Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Fall Fun and Fears
What a wonderful weekend we had, with a trip to the pumpkin patch (the first for Kenny), fun times with our friends, and just hanging out together before we gear up for our busy winter season. It is already pretty cold here in Colorado and we had our first snow of the year, just a dusting that we excitedly woke up to Sunday morning but enough to break out the sweaters and get in the mood for the coming months.
There is a wonderful pumpkin patch in our area where, for the purchase price of a pumpkin, you get a tractor pulled hay wagon ride as well as marshmallows to roast over a campfire, a mountain built out of hay bales to climb on, and hot apple cider as well! As cold as it was, we really needed that hot cider. We took a car load of kids up with us in addition to our own and had a blast, even the older ones who I thought might be bored with it all enjoyed themselves, but then they are very sweet and tender kids who get a kick out of just about anything anyway.
Dominick and I are planning to get away for a few days next week by ourselves, something we haven't done in years and we are really looking forward to our little "mini-honeymoon". I will have a houseful of kids this week while our friends are gone on a trip, and then our friends will have a houseful in reciprocation next week! We still have not settled on a place to go ourselves yet, but we sure have had a lot of fun checking things out on the internet! It won't be anything fancy as we can't afford a real trip with airfare and the whole 9 yards, but we are going to load up the cooler and end up exploring someplace new in our state...if we ever make a decision!
It was while I was explaining to the boys that they would be having a sleepover at our friends house for a couple of nights that the truth came out, and Kenny came back in our room and asked what would happen to them if Dominick and I got in an accident while we were gone. I could see this was not just a casual question, and I pulled him onto my lap where he snuggled in deeply, all elbows and knees still, and we had a long talk. It seems one of the reasons he is having a hard time sleeping at night is because he worries about something happening to us, and his wonderful new life being taken away from him. He said "I not want mommy and daddy to..." and then he makes the slash across his throat and the sound of us kicking the bucket! He added "When I go to bed I think about something happen to mommy and daddy and I scared."
I had never thought about this being one of the reasons he has such a hard time sleeping, I just assumed it was over stimulation from his day and needing to process it all during some down time. He said that he thinks about it a lot, which indicates to me in a very poignant way that he loves his new family and doesn't want to return to the life he once had.
As we sat there with him in my arms, smelling fresh and clean from a bath minutes before and feeling oh-so-vulnerable I explained to him that we had made arrangements even before he came home that our friends, who like us loved him before he even arrived, would be his new parents if something ever happened to us, that he would NEVER go back to the Detsky Dom. I also tried to reassure him that it was likely nothing would ever happen to us until he was old himself, but I didn't want to make promises that I am in no position to keep. He asked a lot of questions and shared his fears as we sat there speaking in lowered tones. He burrowed into me so deeply that it was as if he wanted to jump inside my skin to ensure I would never leave him. I think this was the first time since Kenny has entered our lives that I realized just how much he loves us, and just what his adoption has meant to him. In many ways it has been so easy that you wonder if those deeper emotions are there, but they sure are, and daily I am seeing the tender son that lies beneath the brash and sometimes overconfident exterior.
This conversation also brought me to prayer, asking God to please allow me to be here for my kids well into adulthood, to be able to parent them as long as they need it. After our long road with Josh I have often thought to myself "All that hard work, and what would happen if someday I was no longer here? What would the long term affects of that be on Joshie?". I can not imagine what devastation would occur in Josh's psyche if yet another mommy, whom he finally trusted, left him. It is something that has often drifted in and out of my mind and now I have yet another child for whom these fears are very real. Although I know in my heart that God has taken care of each of my sons thus far and would continue to do so, I sure would hate for them to have to suffer yet another loss in their young lives and hope that this is a moot point for each of them.
It poses an interesting question, doesn't it? Yet another way in which adopted families are different than biological families. It is much harder to reassure your child that you will never leave them when indeed, one set of parents already has.
On another note, things are going better at school for Kenny, he seems to have settled down a bit after our rougher period the week before. It is funny because we have one of those "Special Plates" for each of the boys that we use to celebrate big and little events. Joshie got to use his a couple of weeks ago when he was finally able to unbuckle his own car seat, and Kenny asked me in the hall at school at the end of last week "Momma...2 days good...special plate tonight?".
I also was touched as I drove home yesterday and watched Kenny and Matthew in the back seat of the van as Matthew was helping Kenny figure out his math homework. Watching them in the rear view mirror, seeing only the sheen of their dark hair as their heads almost touch one another while they scrutinize the homework problems together, I was filled with love for my often overlooked older-but-not-older-by-age son who has such a kind heart, one that often reveals itself at quieter less showy moments.
Mommy got to be "filled up" too this week, as I had an awesome time with our church choir. We have a very small choir, averaging around 15 people, and while some have much better voices than others (that does NOT include me, by the way) it is in no way professional. However, we have a very gifted Choir Director who does a terrific job with the talent she has in front of her, and with very little rehearsal time as well. This weekend we had a choir workshop with the a guest conductor from the Colorado Springs Chorale, Don Jenkins. Wow! We learned so much and enjoyed trying out new pieces. There are so many times when life has me feeling a bit challenged and a little low, and I will go to choir practice and be lifted up. Our Choir Director has this ability to play piano with such feeling and emotion behind it, that honestly sometimes with just the first 3 or 4 introductory measures my heart starts to swell...you know that feeling when something moves you and you can't describe it? That is what I get from choir. Hearing the blending of the voices when we hit a particularly pretty chord is enough to do it for me every time and suddenly everything else fades to the background and life seems so beautiful and precious because of the gift of song. I was a mediocre musician in my youth (much as I am now in choir), playing the clarinet for most of my school years. But I played all throughout my school years, in marching band and orchestra and while I enjoyed the social aspects of it all, it was the music that kept me coming back year after year. Making music with others is a way of touching your soul, of feeling very much a part of something bigger than yourself...and it translates into an understanding that the sum of the whole is far more expressive than the individual parts themselves. It's kind of a good parable for life itself, the story of a choir with parts blending together in harmony to create something much broader than the narrow sound of a tenor line or a booming bass part. Finding music again in my adult years has brought this long forgotten pleasure back into my life and it means even more now than it ever did when I was young.
All in all, fall is proving once again to be a gentle and introspective time for our entire family, a time of settling in and appreciating all we have, a time of cocooning and sitting around the table in the evening laughing and playing, working on homework and snuggling with stories in front of the fire. Life is good.