Monday, May 23, 2016

Family Meals and Daily Progress

I won the bet: Sensi ate lunch with the whole family on Sunday per my guess. This was a small feat, commemorating the start of his second week with his forever family. My wife bought me a Take Five as a prize.

Family meal: Check. We're making progress. Next step: College.

Liz and I would be lying if we said we don't salivate over the idea of an empty nest. And we would be deceived if we didn't acknowledge that may not happen. In addition to the growing number of children who return home after college, we face the possibility of Sensi requiring care into adulthood. Wisely, we limit our look down that long road ahead.

Our boy is biologically eight years old. Physically, he resembles a six-year old. Emotionally, I slate him between two and three. Now ask yourself this: What do you get when a toddler can reach the knife block and turn the dials on the oven? (See answer below.) Wisely, we limit our son's alone time in the kitchen.

Sensi's host of problems goes beyond the "shame core" of abandonment and loss (where his mother died and father lived in poverty). He brings more than the emotional deficits of five years in an orphanage (where they loved him as well as they could). His brain is underdeveloped from hypothyroidism. His cognition and hearing are delayed. His legs drag and hands jerk, as if operated by an inattentive puppeteer. And Sensi remains mute, whether selectively or by virtue of physical defect, we do not know.
When we consider the complex issues, we cannot help take life slowly, limit long-term plans, and celebrate small victories. A family dinner calls for a parade. But since crowds terrify our son, we'll opt for seconds on dessert.

Quite frankly, the day-to-day existence relieves some pressure. In a culture where many elementary schools are going the way of STEM and helping second graders plot their career path in engineering, it's nice to think about Monday. In a country where we face the horrifying prospect of four years of Hilary or Trump, Tuesday (unless it's Election Tuesday) sounds like a breeze. In a time where technologies continue to invade our lives and feign intelligence, Wednesday's worries do not seem so grim.

Our detour from The Long Road Ahead may become an on ramp to Strength for the Day.

Jesus taught his disciples to tame anxiety by trusting him for daily supply. "Seek first God's kingdom. Don't worry about tomorrow" (Matthew 6:33-34). His brother James made a similar remark: "Don't brag about next year's plans, but remember the Lord numbers your days" (James 4:13-16).

In this day-to-day adjustment, we weigh our son's smiles against the times we say "No." We affirm Claire and Margot, praising their kindness and inquiring about their feelings. We check a single responsibility off the list -- set up a doctor's appointment: check; write a thank you note: check; order Play-Doh Fun Factory from Amazon: check; treat for lice: check* - and expect from ourselves no more.
Meanwhile, small victories and new memories pile up. Wednesday: Sensi's first trip to the park. Thursday: Sensi's first night in his own bed. Friday: Sensi's first Happy Meal. Saturday: Sensi's first scooter ride. Yesterday: Sensi's first family meal. Today: Sensi's first Foosball game.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? As for me and my house, we'll have to wait and see.

Answer:  A hot, bloody mess.
* Yes, Liz did find lice in one of our daughter's hair last week. Impeccable timing.

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