Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Do I Love Them? Let Me Count the Ways

I love my kids and I'm sure that we were meant for each other. They are extremely bright, charming, cute, stubborn, ornery, contrary, determined, strong-willed, defiant, vocal, out-spoken, picky, loving, demonstrative, and one laugh a minute. I did say they were cute and charming right? I also said, I'm sure that these were always meant to be my kids.

I told you how wonderful our first Monday morning of camp/school went. Well, maybe I should have waited until Tuesday for the update. On Tuesdays the kids go to the same camp but they have a different drop-off location. They are at the park district that has three facilities including the normal drop-off, the nature center, and the fitness center. Okay, so I look at the where to take them map and it clearly says Nature Center. I use useless mapquest that gives me directions pointing us in the direction of the expressway that I know are wrong. Let me step back. The kids loved their first day of camp/school and were eager to go the next day. Since they had played in the water all day, they found no reason to take showers that night especially since they assumed they would just get their bath playing in the water the next day.

We, well I woke up early Tuesday and sleeping beauty and the handsome prince were tucked tightly in their comforters. "Sleepy mom, sleepy..." After gentle trying to urge them out of bed with many back rubs, good morning to yous, and wake up sleepy heads they wouldn't buge. Well, I turned on the TV which instantly got my sons attention since he is a TV addict but quickly turned it to the gospel music channel. No pictures, just music and it just so happened that it was Marvin Sapp's Praise Him in Advance. Grumble, grumble, protest, protest. "Change channel please mom. Change!" Is someone talking to me, I thought everyone was still asleep. Well anyway I turned the music up a little trust me it wasn't loud, only enough that they grumbled and got out of bed to complain to me that they would rather watch than listen to TV. They were up and walking around. Great!

Time for showers, you know the one's you promised to take this morning? Grumble, grumble, "No mom. No shower. School shower, no house!" Well we got through the dramatics of the moment followed by the acts I and II of the why do I have to wear these close drama. I think my two could form their own theater company, really they are that good. Anyway we grumbled through breakfast, "no eat mom, ju-juice mom, yes mom ju-juice please mom, no wutet (milk)." Breakfast was had by all but not before the princess reminds us all to pray. She loves to pray and will not touch her food before AMEN! I'm trying to teach her that after we have prayed over breakfast or dinner we don't have to pray over the banana, the ice cream or whatever snack comes next. She has since informed me that at school the children do not wash their hands or PRAY before eating their food. I'm sure if she could she would write them up for such an infraction. As it is she pushes her brother's plate to the center of the table to make sure he does not sneak a bite while our eyes are closed in prayer.

Back to camp. We finally got going Tuesday morning headed towards the destination took many wrong turns, and U-turns in three or four office parks and each time my diplomatic princess would quiety ask, "Mommies bureau?" or basically are we going to work with you rather than camp? With each wrong turn, Misters lip got longer and longer. I tried to call the facilitaty but no one answered. I decided to scrap mapquest altogether and do what made sense. I found it, it was a park like facility but it just seemed empty. I saw no cars, no children, and was sure this was the wrong spot. Still I had the kids get out and we walked to the door past some service workers and like I suspected the office was dark and the sign sign, open at 9am. It was only 7:25. I decided it was best to hop in the car and just drive to the Monday morning location. My children are in Amharic uproar in the backseat I'm sure discussing that I don't know what I'm doing. The diplomat would only ask, "Mommie no school today? House mom, bureau, mom?" But my honest and forthright child said, "School NOW mom, tah-mehr-ta-bet. House NO!"

We pulled up in the parking lot my children screamed with excitement because they recognized the place. I held my breath because I knew I was only their to get directions. I told the kids to stay in the car but midway through my sentence they had jumped out with lunch boxes in hand. The nice front desk lady came out to the parking lot and said, "Ms. Washington...?" Who? Oh, yea me right. "Ms. Washington you are at the wrong location." Uhhh, yea but where do we go we've been to the Nature Center. "Oh my no. You are to go to the Fitness Center" and then she gave me directions like English was my second language. I was happy to have them but they came complete with a lot of hand directions and small words spoken very slowly. I knew as soon as I turned around to tell the kids to get in the car they would freak out. Fast forward my kids refused to get in the car, in the car but no seat, no seatbelt, tears, crying and then the sweet prince threw his lunch box out into the parking lot to show his displeasure. "Son, please get out of the car and pick up your lunchbox." "NO!" As I smiled and waved at the nice counter lady I said in more stern but still quiet voice, "Please get out of the car and pick up your lunch box." Grumble, grumble...Of course since I was standing there I could do it but that's just not how we do things in our family. I stood silently and he finally snatched it up with much attitude, hopped in his seat and refused to put on his seatbelt that I happily put on for him in one quick hand motion and snap. I've gotten pretty good at that lately.

Grumble, grumble, Amharic, "I love mommie NO!" "We are going to school trust me. We will be there shortly." Cry, cry, grumble, grumble. "Mommie is sorry for getting lost and you ARE going to school." We turned the corner for the five minute ride which was across the street from the Nature Center and my son stopped crying. "Sorry, mom. Sorry, okay?" Wow! My son has picked up something new, apologizing for his behavior. Wow! I responded that it was okay and we turned into the parking lot that led us to an underground parking lot that my children thought was exciting. The princess, "Bureau, mom? Mommies bureau?" "No sweet pea this is school." It was 7:45 and I only prayed that they saw some kids that they recognized. We went in, I opened the door and they saw their teacher. My children ran to her so excited, shook her hand as is customary and then the sweet prince hugged and kissed her on the cheek. She was a little shocked. They ran to me and hugged me, "Thanks mom. Sorry mom, Mommie I love you YES! I love you mom. Bye-bye mom! Mom go!"

Now all I that was left was to get on the Eisenhower expressway and navigate traffic into downtown Chicago. All the way I thought of just how much I love my kids! How could you not, they've brought excitement into every day and if you think that's something you won't believe what happened when I picked them up later on that day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Looks Like We Made It

Well, believe it or not my children have been in my care and custody for three weeks. It's unbelievable how much we've done in this short period of time and how well the children seem to be adjusting. Truthfully I believe that my children have lived in America before or at least they've spent most of their time studying American television.

I absolutely adore them and yesterday I had to turn them over to a bunch of strangers at day camp. After all the process and paperwork that we all go through to adopt it was a very strange experience handing unchecked, unnotorized, non-certified documents to a woman behind a desk who just took my money and show me where to drop off the kids. Don't we need something more formal? Should I have collected documents about them, asked for fingerprints of their staff or something?

The kids were excited and eager to go to the teh-mahr-ta-bet (school). Sleeping beauty who is always first to go to bed and last to wake up was up at 6am yesterday morning laying on her floor "studying" one of her books. She was quite concerned about wearing a bathing suit, carrying a bag with a towel and no books. "No books?" She asked me, like what kind of school is this. And, to top that off she was offended by having to wear purple flip flops with her pink swimwear and cover up.

The night before my children had asked many questions about school, "what grades would they be in? Would they have to spend the night? Would I drive them in the car or would they walk? Would I be at the bureau (my office) and would I pick them up?" The conversation about who would be in what grades was pretty funny as are most things with my tightly bonded siblings. My daughter had told me earlier in the week that my son was in grade zero in Ethiopia. So when they asked what grade he would be in here, I said kindergarten. He laughed and tried to say it but she looked at him with a big sister look at said, "ZERO!" I don't know how excited he was about going to SCHOOL/CAMP yesterday but he was excited about wearing his very funny looking water shoes because their first day at camp was water day.

Imagine that. My kids first day at school, since I've still not been able to explain the difference between camp and school was going to a splash pad (water park) and playing in water all day. I've decided that it's not necessary for me to give a lot of details about my children so on the form all I said in terms of special needs was that they are new English speakers and may need additional assistance with some instructions. I am confident in my daughters ability to understand more English than she speaks and her incredible ability to translate to and for her brother. She had also learned my phone number and practiced dialing it on the phone all weekend so that if there were any problems she could call me right away. I walked around the office with my cell phone all day and there was not one call. I looked up and it was 2:00 and I light out a sigh that all was well.

I left my office at 4:30 to pick them hoping that they'd had a good day and that they would want to go back this morning. I got to the front desk and the director introduced her self when I told her my name she said oh you are, (struggling to pronounce their names)... Yes, I told her and held my breath for what she was about to say. She told me that they had all fallen in love with them and she was just interested to know what country they were from. I told her Ethiopia and she asked if they would be staying here forever. I told her that they would and she said they are pretty amazing kids. Ok, so far so good!

I went down the flight of stairs to pick them up and there they were all in one piece pretty much they way that I'd left them except they were covered in stickers, face, arms, and clothes. They were sitting at a table drawing and my son saw me and exclaimed mommy and grab me for a hug. He hasn't learned to be embarrased by me in the sight of his friends but that may happen before the summer ends. He yelled to his sister to make sure she knew I was there. I collected their bags, lunch boxes, huge balls that they were given, and we got in the makena (car) to head home.

My son, asked if he would go back neggeh (tomorrow). I told him yes and all was well. He then asked the question that he always asking, "house mom?" That is usually followed by his request, "No house mom, no house, one store, pleeeeease!" We drove off listening to Marvin Sapp that they've heard enough now that they ask for specific songs by track numbers. Their favorite? Praise Him in Advance and Maginify Him!

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]