Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Love Epiphanies!

Do you ever have moments where you have a happy epiphany?? Today was one such day, and it caught me a bit off guard.

This afternoon, the kids and I were deeply involved in helping a friend pack a UHaul for a cross country trip to move to California.  There were four other adults around, helping to pack this couple's belongings, and when we arrived bearing a large refrigerator dolly, the project started.  Within 10 minutes one thing was surprisingly apparent...

Our kids have developed a sense of teamwork and an ability to assess a situation and act accordingly that is rare in a group of kids this young.  I don't know why I saw it all of a sudden, but it was as if every frustrating moment of teaching logical thinking, planning, etc. all fell into place, creating a sort of beautiful ballet, carefully choreographed movements, leaning on one another's gifts and avoiding weaknesses.  There was little need to tell them what to do, they just got in and somehow seemed to know exactly what was needed, and didn't wait to be told.  Boxes were handed to one another in bucket brigade style, minimizing unnecessary running around, quiet consultations were held about how best to move particular pieces of furniture, and all was done so efficiently that it would seem there was a professional moving team present.

It was a thing of beauty to watch, truly...until the adults present thwarted it.

The kids politely stepped aside as some sort of quiet power play erupted between adults present.  Though not at all directed at the kids, it was interesting to watch as all action slowed to a snail's pace, and Team LaJoy quickly recognized they needed to just let things unfold as others worked through their issues.

We operate differently as a family, as Dominick and I really respect our kids' opinions.  Though we may not always agree with them, we have always heard them out, encouraged them to share, and very often do end up acting on their recommendations or ideas.  This may seem odd to some, as I know many families have a more top down kind of hierarchy, but we see our kids as thoughtful and intelligent, and find they bring a fresh approach to things that helps us view it all differently.

Matthew quietly asked me, "Mom, how old will I have to be for other adults to take me seriously and not just push me aside like I am a kid?"  He was trying valiantly to hold back his suggestions for how to pack more quickly and solidly as his area of giftedness in spatial thinking makes that a total breeze for him.  He knew it would be inappropriate to say anything, and decided the best tactic would be to walk away and let the adult struggle, as it was clear there was no desire to hear suggestions from anyone else, be it another adult or a child.

"Probably when you are 30 years old, people will start treating you like you actually know something.", I replied.

He was silent for a few minutes, then said, "Sometimes I appreciate you and Dad a lot more.  This is one of those times.  You never treat us like we are just kids.  Thanks, Mom.", then he walked back into the fray, willing to do what he was directed to do, respectful as could be.

Another little epiphany is that Joshua is really maturing.  Today he went for his "interview" to volunteer at the library.  He had completed the application all on his own, and when we entered the library he walked right up to the office by himself without any urging on my part and knocked, then confidently sat down to answer any questions they had about his application.  He arranged his volunteer time...Tuesdays between 11:00 - 1:00 pm, and will be doing lots of odd jobs around the library, eventually leading to shelving books.  He came out and told me all about it, and that his first day next week he would need to go in a little later to be trained.  I thought back to how reluctant he would have been even a year ago to do something like this on his own, or talk to a stranger by himself, and I couldn't help but smile.

That young man has come a long way.  He may still bring his blankie camping with him, but there is a quiet self-assurance that is emerging that is so rewarding to see in him.  He is so cute right now, as he bandies about with an enormous necklace with a lightning bolt pendant dangling from it.  It cracks us all up, as he unknowingly looks like a mini-Asian gangsta' wannabe, which was TOTALLY not the look he was hoping for!  He was startled to see that the necklace arrived with a 3 inch lightning bolt instead of a very small, delicate one he thought he had ordered on Amazon.  Though he was pretty disappointed in it, he decided to wear it anyway, because he paid for it and didn't want to send it back.  Since he knows nothing of hip hop culture, it is even funnier, because he has no clue why we might find it funny.

Tonight was another final epiphany of the day.  We all sat around chatting about our future, Dominick's work, and a couple of ideas we are working on.  The kids literally stunned me with their encouragement and support as we talked.  They spoke of God's guidance in our lives as I admitted that I am not hearing or seeing any clear directions, and they reassured me that they all feel we are on the right path, in the right place, doing the right things...and that in time we would know what God has in store for us all.  To hear such easy, every day acceptance of the Spirit's presence was surprising, as it came so naturally that it was clear to me that they indeed have taken in and are putting into practice all we have tried to teach them over the years about being patient while the Spirit takes time to work, and about having a sense of knowing when something is being guided by God or not.  To know that those lessons have been taken to heart and that the kids are that connected was a real gift to me.

We are at a stage where we are starting to see the fruits of our parenting labors.  I had someone recently ask me how I could stand being with that many teenagers all day, as they spoke about how much they hated this stage with their own kids.  For me, it is just the opposite, these years are so special.  We are seeing the kids blossom into fine young adults, people whose word can be counted on, people who are growing more aware of the world around them and realize they have a place in it.  The girls are both so, so special in our lives, lending a strong feminine vibe that is enjoyed by all of us as they point out things that would go right past the boys.  They all have so much fun together, and I couldn't imagine when we were young parents that we would ever, ever find the teen years to be so joyous.  Watching your children put into practice many of the things you have tried to teach them is particularly sweet.

Even cooler was looking in the rearview mirror after hitting the library today and seeing Angela had checked out an enormous biography on Ghandi, and Matt was reading a large tome on Warren Buffett, Joshua was enthralled as he read about tsunamis and stopped every 2 minutes to share some awesome fact, Olesya was knee deep in more forensics books, and Kenny was totally engrossed in the first book of the Left Behind series.  Our little bookworms wouldn't even look up from devouring their selections, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud at the tiny little miracle that is these kids.  Four years post adoption, and the girls are fully fluent and following interests they never imagined having.  Four years after being pulled from public school being unable to read at a 1st grade level, and Kenny is sailing along reading for fun!!  Five years later, and Matthew is doing what he always dreamed of doing, reading as much as he wants and pursuing his varied passions at a level far above anything he would have been able to find time for were he in a classroom.  Four years later, and Joshua is using his math skills to analyze stocks for his pretend portfolio, giddy as he makes his selections and steps into a world he might not have discovered at this stage.

I love epiphanies!

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