy with a navy blazer and whales on his pants and looking very distinguished with his silver locks, he opened his mouth to reveal his terribly strong Philly accent, hon. He had a gift for the president of the sponsoring society and he pulled it out of a run-down looking red shopping bag. He went on to say that he was going to bring a white bag but his wife told him he'd better be politically correct and bring the red bag. He then thanked the Chinese people for naming their New Year after his cat, Tiger. He finally commented on just how nice the Chinese students were and how glad he was to have them in hs community. Said he sees them around town, "Riding their bicycles, walking ... just really ... nice".

As probably the only white people in the audience, we did feel a bit left out of the loop when the MCs would banter with each other in Chinese and the audience would just laugh and laugh.

But it was .... interesting. And fun. And we shared a lot of laughs on the car ride out to get Dairy Queen afterwards.

To Daniel: great job on yours and your school's performance last night.
To the Chinese people: a happy and prosperous year of the tiger.
To my family: thanks for allowing me to expose you to a little culture without threatening mutiny.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It's the "new pregnancy"

I've decided that dealing with an RAD child is a lot like a pregnancy. When you're going through it, all you can focus on is the negative. Oh, once in awhile you have those "becoming one with your baby" moments when you get the kicks and wiggles and such. But for the most part, it's swollen ankles, achy backs, peeing 4,000 times a day, and stretch marks popping up in new places every day. And the actual labor/delivery? Please, I don't even want to go there.

But of course, once your little peanut is born all is forgotten. You certainly don't hold a grudge against your baby, not when they're newborn, not when they're a teenager. Seems all the wonderful parts about being a Mommy simply sweep away all the horrific parts of being pregnant and delivering a 9 pound baby through an opening that is normally the diameter of a pencil. But then you get pregnant again and it all comes flooding back and you think to yourself, "am I a cotton-pickin' lunatic?!"

And so it is with an adopted child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. We have so many wonderful moments. Times at night when he's lying on the sofa with his head on my lap and I'm patting his face and smoothing his hair. He closes his eyes and looks like a puppy getting a belly rub. If he ever had a loving mother's caress, I'm sure it has faded to a distant memory by now, and so he just soaks it up. Or times he helps out because he wants to help out, or asks for a story while we're out driving somewhere. I need to hold onto those thoughts with all the fortitude I can muster, b/c when things get bad I feel miserable.

Like last night. He was mad at me because I wouldn't allow him to use my computer b/c of some disrespectful and obnoxious behavior. So in retaliation for me taking the mouse and hiding it away somewhere, he took my keys. Yes, my car keys, and he hid them and wouldn't give them back till this morning. He thought it was tit for tat, though I explained to him that though I hadn't taken anything of his, he had taken something of mine. Times like those, all you want to do is throttle, but all you can do is try to have the patience of all the saints in Heaven. I have long since learned that threats and loss of privilege don't work with this kid, which goes against all my experience. Time and space and not getting drawn in are the only things that seem to eventually bring us right again. But it ain't easy. I'm used to having the upper hand. I don't very much care for the lower hand.

I'll take stretch marks over this anyday.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowed In

This past weekend we had a huge blizzard. Huge. To the tune of 2'+ of snow, plus lots of wind for lots of drifts. But on Sunday we played in the snow, making snowmen, snow angels, sledding, snowball fights, the works. It was lots of fun. As a bonus, the kids even had a school cancellation on Monday.

Not so much fun was the snowstorm we got Tues night and all day Weds. Though we didn't get such an accumulation as the w/e storm (only about 17" this time), the winds were fierce, causing blizzard conditions with often less than 1/4 mile visibility. The kids really couldn't play in it while it was coming down, though they did try several times. Fred was at work, so the kids and I did need to get out to shovel the snow berm along the top of the driveway so that when he got home he would be able to pull in.

But when Fred got to within about 1/2 mile or so from the house, he was stopped by several cars ahead of him stuck, unable to get past a wall of 3 - 4' drifts across the road. So he had to turn around and try another route. He finally made it home and jumped right on the tractor to begin digging our driveway out from under all the drifted snow. He worked wll beyond nightfall, but he got it done.

This morning, however, he was unable to get to work despite all his efforts last night. He got to the end of our driveway only to realize that our road was completely snowed in, with 2 - 3 foot drifts across most of it. Though I had heard snowplows out several times last night, it looked as though our road had never been touched. The only vehicle I've seen on it this morning has been a team of Amish mules pulling a sled.

So, it looks like we'll have another snow day. Every school for miles around has been cancelled. A state of emergency was declared yesterday afternoon. Our power is still on, thank goodness, so we'll be fine. I just have to keep up with all the perpetually incoming wet snowsuits, gloves, hats and boots, finding places to lay them out to dry before the next time they're needed. I think I have enough firewood left for one more day of fires in the wood stove, so I'll go get that started in a minute.

Yesterday I cooked up a quadruple batch of pancakes in the morning, plus a pot roast with enough mashed potatoes to feed a small army. Seems eight cold and hungry children go through quite a bit of food (two of our kids' best friends have been over here since Tuesday afer school). But that's OK. Like I said, we have power. We have food. We have TV and X-Box and board games. And we have lots and lots of snow outside to play in.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Irony Lost ....

I took advantage yesterday of our school district's snow day by finally taking the kids on a surprise trip to go snowtubing in the Poconos. We had a blast. They kept trying to guess where I was taking them but couldn't get it and it was killing them. The mystery of it all was aided by the fact that I had pre-packed (without them seeing me do it) snowsuits, boots, gloves and hats into the back of the car. When we were about 1/2 hour from our destination, James spotted a billboard with a picture of someone snowtubing, so he finally guessed it.

It was awesome. We spent about three hours sledding down the hill in singles, doubles, and every combination of chains you can think of. Afterwards we warmed up by the fire with some hot chocolate, then headed home, stopping off at Perkins, where the kids consumed gigantic portions of breakfast food for dinner.

The only problem was that Veezy, my VZ Navigator GPS system on my phone, decided to take me a different way home than the way up, and then abruptly quit talking to me partway home. So we got a little lost and it took longer to get home than it did to get up there. To the tune of four hours door to door, including the dinner stop.

Translation: a carful of tired kids with a case of the Backseat Boredoms. The batteries on their various electronic devices all conspired to die at the same time. I had packed a few movies, but no one could seem to agree on which one to watch, or whether to watch any at all. There was bickering galore by the kids and wailing and gnashing of teeth by yours truly. Finally, within about ten minutes of home, a few of them decided to play the Silent Game. Brilliant, I thought. Why didn't I come up with that myself hours ago? However, about a minute into the game, Daniel started going, "PaCHAW. Pa CHAW." Everyone told him he lost but he maintained that he was allowed to do that b/c it wasn't talking. And so of course a heated debate ensued, discussing the Silent Game Rules.

The irony of the fact that the Silent Game was the cause of so much noise seemed to be lost on the kids.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'll have to settle for living vicariously .....

While I am busy putting Band-Aids on scraped elbows, my sister the actress is busy rubbing elbows with the likes of Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Patrick Dempsey, etc. It's always been fun listening to her star-crossing encounters, but I must say this latest one is simply too much. She will be in a movie with George MF Clooney. In Hawaii. I can't take it.

Since I'm sadly no longer available (no offense, Fred), I'll have to settle for my sister landing George and I'll get him as a brother-in-law.

Here's a little rap song I wrote to commemorate this soon-to-take-place occurence:

My sister's name is Mar-y
And let me tell you where-she
Will be soon, in Hawai -i

She'll be acting with George Cloo-ney
I know that very soon-he

Will fall in love with my sis-tuh
And I won't have to call him Mis-tuh

'Cus in law he'll be my bro-thuh
We'll be a family like no o-thuh.

I know, I know, don't quit my day job.


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