A good kind of Brokenness

This post is a little slower coming off of my fingers because I only have use of 9 of the 10.  One of them, a very important middle digit (important to typing that is) is in a splint for the foreseeable future.  Bone breaks are never fun, but I will take this one and understand the blessing that it represents because there is also a good lesson here.

When Beautiful and I went to urgent care on Sunday to have it looked at, and I explained that I injured it playing football with my son, she looked at diminutive P.C. doubtfully.  I explained that it was his bigger brother who is 12.  She was still skeptical that it was broken and not just sprained, but she ordered the X-Ray anyway.  That is when things changed.

When the doctor reappeared in the room a short time later, she was a lot more animated than before, in fact she seemed a little excited.  That is when she said, “It is not only broken, it is an impressive break.  The bone is completely detached in the finger.  I would like to see the 12 year old that threw that ball.”  We had to laugh a little.  We are used to Thunder doing all kinds of things that people don’t expect (keep in mind this the boy that scaled out of his crib, jumped off of the dresser and came running out of his room at 10 months).  Beautiful gave the doctor a few details on him and I provided the picture on my phone.  We received the familiar refrain, “He is only 12!?”WP_000157

Thunder in adult catchers gear

The whole thing is sort of funny now that Thunder is not feeling guilty about it (it was my fault after all because I was the one that made that lazy catch).  And therein lies the lesson.  Thunder was not created to be an average child.  The differences that make him what he is, also come with special challenges. He is WAAAAY past the age where I can play at anything less than my best with him.  But, even when doing that, I have to expect I will be visiting more doctors in the future.  I will take that with joy.  There aren’t any purple hearts for a non-Samoan raising a Samoan Son, but I am okay with that.  That kind of brokenness, acquired while helping my son figure out how to be the most that God made him to be, is a good kind of brokenness. 

Being There when you are There

I am sure that almost everyone my age has heard the song The Cat’s in the Cradle.  For the iGeneration, I will summarize:  It is an artful, depressing song about a self-centered busy guy that raises an admiring son, who grows up to be a self-centered busy guy.  We all know people like that, but what is easy to forget, is that, at some point we are all that guy.

Even if we don’t have responsibilities, there are times when something other than the little ones in the room have our attention.  Our generation is so connected that we are flooded with information constantly.  It is too easy to sneak a peek at that one last email, or glance at the phone or T.V. or whatever glass information panel you have in your home.

Not counting those distractions, when you have a lot of people in your home, it is easy to notice the loud ones and ignore the one quietly talking right next to you.  I have to remind myself from time to time that I am the adult and I need to control myself, because otherwise, I am sending a really bad message to my children and my bride.  That message is putting seeds into the ground and no one wants to harvest that crop.

If I am distracted, I am telling them with body language that whatever has my attention at that moment is more important than they are.  So, fast forward 10 years with that kind of constant message and what kind of relationship do you think I would have with my family?  What kind of people would they turn out to be?

When I interact with people, especially my family, I need to make sure that I do what I teach.  Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact.  When I am spending time with them, I need to get on their level and get my head in the game and focus on them and what is important to them.  I need my mind to be present with my body in the conversation with the people that matter most.  I need to be there when I am there.

The Man in the Green Shirt

Last night we were blessed with a visit from one of my brothers, his wife and son.  It was a great time and the cousins bonded rapidly because they had a great deal in common.  Coco was also able to join us so it was really a boisterous party.

Since my brother’s family was still on West Coast time, and our little pack had school the next morning, ours went to bed earlier.  A bit later, when all the people still awake were gathered in the living room, my brother’s son mentioned that he was looking for the man in the green shirt to go down to the basement with him.

Coco, my brother, and I all looked at each other very curiously because none of us had a green shirt on.  Coco was the first to figure it out.  He realized that Thunder had a black shirt on with green stripes earlier.  This was incredibly funny to us because Thunder is only 12.

People mistake Thunder for older than 12 all of the time because he is so big and usually acts very mature.  Beautiful, Princess and I make the same mistake in other ways.  We have to guard ourselves from adult expectations of him because he is not.  Even though our eyes tell us that he is the Man in the Green shirt, in reality, he is a little boy that has not even started his awkward teen years yet. 

Some day, he WILL be The Man in the Green Shirt, but for now, he gets to still enjoy being our, not so little boy.

Invasion Force–Forward!

One of the benefits of having a large age spread in the family is that when the oldest flies the coop, the little ones have a new destination to go explore.

After giving Coco a call to see if he was ready for a visit, we all piled into the van an drove the 15 minutes to his house.  The invasion force was efficient and organized and had his house thoroughly taken over in a matter of moments.  Coco quickly countered with Cars 2 in 3D and you can see the invasion force was immediately pacified.

WP_000268  P.C., Curly Girly, and Bright Eyes
enjoy burgers and a movie at Coco’s

Unfortunately for him, they are a resilient crew and eventually overcame the diversion.

All in all it was a great visit and we all had a wonderful time.  In the end, Coco only found one thing out of place that he tripped on as he went to turn the light on.

Rare form, or Every Day form

I know when I describe P.C. to folks they just don’t have a full appreciation for what blessing it is to live with this little guy every day.  When we have people over for dinner, we warn them that they will have dinner and a show.  P.C. will, at some point during the course of the dinner begin putting on his show.  Only for him, it is not a show, it simply how he is.

Tonight is a great example.  Here is a snippet of our bed time conversation for you to get a snapshot of just how amazing he is.IMG_7924_cropped

P.C.-“Daddy, I know where I want to go for my birthday (which is a LONG way off).”

Me-“Really, where is that.”

P.C.-“That big white house.”

Me-Trying to think of someplace fun that would fit his description ”Which big white house is that, buddy?”

P.C.-“The one George Washington and Abraham Lincoln lived in.”

Me-Still taken off guard “Oh, THE White House. Why do you want to go there for your birthday?”

P.C.-“Because I have never been.”

Me-“Okay, we will give that some thought.”

P.C.-“Did you know there is cheese in space?”

Me-“Really, why would you say that.”

P.C.-“One of my books told me the moon is made of cheese.”

Me-“Buddy, that is a story book, it is not really made of cheese.”

P.C.-Without even acknowledging that I responded “What happens if you touch the sun.”

Me-Electing to focus on the easy part of this problem and forget the whole being in space issue “Okay last question because you need to sleep.  You would burn up before you were even close to the sun.”

P.C.-Sneaking in another question “Why is that?”

Me-“The sun is really hot. It is hotter than Mommy’s oven.  It is hotter than hundreds of Mommy’s ovens.”

P.C.-“Oh.”

For some kids this would be an entertaining and amazing exchange.  You have to understand.  We have dozens of these conversations EVERY day with P.C.  We would have even more if time would allow.  Some kids get into rare form.  For P.C. this is his every day form.  We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Looks can be Deceiving

P.C. came to us with a  variety of conditions, one of which is known as Pain Agnosia.  This essentially meant that he had an unbelievable amount of pain tolerance.  For instance, he would be running along and fall *splat* on the concrete driveway. Then pop right up and keep running, skinned knees and all, calling “I ‘m okay,” over his shoulder.  Initially, we simply thought he was one tough little man.  Later we learned he had issues processing sensory input.  This was only one symptom, but it was telling.

We learned that it is not uncommon for children who are adopted or fostered to have elevated levels of Cortisol.  Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, because the body naturally produces it to deal with emergencies.

Fast forward a year and Beautiful and I are in over heads.  What worked fantastically for our 4 other children did not work for P.C. Consequently, we started looking for resources.  That is when we found Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross of the TCU Institute of Child Development (http://www.child.tcu.edu/research.asp).

We were skeptical, at first, because it was so different from what we knew and what we knew worked. Even so there were elements of it that rang true to our bones, most notably the connection building. We needed to swallow our pride and do what we was best for him.

Fast Forward a few more years and we have a new problem with P.C.  He is now extremely pain averse.  By that I mean the boy will go to extreme lengths to avoid anything that even looks like it might be painful.  I am convinced this is the case because of the different approach to parenting.  You see, as we built connections with our little P.C., his stress levels dropped and his cortisol levels with it.  The result is that now he feels pain and it is a new, and very unpleasant experience. 

Some would look at that pain aversion that he is now exhibiting and see a boy that is digressing.  I am grateful for the great counsel of others, and by that, I know better.  What appears to be digression is actually healing.  Our son, no longer exists in a state of emergency 24×7.  Now he is free to enjoy life with all its pleasures, and yes, even its pains.

Bittersweet blessings

We recently learned that Little Z (pending all of the paperwork shuffling and such) will be joining us as a permanent member of the family.  On the one hand, we are all overjoyed to have him stay with us as long as the Lord will allow as a member of the family.  His soon-to-be brothers, sisters and Mother and Father couldn’t be happier to be able to enjoy every moment of his blossoming life.  It is such a joyful and mesmerizing experience to watch little ones grow.  Every day is a new discovery for them and a new discovery for us.  They are learning about this marvelous world God created, and we are learning about the amazing little person that they reveal with each passing experience.  From that perspective it would seem we couldn’t be happier.  Indeed, if that was all that was in play, that is precisely where we would be.

Unfortunately, there is more to it than that.  For each child that joins our family and blesses us with a new ingredient in the grand recipe, there is a mother and father that are missing out.  They are missing out on all of the little “firsts” and discoveries that this child they brought into the world will experience:  The first haircut, the first smile, the first rollover, the first tooth, the first bike ride, etc.  They are also missing out on all of the smiles of adoration and giggles that these precious little ones give out with such glee.  It is true, they are also missing out on the challenges of helping the child find his or her way and deal with all of the complications that those bring (and those can be mind warping and heart wrenching sometimes).  However, there is deep reward in that as well. 

To add to the bitterness of the situation, usually a child joins our family in this manner because the mother and father could not, or would not overcome some unhealthy situation that would have been even more unhealthy for the child.  This could be anything from drug and/or alcohol addiction to mental and/or emotional disorders.  The trouble is that most people end up in that condition because they are having difficulty coping with something in their life currently, or in their life past.  Unfortunately, whatever it was that drove them there has been compounded with the interest that they are not able to raise their own child(ren).  Now the possibility of escaping the bindings that hold them, just became slimmer.

It is because of this perspective that is always before us that we enjoy the Bittersweet Blessings of these little people that bring such joy to our family.  We count every moment a blessing because we remember well, that “but for the Grace of God, there go I.”  Blessings are always good for us, but so is fried liver.  They always make us better people, but they don’t necessarily always taste great going down.