Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Catch a Grenade For You

Daughter #1 (G):  Daddy, why did that man say Grenade?
Me:  Huh?  What?
G:  In the song Daddy.  Listen.  He says Grenade.
Me:  Okay... let me turn it up...

I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah)
I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah , yeah)
You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah, yeah) Oh, oh
I would go through all this pain, Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby ;  But you won't do the same

Me:  Hmmmm... um, I really don't know baby.  It doesn't make much sense does it.

That song got me thinking (a dangerous thing, I know)... how many times in moves or music do we see or hear,  these overly romanticized acts of self sacrifice to show our love to someone?  And then, in how many of these movies do the people change their minds 1/2 way though and want out of the relationship... 

Me:  ... well G, its a love song, kind of.  The boy in the song is trying to say how much he loves the girl, in that he would catch a grenade for her... to save her...
Son #1 (K):  I like grenades!  (can you tell he is 12?)  I'd catch a grenade!
G:  Oh.  It still doesn't make any sense.
Me:  Yea, I know.  I mean, if you are so close to the girl, catching the grenade isn't gonna help.  Same thing with the train... If I jump in front of a train, I'm not going to stop the train.  The train would just run me over, and then run the girl over.  Now, I could PUSH the girl out of the trains path... that would be helpful.  And a bullet through the brain?!  Really?  Nope, thats just foolish.  Again, if I know someone is trying to shoot my girl, maybe I should get her the heck out of there.  I mean, after I'm shot in the head, I haven't removed the girl from danger... the shooter is still out there...
G:  Daddy, you're not making any sense.
Me:  Maybe not... but neither is the song.
K:  Can I have a grenade?!
Me:  No.
K:  But I LIKE grenades!  (seriously, 12 year olds... ungh...)
She might be little, but shes still not buying what I'm selling...
Love is hard.  I mean, it is hard work.  Not for my wife though.  I'm sure its easy to love me.  I'm rough and rugged, and funny and all that... I must be easy to love!  But for others, I am sure it is hard work.

I think we often fall into this trap thinking that our children want huge shows of affection, that they want us to break down walls, or jump in front of trains, or even catch grenades for them.  But really, what I think they want, is steadfast love.

What is the point of showering our children with lots and lots of affection like toys, gifts and everything they ask for, if we get all angry with them every time they don't behave the way we think they should?

Extravagant shows of affection are easy!  Thats why us men will come home with flowers and chocolate when we do something stupid - because it is easier to buy a box of chocolates than to try to string together a thoughtful sentence like "I'm sorry, I'm an idiot for doing _____________."  There is a while diamond industry built around extravagant shows of affection...  but last time I checked, no amount of diamonds can save a marriage*.

True love is lived out daily, and in the small ways and the small things.  Its giving our children the consistent love, patience, genteelness and acceptance that they need.
Reeeeeally not buying it...
This is especially true when Adopting an Older child.  They have history.  They know love... their knowledge of Love may be skewed and incorrect - but to them it is love.  They may not trust love.  They may have years of "stuff" they are dealing with.  We have to understand how our children process "love".

I like asking fathers some simple questions... questions like...

  • where do you want to be in your career 5 years from now?
  • what type of car do you want to be driving in 10 years from now?
  • where do you want to live when you retire?

What kills me, is that the fathers will have answers for these types of questions.  They will say "I want to be into upper management", or "I want to be driving a BMW 350i(?)"...

But ask them questions like...

  • what do you want your marriage to look like in 5 years?
  • what are you going to do in the next 6 months to be a better father?
  • what is the love language of your child?

And all you get are blank stares...  Do we honestly believe that we don't need to plan to be better fathers?  husbands?  How are we going to handle the hard times if we don't have a plan?  Do we expect to be able to ride in on a White Horse and save the day like in so many cheesy Hollywood movies?  To bring it back to the overly romanticized songs... do we expect to be able to fix all the pain, and past experiences of our children with 1 big act of selfless love - especially one which doesn't address the real love issue (ie: catching that grenade didn't save the girl, you're still standing there beside her, but now with a grenade in your hand)?

No.  Not in 1 act.  1 act can start the healing process... or 1 act can begin the love relationship...
This was the 1st step, there are many more to come...
I think often we try to show our adopted children that we love them with the big things...
...when really, what they need are our hearts.  Everyday.

* = But apparently there is no harm in trying.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Banquet

K and his friend Y at a Christmas Banquet
My how the time flies... look at our little man there... at some fancy dress up diner for a Christmas Banquet!  With a girl non-the-less!  Ye'sir, K and his little friend there had a lovely time a formal banquet for diner.  I'm not sure I'm ready for K to be getting all grown up.  I mean I KNEW it was going to happen some day... that he would want to start to spread his wings and fly.  To grow up and turn into his own person.  No longer to be our little baby (he will ALWAYS be our Baby... he might not think so though).

Even though we prepare for our children to grow up, and to move on in life... (good parents prepare their children to grow up and move on) it is never easy to come to the realization that today, my baby needs me maybe just a little bit less than yesterday.

So how is it that we are caught of guard, and surprised, maybe even a little saddened when our children grow and mature...

I think, at least for me, it is the realization that I have 1 day less today to spend with my child than I had yesterday.  And 1 less opportunity to tell them how amazing and wonderful they truly are.  How proud I am of them.  How much they amaze me in every way.

But most importantly... ONE less day to EMBARRASS them!

阿姨Deborah (via Skype from China): So, how was your guys Christmas?
Kids:  Good!  We got lots of stuff!
阿姨:  Yea?  Like what?
阿姨:  Hey cool!  Thats just like my camera!
K:  And I got Lord Of the Rings Super Duper Long Extended Version!
阿姨:  Awesome!
Ping:  'nd we got barbie house bigger en me!
G:  But not me, I'm taller than the house.
阿姨:  Nice.  And did you guys do anything special?
Me:  Well, K went to a fancy Christmas Banquet.  With a GIRL!
K:  WHAaaaaat?!!  Daaaaaaaad...
阿姨:  Yea?  A girl?
Me:  Uh-huh.  You should ask him if she was pretty.
阿姨:  Oh?  Was she pretty?
K:  WHAT?!  WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME?!  I don't know!  Shes a friend!
Me:  Uh-huh.  Well she WAS very pretty.  She had a beautiful dress.  Oh, and ask K what he wore!
阿姨:  *laughing*  So what did you wear K?
K:  I don't know.  *laughing and turning quite red*
Me:  He had a nice pair of jeans, and a new black shirt that he bought just for the diner!  He even took a shower!
K:  Mom MADE me buy a new shirt!  And she made me take a shower too.  I didn't want to.
Me:  Yes, it is all moms fault.  I mean, why would you want to be clean.
K:  I'm leaving now.
阿姨:  Bye.  Say hi to your friend for me!
*K leaves*
阿姨:  He was SO embarrassed!  
Me:  Yea, it's about the only perk to being a parent... being able to embarrass our children. 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

They may not look like me...

Well, my kids may not look like me. Thats for sure. They are all too cute and perfect. None of my little ones are rough and rugged like their father. Even our eldest with his long hair can be mistaken for a girl to the untrained eye... The all have light hair... blue or green eyes... while I wander around with dark hair and dark brown eyes.

Thankfully though there are other things which help me identify them as my own...

  • Our eldest son has my mannerism - he walks like me, talks like me, jokes like me, even likes to stay up as late as he can... like me.
  • Our middle son - well, hold on, I'll come back to him...
  • Our eldest daughter looks nothing like me, but thankfully a spitting image of her mother (although her mother denies that) and even acts like her mother... while we were all putting the lights on the Christmas Tree, she was sitting in the "cuddle chair" drinking hot chocolate telling us "That looks really nice, you're doing a good job. But you missed a spot there". Even the wife had to stop and laugh...
  • Our currently youngest daughter FINALLY has my eyes, and my hair... so thankfully at least ONE of my children look like me... granted, shes a tiny Chinese girl and I'm a rough and rugged Flin Flonian... so the similar appearances end at the hair and eye colours. But even she is starting to act like a Berzenji. Yes sir, she is starting to track me down for kisses before I goto work in the morning, curl up in bed and then ask me to get her a glass of water... just like her Mom...

K, Ping, G + D

Okay, but getting back to my middle child - our 'D'. He is a bit of the odd ball for me. He looks like his mother. He acts like his mother. He gets mad quick like his mother (he once had a knock down drag 'em out fist fight with a door which kept closing on him... he wouldn't move, or prop the door open, nope... just kept punching it open, only to have it close on him again). Now he IS very inclined technically... so there's maybe a little hope that there is some of me insid'a'him... but maybe there is more of me in him than I realize sometimes...

Our 'D'

D: Hey Dad, is it true what K said about herbivores?
Me: I donno, what did he say?
D: He said that a herbivore eats like 500,000 plants in its life time!
Me: Well, that is what the sign said on the nature walk we took.
D: Wow. Thats a lot of plants.
Me: Yup.
D: Don't plants help our oxygen?
Me: Yup. The help filter out pollution and make the air cleaner to breath.
D: Hmmmm... OH! I know how we can help the environment then!
Me: Yea? Plant more trees?
D: Nope! Kill all the herbivores!
Me: Yes. Well, that is an option.
D: Cuz they eat all the plants which help the air. So if we kill them all, then the air will be better.
Me: Well, I'm having a hard time to argue with that.
D: Yea. I need a sniper rifle then! (he's 10... does it show?)
Me: A sniper rifle?
D: Yea! Then I can start shooting bunnies! In the head!
Me: Lets maybe continue this discussion later... not while we're eating.
D: And we can make a video game out of it! And you can see the bunny brains sliding down your screen when you shoot them in the head!

*siiiiiiigh* Yea. There are somethings, which make you a family... and it isn't the way you look. It might be the way you think alike... act alike... or want to shoot bunnies with sniper rifles.

I guess the point that I'm trying to avoid is... families are made by the love we share and the lives we live together. So even if your child doesn't look like you... you might be surprised to find out just HOW much they really are like you.

... now, if you don't mind excusing me, I have a very excited 10 year old in the garage looking for my shot gun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chinese School - New Student

I know there is always much chatter about Chinese School for our adopted little ones from China.  I assume it would be the same for anyone who adopted internationally and cross-culturally.
I know some are very Pro Chinese School.
Some are very Anti Chinese School.
I figure, we just do our best for our children, and it may not be the same for every child or family... but we've had some interesting times at Chinese School so far.  :-)

Ping in Class...
From the "I don't want to Learn Chinese", to the "don't send me back to China" and the occasional emotional melt down to the overly enthusiastic response when she remembers something in Chinese... I though we had seen it all... until...

Ping:  We go China school tomorrow?
Me:  Yes Ping, we will go to China School tomorrow.
Ping:  Just you and me?  We go school?
Me:  Yes, Daddy will come.
Ping:  And Daddy stay with Ping.
Me:  Of course Daddy will stay with you.
Ping:  Cuz Daddy never leave me.
Me:  Thats right, Daddy will never leave you.
Ping:  Cuz you love me!
Me:  Thats right.
G:  Daddy, can I come to Chinese School with you and Ping?
Ping:  Whaaaaaaat?  You learn Chinese?
G:  Yes, cuz if I learn Chinese, then I can go to China when we adopt again.
Me:  G, you really want to come to Chinese school?
G:  Yup!
Ping:  YAY!!! Me and Gemma go Chinese School!  Mah big sister!
G:  Pleeeeeease can I go?!
Me:  Of course you can come.  We'll just have to talk to the teacher when we get there.
Ping + G:  YAAAAAAY!!!
Big Sister G in Chinese School
And G did come to Chinese School this Saturday.  I was expecting to get a little bit of grief from the teachers - as an outsider, it can be very intimidating sometimes dealing with a whole slew of people you don't know or understand.  To my amazement, they were very very excited to let G join the class!  The Teacher sure worked hard to get her included in things, even the circle time and all.  They understood (as best they could) the adoption issues (that Ping felt scared in class thinking that we were going to send her back to China, but with G there, she had less fear (because we would not send G to China)) and bent a few of the rules for my precious babies.

They are going to allow G to take Jr. Kindergarten with her little sister Ping - and they are both very excited to be in the same class (even if G is a couple years older than most of the kids there).
The Cuteness is overwhelming in Chinese School now!
I'm really curious to see how this is all going to play out.

But for now, I'm just amazed at our children, and even though G was absolutely LOST in class (the whole class is in Mandarin, no English at all), and there was so much going on she didn't understand, G stuck it out, and is willing to come back week after week to be with her Sister.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Tree Down

I really don't know what it is about me and trees...
But if you do a search for "tree" on our blog, you get like 4 pages of results.

And over the years, I've had more interaction with trees than I for.
I've climbed trees.
Felled trees.
I've attacked trees with shovels, ice picks, hatchets, sharpened rocks, chain saws...
... and now, thanks for some poor decision making and slippery roads... we can add, the van.

Notice the damage?

How about now?
I was driving home from the store at 7:30 the other night.  A beautiful winter-y night... with soft falling snow... and a sheet of ice on the road.  I slid though a T intersection totally unable to slow down.  I had hammered on the brakes a good while back from the stop sign... but apparently, there was no grip to slow me down.  As the van started to slide sideways towards the ditch, there were many thoughts which started going though my head... these are some of them... in no particular order:

  • Oh crap!  I can't stop!
  • The van is turning sideways - oh no... ditch!
  • If I hit the ditch, I'm toast!  The van is gonna flip for sure.
  • Oh look!  A drive way!  Let go of the brakes, straighten out, run off into the drive way.
  • Oh snap!  2 parked cars in the driveway!
  • GAH!
  • Okay, ummmmm... lets see...
  • ditch...
  • parked cars...
  • orrrrr... TREE!
  • I'm going to take out the tree.
  • That should stop the van too.
  • Oh dang.  This is gonna hurt.
  • *swirve*
  • *bang*
  • Wha?  Why am I still driving towards the house?
  • Did I miss the tree?
  • Oh great.
  • I'm gonna be one of THOSE guys you read about in the paper who "drives into a house", and you ask yourself "what kind of an IDIOT drives into a HOUSE?!?!".  Me.  Thats who!
  • Oh crap!  You know what, this is gonna cost me a crap load of money to fix, and I'm still trying to save up for the costs of the adoption.  Dang it!

When the van finally came to a rest, I had in fact hit the tree.  I climbed out of the van and was immediately releived that nothing was going to blow up - no one was hurt, all ended better than I could have thought.  Yes, the tree then flipped over my van and landed on one of the parked cars.  I did miss the house, and got the van between the house and the water well in the front lawn.  Pulled a bit of a U turn, and amazing, came out of it all without any scratches.  The van wasn't too bad, from the looks of things.  Sure, it was stuck on a big rock, cracked the front bumper, lost the DODGE logo on the front, and took out a tree... but it could have been much... much worse.

Hitting the ditch would have been horrible - and hitting the house or the two parked cars would have been pretty darned bad as well.

But enough about that.  I want to get back to the tree.

As the van was out of control, I was left with a feeling of helplessness, unable to change the situation I was in, yet forced to go through it.

When I looked around at my options, they were all pretty crappy.  I didn't really want to hit a tree with my van... but it was the best option available to me at the time.

I'm sure to our beloved children, who have been ripped from all they know, they must feel like that... only, a thousand times worse!
This helplessness.
Unable to change the situation they are in.
Maybe, not even wanting to be in the situation they are in.
And maybe they do what I did.
They look around.
The try to find a safe(er) place to land.
And sometimes, that safe(er) place isn't even a good place - but the best of a bad situation.

We as parents are sometimes (many times) that safe(er) place.  We're the tree.  Our children are the out of control van plowing into us.

Is that great for us?  No.  It hurts (and it's not really about us anyway).  It sucks when your child plows into you with a van sized "I no love you!  Not today!  I want go back China!"

But I'm the tree.

Can she get back to China?  Can she fix the situation she is in?  Can she change course?  Can she stop this crazy ride she is on?  No.

In the end, after my child plows though enough of my trees, and she comes to a rest... she will climb out of her van, look around and go "you know what, that wasn't so bad - it could have been a lot worse".

Maybe she will look at the smoldering remains of all my tree stumps, and say "Thanks Dad, thanks for being my Tree and slowing me down while I was out of control, even though I didn't want you to".  And you know what, even if she never says that... it doesn't matter.

Sometimes, there are trees in our lives that we have to removed.
Sometimes, there are threes in our lives which we want to remove, but God keeps there for some reason we don't understand.
And sometimes, we are the tree for others who need one to crash into.

* == totally should be me!

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Children's Adoption Story Book!

About Destiny
Adoption is a beautiful word that demonstrates the purest form of love from every side.
I've got a great friend who wrote a great childrens book about adoption.  To be more specific, its a story about inter-cultural adoption.

The motivation for writing this book was to empower my daughter with the answers she would need to develop a healthy self-image. My daughter was adopted as a newborn and my goal as her mother is to daily ensure that she feels safe and secure with her story.
The art in the book is beautiful, and the story is even more so!

The book can be found on her website:  http://www.destinyadoptionservices.com
Check under the "Products" link.