Sunday, July 14, 2013

Repeating the same thing...DOES NOT yield different results !

This is proof.  Proof that our dishwasher will NOT eat a pizza.  Proof our dishwasher will never be a substitute for a gool old fashioned hand washing.  Proof our operators struggle to rinse first.  Proof that repeating the same thing looking for different results is insanity.

Okay so this could have just come from a boiling pot of pasta.  It did not.  This could have been my dwarf helpers being silly, and putting the pasta on the spoon. It was not.  This WAS a product of "cleanliness" coming out of the dishwasher. 

Now before you start thinking to yourself, these things happen, or maybe it was a fluke.  I assure you most whole heartily, this is not a random fluke. 

Our dishwasher runs, often 3 plus times a day. (with leftover dishes lingering in the sink for the next run)  Aside from our washing machine, this appliance is one of the most over used, and under appreciated machines in our home.   While we have repeated to the dwarfs, "rinse the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher", it seems that this message is not being understood nor is it being performed with any regularity. 

This is how it works at the orphanage.  Each day there is a different dwarf in charge of dishes.  This means that throughout the day they are responsible for emptying the dishwasher, reloading it and running it.   Often the Prince and I will step in and assist with a helping hand, which is how I came across this lovely pasta filled utensil. 

I figured that I would bless a dwarf and unload the dishwasher that ran over night so that the new day's helper would not have to unload they could just rinse and load the breakfast dishes. 

On this bright new day, not only did I pull out the above pictured pasta server, but I also pulled out a cup that had sludge in the bottom, and a pan that had dried eggs stuck to it.  I wonder to myself, how is it that this dishwasher is not cleaning my dishes?  Then I look to the chore chart and see with dwarf loaded the day before, and the fuzzy picture becomes a bit clearer. 

We have also instructed them that if you eat something and have dishes that you are putting into the sink for another to load, be kind and rinse the dish prior to walking away.  Ice cream is a great example of  a food that is harmless while in it's original form, but when pooling in the bottom of the bowl over night and hardening and then being thrown into the dishwasher, well there is no way that the machine - even on the HIGH temperature SANI rinse, HEAVY load cycle is going to be able to sandblast that out of the bottom. 

It is at times like these, if  I am overseeing the emptying of the dishwasher that the following conversation happens: "Mom, this is gross, this dish/pot is still dirty.  Yes it is, pull it out and place it on the counter your going to have to hand wash that piece.  Can't I just put it back in the dishwasher?  No, if the dishwasher did not get it clean the first time, what makes you think it will clean it the second time?  I don't know, it's almost clean..."

Now if there is not an adult present at the unloading stage and a dwarf happens to find a dirty something, we don't know this until we go to set the table, and there is a fork in the drawer covered in egg, or a cereal bowl covered with ice cream sludge in the cupboard. 

Stick with me, there is a life lesson here...

It baffles my mind, after this series of conversations and discoveries has taken place, 100's of times at our house, (remember at least three runs a day with the dishwasher, and at least 9 people eating 3 meals a day -7 days a week) that somewhere they would not start catching on to the fact that a little courtesy and common sense could go a long way in preventing the "ewww that's gross" conversation.

Now have there been times when it has been the dishwasher's fault (yes the machine) oh my yes,  after seven years in this house we are on our 4th dishwasher.  The house came with one - we have since purchased three more.  Likewise there are ample supplies located in or around or under our large farmers sink that can be used for scraping, scrubbing and pre rinsing dishes.  Not only do we have our trusty green scrubber, but our pampered chef brown scraper, and we have dish soap in a fancy dispenser attached to the sink, and a tall and regal looking spigot that has a shower option for the water as well as straight on stream, all at the push of a button.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that the hose comes out right from the faucet and moves all around the sink area with great ease. Yet no one seems inclined to utilize these tools on a regular basis.

All of this to say I want them to realize that not just in dish washing, but in all things in this life, there is a right way to do things and a short cut way to do things.  Often times we think that by just doing what we are required, we have full filled our obligation, we have checked items off our to do list.  Sadly, however just like in life, God knows when we half step things, and in the case of the dishwasher, so does your mom, your dad, any one that visits the house and gets the gross anything out of a drawer or cupboard, and the dwarf next in line for dish knows that you are (the previous days dwarf) was a slacker.   You may think you are getting away with something, but we never get away from the Lord, and often times jobs done in haste or half way require an additional amount of time to "fix".  Expressing to the dwarfs that if you just did things completely the first time, you would save time and energy in the long run, is also a train of thought and understanding that is lost on each of them.  After repeated occurrences of this from all the dwarfs, the question is how can anyone walk up to the sink and not think, "oh, I should rinse this" or as they are taking their turn loading, "oh this needs scrapped or I need to rinse this better" but alas, seemingly, we keep doing things exactly the same as we did before, thinking that somehow the results will be different. 

This is where the Prince steps in and says, " This is a marathon, not a sprint."  He insists that we should not grow weary, and that they will get it, eventually. That until they tire of getting dirty dishes from the cupboard, and tire of being embarrassed that they are handing a sleep over friend a dirty spoon, that we must remain steadfast and constant in their training.   I am not yet convinced, but will continue to repeat the conversations with them, make them hand wash the dirty, clean dishes, and remind them when dropping something in the sink to rinse it. 

If I had a nickle for every time the Prince or I repeated these phrases and expressed these thoughts, just in regards to dish, I think we could go out to eat for a week, three times a day, all 9 of us and let someone else worry about the dishes!

Really, you can't make this stuff up!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Missing Someone We Do Not Remember

Perhaps there is part of me that thought that in all of this adopting and raising of children a magic wand would be waved, and with a sprinkling of fairy dust, the world as these kids had known it before would just cease to exist.  I believe in my heart of hearts that because of the special needs of some of them, this is the case.  They have blocked out or pushed away the memories of old that cause them pain, or misunderstanding.  For that I am grateful.  Parenting older children that you did not birth is a challenge.  Parenting older children that you adopt is a bigger challenge.  With children that you gather to your side through combining families, at least one part of the family unit has a clear understanding of where those children have been and are going on their journey through life.  There is a clear picture of medical issues, special needs, an understanding of the "drama" factor, the normal for each of those children.  

Often you have probably heard me say, these kids carry a little black bag over their shoulders.  We have no idea what it is in it. It is the history, the reason that they are who and the way they are.  The black bag is unpacked not upon arrival in our home, but randomly, without any rhyme or reason, at sometimes very inappropriate times throughout their lives as trigger assaults them.  It can be play time, or nap time.  It can be a smell, a television show, or an observation while at the store.  A police car, an ambulance, a salad, or bed time.   Seemingly random to us, but clearly not to them. 

Fast forward to Bashful.  Bashful is the youngest of the sibling group that the Prince and I have adopted.  He was 18 months when removed from his biological home.  While we know that his older siblings endured much abuse while in that home, it is our belief that he was relatively unscathed in the process. He went from his biological home with his eldest sister to a loving consistent foster home, where he stayed until he came to be a part of our family.  In the early days of his life with us, we were potty training, playing ball, rocking to sleep, living the life of an excitable and happy toddler.  We had some hitches along the way and as he progressed to school age we were able to get some help with figuring out some of the things that made Bashful tick, or the triggers for his behavioral meltdowns.   

Along the way I felt that the best course of action for Bashful was to re-write his memories for him since he was so young.  For example, the first time I took him for shots at the doctors he was so afraid.  But as we sat and I soothed him as a mother tries to do, I told him what a big boy he was, and how the last time he got shots he was such a brave boy, and it would only hurt for a minute and then we could go home. (Clearly I had no idea how he would respond, but figured by planting the memories of bravery couldn't  hurt.)   Round one of shots successful.  Then at the next appointment where more shots were needed, we built on that memory.  Do you remember every time you get shots, you are scared and always end up being so brave.  We started "remembering" the first time he got shots.  How brave he was.  How quickly they were over. 

Or the time that he was talking about being a baby and being in my belly.  While I never pretended to have birthed the child, I had a great story or "memory" for him about my love for him growing in my heart until it was time for him to make his arrival in my life. How I have loved him since before I knew him, and that is how God prepares mothers for children.  He has the love for them grow in their hearts in advance of their arrival, so that when they come to their parents it is as if they have always been in their lives and part of the family, because that love was growing in our hearts before we knew them. 

How about the time when he wondered if when he was a baby he wanted to eat his vegetables?  Well Bashful, you know you have always loved your vegetables.  Your favorites are green beans, but you like peas and Lima beans too.  He would look at me sceptically and then try one, and agree that yes he had always loved Lima beans.

Fast forward to current day, really the past two to three weeks.  Bashful is really torn up about his biological mom.  He laments that she must not have liked him, she did not love him, that he can't remember her.  Clearly, new territory for me.  Because of the abuse and neglect none of the others ever want to discuss this part of their lives.  I have no idea what this woman looked like.  What she sounded like.  From paperwork we have a general idea that she was a tall as she was wide, that she had mental health issues, that she was unable to care for herself and her four children, but somehow I do not think that these are the things that my almost 11 year old dwarf is longing to know the details of.  He is remembering a blank space in his mind where there is nothing to draw from. No memory of her nor any sense of her. Just that he must be at fault some how to no longer be with her. 

So I am at a crossroad.  As an adult, I know and understand the ugly truth surrounding why these children are now mine.  I can see the hand of God's favor and protection in their young lives to get them from where they started out at, to home, here with us, their forever family.  So I sit and watch my youngest sob hysterically in the Prince's lap and then come to me for a cuddle, seeking comfort and a memory of someone that none of us knows and that he can't remember.

This is how the story goes... If your mother was sitting right here in front of us Bashful, she would say that she loves you so very much.  She loved you so much in fact that she gave you up for adoption because it was the best way for her to show you her unconditional love.  She knew in her heart that she could not care for you and your siblings.  It was hard for her to provide food and clothing and shelter for you.  It was hard for her to care for herself in these areas as well.  She knew she was too old to be adopted, but she knew that her children were not.  She wanted you to have everything that she could not provide for you.  A home, with toys, and running water, and food.  A place that you were safe from harm of people, diseases and pain.  She wanted you to be clean, and well fed.  She wanted you to be able to go to the doctors if you needed to, to go to school and learn and grow your mind.  She wanted you to be surrounded by people that made you their priority, not an after thought.  She loved you so much that she gave you up for adoption. 

In her giving you up, our family became complete.  God kept you safe the entire time you were in your biological home.  In the midst of not having clean clothing, running water, or food, in the midst of abuse and neglect (that part we will save til he is older) God kept you safe and secure and provided for your needs, because God knew that your forever family was waiting for you.  God knew that our family was not complete without you.  So while you are sad Bashful that you can not remember your biological mother, you do not have to worry about any of this being your fault.  She loved you so much that she did the most unselfish thing that she could for you.  When you try to remember her, you need to remember that she loved you enough to let you go.  That she had a dream for you to do more, to go further than she was ever able to go.  When you think of her, and can't remember her face, or her smell, or her voice... remember her heart.  Remember how much she loved you.  Remember the sacrifice she made for you to have what she could not provide for you.  Remember that God's plan all along was for you to be born to one mother, and raised and nurtured here in our home by another mother, surrounded by unconditional love and acceptance. 

When our hearts our heavy, or filled with joy, it is comforting to know, you just can't make this stuff up!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Danger... we have an identity crisis on our hands...

Please note the following blog is not intended to offend, or in any way make light of people groups, customs, fashion or personal style.  Growing up and currently living in middle/upper class America has given me strong opinions about tact, class, attitudes, behaviors and yes even dress.  Having said that if you think you may be offended, you should close out of this post and move on to another... maybe even outside of my blog.

We are in a dangerous teenage situation at the orphanage.  We have a dwarf with an identity crisis.  Grumpy comes from the backwoods, has been to the high woods and lives in middle America, but embraces the ghetto.  Why you ask should he be confused about who he is?  Well in addition to the redneck heritage, and the rugged outdoors mans life he has been living for the past two years, he feels that somehow God has made a mistake in creating him.  Being bounced from his biological home to foster homes to our home indeed caused him to feel a bit unsettled I am sure! However the lingering question that remains each time our clearly Caucasian son throws on his lid, and sports his too cool sunglasses, wearing his pants slouched down, and refuses to put on a shirt, because he is showing off his "12" pack,  is, "how did he/we get to this place".   (Yes fellow readers, this is not a typo, he thinks he's got him a 12 pack. You know that's a real thing..  because even as tried and true exercise fanatics have indicated that after 6 months of P90X they only own a four pack, Grumpy is not deterred.)  I will agree as his mother, that he has slimmed down and has a great head start on most boys his age in the area of being a physically fit male specimen, however he doesn't need to show that much skin.  No one wants to see that... not in my home, nor in middle class America.  When a shirt is adorned, it is preferred that it sport a cool logo like under armour or another equally high end expensive name brand.  (and while I am not opposed to high end clothing) I am opposed to wearing a white shirt with stains out in public because of it's brand/logo.  But the dwarf insists that my rules about wearing clean, non tattered clothing is stupid.  He should be able to wear what he wants when he wants.  (Me think that is a backwoods mentality.)

Yes there are some struggles of power going on here.  A power pull between myself, the momma of many, and in this case, my dwarf that is trying to find himself.  I am not willing to let my dwarfs look like they come from a real orphanage. I want them to know that one should always go out putting their best foot forward.  I want my dwarfs to all claim their own sense of fashion, find the style that is comfortable to them, however being a poser, is not a road that I want to see them go down.  Many a conversation have been had regarding being one thing, and trying to look and act like something that you are not, and how that will end with you not having any friends on either side, because you are pretending to be what you are not.  I am sure this conversation is falling on deaf  dwarf like ears.

Okay fast forward to today.  Grumpy is torn, in his heart of hearts he is a very white boy, from the back woods that, to coin a country song, wants to "chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco - spit"  So today's first adventure was wrestling with his inner redneck. He is chewing his grape Big League Chewing gum.  Of course his mouth is stuffed full, too full in my opinion, but he wants the budging cheek... while traveling 65 across the river today,  he figures that spitting is a fine way to get rid of the gum he is chewing that has lost it's flavor.  So he just hauls off and sucks in a big breath and spits out the window.  Lucky for him he clearly has had practice at this maneuver.  If Dopey had done this, we would still be picking the wad out of his hair.  Now in disgust, I react to his stupid move, by asking him "what the heck do you think you are doing?"  "Getting rid of my gum" comes the response in a voice that clearly indicates he thinks I am an idiot.  Well I say," did you not see me get rid of my gum less than 5 minutes ago?" "Yes", he says.  I ask him how I did it.  He reports that I searched for piece of trash paper to wrap it in then stuck it in the trash bag in the car.  So I respond, with a question that I thought was fair,  "why did you think littering, spitting your gum outside in the wind was a great idea?"  As if I am stupid he looks at me and says, "well everyone else does it."  Insert crazy raging face here...(mine of course) " EVERYONE ELSE does it? - I didn't do it less than 5 minutes ago - you should stop worrying about what you think everyone else does, and start paying attention to what we do.  Emulate us, not the world, as we are trying to set you up for success. You are no longer living in the woods, you can not spit, pee, or squat where ever and when ever you want." " Mom, I don't know what the problem is, gum is bio degradable.  NO son it is not, it is made of non biodegradable substances... (insert science lesson for the day here and social etiquette ) it is liter, and if you get caught littering there is a fine.  If gum were biodegradable it would not be called gum, it would be called breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack. If gum were degradable you would not be able to chew it for hours on end,  it is made of latex and plastic... grrr...

Okay so you may be wondering what is the big deal.  Well frankly spitting is gross.  Am I a snob when it comes to how I view people that freely spit while walking across parking lots, YES.  Do I find it socially repulsive to watch a man shoot snot from his nose instead of using a tissue or other hand held devise to blow his nose? YES.  I do not feel that I should be subjected to these disgusting habits of those on the fringe of civilization that come to town on occasion.  I want more for my children.  I want them to be socially acceptable, well rounded, thoughtful people.  Spitters and snot blowers in my opinion are not those things. 

So the first struggle in Grumpy identifying himself, is part of him desires to be a redneck.  A redneck wearing a lid, sporting slouchy pants, and  too cool reflective sunglasses... are you starting to get a clear picture of the conflict?   

Here was my biggest mistake of the day.  I took Grumpy to Wall Mart ... where he was enthralled by the lid wearing, baggy pants sporting, homeboys... Some of whom I have no doubt were legitimate in their attire and were being true to their people group.  Sadly, my dwarf only saw in these folks what he wanted to see, and that was a mirror reflection of whom he thinks he should be.  He is sure that God has made a mistake, that he should be Hispanic or African American, and since he has spent some time in the sun this summer he claims his skin color is brown, and that gets him closer to the those that are what he wants to be. ( Replay the conversation about being true to who you are, who God made you and embracing your unique qualities instead of trying to be what you are not.)  Insert eye rolling at me for even bringing this up in conversation again.  Imagine me as I stroll through the store, with my hormonal 14 year old, who is clearly eavesdropping on conversations along the way, walking slowly and staring at those that he finds to really have the "look" that he wants, memorizing the angle of the lid, the way they speak to their homeys, and the slang that they use.  He bumps into displays, runs over the back of my foot with the cart, giggles, points and whispers to his other brother Happy,  slowly goes up behind people pretending to be engrossed in the green bean selection to catch the ring tone on their phone that are catchy rap ditty's, intensely observing the tattoos, and name brands and gold chains that adorn these men, some young, some not so much...  I swear if he asks for gold jewelry for his next holiday or birthday, I am going to loose my mind.   

Lesson learned today, I can not keep all the posers out of my son's life.  Are we not all a little like Grumpy? Oh we may clean up on the outside to be socially accepted by society, or not.  We may work hard on a regular basis to be someone that we are not.  We diet and exercise to be thinner, we color our hair to take out the gray, we have surgeries to alter our appearances, we shop and wear only trendy clothing to try and fit in.... all because we struggle with who we really are.  Sadly, until Grumpy (or any of us for that matter) gets comfortable in his (our) own skin, white (or tan in the summer), he(we) are going to always struggle to be something or someone that we are not. 

The Prince, he claims this is typical boy stuff.  I disagree, my eldest male dwarf has always been comfortable in his skin and has not to my knowledge wanted to be something that he is not.  Knowing that each dwarf is different, is not much comfort in this journey  as I watch him trying to find himself.  Do I want him to dress in button down shirts with a tie, wearing pressed dockers with a belt, with coordinating shoes?  Well, maybe for Christmas and Easter, but not as regular attire, unless he were to choose that for himself.  But the struggle seems to be that in his earnest search for whom he wants to be, what his style is, he seems to be clearly steering away from what is typical and acceptable in our middle class suburbia home, almost as if on purpose excluding himself from being one of us as well.

I am trying really hard to overlook the lid and the glasses, to remind him to put on a shirt,  to try not to flip out when he spits, leaves the lid up on the toilet. I am trying to be consistent in his quest to help him  learn to love who he is.  I try to find every opportunity to remind him that he has been created as is, no mistake,  a warm, compassionate, kind hearted and handsome young man.  A young man that is athletic, talented, and artistic.   A young man that is growing each day in wisdom and knowledge, and a young man that has face adversity and has grown through it.  I am praying each day that this is just like the Prince has indicated, "a phase, a boy thing".   I suppose if it were not this it could be something else, to coin a  favorite movie phrase, I guess he could "dress in drag and do the hula." 

Oh, at the end of this long challenging day I say, You really can't make this stuff up.