Posted tagged ‘international adoptions’

Riding in the Car with Mom

January 13, 2011

“….now we need to find him a car and I am never driving my kids to school again!”

At first, I heartily agreed with a friend’s Facebook status expressing exhilaration at her son finally getting his driver’s license.   Not having to cart your socially active/sports playing kids/teenagers around town is kind of freeing.   But driving them to school?  Hmm…..

My children have had to deal with Mom’s Taxi from the very start of their school careers out of necessity.  Since we didn’t live in the school district where I taught, and wanting him (and later, her) to be on the same year round school calendar as I was, I enrolled Prince across district boundary lines.  This meant that he needed to ride with me every day and spend a time in the before school child care program at his school so I could skedaddle to mine.  Later I managed to find a parent closer to our house who could babysit in the mornings and they could catch the bus from her neighborhood.  Then I was transferred to a school right next door to a middle school so they could ride to work with me in the mornings and then walk down and wait my classroom till the end of the elementary school day.  When he went to high school we even managed to finagle a ride for him on a high school route that would drop him off at my elementary school so he could wait even longer.

But they did their homework in the Media Center, helped out in classrooms and got into some harmless trouble now and then.  But we rode together……every day.

Back and forth.

In Mom’s Taxi.

When they were younger we would sing songs at the top of our lungs, practice spelling words and talk about books they were reading as we drove back and forth.  We knew the routes to take to see the MOST obnoxious holiday displays and the short cuts to avoid – or not – on muddy days.   We knew where to plug our noses to avoid the smell of mulch in the making.  We knew where to see nesting swans and baby ducks in ponds along the way.  

But the reason that I could relate to my friend’s happiness at those ‘taxi’ days coming to an end is because driving kids – now teenagers – can be a bit aggravating.  We have had days when the only conversation we had were grunts or snorts as they took cat naps in the car.   And the surliness of kids who were tired of the mundane routine of school was a little hard to bear at times….especially if my own day had been challenging. 

 I did have some respite from the task when HRH was laid off from his job for a period of six months last year.  He did the chaffering to their schools and I enjoyed the luxury of being able to leave home a bit later in the morning.   To play MY songs on the radio.  To roll the windows down and turn off the air conditioning.

But the truth of it is, I kind of missed those morning and afternoon drives after a while.  I missed the forced containment in a small space with my kids for a short period of time. 

You see, riding in the car with Mom gave me a few moments of the day to reconnect with them.  To hear about how their day went, who they were sitting with at lunch and what ‘crappy’ homework they had to do.  I heard about substitute teachers that were awesome and shenanigans in the hall that others were involved in.  Always….others. 

I know the music they like and the radio stations they tune into.  I know the fast food places they want to stop at for an after school ‘snack’ and how quickly they can ‘power shop’ in the mornings at the 24 hour grocery store.  I knew how they felt about the current events we saw happening on the news as we were on the way out the door. 

So now that one has a license to drive and the other has her learner’s permit the campaign to get a car for them has stepped up somewhat.  They want to drive themselves to school.

But, in all honesty, I am planning on holding out for at least another year. 

I’d miss my kids.

Sigh.

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There are just some things……

August 8, 2010

When you adopt a child who is a foundling, there are just some things  you can’t give them.  You can give them a loving home, consistent  discipline and unflagging support.  You can give them clothes and toys and cell phones and new soccer shoes and…a computer.  You can take them on trips and build memories as a family.  You can sit in the stands and cheer them to goals….or baskets….or home runs.   You can argue about curfews and friends and choices in clothing.  You can giggle through jokes and share stories of the day and listen to apprehensions and fears.  You can do most everything.

But you can’t give them a birth date.  And sometimes that breaks my heart.

When my daughter was found by police at a bus stop in Russia, she was examined by doctors and others for the developmental milestones of a young child.  They asked her what her name was and she told them.  Ah….verbal communication.  I imagine they had her walking and playing with items to check her dexterity and mobility.  They decided that she was approximately 21 months of age and assigned her a birthdate in early August.

When we were going over court papers before finalizing her adoption there was a discrepancy in the birth date we had been given.  Some of the paper work gave August 5th as her birth date and some said August 8th.   I asked our interpreter which one it was and she looked at me kind of funny.

“Which one do you want?”

So, in a sense, we gave our daughter her birthdate just as other parents do. 

But is it the ‘real one’?? 

That is something we will never know.  And it breaks my heart.

We have, however,  given her other memorable dates in her life. 

Her ‘Gotcha Day.’

Her adoption date.

The date she first stepped foot on American soil.

The date she started Kindergarten….and finished middle school.

The future holds even more.  There will be her first day of high school, her graduation, the date she first drives a car on her own and the date she starts her first official job.  No doubt she will remember her first kiss….her first break up…..her engagement and her wedding.   She says that she is not going to have kids.  That she is going to get them from Russia.  So there may be other adoption days in her future. 

The United States immigration office has given her August 16th.  That is the day she takes  her Oath of Citizenship and receives her ‘official’ American paperwork.

But today is the 8th and we are celebrating her birthday….the one people who studied her developmental milestones assigned to her.  The one we  gave her. 

Some things we can give her…..and some things we can’t.

Something as basic as knowing the exact day that she was born…is impossible.

And that breaks my heart.

Happy 15th birthday, Kiddo!

Love, Mom and Dad

There is just something about a junk drawer…

June 13, 2009

You know what they are.  Handy little places to slip ‘important’ things.  Things you don’t want to lose. Drawers that very quickly are over run with ‘important’ things.  Drawers  that you end up scrambling through to find that ‘thing’ you need.  One of mine happens to be the drawer of my computer desk. 

In my quest to do some badly needed deep, organizational cleaning of the corners of my house, I tackled that insidious drawer.  What I thought would be an ominous task turned out to be a pleasantly needed trip down memory lane.  Here are some of the things I found:

*More receipts and papers than one is EVER expected to save….including seven year old one for the Princess’ first two wheeler.

*6 teeny, tiny dice and 4 teeny, tiny frogs.  I have tucked them in a little tin box to make a teeny, tiny game or two. : )

*Gigantic paperclips – bought them at Target one time because they are cool.  Can’t bring myself to use them because I know they’ll be lost.

* A mother lode of different kinds of flash drives. (It’s a fetish of mine)

*Coin envelopes and clear ID card protectors that I used when I taught Kindergarten. Kept them.  That stuff ALWAYS comes in handy.

*a fully jointed 3 inch tall skeleton pirate doll thingy that the Princess delighted in collecting the summer we spent in Florida taking care of my Mom. 

*two different sized phillips screw drivers, two eyeglass repair kits and the tiniest little screw driver I have ever seen that won’t fit in an eyeglass repair kit.  Have NO clue what it goes to but I’m keeping it.

*Another mother lode of sticker sheets – also used when I taught Kindergarten –  which I stuck into an envelope for Rabbit.  Not much but it’ll keep her busy for a few hours this summer.

*the missing key to the fire proof strong box we bought before leaving for Boston.  I was certain there would be abreak in or a fire and all of our adoption/citizenship/birth certificates and what not would be gone.  I am fearful like that.

*A whole passel of the newsletters I used to send to family when the Prince was a toddler.  Dang but he was a funny little kid.  Emotionally involved with a ……zucchini?

*Two nearly empty package of batteries for hearing aids I no longer use.  Different sizes from the ones I need now.  Pitched ’em.

*old Russian coins, a handful of pennies, Canadian coins and 4 old tokens for Chuck E Cheese….upon seeing  which my 15 year old asks, “hey…when can we go there?”  Riiiiight.  I’ve done my duty in that noisy, overwhelming, pepperoni reeking realm.

*Our customs declaration sheets upon entering Russia to bring the Princess home……NINE years ago this fall.  Dang!

*Pictures, pictures and MORE pictures. Tucked them away with all of the others I need to go through and file and scrapbook or…something.  What are you supposed to do with pictures anyway?

*clear nail polish, a tube of some kind of prescription eye cream and two tubes of athletes’ foot cream.  Two?

*Lego pieces…another fetish of mine.  Not that I like to build with them or anything (although I have spent countless hours assembling and disassembling the Prince’s Lego soccer stadium in the past)…but I do like to have interesting pieces handy.  Just ask my family about my jaw dropping to the floor at Disney Market Place’s Lego store.  HUNDREDS of  little drawers with MILLIONS of little pieces.  Buy a container and you can put ANYTHING inside it and as much as you can fit.  Heh. NEVER give me that challenge.  Just ask the people at the Mr. Potato Head kiosk.  I ALWAYS get my money’s worth.  : )

*Four apostilled copies of the Princess’ final adoption follow up reports .  When you drive to the state capital to get them done personally you might as well get a bunch.  And I love knowing the word ‘apostille.’  It’s the kind of word that snakes it’s way around your tonuge and through your brain.  Especially if you are working your way through an international adoption.

*The translation of a thank you letter sent to the Princess from her friends at the orphanage.  Several months after bringing her home, we  sent a box of goodies (Legos, candy, balloons, socks, Matchbox cars, etc.) with another couple going to the same orphanage .

*an envelope from my little guy in the Dominican Republic.  Gotta write to him soon.  He’s nine and likes school, baseball….and me. (www.compassion.com)

*a ring my husband got me for a long ago Mother’s Day….with an amethyst.

*a print out of a short email from my deceased Grandmother about her father owning a ‘dray team’ when she was a child.  Can’t remember why she sent it but yeah, my grandmother died when she as 97 and had used computers and e-mail regularly.  It’s in my genes.

*An ‘Obama ’08’ button, an MEA membership button and a tin, heartshaped necklace ornament with the word ‘Mom’ inscribed…which I am sure came from an elementary school Holiday Shoppe.

*a battered, falling apart portrait of me as a four year old that my parents had drawn the night before I went to the hospital to have my tonsils removed.  I seriously need to get it repaired.  And framed.

*A Bible study guide for the book of Ephesians…which was my favorite Bible class when I was in college at Oklahoma Christian University…..way back when it was just Oklahoma Christian College.

*Ticket stubs for almost everything we did in Boston on last year’s GRAND summer vacation.  Stuck them in one of the aforementioned coin envelopes.  (see?   It came in handy)

* a Playbill for ‘Three Changes’ – a play with Maura Tierney that I saw last fall on a FABULOUS 1st adventure to the Big Apple.  Met her too.  She’s very sweet to her fans.

*a print out of a story I posted YEARS ago on a Kindergarten Teachers’ web ring about a rough and tough little tomboy of a girl who kept hugging me all day after about a week of school.  Couldn’t figure out why until she finally said she liked hugging me because ‘we make a really cool sound together.’   Hearing aid feed back.  It’ll get you every time. : )

I found more stuff.  LOTS more.  And there were things I didn’t find.  Like the recharger to my Kodak digital which I haven’t been able to use in like…forever.  Dang.  Or any of the 100 sharpened pencils that were there last fall.  Not one.  Or the gum packages that I tend to put there now and then.  Gone.

And that’s the way of the Junk Drawer.  Things come and things go.  They tend to hold bits and pieces of your life, don’t they?  And most everything has a story.  ‘Important’ stuff.  Kinda fun to sort through on a lazy, rain threatened day.