Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just Ask

Anybody else feel like the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of parties, activities, festive dinners, sickness and gift opening? The month of December always seems like that, but I feel like it's exaggerated when you have little ones that still need to nap.

In the midst of the December whirlwind, we recently attended an extended family party with lots of cousins we hadn't seen for at least a year and all of their children, many of whom we had never met. It was a lot of fun visiting and catching up with everyone.

While we were there, we were also given a brief glimpse of some of the social challenges that our little Charlie might have to face. The kids were all running around and playing, Charlie among them, when some of the older children noticed his eyes. They commented to Forrest that his eyes looked red, and then, keeping their distance, they came to the conclusion that he was creepy. Forrest calmly explained why his eyes sometimes appear red, and told the kids that he thought it was pretty cool. They all walked away, not sure what to think about it.

When Forrest told me that story, my heart broke and I got tears in my eyes. I know they weren't intending to be hurtful. And I know that Charlie's eyes are very different, especially to someone who's never seen him (or a person with Albinism) before. But it was still quite painful to hear other children refer to my precious son as "creepy."

In contrast, at the same party I was standing in line getting food when I heard another young girl ask her mom about Charlie and his white hair. I was so grateful when the mom told her daughter that he had a condition called Albinism, and then turned to me to ask more about it. She explained his light coloring and vision difficulties, and then also mentioned another child in her daughter's school with the same condition. I can't even describe how refreshing it was to have someone ASK. What a great example for her daughter.

Nearly everywhere we go, I see people turn and whisper to their neighbor. People point and stare, many people smile as they do so to make it seem less awkward. But so few people ask. Sure we get comments like, "look at that towhead" and "which one of you had the white hair when you were kids?" and (from old people) "his hair is as white as mine!". Sometimes when people comment I do take the time to explain that he has Albinism. But most of the time I just nod and smile, or say he's very special or unique. Because he is. But I really appreciate it when people just ask me.

I know it's difficult to find the right words to use. How do you ask without being offensive? But if you are honestly trying to learn more about a person without passing judgment, they have no reason to be offended. I think children often learn to be bullies because of their parent's unintentional teachings. Parents who point and whisper and stare will teach their children that those with visible challenges are scary, creepy, or weird. Parents who aren't afraid to talk to and ask about those with difficulties will teach their children that they are people too, and not something to make jokes about, shy away from, or treat cruelly. Please don't inadvertently teach your children to be a bully.

I know Charlie is different and I know he will be faced with a lot of bullying in his life. But I also know that Forrest and I will pour our hearts and souls into teaching him to be the bigger person. Also, Forrest is determined to teach him karate, just in case.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It Takes Patience

I am a lot of things. I'm a mom, a wife, a sister and daughter. I'm an avid online shopper, a sour milk despiser, and a fan of The Biggest Loser. I'm a sloppy gift wrapper, a stomach sleeper, and a whimp at amusement parks. There are a lot of things that I am. And a lot more things that I am not. And let me tell you, I AM NOT PATIENT! I never have been. I have what my husband would call the "need-to-be-right" complex. I think my ideas are always the best way to do something, and I get really frustrated when someone tries to do it a different way (something I get from my dad).

So what in the world is a non-patient person doing raising twins?! Trying to learn patience I guess. In church on Sunday we had a lesson about patience, and it was one of those lessons where I sat thinking I was doing a pretty good job at it. I am not always the best at being patient with my husband (I know, I'm working on it), but during the lesson I was thinking about my children and my thoughts honestly were something like this: "I think I do a pretty good job at being patient with my kids.." and ended right about there.

And I think the Man Upstairs heard my thoughts and decided I needed a little motivation to take that lesson to heart. So He sent me yesterday. Yesterday my little monkies decided to climb onto the table and open the nearly full bag of cheerios and dump them all out. Including the dust at the bottom of the bag. And they thought it was hilarious, of course! And they chose to play in their cribs for 2+ hours instead of nap, so they were super cranky. And when I went to get them up from their "nap" I found a little boy with poop spread all over his mattress and clumped under his fingernails. And that was after 5 poopy diapers already changed earlier in the day. While I worked on doing the laundry and cleaning up the now-brown crib sheet, the littles climbed into the dryer and shut themselves in. I opened the door to find Charlie sitting right on top of Caroline. Charlie was thrilled and Caroline looked like she didn't know whether to hit him or cry. Most of the day went about like that. Caroline shut Charlie's hand in the door. Charlie pulled Caroline's hair. They both fell off the kitchen chairs multiple times while climbing onto the table, which I can't keep them off of. They refuse to sit in their high chairs. They insist on feeding themselves with the spoon instead of letting me feed them. I finally sent Forrest a message at 5 PM begging him to come home from work and rescue me. 

And when I think about it, I don't know if the incidents from yesterday were really that much worse than the average day; but for whatever reason, my patience was wearing quite thin. Perhaps it was a not so gentle reminder that nobody's perfect, and that while I am generally quite patient with my children, it is something that I still need to work on. Thank goodness they are so cute in the midst of their mischieviousness! That makes it much easier.

Moments like this make it easier too. They really do love each other!