What We Got

     Watched a video of a friend’s child today.  She is four.  She was hosting a tea party for her daddy.  Straw hats on their heads and a tiny tea set spread out over the coffee table, she was the epitome of a good hostess in a little dress and a huge flower on her hat.  She was pouring ‘tea’ and dancing for him.  Delightfully beautiful child.

      I have a delightfully beautiful child as well.  She is going to be fourteen in several weeks.  Fourteen!  It will soon be nine years since we brought her into our lives from Russia.  Sometimes it seems like forever and sometimes it feels like yesterday.

     I think when you are blessed with a baby, it’s like being handed a package.   It’s a package that you have prepared for as well as you can….or not.  It’s wrapped in blankets and diapers and tiny socks and smells the smell that cannot be replicated from any kind of shampoo bottle or baby wash bottle or powder canister.  It’s new and soft and squishy. 

     As days pass and you open the little package, it slowly and surely becomes something special….and uniquely yours.  You watch for all the signs.   Hair begins to grow and eyes begin to focus and feet and hands begin to find their purpose.  You guide it to become the little girl or little boy that you expected for your family….or not.

      When you adopt a child, that package has already been opened elsewhere.  And wrapped up again.  It’s a little bigger now.  There are pieces of ‘tape’  holding this part or that part in place.  Maybe the paper is a little different than you were expecting.  And it’s covered with stamps and stickers.  Stamps from the foster homes and the orphanages and the guardian ad litems and stickers from court officials and social workers and escorts.  And so that package sits in your arms waiting to be opened….again.

       It’s not always new and soft and squishy.  The hair is there, the eyes are focused and the hands and feet have found their purpose.  But the package waits to be opened just the same.  What you find is quite a surprise at times.  Especially if you have adopted an older child. 

     Tempers.  Habits.  Hugs. Preferences and tastes.  They’re already there.  Formed in rock hard style.  Some good that you hope to keep and maintain.  Some not so good that you struggle to change.  Questions to be answered.  Rules to be made and followed…..or not.    You never know what you are going to get.

      But let me tell you what we got.

     We got a child with a heart as big as the entire outdoors.  She genuinely cares about the people around her.  Whoever they might be.  She struggles to make things different….one person at a time.  This is a child who is still surprised – after two years – to get money for mowing the lawn or shoveling the snow of an elderly neighbor.  A child who was willing to forego something she was looking forward to in order to purchase a bike for the kid next door.  A child who has faced more learning limitations than I could imagine  and still sets insurmountable goals for herself.  Just ask her where she wants to attend college.  Heh.

     We got a child that is a gifted athlete and always manages to come out on top when she attempts something new.   Skates.  Bikes. Diving boards.  Carny rides.  Ocean waves.  She fears nothing.  She is game for anything.  And that’s scary for a Mom to watch sometimes…..or not.  She rides easily over that crest of fear and comes out with a smile on the other side.  I admire that.  I wish I could do it.

     We got a child that is constantly moving.  This summer she is the Pied Piper of our corner and has five little girls who adore the ground she walks on.  She is out the door 15 minutes after she wakes up and complains when we rein her in to do something like…oh, I don’t know….eat?  Maybe sleep?  During the day she is pushing wagons for them and filling her alligator kiddie pool for them and digging in sand boxes with them.  She is organizing games and dress ups and stories.  She is busy.   She is moving.

     We have a child who gives absolutely no thought to what she is wearing 95% of the time.  Match?  What’s that?  Colors…count?  She brushes her teeth without argument but brushes her hair under duress.  At least for now.  Her clothes are clean when she puts them on….the night before.  Why bother with pajamas if you are going to get dressed in a couple of hours anyway?  Heh.

     We got a child who – at 14 – is very perplexed about the boy/girl thing.  She does not understand why her girl friends would rather sit and talk about boys and cell phones and make up than ride skateboards and bikes like they used to.  And why they get angry if she initiates a conversation with a guy that they like.  She does not understand why her guy friends are a little confused and standoffish when she invites them to go to the skatepark or texts them about ordinary things.  It’s a part of the growing up game play that I am not sure she will ever understand.

     And we got a child that has absolutely no sense of ownership.  She will give you the shirt off her back…her shoes…her lunch….her ipod.  Even her soccer coach has had to tell her to be more ‘selfish’ on the field and not pass all of the shots  to other players.   And she will innocently pocket an heirloom necklace if she finds it on the ground.  Because even after nine years she just doesn’t get it.   And we don’t get why she doesn’t get it.  We think it’s an ‘orphanage thing.’  And we worry that she will be taken advantage of or get into real trouble one day.

     I had lots of hopes for this package.  I hoped this package would enjoy hair ribbons and dresses and dolls.  I thought we would sit side by side and read books that I loved as a child.  I thought we would sew together and play with make up and design outfits to dazzle.  Our package was a definite surprise package however.  And you know what?  I wouldn’t trade this……for anything in the world.Jump

 Happy Birthday, Kiddo.

Love you,   Mom and Dad

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One Comment on “What We Got”

  1. Darc Says:

    Wow. Awesome tribute to an awesome kid! Happy early birtday, Nina! Love ya!


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