Aside from neighbor upsets, we have been experiencing an unexpectedly emotional week or so around...and it isn't all estrogen-based!! The boys are all showing signs of walking around with expectant hearts and dealing with struggles of their own.
Joshie hopped in the car after school the other day and strapped himself into his car seat, quickly launching into sharing with me how a couple of the 2nd graders a year ahead of him were making fun of him at lunch time. I asked him why, and peering into my rearview mirror I see him making "Asian slant eyes" as he shares that they were teasing him about his Asian appearance. Funny how just a few short years back I had the same conversation with Matthew and now Joshie is indignant over the same issue...he wasn't mad that they were making fun of him, per se, he was angry because they called him Chinese!! He said "Mommy I told them over and over again I was NOT Chinese but they wouldn't believe me. I TOLD them I was Kazakh but they just kept making this face and laughing.". The lack of diversity where we live and the fact that our children are the only Asians at their entire school is part explanation for this behavior of other children. The other part is that their parents never taught them any better, and these kids will be the ones to make fun of other kids for other reasons all through their school careers.
The very next day as we were walking through the halls to go home Kenny looked up at me and said through tears "Mommy, some kids on the playground today made fun of my lip again and called me "stupid face", and they even got one of my friends to make fun of me too.". I hate this one more than the Asian teasing because it cuts to the core of Kenny's own insecurities of how he looks. We talked about how real friends don't tease one another meanly like that, I steered him towards thinking about his true friend, Willy, and how he would NEVER tease him and loves him just the way he is. I tries to deflect it completely away from the entire issue of his cleft, and make the conversation more about true friendship versus casual acquaintances as I feel that making too much of a fuss over his face is not productive and I want him to focus more on inner issues than outer appearances. We have reinforced often enough that he is not, in fact, ugly and time and surgery will just have to take care of that one.
But I have to admit, I hate this part of parenting. You can't control other kids, you can't eliminate the hard parts of childhood, you can't rip the mean words out of other kids' mouths and stomp on them. My kids are not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but one thing I can say with complete certainty is that they have never and would never make fun of another child. They just don't think that way, they are more accepting of others with differences, they are more compassionate. Now, that being said, they have a filthy room, often leave their homework at home, and have been known not to shower for a week at camp! Hahaha! Definitely NOT PERFECT...but not hurtful, not mean spirited, and very accepting of others exactly the way they are even when others are not.
We had deep sobs out of Kenny a couple of mornings ago when we were eating breakfast and I shared with him that we may not be able to take our side trip to Kyrgyzstan while traveling for our adoption. We had promised him that we would take him to visit his two of his old orphanage mates who were part of the Fearsome Foursome and have since been adopted. Turat and Askar (Who are now Luke and Thomas) are living with their Australian native parents in Bishkek, but we just received word that they will be departing to return home permanently on Novemeber 9thh. I told Kenny we just might not make it in time, as we don't have a travel date yet and it might be really close but just a bit too late to see them. He sat there for a moment, and then slowly the tears quietly came. He said he understood but he really wanted to see them again so badly, as he knows it will likely be the last time he ever has the chance in his lifetime.
2 1/2 years later it is easy to forget the bond he once shared with others as his brothers. We see what he has with Joshie and Matthew and the faces of other children we know were a huge part of his life are simply pushed aside, and that is not fair of us. I think even he was surprised at his reaction, it brought up a lot of old feelings and remembrances of times when life was very different for him. Older child adoption comes with a past that is actually not forgotten upon adoption, it is carried through for the remainder of their lives and it comes with memories both good and bad. We, as adoptive parents, would love to think their lives began with us but you can NOT sweep 8 years under the rug and pretend they never existed. There were REAL relationships, REAL love (thankfully), REAL heartache at what is lost...and that is not a judgment on their new life not being a happy one. Even children who are abused by their parents yearn for what was lost. We forget the power of our children's past.
He got up, still in tears and I stopped him, and we just stood there in the kitchen, me holding him, he started truly sobbing, and I didn't say a word...just held him close, trying to absorb the pain a little for him. A few minutes later I told him that he had my word that we would do what we could, but that even if we were there a day or two before they left we had to respect that they might be terribly busy packing and getting ready and just might not have time to meet with us...but I would try and we would pray that God might allow him one last visit. If not, we talked about how wonderful it was that we were NOT going to visit them in an orphanage, that they have had loving parents and are not in a good family, unlike Amir (Isaac) who is still waiting to be released by Kyrgyzstan's adoption moratorium and finally find himself happily in the arms of his wonderful waiting family.
On to some of the happier emotions going on around here, Dominick and I found ourselves laughing like crazy when we realized the boys were experiencing their own version of the "Nesting Syndrome". About a week ago we had a talk with the boys and shared with them all that is going on behind the scenes, that we are FINALLY drawing closer to a travel date and their sisters coming home. We talked about how it is now time to kick it into high gear and get ready for "the call"...finishing little projects around the house, starting to pack and get clothing for the trip, things like that. After leaving the Family Discussion Matthew went to his room and started emptying out his space under his loft bed, and soon the other boys followed suit. Their room was a complete disaster before I wandered down the hall and saw what they were up to. "What in the world are you guys doing?" I asked. Matthew turned to me and said "Mommy, we have to get ready for the girls...we need to clean up our rooms really good and it is time to get rid of a few things. We don't want them thinking we are pigs!". And so they were soon knee deep in donation bags and organizing, and I have to say they did a great job. Now, don't get me wrong, we are a week post-cleaning and of course the room is a mess ;-) But I loved how they too are internally and externally preparing to embrace our new family members. It's kind of nice this time around to feel it is not just Mommy nesting!
The boys have loved seeing the few post cards we have gotten. It is exciting for them to have a more concrete way of understanding this virtual world that you and I visit each day. They now better understand that there are people in many other places who read about our family. I hope the girls will get a kick out of it someday too! We have received 5 or 6 thus far, and I hope that a few more of you might find the time to drop one in the mail to us. You can send them to: Dominick and Cindy LaJoy, Jetway Cafe, 2100 Airport Road, Montrose, CO 81401. A special thanks to those of you who have sent them, we will make sure the girls have a thorough explanation of just how many people followed their story before they came home!
So we are off to another day of school and homeschool, of preparing our hearts and our home for what lies ahead. Mommy has a lot of "head work" still to do, I think, more opening of myself up to whatever comes, preparing in many more ways than what is outwardly obvious. Still dealing with doubts in the homeschooling arena, trying to forge a path that makes sense for us and doesn't feel as if it has to fit the mold that others think it ought. Lots to be fearful of, yet lots still to look forward to and trust that all will work out.
Whatever will be, will be!