Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Running Man

We took our African grandparents to Multnomah Falls this morning, a first for many of them. But not all. One was very familiar with the place.

We all lined up for photos at the famous bridge, a short .2 mile hike up. We realized that one of our men was missing. We were hoping he had gone back to the bottom, so with my zoom lens, I searched the crowd for him. He wasn't there.

We milled around for a while, not sure what to do. Some of us were worried that he may have fallen or gotten lost. We all wanted to know where he'd gone.

We slowly made our way back down to the main viewing area. We took more photos there. Z still wasn't back. We made our way to the picnic area near the gift shop, hoping he was there. He was.

He had, in the time it had taken all of us to take photos and meander .4 mile, run to the top of the falls and back. He never broke a sweat. It is exactly 1.1 miles straight up to get to the top. Our friend Z is in his 70's. He was wearing, like all days, his three-piece suit and dress shoes.

When I found out what he'd done, I gave him a high-five. He smiled beautifully, took my hand, kissed it, like he always does.

This man was born to run. He'd been here before, had made this hike already. But in thirty minutes? In his 70's? In a three-piece suit? Not breaking a sweat? Let's put this running man in the Olympics. This small Ethiopian elder couldn't resist the call of the trail. His run today was an act of beauty, of life, of joy.

I so love Abe's African grandparents. Z's run today filled me with joy. I laughed out loud when I found out what he'd done. My neighbor's eyes welled up with tears when I told her about it tonight. Transcendence. Z reached it today in the Columbia River Gorge.

Post run, no sweat.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

2 grouchy, 2 happy

These two things make me grouchy:

1. When the lady who told me she'd sell me her entire set of wooden dollhouse furniture gives me a bag with many missing pieces and who then says it was a "miscommunication" when I call her on it (because I noticed before driving away and then took every piece in the bag out, lay them out on her front porch room by room so that she could bring me what was missing...I had a big smile the whole time I was being belligerent about getting what she had promised the day before). I love yard sales, I really do, but when folks from the richie-rich neighborhoods try to scam me out of toys for my child(ren), I want to punch them.

2. When the band at church decides that communion is the perfect time for a rock concert, so loud that my ears literally hurt and I leave church immediately upon taking the Lord's supper. Whatever happened to the good ole days of a quiet hymn to accompany our reflection about the suffering and sacrifice of Christ? A poor lady at the front had her fingers stuck in her ears during communion. I wanted to punch the long-haired, bearded, hippie drummer who thought he was at a Kings of Leon concert (minus the pigeon poo). Any other "emergent" church-goers experience this phenomena?

These two things make me happy:

1. Friends in the neighborhood who offer to babysit our son on our anniversary and who then take him out for corndogs, read him many books, let him jump all over their nice couch and snuggle with our boy in our absence.

2. That incomparable moment when Abe yells, "Hi, mom!" and jumps into my arms for an extended hug when we pick him up, his little arms squeezed around my neck and his head resting on my shoulder, legs wrapped around my waist.

Anniversaries make me happy too, especially those involving happy hour.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

We Believe in Fairies.

We took Abe last night to see a children's production of the Broadway version of Peter Pan. Our neighbor's 18-year-old son was playing Captain Hook. We weren't sure how Abe would do for a long show like this but the experience has to rank up there in our top five best experiences as parents thus far.

Our neighbor who played Captain Hook, post-show sans costume.

Ever since Abe was pretty small (under age two even), he would sit quietly, hands clasped on his lap, to hear a story. The story could be a book, play, or puppet show. His imagination simply took him there to that place where the story was happening. You can see the concentration in his face. This happened last night during Peter Pan, from the moment the curtain rose. Abe sat transfixed for two hours. He would ask us questions along the way about what was going on but he rarely took his eyes off the action on stage.

During the curtain call at the end, the girl pla
ying Peter took her applause by flying over the crowd in her harness, sprinkling fairy dust over everyone. She was directly above us, so Abe got a head-full of glitter. All during the play, Ted and I kept looking at Abe then over at each other, astounded at the quality and heart of the show. Then we'd look down at Abe, his eyes lit up, mouth slightly open, bewitched by theater. We'd look again at each other, shake our heads, get misty-eyed. I was choking back tears through the whole thing.

This is why people want to be parents. We want to experience our childhoods again through our sons and daughters. We want the joy of watching them discover stories and truths that we discovered at their age. We want to watch them come to love things that we love too. Fantasy, fairies, boys who can fly, pirates and Indians, dance, music, light, staying up too late, crocodiles who go 'tick tock', happy thoughts, adventure, sacrifice, transcendence, friend
ship, magic.

I had the hardest time fighting back the tears when the audience clapped to bring Tinkerbell back to life after she drank the poison meant for Peter. Peter plead with us to believe, to clap, to let our imaginations breathe life. It did. Abe may have clapped the hardest.

After the show, the cast came out to mingle with t
he audience. Abe very much wanted to meet Wendy. He wanted to meet everyone. He told them all "good job," and then asked them nonstop questions. Since turning three, Abe has entered a shy period around new people. He will often tuck his head into our legs, not wanting to talk. But not last night. We were amazed at how chatty he was with these young actors. He wanted to track all of them down and talk to them. When he wasn't with an actor, he was telling us and our neighbors about his favorite parts of the show, tiny details that even we had maybe overlooked or forgotten about, like the harness that at one point was hanging down too low: as Abe kept saying, "That rope escaped."

Though it was very late, he still talked nonstop the entire way home. If Ted and I started talking to each other, he'd say, "Momanddad, please stop talking. Now, Dad? Tell me something else about Wendy." After the very late night last night, he slept until almost 11 and woke up telling me that he dreamed about Peter Pan. I'm glad. I hope he has many dreams about Never Never Land. I had no idea going into parenthood how fun it would be to relive my own childhood. This may be the biggest surprise to me about being a mom: the aching swell in my chest every time I see Abe find joy in something that I also loved as a child. There is nothing else like it.

Whole worlds are opening up for our son, and we get to watch it. My son's face is the best theater I've ever seen.

The star of last night's show with the small star of our house.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Separation Anxiety

I don't like goodbyes. I get really awkward when someone I care about is leaving for an extended period. I'd rather write a letter than tell someone face-to-face how much I will miss them. In 24 hours, we've had two goodbyes. I don't like it.

For the last two years, a nephew has been living with us. He moved in just a couple months after we got home with Abe, so our son has never known life without his cousin living in the basement. It truly was wonderful having him live here. Abe would constantly want to go down to his room to bang on the drums or count/snitch tip money. Abe's going to miss being called "Goober" and "Bambino." We're going to miss hearing it.

Family resemblance.

Our nephew flew out of the country this morning with a one-way ticket before the sun rose. I don't think it's sunk in with Abe that he won't be back for a really long time. We had to force him off his plasma car last night at bedtime to give him a proper hug goodbye.

I looked in at the empty, cavernous, echoey room in our basement. Sap that I am, a lump rose in my throat. Ridiculous, I'm telling you. I hate goodbyes, even when the person leaving is going off on a grand, life-changing adventure, or even when that person has been me going off on a grand, life-changing adventure.

Baby Abe with his cousin, about two years ago.

Boy Abe with cousin, at our farewell dinner last night.

This morning, we said goodbye to the volunteer teacher for our Thursday ESL class. That was hard too. When we announced last week that today would be his last day, a few of the ladies got visibly upset, shaking his hands and crying. I teared up as well, knowing that these lovely refugees who have been through so much have managed to let us into their hearts. I took a group photo, had them all sign their names to it, framed it, gave it to the teacher today when he left.

People move on. I've lived many places, have left many people, have said many goodbyes in my life. It never gets easier for me. The rhythm to life has been a little disrupted this week with the moving on of these two people. That's life. It just happens this way. One day, it's going to happen with our children...gasp. How will we bear it?

This lady wrote this week about one of her children getting ready to move on, and I'm (as always) so thankful for her example of how to parent well. I don't want to be one o
f those who cling so tightly to their children that they become stunted. The point of parenting is to prepare a child to leave one day, right? I know Abe won't live with us forever. Is it too early to start preparing myself for this reality? Knowing myself, probably not. It should be a mantra I practice daily.

For now, I'll be
content knowing we've got him for the next fifteen or so years. It's going to whiz by in a flash.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Your Favorite Band

A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the students in our ESL class for senior citizens from Africa. You can read about her here.

Today, I came into class and saw her wearing this shirt. She was cool with my taking her picture. The hand you see is her friend straightening her necklace for the photo. I'm pretty sure she has no idea what the shirt says but how fitting that this woman I described as having such spark is wearing a sentiment with such snark.

Oh I so love this group of people.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

3 is Magic

Glimpses into the world through the eyes of our 3-year-old:

While walking the aisles of Goodwill today, Abe started chatting with a couple of older gentlemen who were holding hands. One of them was obviously "exceptional" (isn't that the correct term now? no longer special but exceptional). Abe proudly demonstrated to them how he can show how old he is with his three fingers. A few minutes later, we ran into them in another part of the store. Abe's face lit up, shouting, "Mom! Look! There are our friends! Hey guys!" We chatted some more. They were pretty cute. As we walked away for the second time, Abe sighed and drooped his shoulders. I asked him what was wrong. He said, "I like those guys. I wish they could come home with us and live at our house."

After his doctor's visit where he had to get three shots, I'd told Abe he could have a treat. So as we were driving home, he said, "Look mom, there's Whole Foods. Can we go there because they have free samples." So that was his treat. After our free samples, he saw some people across the street, pointed, and told me, "You see those people? I don't know them. Cause they from Kenya." Sometimes, he talks about being from "Efiofia," but then furrows his brows, shakes his head, and says, "I can't say that very good. Efiofia. See?"

One day when I tried to walk into his room while he was playing there with his dad, he held up his hand and told me, "You can't come here because this is our food process." No idea what this means.

While riding in the backseat of the car, I realized that Abe was being especially quiet so I asked him what he was thinking about. He said, "Oh nothing. Just thinkin about the world."

Another time in the car, he asked me "Mom? Where is my crown from the 'Jesus loves me' place?" Ted remarked how nice it would be if that's what everyone got from church, simply that Jesus loves them.

Because we stayed late at the farm where we celebrated the Fourth of July, Abe fell asleep in the car on the way home, not even really waking up as I got his shoes off and his pajamas on him. As I laid him in his bed, I kissed the side of his head and quietly told him I loved him. Though I thought he'd been asleep the whole time, he whispered back, "I love you too, Mom."

Our boy is magic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cheerful Things

Harvesting strawberries from our backyard, being presented the new ones by this face.
Being three means making this face a lot, in this case, directed at his bff down the street.

Our neighbor's release of over a thousand ladybugs in her backyard

Abe, out of the blue, while sitting in his spot on the kitchen counter, saying, "Mom? I can't wait to have a sister."

Songs like this.
I'll follow you into the park
Through the jungle through the dark
Girl I never loved one like you.

Home, let me go home
Home is wherever I'm with you

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Another Eulogy

I want to start out by thanking everyone who wrote with such encouraging comments and emails. I was on the phone with an old friend this afternoon talking about the overwhelming kindness I have found in the adoption community, that you people are the "most stellar of the stellar." So. Thank you. I cried at nearly every message you sent.

Today has been spent in a fog. I woke up this morning to tragic news about a friend from college. She was a fellow English major. She would always proof every paper I wrote the night before it was due, appearing at my dorm with her red pen. I could still pick her handwriting out of a line-up. She told me once that she thought I was a better writer than she but that she was a better editor. I owe my GPA to her red pen. She also was the only student holding the key to the extra office belonging to the English department, and on late nights if I needed a computer (in the olden days, many students had to use the one lab on campus to write their papers), this trustworthy rule-follower would let me into the office to work, making sure I kept the light dim and the door locked. She always wanted to help a friend even if she could have gotten in a little trouble for it.

She was statuesque, beautiful, doe-eyed. She was somber a lot of the time, a deep thinker, yet funny and quick to laugh. We lost track of each other after we graduated though I often thought about her. When I had dinner with my college roommate in New York this January, we spent a part of the night talking about this friend, wondering how she was, wanting to get in touch. We both tried. Neither of us heard anything.

Her funeral was today. She lost a fight with depression. I was beyond stunned when I heard the news. Still in my pajamas, I went outside to sit on our deck and cry. All day I've thought about her, have emailed and talked on the phone with our college friends. I heard about the funeral. I'm so sad we lost touch for all those years.

A lot of our friends have been posting old photos of her on facebook today. In one album posted by an alumni in Sweden, I saw our friend in a beautiful skirt, black top, her long hair pinned up, sitting in my great aunt's apartment. I gasped. I had completely forgotten this moment. She was there for a wedding shower I hosted with my grandmother and Sister's help, the same Sister who just passed on last week. I couldn't believe it.

Today was a sad day, and I didn't mind that it was raining.