Friday, August 28, 2015

The First 10 Days

These first few days are the kind when you can only think 10 minutes into the future.  The rest is all hazy.

I came down with the stomach flu a couple days after Johnny came home.  Gil had pulled a muscle in his back while were at the orphanage and found himself in quite a bit of pain.  Little guy doesn't want to go to sleep, and when he does, wakes up (and wakes us up) multiple times a night.  Um, kind of like a newborn, I'm guessing.

And yet not like a newborn.  Maybe more like when the undisciplined neighbor child comes to your house and doesn't know the rules and messes everything up.  Like when he throws his entire bowl of eggs on the floor because he doesn't want to eat them.  Or dumps a cup of water in the trash.  Or grabs the dog's ears and sticks his fingers in her eyes.  Except unlike the neighbor kid, you can't send him home in a couple hours.  It feels like a stranger is in the house.

So then you do discipline him because, well, he really can't touch the stove, but there's no long history of trust already built in the relationship.  Which makes that whole love-discipline balance a lot trickier than it already is, even when you're only talking about one-minute time-outs.

Some of his tears are angry, but a few times, they have been sad.  It starts over something inconsequential, and quickly turns into chest-wracking, whole body sobbing.  Yesterday he said, over and over, I want to look for it!  I want to look for it!  But there was nothing to look for.  His three-year-old mind has no words to express what he has lost, but his heart is grown-up in what it feels.  I hold him and cry with him until he pushes me away.  He wants me, but he knows that somehow I am responsible for his pain.

In the midst of the sleeplessness and the haze and thoughts of, What did I get myself into?, there's much more that I don't want to forget.

On that first morning, Josiah told me, Mommy, when I knew that Johnny was coming home the next day, I wanted to jump out of the window and fly all the way home!  

And then, hours after the two met each other, Johnny said to his big brother, Njoo (Come) Josiah!  And Josiah turned to look at me with absolute wonder on his face.  Mommy!  He can say my name!  And he wants me to come!  

Or when he fell asleep on his big sister.

Or when he was terrified to get into the bathtub until I told him, Ogelea (Swim), Johnny!  and he realized that the bathtub was pretty much the same thing as a wading pool.  And then "swim" he did, as evidenced by the water all over the room.  Josiah said, I can't wait for bathtime tomorrow night!

That sweet mixture of English and Swahili, the English coming out with the Tanzanian accent that I know will soon be lost.  How all birds are called vultures.  Except for crows, which are called penguins.

The most exciting part of the day is when he gets to go in the car.  Anywhere.  For any length of time. Coming in close second is the time of the day when he gets to pick out his underwear.

I listen to them laughing outside.  And I am given the gift of looking past the haze.  The orphan becomes a Son and a Brother.  The Becoming is painful and joyful, full of loss and gain, of dying to self and becoming a new person.  For him.  For us.

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