Yesterday my husband, in a good mood, came into the kitchen, swooped me backwards, and gave me a passionate kiss. When we had finished, I noticed my 13 year old adopted daughter standing there, mouth gaping open, eyes wide, with a shocked look on her face. “What was THAT????’ she asked (in American Sign Language.) “A kiss,” I told her. “No, no”, she signed, “a kiss is a little peck on the lips” she said as she came over and demonstrated one on the dog. “That is the way you kiss when you really love someone, your husband” I said. “WOW! How did you LEARN that? Can you show ME!?!?!” she signed. “You don’t learn it, you just feel it. It is natural when you love someone,” I explained to her. “I’m going to wait until I’m 17 to do that,” she signed back, and I said a silent prayer to myself that I should be so lucky for her to wait that long! I laughed inwardly at her innocence, this worldly child who knew the mechanics of sex more than anyone her age should have to know, (the reason of which is a discussion better delegated to a more serious blog entry.) But I doubt she ever saw anyone in love before, and she definitely had never seen anyone kiss passionately, which really surprised me. The more I thought about it, though, I realized she hadn’t been exposed to it in her young life and the only other way she might know would be from watching television. Because of her deafness, she has a low reading level and is not able to understand the captioning enough to get interested in a romantic story or one of the more mature television shows which are all over the television today. Her favorite tv station is the Animal Planet where great stories are told and no captioning is needed. She knows all about the life cycles of animals, insects and reptiles, including their different mating rituals, but, as preparation for real life, I’m sure she never saw alligators kiss like that!
Posts tagged ‘optimistic parenting’
If you are a parent, you have probably experienced those situations where your children have embarrassed you by what they say. I have had many long years of embarrassment, including the following 3 examples:
When Steven was 4 years old, I went with him to a local facility which housed infants and toddlers who were HIV positive to pick up a new foster child. It was a non-descript looking house which fit in well with the neighborhood. When we walked in the front door into the large living room, the room was full of beautiful children, all playing with toys, reading a book with a staff member, or toddling over to say hello to us. Steven, who is quite unused to group situations, took one look at the crowd and said out loud, “Holy Sh_t! Look at all dem dere brown babies!!!!” He was right as all of the children were minorities. (This is not to give the impression that minority children would be most at risk for AIDS, it is just that minority children are more difficult to place in foster homes.) The staff all politely laughed at his remark, especially because he did not take into account that he himself was “brown”. (Which begs the question…if a bi-racial child is raised by Caucasian parents, doesn’t he look in the MIRROR?)
On another occasion, I took Francis to the zoo when he was about 5. Francis is severely visually impaired and cannot see clearly beyond a few feet, although he can see fuzzy details. While walking in the zoo, a mom and a dad were strolling along with a child in their stroller. He was wearing a brown snowsuit, and he had a huge, full head of brown curly hair. As we passed by them, Francis said “MOM! MOM! They’ve stolen one of the animals from the zoo!!!” The parents looked aghast at his remark, and I remember making some comment about him not seeing well as I ushered Francis quickly away!
The most recent incident happened when Marie was 10. She is profoundly deaf and normally a very compassionate young lady. However, we saw a gentleman at the mall who was without legs and an arm. She stared and pointed excitedly and in her innocence asked me what happened to him. I gave her my spiel that it is not nice to point and stare because it hurts the person’s feelings. That God makes all kinds of people and a lot of people have disabilities, just like she is deaf. I told her the best thing to do was just be friendly, smile, and say hello, not stare. We were signing all of this in American Sign frenetically back and forth. We looked up from our signing to smile at the gentleman, only to find him and his friend pointing and staring at US! We both smiled at him, and then rapidly walked off in the other direction!
Parenthood can be a lot of work at times, especially with children with disabilities, but I always prefer to see the joyful side of parenthood for the following reasons:
- The sight of a sleeping child, no matter what age, melts my heart. We always take pictures of our children sleeping on Christmas Eve, so I have a collection of how their sweet sleeping faces look as they age. It never ceases to affect me and I smile at each and every one.
- When a child is in a school performance, from pre-school graduation, school plays, award ceremonies, right up to college graduation my pride soars. Tears always come to my eyes as my well dressed for the occasion child “does his/her thing.” Each child’s “thing” may be different…Steven, especially in the early years with his sensory integration deficit, would actually hide under the chair, (or the pew in church as was the case when he was supposed to make his first communion.) Francis would walk slowly looking down due to his visual impairment, and he would be hesitant about who to go to until he got close enough to see them. Dinora would “strut her stuff”, with us all excited at her accomplishment. Angel would put on his best “game show host” face and wave to the audience as if the event was entire for him. Marie would…well, I’ll save that for a later blog because that is a real interesting story!
- Each time a child learns a new skill, I am overcome with joy at their accomplishment. Not just the learning to walk or talk part, but the entire route to independence they take. My 2 oldest live on their own, have jobs and pay their own bills. Just the fact that they can pay their own bills causes me to leap in the air with happiness.
- Sitting around the table eating dinner together usually, (depending on how the kids are getting along,) fills me with the peace. I like sitting at the head of the table with my husband at the other end, and the kids in the middle. Holidays and special occasions are always extra nice when all 5 children are there.
- I feel a happiness only a mother could feel every time a child presents me with a gift they have made for me. Steven made me a wonderful 2 foot tall vase shaped like and alligator, (his favorite animal.) What mother wouldn’t be thrilled to receive an alligator vase? The color even matches the colors in my kitchen! Angel’s, who is 15 years old, has a child-like “part” that makes me jewelry. He presents it to me with great flourish, It is always gaudy and made of huge plastic “crystal” beads. When I wear it, I feel like I am wearing a chandelier, but I wear it with pride, (until I can get in my car alone and take it off on my drive to work.)
- Taking the children out for an activity like bowling, horseback riding, or go cart riding allows me to have an excuse and have fun like a kid myself.
- The times the children prepare breakfast for me is especially joyful, (even though the eggs are tough, the toast is burnt, and the tea has no sugar. Plus, the kitchen is a huge mess!) I always look on the bright side, and even if my eggs aren’t sunny side up, I am sunny inside!
- The biggest joy I get out of parenthood is the fact that I do not have time to clean the house…taking care of all of the children’s special needs, all of the therapy, counseling, medical, extra-curricular activities does not leave me any time to clean! We’ve long ago learned to settle for a “picked up house”, not a spotlessly clean house, (or even a “pretty clean” house.) I feel no guilt at all. I would much rather be spending time helping my children than washing the kitchen floor. I will never lay when I lay on my deathbed I wished I’d kept my house cleaner! There are so many more important things to do with the kids, so, sorry, don’t expect my house to be real clean! Ah, the joy of no housework!!!!
Parenting is a lot of fun and can be filled with joy. I try to always focus on the positives and downplay the negatives. It is the only way I remain sane!!!!
I completely understand why older people move to southern states when they retire. Winters are COLD! My fingers get chilled just thinking about it.
I do not enjoy the winters as I used to. I remember pre-children when my husband and I would go skiing. One day it was 10 degrees below zero. We were all excited it was so cold because that meant that the ski slopes would not be as crowded and we would not have to wait in line for the chairlift. We bundled up with layer upon layer of warm clothing and we skied all day. At one point, we stopped at the top of the mountain and we could see all around the surrounding area. With the sun blazing down on the shiny snow, we saw snowcapped mountains in the distance, little villages, frozen lakes and the ant specks that were cars, and I was overcome with awe for God and nature. It’s a good thing this memory is still crisp in my mind because these days, you’d never get me on top of a cold, frigid mountain again!
The children, of course, have always loved winter. My oldest son, Francis, still skies with his father from time to time, plus he skies with friends in the mountains of California. Although he is legally blind, he is a ” black diamond slope” skier. The only problem with that is he needs a “black diamond slope” guide! My heart was always in my throat when he skied because I was petrified he’d hit a tree. (This was during the time when Sonny Bono and one the Kennedy boys died after hitting a tree when skiing.) While away at college in England, he regularly skied in the French Alps. Knowing how frightened I am, he sent a picture of him at the top of the mountain. “You’d love this, mom” he wrote, “No trees.” I pictured him happily skiing down the bare mountain not a tree in sight to run into. It wasn’t until much later that someone broke my happy bubble by informing me that he could be buried by an AVALANCHE! Boy, this being a mom is tough!
My husband received an old snowmobile as a “gift” from a friend. One day, he was riding it in our large backyard with my son Steven sitting in the front of him and he decided to let him drive. Excitedly, Steven turned the handlebars to give it gas. The snowmobile took off in a lurch and my husband was thrown from the back of it in an amazing double somersault. Steven and the snowmobile were headed right for the shed. His life flashed before my eyes and I thought “This is what it feels like to see your child die.” Fortunately, unbeknownst to me, if you let up on the handlebars, the machine stops, and this is exactly what Steven did. He turned around and noticed his father was missing and he let go of the handlebars. He stopped within a foot of the shed. It took a while for my heart to start beating again. My husband did the only smart thing a father could do…he sold that snowmobile and he bought 2 news ones so we could go snowmobiling as a family! I had to go along as a driver in order for the whole family to participate. If you have not ridden a snowmobile, I can only describe it as riding a motorcycle on skis. I had never ridden a motorcycle and I was very nervous. I would creep along at 5-10 miles per hour, much to my husband’s dismay. To make matters worse, my husband did not choose the nice, empty, safe fields to ride in. NOOOOOO! He chose the skinny, trees whipping by your head, narrow snowmobile paths with TRAFFIC COMING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION! That one day of snowmobiling was the scariest in my life. There was no turning back and I had to drive. My hands were shaking, my body was sweating even though it was freezing out, and my imagination had my head being whipped off by a tree branch. That was the first and last time for me! My son Angel was riding with me, and he and I decided we liked to go shopping much more than snowmobiling and everyone was happier with this decision.
About 16 years ago, when it became obvious that Steven had some type of Autism and could not tolerate vacations in hotels, we bought a little house in New Hampshire for vacations. The children always loved playing outside in the snow. At the end of our driveway was an 8 foot tall pile of snow made by the snowplow which the kids had fun sliding down. At one point, Steven climbed to the top of the pile and all of a sudden he disappeared! He had fallen deep into the snow pile! Another heart stopping moment for me. Fortunately, we managed to pull the snow from around the top of the pile until he could climb out. He was laughing because it was so much fun and he wanted to do it again.
At home, we live on a lake. My 13 year old daughter who is deaf loves playing outside in the cold. She loves to go ice fishing, building snowmen, and, most of all, playing hockey. She dresses warmly from head to toe…black snow pants, black jacket, a hat which covers most of her face, several pairs of gloves topped with hockey gloves, and boys hockey skates. She takes her hockey stick and skates around the lake to the various hockey games trying to get an invitation to play. From looking at her all bundled up, you cannot tell if she is a girl or a boy. She is not verbal, so they cannot tell from her voice. (She points to her ears for them to know she is deaf.) She would normally use sign language but with hockey gloves this is next to impossible. She is a good player and that is all that matters, and she invariably plays for hours. If one group stops playing, she will skate around and find another group. She reminds me of a female Batman for hockey…slinking into games, her identity unknown…showing up out of the blue when a team needs a player!
Winter is alive and well with my kiddos, who enjoy it as I did when I was a child, but now I am old and get chilled easily.. If they want me, I’ll be sitting by the fireplace drinking hot chocolate and watching tv, often a show with a discussion about global warming.