How I made a Total Stranger Cry

He sat across from me at the optical store. We discussed new glasses and lenses.

He suggested progressive lenses.

I quipped that I wasn’t patient enough to wait for changing lenses.

He chuckled.

We chatted.

I suggested a new look.

He suggested the extended warrantee.

I agreed – “You never know what the boys will do!”

And then there I was explaining the foster care system to Brian, a young man with long brown hair, dark glasses and a curious mind.

“Yes,” I said, “they call and ask us to pick up a baby in 15 minutes.”

“It’s been so important to me to keep the brothers together.”

“We didn’t expect to be adopting, but now my sister and I have such a beautiful blended and crazy family.”

“Do you know that some kids ‘age out’ of the foster care system? They go through life, never having a ‘true’ family – no one to cheer at graduation, no one to walk them down the aisle, no one at Christmas….it hurts my heart. I would take many more if I could.”

“Do you know you can go on a local news website – click on a link and find photos of kids waiting for a family? Yes, almost like an animal shelter…sadly…”

His eyes welled up.waitingWP

He wiped a tear.

He paused.

“Wow,” he said, “I had no idea….about any of this.”

November is National Adoption Month.

Today is National Adoption Day.

Children are waiting.


Parenting THAT school-aged child

If there was a parenting manual for the school-age kid, I always imagined it would go like this. Get the kid up, dressed and off to school after a good breakfast. Your child will enjoy class time and friendships. After a snack and a break, child completes homework, studies as needed and succeeds.

Except for some children.

Some children wake up and don’t want to go to school. Some children say “I can’t do this” the moment they sit down to a work-sheet. Some children lay on the floor and roll around making noises in the back of the room. Some children talk out of turn and without raising their hands. Some children talk back to the teachers. Some children express anger. Some children just don’t seem to fit.

I read a fantastic piece today written by a teacher about “THAT” kid in the classroom. The one that other children always talk about. The one that other parents always worry about distracting their precious learning child. And I wept knowing that THAT child is my child. My boy is the one laying on the floor making noises. My boy is the one that gets “dangerous” sometimes and for no reason. My boy is the one that kids and parents talk about. My boy is the one who is not fitting.

And when the principal of your private school calls on a Friday afternoon to say “We really do want the best for your son, but this may not be the best fit for him,” you feel your world crumble right alongside you. The walls collapse. The ground shakes a bit as the weight of the words sink through the protective, defensive, mushy Mommy brain. Numbness turns to questions.

Questions which don’t really have an answer.

Questions that begin with “oh my goodness.”

What are we going to do now?

What are the options?

How do I help this boy who is struggling?

How did we get to this point?

What should I have done differently?

Where do we turn?

How do I parent “that” kid that doesn’t fit anywhere? Where is this parenting manual?

5 Things a 5-year-old Learned in One Week!

It’s been a bit of a busy week for a certain middle child in our household. It’s hard to believe he managed to squeeze all these moments within the course of a week, but he’s a bright one and likes to concentrate his learning!

  1. When you are supposed to be playing “quietly” downstairs with your older cousin while your mother puts your brothers to bed, it is unwise to empty out your brother’s two boxes of Pokemon cards, strew them across a previously clean floor, and begin to bat at them with flashlights. It is particularly unwise if the older brother had previously spent hours (with Mom) sorting those cards into a certain order and will likely be growling when he finds out in the morning.
  1. Oranges and apples should remain in the category of “food” and not be reclassified as “sports equipment” or as “weapons” to be propelled in the general direction of other boys while Mom is outside for all of 5 minutes to walk the dog! Secondly, fruit that explodes on the floor upon impact shall now be your responsibility to dispose of properly. After all, “You make a mess – you clean the mess!”
  1. Wood is a porous material – which means nathanthat if you write on beautiful hard wood built-in drawers in the upstairs room, they will not clean off very easily….even with all your scrubbing on behest of your mother. And the fact that you penned your own name onto the wood kind of answers the question of “Who did this?” Guilty, boy. You are guilty. You are going to have to own this one.
  1. It is true that you should not bite Legos to get them apart. And I can’t begin to recount for you how many times I have alluded to this timeless truth. The fact that your bottom tooth now hurts and “wiggles” is only confirmation that Mommy is always right. And yes, if you continue to bite Legos, all your teeth will in fact fall out and you will not be able to eat ever again! “And then you die?” “Not a chance you want to take, now is it, my young child?”  (And if you want to show off to the world that you now have a “loose tooth” you might just want to add how that happened….or I sure will whenever I’m around!)
  1. And lastly, for this busy week – The f-word and the middle finger are NOT appropriate additions to your vocabulary! It doesn’t really matter “what” the word means, nor whose brother told whose brother, or even if you said it “on accident” – you just better never say it again. And it is not, let me repeat – NOT your responsibility to teach every other kid in kindergarten (at your private Christian school) and your first (and likely your last) playdate buddy that they should never raise their middle finger. I think it’s best that you just forget all of that and let some of those grown-up people do the teaching!

    Mommys poor smashed finger this week!

    Mommy’s poor smashed middle finger this week!

Now that we got that all out of the way, we should be on target for a relatively quiet week!


Be the tissue sometimes

“Sometimes you’re the tissue, sometimes you’re not,” said The Little Guy at the dinner table when I pointed to the line of snot across the right shoulder of my sweatshirt. I just laughed. I have never heard him say anything like that.

I looked at him and said, “That really is so profound, Little Guy.” (like he knows what that means!)

Sometimes, you are the tissue.Tissue-clip-art-05

Sometimes there is nothing else. One of my favorite pieces of advice for a new parent is “all your clothes better be washable….half the time, they are a tissue.” There’s been many a day that I’ve seen myself in a mirror half-way through a work day and noticed the snot-line on the shoulder or across the bottom of the shirt. And I’ve never been upset. Instead I’ve smiled to realize that there’s someone at home in my life who is so precious that I get to be their tissue – I’m the one they come crying to when they get hurt, or are sad, or on days they just don’t feel well. I am the one who is there in those moments of their life, some of them little and some of them gushing blood. Sometimes I can find the tissue box. And sometimes I’m the tissue.

Sometimes I’m the tissue for other people’s kids too. Sometimes I’m picking up the little one who fell and wiping their tears.  Sometimes I’m holding my mother’s foster baby who at the age of 6 months is an adorable chunk of a boy….with plenty of drool and teether-crud all over his mouth. It’s important to be “in there” for others’ kids too so that they know there’s another caring adult in the world and that the line of snot running into their mouths is not going to scare anyone away (though I’m definitely looking for the tissue box here!).

And sometimes I’m the tissue for the good friend who is under some tough stress of life or just heard some hard news. Sometimes I’m the tissue for the happy tears cried onto the shoulder of a tight hug. Sometimes I have a tissue to offer and sometimes I don’t. But I’m always thankful to have close enough friends to cry together. Because sometimes I’m the tissue, and sometimes they hold that role for me. I wouldn’t get too far in life without having some tissue friends.

So get in there and get dirty.

Be the tissue for someone today or this week. We all need a shoulder.