Tuesday, June 25, 2013

One degree of separation

Tonight at dinner, all of us, but especially our son, got to hear an amazing story.

An old friend and her fiance were over to share a meal at our house of Ethiopian food.  It was his first time having it, and I was so happy every time I saw him reach and reach and reach for bite after bite of injera with about seven kinds of 'wots'.

As we were finishing up and getting ready to go for a walk, our friend started to tell us a story about when she worked at Disneyland in the early '90s.  She was a host on the Fantasyland ride, the one you enter via boat through the huge gaping mouth of a whale.  It was a packed day at the park with every boat full, and she was baffled when a group of only three people were allowed on her boat which usually holds many more.  The group on her boat was a man, a woman, and a child.

She sat next to the man who was dressed in dark glasses and a baseball cap.  He had a goatee.  He was soft-spoken and chatted with her about her job.  She told him a story about she'd fallen off the boat and into the water the day before.  All three on her boat were friendly and quiet.

When the ride was over, he waved at her, smiled, and called her by name to tell her goodbye, even though he'd only heard her name once.  She called her manager on her headset to ask what that was all about, why these three people had been allowed on the ride by themselves on such a busy day.

It turns out the soft-spoken man was Michael Jackson.  He was there with friends in disguise so they could enjoy the park anonymously.  She'd had not the slightest clue who it was.  She caught a glimpse of him walking away and immediately saw the truth based on his body shape and the cadence to his walk. She admitted that she was glad she hadn't known who he was because she certainly would have acted differently.

As our friend told this story tonight at dinner, my son sat at the other end of our dining room table with his thumb in his mouth, eyes completely bugged out.  He smiled and smiled.  He blinked hard.  He'd look from her to me, then to his dad, then back to her, smiling, eyes huge.

How silly is it that I felt thrilled for him to have heard this first-hand story about one of his heroes?  My husband and I watched transfixed as his daughter publicly mourned him at his funeral.  Our son was too small to remember, but he was with us in the room.  I couldn't stop crying and eventually "unfriended" people on fb for making snide, tasteless jokes about him.  Say what you will about the man, I have always loved Michael Jackson and do so even more now that he is this special to my son. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Extra Set of Kids

It's ridiculous how much I've let these postings slide.

We have two extra kids with us all week, same ages and genders as ours. Tonight I remembered sleepovers with my friends and cousins when I read the bedtime story.  It was such an incredibly cozy feeling to be sitting on the floor in the middle of my kids' room with two extra kids in sleeping bags on the floor.  We'd brought the basement couch cushions up for them to sleep on as pallets, and the small room was lit with small lamps and small string lights hanging in the window.

I sat on the primary colored alphabet rug and read the story about the crying woman who poured perfume on the feet of Jesus.  It ended with a line about the rule-followers hating Jesus so much they'd kill him.  When I mentioned that this was sad, the eight-year-old in a sleeping bag said, "Yeah, but it's part of his plan."
Her father is a pastor and mother a kindergarten teacher, so she's good at knowing the right answers.

She's so well-behaved and mature that I felt relieved tonight when she laughed her head off at my son saying, "We should watch the Buttcracker ballet!"  Her little brother mumbled, "That's not inappropriate," getting his negatives all jumbled up, and my son laughed, "Yeah, well, it's still funny."

The little brother has a demeanor that screams "tough guy" even though he's a cherub with long curly hair and dimples.  A few times tonight, he sauntered into me for a snuggle or took my hand.  He's still so small.  While watching 101 Dalmations with the other three laughing, he passed out asleep and needed me to carry him upstairs.  He woke up briefly on our way up but laid his head back down, and the feel of those curls on my face, heavy and soft body in my arms, reminded me so much of my own son. 

It's only day one, but today has been lovely.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Searching for the Lost Grandson

I am using my old blog to try to find the man's grandson.  You can find it by clicking here.  Please feel free to share the post as much as possible.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lost Grandson

For the last month, he's been bringing me a stack of photos every week.  Through very broken English, he's shown his son, his grandson, his daughter-in-law and his son's grave.  His daughter-in-law died too.  I'd mistakenly blamed his insistence on showing me these photos every week on his old age and loneliness.  Today I found out that I was wrong.

A friend I work with had a few minutes this morning when he came in again with the photos to explain that he is looking for his grandson, the baby in the photos he has.  After being fully orphaned, he was adopted by a family in Canada, and his grandfather is desperate to make contact.

He uses a cane and has terrible eyesight.  When he came in this morning, I wasn't expecting him since it's not a normal program day with any formal activities going on.  I welcomed him to sit down near my desk, and as the all-important words "adopted to Canada" hit my ear, it all made sense.  This is why he kept bringing them in.  I really need to listen better.

I looked down at him, and he rubbed his eyes, burdened by the weight of this  lost grandson.  He explained that he doesn't want to take the boy back; he just wants contact.  He wants to know that he's okay.

I am an adoptive mother myself, and here I am on the other side of things.  What if one of my own children's grandparents was out there trying to reach out to them?  This thought makes me ache and desperate to help him, to find that lost grandson, the tiny boy celebrating what looks like a second birthday, standing beside his mother with a loaf of honey bread and a plate of oranges.

Around twelve years ago, that family was ripped apart, two scattered to the grave and another two westward, one landing in my office today.  I now carry his burden.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Why on earth?

Right before bed on Sunday night, they were wrestling like maniacs on our hard-wood floor.  They had bathed, in pajamas, hair-caps on, teeth brushed.  I don't know exactly what was happening because I'd been cleaning up from our weekly Sunday afternoon potluck. 

I heard a loud 'thunk' and whipped my head around to see my son laying on his back, hands over his face and my daughter crouched beside him.  He screamed at the top of his little lungs, "WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU DO THAT TO ME?"

He screamed and screamed, and I couldn't help finding it so very funny that he took the time to wail this question before truly letting loose the tears.

He wouldn't sit with his dad and sister for a story, wanting only to be with me. 

"I want mama."

So I sat with everyone on the couch as he calmed down and the bump on his head got bigger.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Small Moments

Both of my kids have had the same kindergarten teacher, and both years during her writing lessons, she has focused on getting the kids to write about "small moments" that happened to them.  Rather than the default, "I played with my friend after school," she gives them time to think in silence about a small moment.  When they have their moment set in their minds, they keep their heads down but put a thumb up in the air.

Our son has taken a turn for the better in school this last month (so much so that I am very conflicted in my feelings about the year ending...I hate the idea of losing such great momentum that he has going now), so I was amazed today when I watched him focus for at least ten minutes on a 'small moment'.  The teacher had them write a beginning, middle, and end to their moment. 

My son came over to show me his work.  The story goes:

I so a algatr. lisrd.
Next, I got a neklis.
Finally, I wit to the popup kapr.

("I saw an alligator. Lizard.
Next, I got a necklace.
Finally, I went to the pop-up camper.")

It was a story about a walk he took with his dad at the bluegrass festival we went to last month.  As he told me about this story, I got to thinking about the many small moments that make up our lives and how my kids are at the age where things are happening to them that I'll probably never know about, like the moment when he saw the lizard crawl into a sewer at a bluegrass festival.

It was a strange realization.  We think we do so much to form the childhoods of our kids by exposing them to art, music, learning, sport, but what they will probably remember about certain experiences will be something like a lizard crawling into a sewer.  Well, at least when they're five. 

Of course I started thinking about my own small moments of childhood and how so many of them my own parents probably don't know about, mostly because they were unremarkable things not worth bringing up.  But I remember them still.  Small moments. 


Last night my daughter chided me about how messy my hair is when I go to work.  She asked me to show her how to do flat twists like I do on her hair, so after a brief tutorial, she took off.

 I hadn't yet looked at myself in the mirror when she asked if she could do my hair for work sometime, so I gave her one of my 'maybe's.  After she was in bed, I looked at my hair and discovered this style:

This morning, I decided to let her do my hair for work.  At 8am, I sat down for a call to my boss about a work project, and my daughter climbed up on the back of my chair to do my hair.  As I talked, she stood behind me, carefully and brutally flat-twisting my hair. 

Several people asked me today who did my hair, and I proudly told them that it was my seven-year-old.  It was a little loopy here and there, but certainly better than the mess I apparently go to work in.