Thursday, February 9, 2012

Date with a big thinker

                                                Tending our watermelon crop in the drought

My eldest child thrives on scheduled activity. Never one to spend a day lazing about without an agenda, she gets up at dawn and flits from school to robotics club to running club to cheer class to girl scouts. On her "off" days she fits in a playdate or two, works on projects, adds to her list of inventions-yet-to-build, writes to her penpals, and reads her college algebra textbook.

She is a force. And she is at her best when her mind and body are actively engaged.

She is like me in that she says exactly what she feels as she is thinking it. Not much of a filter on that girl. She feels things intensely and shares that intensity with whomever is near.

My oldest son is his sister's biggest fan and her best friend. But he does not share her temperment. Sweet Bubs is overwhelmingly sweet and silly. He loves to make people laugh and will find subtle twists of expected words or actions that leave us all giggling. He loves to sleep in and on school-days Sean and I fight over who gets to go scoop him out of his bed; he wraps his warm and heavy limbs around you so tight and snuggles his flushed cheeks deep into your neck. He slowly pats your back as you carry him into the dining room for breakfast. It is heaven.

Sweet Bubs is remarkable in that he plays with every child, no exceptions. He has a gift for making other children feel welcome and in preschool he often acted as the "bridge" for socially awkward children who needed some help being introduced to group play. Now in kindergarten he continues to be everyone's pal; one of his classmates recently drew a picture that said "I wish I had a hundred Sweet Bubs".

Sweet Bubs struggles with expressing his feelings--especially the hard feelings. Emotional storms come on him suddenly. I can see the clouds swoop over his brow and down to his quivering chin, followed by a flood of tears. We work on using words to describe what is bothering him, but more often than not he needs to wail while wrapped in my arms. I give in.

Miss A is all about the mind and body, and Sweet Bubs is all about the heart and soul.

He takes time to think things through before he speaks them aloud. In the wake of our Sheila's death he has had many questions about what happened to her. He asks these questions as we drive to pick-up/drop-off his sister.

"Mom, what happened to Sheila's body? Where is it now?"
"Did it hurt Sheila to die?"

He listens to my answers and nods his head thoughtfully. I tell him I will always answer his questions.

Last weekend Sweet Bubs and I went on a date. Sean was working, Miss A was at Girl Scouts. I asked him what he wanted to do and he said he wanted to go to a coffee shop. He said I should surprise him and take him to one he had never been to before, one that was "quiet and cozy" so that we could talk.

We held hands as we crossed a busy downtown street and ducked into our chosen destination. We stood in line behind dozens of hung-over hipsters and Sweet Bubs joked about wanting a cappuccino, no wait a beer, no wait a soda. I got black coffee, he got hot milk and a lemon bar.

As we sat down at our table he stopped to pick up a baby's jacket from the floor and hand it to the child's mother.

We looked at a dinosaur book together and talked about whether T-Rex would like brisket or bacon better. Then Sweet Bubs said "Mom, will YH be sad when we come to get him?"

This was on YH's birthday. My heart was bruised already.

"Yes baby, he will. He will probably be very sad and scared."

"I thought so."

We talked more about how even though we will be so excited and happy to have our YH with us it will be a very different experience for him. He won't know us, he won't ever have been on an airplane before, our house will smell different, our words will sound different, our food will taste different. He might be angry and push us away. He might shut down and sleep all the time. He might be happy one minute and cry the next.

It is our job to love him and show him we are his family no matter what. Do you think you can help me do that Sweet Bubs?

"Of course mama. He's my brother even if he's mad or scared."

My love.


  1. So sweet, and so awesome that your kiddos already have an understanding of how hard this transition is going to be for YH. I always resist using the term 'lucky' for any adopted kid but in this regard, I will say YH is very fortunate. I am so tired of seeing families with huge welcoming parties for kids at airports, only focusing on how happy everyone on THIS SIDE is...

  2. Oh, I know! I am glad my son introduced the subject on his own because I was struggling to find a way to say "So hey kids--your new brother probably won't like you very much at first". The process is so abstract to begin with that i tend to focus on the concrete *good* things about having a new seemed kind of weird to say "Your brother who doesn't really exist for you yet is going to be upset with us".