Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Saving Batman

Someone asked me the other day why I was adopting another little one.

That's a big question, with lots of big answers. But I think I can summarize.

Last week Eric had a friend over to play. Between the Legos, movies, and candy, they perused comic books and discussed subjects near and dear to little boys' hearts. Like Batman.

"Do you know something really, really sad about Batman," Eric queried.

"Um, I guess," replied his friend.

"Did you know that his mom and dad were killed? They got shot, right in front of him. When he was just a little kid."

Unintelligible grunt from friend.

"So, he has no parents. And he grew up without a family. Isn't that totally the worst thing you can imagine?"

Another unintelligible grunt from friend.

My kids are a big part of the reason that I'm going for one more. They have been pushing for this for years. There has never been any doubt in their minds that there is another child out there meant to come home to us. They are exceptionally kind and compassionate kiddos, it's true. But I think it's more than that.

They get it. When they hear stories of kids growing up in orphanages and kids without families, there is an element of "there but for the grace of God go I" for my kids. They don't take it for granted.

Eric loves to sneak into his room when no one notices and come out wearing a superhero mask and cape. He'll race around the front room and refuse to answer to "Eric."

"I'm ChinaMan! How did ChinaMan get into the house? No one knows!"

I'm doing this again because I know the joy that one little masked crusader brings to a home.

I can't save the estimated four million orphans in the world. But I can make sure that one more little superhero doesn't have to find out how sad it is to grow up without a family.

Saving the world one Batman at a time.

Kindness Thing 5, For Real This Time

Kindness Thing No. 5 was Mia's brainchild.

We bought a package of mints. Mia wrote a note:

Dear mail carier, thank you for brngingus our mail evry day.

We put it in the mailbox with the note peeking out. It took four days before the letter carrier took it. I think he didn't read the note the first three days. Either that, or curious neighbor children went home smelling like peppermint.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Kindness Thing 5 (Almost)

One of the things on our Kindness list was to go out to eat and pay for another family's dinner.

This was more of a challenge than we expected, as the restaurant was nearly deserted. By the time we picked a group of diners to treat, it didn't seem that dinner would be appreciated, but perhaps buying dessert would.

We called the waitress over to ask if we could buy dessert for the next table. She bustled over with a twinkle in her eye. Before we could ask our question she informed us that WE were being treated to dessert!

You can bet there were some happy kids at our table.

So, we still have to do number five. But, on the plus side, isn't it so wonderful to see how kindness comes back to you?

People are just good.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Kindness Things 3 & 4

As noted earlier, the kids and I are carrying out 40 acts of kindness in anticipation of my 40th birthday coming up--and I'm chronicling them here (since I'm too lazy to keep a separate record).

No. 3

We wrote thank you notes to teachers who we love. It was sweet to see my kids' sincere appreciation for the little things their teachers do. It spurred me to do the same. I hunted down the address for one of my old professors, now retired, and wrote a note thanking him for being such a positive influence in my life.

Gratitude just feels so good.

No. 4

I have been hesitant to post this one. It seems kind of private and sacred to our family. But I also can't imagine leaving it off the list.

Last week I got a really awful text from someone our family loves very much, telling me that her newborn son had only lived a few hours from birth. Instead of coming home with her new baby, she and her husband were planning a funeral and trying to figure out how to tell their little daughter that her baby brother wouldn't be coming home.

My kids LOVE babies. Head-over-heels-obsess over them. My kids love R and her family. They have enjoyed loving on her first baby since birth, and have adored watching her grow from newborn to toddler to big girl. When I broke the news to the kids the car went absolutely silent. Then Mia said, "That is the worst thing you've ever told us." I agree, baby girl. It sucks.

My kids also have very big hearts. In the eight minutes it took to get home they had unanimously decided to forfeit our family pizza money and send it to R & her family to help in whatever way it could, with medical bills, funeral costs, or even just grabbing pizza themselves on a night they were too tired, too busy, or too sad to think about dinner.

Love those kids of mine. They are keepers, the whole lot of them.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Working with What You've Got

Mia has a lovely doll named Sophia Merida, and true to her maternal little heart, Mia plays with her, talks to her, takes her places, makes clothes for her, sings to her, and generally considers Sophia to be her very own child. 

In an unfortunate accident, Sophia recently lost a leg. 

When Mia showed me the problem and I determined that replacing the leg was extremely unlikely, I began thinking about how soon we could get Mia a new doll. Christmas? Should I make her a deal that if she saved half the money I'd kick in half? Should I just buy a new doll right now, since I know how much Mia enjoys playing with her precious Sophia? 

I tentatively posed the question of whether we should start looking for a new doll. 

Mia made angry eyes at me. 

"It's just a LEG, mom," she retorted. "Sophia is still Sophia; just without one of her legs now." 

She left my room, darting backward glances as if daring me to even try taking Sophia out of her arms. From her room I could hear her reassuring Sophia that she would never, ever give her up. 

When I called the kids for dinner, all four of them came running in the kitchen with great enthusiasm. 

"Look, mom! Eric solved the problem! Eric found a way to help Sophia since her leg is gone!" 

As you can see, Eric created a Lego-wheelchair so that Sophia will barely notice the absence of her leg. All four children are extremely proud of their innovative solution; Grace: "now we don't even have to save our money for a real wheelchair!" 

Gulp. I was thinking saving money for a new doll; they were planning how to save for a real wheelchair. 

People just aren't replaceable. Even doll people. And everyone has value, even if they look less than perfect to ignorant outsiders like me. Even doll everyones. 

What would the world look like if we all saw people through Mia's eyes? Lucky me, to be so close.