Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Proud Father of Three

While I continue to get my feet wet as the father of a son, I am no novice to parenting. For a decade I have given my time, energy, and wisdom to two lovely daughters. They bear my image and likeness, with the added blessing of their mother's eyes and kind soul. Claire and Margot have accepted their role of older sisters remarkably.

For the past five years, Liz and I have talked openly, honestly, and regularly about adoption with the girls. We discussed adoption and its difficult adjustments at the dinner table, on walks to school, and at bedtime as we prayed. Adoption became central to their vocabulary.

Margot the Younger anticipated Sensi's arrival. "I'm going to teach him to annoy Claire," she promised. "Then she'll be outnumbered." Nevertheless, Claire, too, voiced her excitement to have a little brother.

Their visit with Sensi in the orphanage only peaked their hopes. Three visits did not satisfy them. "I want to see him again," Claire said on the fourth day.

"He's so cute," Margot repeated.
After returning home, we continued to talk with the girls about the upcoming adjustment. We warned them against running through the house naked. We prepared them for a few months of limited visitors and travels. They hoped this meant exemptions from school and church. They swore an oath to keep their clothes on.

We did not, however, prepare them for kind of reception they might receive from their new brother once he arrived home. For the first week, he mostly snubbed them. He shot an occasional glance in their direction or laughed at them from a distance. But meaningful engagement with his sisters was limited.

Then came the water guns. On his second weekend with us, Sensi grabbed a hose and sprayed the girls. They fought back with water guns. Sopping and laughing, the siblings connected.

Since then, their interaction has improved. For the record, Sensi needed no mentor in obnoxious behavior. He is a little boy. He puts every doorbell and light switch to use in pestering others. He stands in front of the television when the family watches a movie.

However, it is more accurate to call Sensi playful than annoying. He and his sisters throw flower pedals at one another on the way to school. They swap (gentle) punches while driving in the back seat of the car. To date no one has been seriously injured.

If the girls are jealous of the attention Sensi has drawn, they have hidden it well. Perhaps they were helped by our many conversations. Perhaps they were aided by our many friends and family members who have shown them special attention. Folks have brought them gifts, spoiled them with sweets, asked about their feelings, and accepted their introverted responses.

No, I detect little jealously from the girls. They are simply wrestling with the growing pains of The Adjustment. I heard it one night from Margot after Sensi went to bed. "I miss just the four of us," Margot said. Liz and I understood the sentiment.

Another time, I caught a trace from Claire. She commented, "Sensi's a rock star." Her subtext implied: "We are not."
For that I am glad. I prefer my two, beautiful girls, who live in the background, who bear my image, who have their mother's eyes and kind soul.  They treat their brother with patient affection and make their father proud.

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