Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Broken Hearted and Loving IT!

NOTE:  This post contains information about two VERY adorable little boys who are currently in Foster Care in ZhongShan - I am not advocating for these little ones to be adopted, I am not involved in any way shape or form in the process of getting these children into families, I am simply talking about two orphans who I had the wonderful opportunity to meet.  Canadian Child Trafficking Laws are a bugger... but we are clear on the fact that I am not part of the process in getting these children into homes?  Great.  Thanks.

Happy defined: playing on the floor with 12 beautiful children
Heart-broken defined: playing on the floor with 12 beautiful children knowing they don't have a forever family (yet)

After I was done my two weeks in Hong Kong, I decided to head to the main land and drop in on New Day South .  New Day South is a Foster Care home which takes in children (with special needs) from local area orphanages and helps provide critical care and surgeries for them.  Its a great organization and a very needed  organization.
Looking out over Hong Kong
Each day I spent there was the same... my wife would ask me each morning "So what are you going to do today?"  My answer was the same, "Oh you know, go to New Day, spend time with the children, have my heart broken and probably cry."

I don't think I had cried since I was a little boy.
Little Benjamin

I don't think I have ever cried this much before in my life. This little guy is such a joy, a real little boy who has energy to burn!  The little guy has taken a liking to me, but I had to leave for a bit. He cried, then calmed down. When I returned an hour later, he looked at me, but would not come near. He looked at me with distrust and a painful look of rejection in his eyes. No 3 year old should have that deep of an understanding of rejection.  Normally healthy happy children will re-engage in play... but there comes a point where the children seem to start turning inward, into themselves for comfort and start rejecting those around them to try to stop the pain of being rejected.


And that is where I think this other little guy is.  But is he ever a little sweet heart right now!  Because he is old enough to take care of himself, he seems to get the least amount of attention.  He can dress himself, clean himself, etc.  I see him sometimes, on the edges of the activity.  He seems waiting for others to call him in, to spend time with him.  I don't know if he has been hurt, or if he is just shy.  But what I think I do see, is him starting to go within himself.  He was a very gentle and nice little boy to be around.  Easy to laugh, easy to relax.  But I think the longer he stays in an orphanage now, the harder it will be for him to come out of his shell later.  But he is a sweet sweet little boy who (I think) is just waiting for a family!

Ahhhh, I miss all the kids at New Day South!  I can't wait to be able to go back and see them again...  Well, actually, I hope when I go back none of them will be there.  I hope they will have all been placed into loving homes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Expected More

"I expected more"
"Doesn't apply himself"
"Should try harder"
"Keeps stealing the chalk"
"Has so much more potential"
"Could do so much better if he tried harder"
"He should stop talking to all the girls"

These were statements common on all my report cards since I was old enough to read my own report cards.  Which was really only around grade 9 or so... but according to most of my teachers, I've been the classic underachiever.
Not going to be an underachieving Dad!

They would see my effort and always expect more from me.  Now, granted, I was not the most studious student at times.  There were just so many other fun things to do than to study and work hard in class!  To be honest, I never studied through all of my High School career.  But I managed to graduate with Honours from High School.  I guess that was my problem.  I could coast and still pull of an Honour Roll Average.

I mean, it did take a certain creative genius, when coming to class 45 minutes late, to think ahead and roll around in the snow bank and show up to class dripping wet covered in ice to try to convince the teacher that we got the car stuck in the snow bank and we had to dig it out, hence the reason for our tardiness...  However, teachers don't appreciate that kind of effort.  Had the realized how hard it was to avoid going to class, I think they would have appreciated my work effort a little more.  I mean, just by sheer luck, I think I would have wound up in class more than I did if I didn't work so hard on avoiding it...


Ok, I will admit that maybe, just maybe my attitude wasn't that great in school.  I looked at my marks and though "Well shoot, if they aren't happy with an 85% average, then they aren't going to be happy with a 99% average either." and kind of tuned out most of my teachers... except for a couple of them.

There was Mr. Gatta, who in grade 7 had signs hung up all over the class room.  Filled with pearls of wisdom, such as:  "There are two types of people in the world - Italians, and those who want to be Italians",   or "Learn from the mistakes of others, because you'll never live long enough to make them all yourself."  Actually, that second one came in handy often.  :-)  I learned a lot from my older brother during my teen years.  Stuff like "Always remember to pee in the back lane on the lamp post when wandering home when it was waaaaay too late"... er, you know what, Senior K and Big D, maybe you guys should just stop reading this post...  Lets just assume there is nothing redeeming about your father in the next few hundred words.

Anyway, I had one teacher in College who left a rather large impact on my schooling career.  Mr Rizvi (if that is how you spell his name), who taught Physics.  I remember the first class we had with him, it was raining.  He went on describing how some people find thunder and lightning "arousing".  Which was great.  I mean, that is why I was paying the big bucks for my higher education!  Where was I going with this story?  I distracted myself... sorry.  Okay, right, so in Calculus, only like 6 people passed the mid-term.  Which really wasn't great out of class of almost 40 people.  But what happened was even worse.  The Teacher stopped coming to class.  We went to the Dean of the department and informed him that the teacher was no longer showing up.  He assured us that the teacher was in class.  Which, again, he wasn't.  This went on for over 2 weeks.  Which is bad, because there was only 6 weeks of classes between the mid-term and final exam.  Thankfully, Mr Rizvi stepped in for the last 3 or 4 weeks of class and tried to cram in the 6 weeks of lessons in that shortened period.  Needless to say, the school system somewhat failed our class that semester.  However the complete lack of caring from the Dean and Teachers left a mark.  They had no expectations for us.  They just didn't seem to care.

Rewind a little bit to Grade 11 Computer Sciences in High School.  Mr Windfield, our computer teacher at the time was a nice enough guy, but unfortunately he "expected  more from me."  This was no more apparent than all when my friends would copy my work and hand it in.  They would routinely get better marks than I would.  After a while, I finally talked to my teacher about this, pointing out that Mat and Carl and others had simply copied my works, I even showed the source code, indicating places where my friends were too lazy to change the name of the author from my name to theirs.  Mr Windfield looked me dead in the eyes and said "I know.  But I expect more from you."  Expect more from me?!  I expect to be treated fairly!  If Matt got an A, then I want an A!!!  *siiiigh*

I might still have issues to deal with here...

Rewind to Grade 9 English, and I had a lovely teacher by the name of Mrs Young.  She may have been maybe the only teacher who actually encouraged me.  Well, her and Mr Gatta (the Italian mentioned earlier) both taught me English at different times, and both had, I think, the most profound impact on my schooling during my High School years.  See, both of them "Expected more of me"... but instead of demanding that I work harder, or demanding that I do more than others, they tried the crazy novel approach of encouraging me.

I remember Mr Gatta would hang my essays outside his office door for others to read.  That Mrs Young would encourage me and actually take time to spend with me reviewing work and building me up.  That they were both advocates for me and encouraging me to get involved in more and more activities at school.

I'm sure that all the teachers had the best intentions.  I know Mr Windfield really did hold high hopes for me, and oddly enough, I wound up in a career of writing software, not English literature.  So maybe Mr Windfield really was the best at getting me motivated to grow... I'm not sure, because writing has become a hobby which I love.

But I do know that I do respond well to encouragement (duh, I'm sure most of us do) and not so well to demands of "do better".

Anyway, I digress as this post is already too long... but really, what dose this have to do with adoption.... only that I find some days I "demand more" from my children, and I don't give them the love and encouragement that they deserve.

Some days, it's easier to "demand better" than to "encourage growth."

Looking back over my life, I want to be the kind of parent that encourages growth in my children, who spurs them on to greater things by creating environments where they can grow, prosper and succeed.  I don't want to ever "demand better" from them, unless I am willing to invest the time and encouragement to help them to actually become better.

Monday, November 5, 2012

40? Really?!

... sooooo, apparently in China, I'm not SuperMan.
I don't know what I was thinking, or expecting to experience when I went to Hong Kong for work, but I'm sure what ever it was... it was not what happened.

There were some amazing moments while I was in Hong Kong and China.  Some life changing, deep, course altering, re-evaluate everything type moments... this... sadly... was one of them...

Me:  No really, go ahead, you can guess.
Waitress #1:  Oh no, I am no good at guessing Westerner's ages.
Me:  It's OK, I can't really guess your age either.  I would guess... mmmm, late teens or early twenties.
Waitress #1:  That is close.  I am 23.   Okay... I ummmm... 40?
Me:  Pardon?
Waitress:  Are you 40?
Me:  40?
Waitress #1:  Oh!  Sorry!  Did I guess too young?  I can't really tell.
Me:  Really?  I look 40?!  Okay, look at our friend here sitting next to me... how old do you think HE is?
Waitress #1:  50?  I think he 50.
Friend #1:  HAHA!!  I'm 69!
Me:  WHAT?!  50!  Oh c'mon!  Why does he get 50, and I get stuck with 40?!  I'm not even close to 40!  *to a 2nd Waitress*  Hey, you, how old do I look?
Waitress #2:  35 or 36.
Me:  Oh c'mon!  I look young!  Back home, I am considered very young looking.
Waitress #1+2:  *shocked*  Really?  You look young?
Friend #1:  *to friend #2* I look 50!  *to me*  HEY!  We look almost the same age!
Me:  I'm going to go cry myself to sleep again.
Waitress #1:  Okay, but make sure you eat the skin from your salmon.  It will help you skin.
Me:  What?!
Waitress #1:  It will help stop age spots and old look.  Fish skin is good for you skin.
Me:  I have age spots?
Waitress #1:  Only where you look old.
Friend #2:  Hey, since we're guessing, how old to I look?
Waitress #1:  35?
Waitress #2:  25?
Friend #2:  Yea, I'm 24.  Not 35.
Waitress #1:  Ahh! Sorry, I can no tell.  The hair on the face make you look so old.
Me:  *looks at friend #2 who has stubble*  Okay, I understand HIM looking 35, but I'm clean shaven.  Why do I look old?
Waitress #1:  Oh, you just look old.

I don't look 40!

Do I?   *sob*

Sooooo, yea... Apparently, in China, I look 40...ish.
I can't say I'm happy about this.