“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” –Denis Waitley
Well, actually, it was the chicken–about two weeks ago at the Mystic Aquarium cafe, when Oscar, completely unprompted and without warning, consumed for the first time since he was a baby a bite of chicken. For those who know Oscar, this was very big news. And for those who do not, well, let’s just say that through some miracle of physiology and luck he has been able to subsist for the last six years on cheese, Cheez-Its, waffles, and milk. (I exaggerate, of course, but barely.)
So, imagine our surprise this weekend when he asked for an egg and cheese sandwich . . . asked for it and ate it. An entire egg. I tried to refrain from doing any sort of cartwheel lest I hurt myself, but inside I was giddy.
And then yesterday . . . “Can I try some peanut butter?”
I was about to burst . . . I said to Oscar, “I am so happy you’re trying–and liking–all these new foods. What changed your mind about trying them?”
His reply, in perfect Oscar-fashion: “Well, obviously I am growing, and my body craves protein.”
Obviously. . . and thankfully.
Will Oscar be asking for broccoli and salad anytime soon? We’ll have to see. But I am more hopeful today than I ever have been and more convinced that allowing our children to find their own groove where food is concerned is the right approach for our family.
Today WordPress let me know that since this blog’s inception nearly three years ago, it has had over 25,000 “hits”–a bit of a milestone. The one thing WordPress can’t tell me is who’s reading.
So here I am–curious and not a little nosey–wondering who it is who is checking in.
I think in the world of blogs, they call this a “roll call.” Would you mind commenting on the blog and letting me know who you are, how often you check in, and, if you’re inclined, why you check in? Are you a family member or friend? Fellow adoptive parent? Have we ever met?
I write for my sons, but I am also aware that I am writing for others–some of whom I know, and some I don’t. As a writer, this is interesting territory, and one I am only beginning to learn to negotiate.
So, if you have a moment, say “hi” through the blog’s commenting feature and let me (and the boys) know who you are!
Thanks so much,
He calls Goldfish crackers “Fluffies!” potato chips “Pips!” and his brother Oscar “Buzz!” And, yes, you do need to say each with an exclamation point. He loves to dance, demands to hear jazz music by yelling “Cuong Vu,” and insists on his place at the table–literally and figuratively.
And though experts claim that “third-born kids . . . may feel squeezed out of a position of privilege or lost in the crowd” and are “quiet and shy and often go unnoticed,” there is nothing about August Farias that fits those descriptions.
If ever there were a boy destined to stand out, it’s him. Stay tuned, world. I’m pretty sure this guy has lots in store for you!
I would not describe our family as overly “health-conscious.” There are Yodels and Pringles in our cupboard, I LOVE Diet Pepsi, and for every organic blueberry and lowfat yogurt in our refrigerator there are equal numbers of ice cream sandwiches and popsicles in our freezer. Something we do avoid, however, is McDonald’s (and other fast food eateries). I don’t say that with any sense of nutritional superiority; it’s simply as a vegetarian myself (or, let’s face it, more aptly, a “carbotarian”), there has never been anything particularly appealing for me on fast food menus. Don’t get me wrong–if someone had a bag of McDonald’s french fries, it would be impossible for me not to ask for one; but overall the predominant offerings do not work with my preferred diet. So, as a family we have always tended to seek out other options (no less healthy, mind you, simply other) when we want to eat out–Applebee’s, Newport Creamery, Subway.
But today we caved in–or, more accurately, I caved in. We had a long day ahead of us, and I had spent the last two days running in no fewer than 400 different directions; so, I knew when I woke up tired this morning after a full eight hours of sleep that something had to give–and tonight it was dinner. I said as Oscar and Edgar got ready for school, “So, how about tonight we zip over to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal for dinner?”
Oscar looked at me incredulously–as he often does: “Mom, do you even know where McDonald’s is?” Edgar looked on, equally concerned.
Once I assured them that I did, the squeals of delight that ensued would have led the objective observer to believe that I had just offered them the LEGO Death Star. (Don’t ask . . . it’s a the stuff of LEGO fantasies.)
At precisely 5:03 PM, after we left our last port of call, we drove to the McDonald’s Drive-Thru. I placed an order for three Happy Meals, feeling a little guilty but not nearly as much as I would’ve thought. I paid the ten dollars and change for the three dinners, and then pulled into a parking space to divvy up the rations. Each boy got his own bag of food, his own drink, and his own toy. And it was at that moment, as I pulled out of the parking space, that I realized why they call these things Happy Meals. They were happy. I was happy. Everyone in the car was experiencing pure bliss.
Will we go back every Friday for a dose of “happy”? No, of course not. Even once a week seems like a bit much for fast food. But I don’t think I will hesitate if, once in a while, this is what we need to do. It reinforces the adage, “everything in moderation,” removes the mystique that would prevail if we forbade it completely, and is a treat that motivates three very busy boys to stay on their best behavior through a long afternoon. Happiness all around.
“Excuse me, ma’am . . . Your son has some marker on his face?”
“IS HE OKAY?! Your son just walked into that wall?”
“Should I be concerned that your son is hitting himself?”
Yes, I know. He’s fine, thank you. And nope.
My son has discovered Harry Potter; and like everything else that strikes his imagination–a beautiful spring flower, an inching caterpillar, a crockpot full of delicious food–Edgar has engaged with this tale of wizardry with all his being.
Most days he sports Harry Potter’s scar on his forehead that he draws in with a marker. He walks into walls to see if he can because that’s what Harry Potter and his classmates do to get to Platform 9-3/4 to board the train to Hogwarts. And he is fascinated by Dobby the house elf, a self-flagellating slave, whom he “met” in The Chamber of Secrets.
Edgar doesn’t just watch a movie–or a concert or one of nature’s creatures: He joins the world he’s observing–temporarily but whole-heartedly. When he ran one day into the kitchen in search of an apple and a pencil, I only had to look to see what was on the television to learn he was about to engage in an experiment similar to one he was watching. When he looks at his poster from Blue Man Group, I can see the wheels turning and know exactly why he’s asking me for food dye (so he can re-create the red liquid that is housed in their drums). When he curls up in a ball and rolls down the hill at the Jazz Festival, I know he is personifying a Battle Droid from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. And I know why he draws on himself, occasionally tries to walk through walls, and why he once in a while will hit himself.
The problem is . . . the rest of the world doesn’t know the back story, the whole story–who Edgar is and who or what he is at that moment. So the world worries. And I appreciate it. I really do. If I noticed something that I thought was important enough to mention to another parent, I would. But as much as the world might worry, I do not–because the same characteristics that allow Edgar to observe and then jump into the worlds he sees before him (or allow him to create complicated sculptures out of masking tape or an entire outfit out of plastic bags) are the same traits that make him one of the most empathic, kind, gentle, honest, and knowing people I have ever met. He is a package–a fascinating, thought-provoking package–that will have to work to ensure that the world doesn’t misunderstand him. Once that barrier is crossed, however, those who take the time to understand him will be justly rewarded.
I have said before that there aren’t many people like Edgar. And that is as true a statement today as it ever was. Edgar is learning, though, that he sometimes will need to take a moment to explain to very well-meaning people why he is doing what he’s doing. But, as his parents, we will never ask him to stop because to do so would be to squelch a spirit that is pure, perfect.
Though Edgar is learning that he needs to exist in this world, I hope he is also learning that he does not have to change who he is to thrive in this world. And as his mother, it is my fervent wish that the world remembers this, too, and embraces this unbridled soul.
Last night as I put Edgar to bed, he hugged me and kissed me and said the words that only an adoptive mother gets to hear:
“Mommy, I love you so much. I wish I grew in your belly.”
And I got to say the words that only an adoptive mother can say:
“You may not have grown in my belly, but, rest assured, you grew in my heart.”
And his response, as only Edgar can utter oh-so-dreamily:
“That is SO cool . . .”
You don’t get many perfect moments in life . . . but this was one if ever there were one.