Friday, October 24, 2008

I can handle stuff

Tonight I took Marin and Emmy to the town Halloween party. There are about 400 kids all running around in the dark with flashlights looking for candy, then we retire to the library for cookies and cider. It's fun. Emmy was dressed as Elmo, and she got a lot of comments. Marin was dressed as an angel with wings and a halo, but in a long cleopatra robe. It really worked for her. Now to the point of the story.

As we were leaving the library, Marin looks ahead of us as exclaims "Look! That's the girl that's mean to me on the monkeybars at recess." I ask Marin to calm down and tell me her name. "I don't know her name, but that's her dressed like a cheerleader. We have to get her now!" And Marin charges off into the darkness to chase this cheerleader and her mother.

I finally catch up just as Marin is beginning to engage the mean girl. Marin says "I know you. You cut in line on the monkeybars. That's not nice." And the girl looks at Marin as if to say "What are you a freaking stalker jumping me in the dark in a halloween costume?"

So Marin marches right up to the Mother and says "This girl here is mean at recess. She cuts in front of people on the monkey bars." And the mother said "Oh, that's not OK." And Marin says "I really mean it. I'm telling you the truth." And the mother said "OK, I'll speak with her about it. Thank you for telling me."

At this point I pull Marin away, we go to the car, and drive home.

Now Marin is in the kitchen telling Colleen this story and Colleen looks at me like "Dear God Did this really happen?" I told her it did, almost exactly like Marin said it did. And Marin is sitting there looking all proud of herself for righting one of the worlds greatest wrongs.

Then Marin says, very confidently, "I know how to handle stuff!" Do you suppose Michele Obama was like this at age six?

Friday, October 17, 2008


Last night Marin was really sad at bedtime. I asked her why. She said she missed her Africa Mommy and she started crying. Whenever this happens, we tell Marin her mother is safe in heaven with Jesus. And Marin usually asks us how we know that for sure.

So last night I asked Marin if she wanted to say a prayer to Jesus for her mother.

"Dear Jesus. Please keep my Africa Mommy safe. Give her a cozy bed, and healthy food, and she is not thirsty. If she is sick, you give her medicine and a doctor. And give her pretty hair and pretty clothes and make her happy all the time. Amen. "

Nintendo DS

I am going to kill whoever invented this stupid game. A few kids on Marins' bus have one and now it is all she ever talks about. Her first question to me upon waking up is "Will you buy a DS today?" and her first question upon walking in the door after school is "Did you buy a DS today?"

Now its' to the point where I have to give her five mins a day to log on to the DS website and let her play a mock game. She is so funny. Half these games are video demonstrations - in other words - the mouse and keyboard have no effect on the game. Doesn't matter. Marin is always yelling to me "Daddy! I won! Come See! I am super good at DS!"

School pictures time

We really want excellent school photos, so we spend some time with the kids posing them in front of the mirror and teaching them how to smile nice.

Fast forward to dinner following Emmy's school pictures. I asked "Emmy, show me how you posed today?" and she said "Like this, Daddy"

I turned around to see her and she had her lower eyelids pulled way down and her nostrils pushed way up. "Do you like it?"

She is such a button pusher.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Book of Revelations

Last evening we had dinner with a young Ethiopian, Mammas, who is studying for the priesthood with the Archdiocese of Boston. He was fascinated with our kids, and they were fascinated with him.

Our kids, who lost both their African parents, are always very concerned that their parents are safe in heaven. We told the girls that Mammas is a man who prays to Jesus, and they seized this opportunity to pepper Mammas with questions:
- Is there lots of food there?
- Can they sleep or do they have to work all the time?
- Is there a doctor if they're sick?
- Who makes them safe when Jesus is sleeping?
- Do they have warm clothes?

Poor Mammas. He looked at me more than once and commented "These are really tough questions!"

With the kids satisfied, we shooed them off to play and settled into adult conversation. Mammas wanted to know all about our adoption process and what we knew about our childrens lives in Africa. So we told him.

By the by we mentioned a cute little song Marin and Emmy used to sing when they washed each others backs in the bath tub. Mammas looked puzzled and asked us to say it again. Then he thought about it a long time and finally said "based on what you told me about their lives after their parents died, I'm not sure you really want to know what this song means." Now me, Mr. Curious, I absolutely must know and will threaten his life to learn it.

The song means "you are dirty you are dirty, but I don't care because you don't belong to me"

My mind flashed back to the muddy filthy alley where our girls lived, and imagined the other mothers mocking our poor orphaned kids. And our kids were too young to even know they were being mocked! They thought it was a cool little rhyme that you sing when you are cleaning up. It was so saddening. Even after 18 months home, we are still learning little pieces of the puzzle.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Chronic Lyricosis

You know how some people sing a song a get the words totally wrong? That is chronic lyricosis.

Some nights I pull up YouTube and show the kids some of the songs of my misspent youth. Tonight it was "The Clash live in Brazil - Rock the Casbah"

You remember this one. Shareeeef don't like it Rock the Casbah Rock the Casbah.

Now Marin's version. The kiiiiids don't like it rock the paper scissors rock the paper scissors.

Now Emmy's version. MaMaaaaa don't like it. rock the baby rock the baby

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Popping the question

Marin and I were chatting about our day and she pipes in with "How can I make a baby?" Not "Where do babies come from?" or "How do people make babies?" but specifically "How can I make a baby?"

I mean, for crying out loud, she just turned six years old last month! So I gathered my thoughts and we had the talk - and I told her the truth.

"Marin, these are all the things you have to do to make a baby, and they have to go in this order. No cutting the line."

First, you have to graduate from college. Nobody can make babies until college is over.

Next, you have to find a boy you love too much, and he loves you even more. He's kind to you and he respects you. You have to look a long time.

When you find that boy, then you marry him. Nobody can make babies until they are married.

Finally, you have to kiss the boy you married. That's it. If you do these four things, in that order, then you can make a baby.

Marin was on board until I got to the 'kissing the boy' part. She turned up her nose a little at that and asked why that step is necessary.

Aye aye aye. Mom is having the next talk.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Fatness is confusing to our kids, especially fat men.

One of the men at Emmy's daycare is really really overweight. One day Marin was staring at him and asked me "Daddy, that man a him or a her?" I told her it was a him. She asked "Him having a baby?" I thought what kind of question is that and told her "No." Marin insisted he was having a baby and when I kept saying "no" she got these puzzled looks on her face.

So Colleen and I were discussing that one evening and it occurred to us that Marin had never seen fat people in her village unless they were pregnant. So she did not understand how somebody could be fat and NOT pregnant. It just did not compute. Every day continues to reinforce what a fascinating place our kids came from.

Africa in America

Our kids talk about Africa a lot now. Some of it is obviously manufactured - for example - Marin insists she used to play ice hockey in Africa; but some of it is very interesting and gives some insight into what their life was like.

For example, we went apple picking last weekend. While there, we saw a tractor pull a large wagon full of black men through the orchard. I believe they were migrant workers. Their clothes were well worn and they had the look about them of people who lived a very hard life. Marin perked up and said "Daddy, look. Them brown skin people from Africa. I knowed them. I knowed all of them in Africa." And even though it's impossible she knew these particular people; it is very likely that she saw this scene every day in Africa. A wagon full of laborers being pulled by a team of donkeys or cattle through the streets of her village.

Just today, the kids and I were out in the driveway playing. Marin asked me to help her draw a hopscotch grid using driveway chalk and Emmy was riding her bike. I lost track of Emmy for a minute and then she called my name. I looked around and did not see her, but her voice was very close by. Then I looked up, and she had climbed a tree to about 15 feet off the ground. Emmy is three years old, I have never seen her climb a tree even one branch high, I am forever lecturing her about how dangerous stairs are, and she is very cautious on playground equipment. Even in the apple orchard last weekend, Emmy did not climb trees.

Now I am looking up wondering how the heck I am going to get Emmy down. I asked Marin "Where did Emmy learn to climb a tree?" and Marin said "We do that in Africa to get food. Watch, I show you." And Marin proceeded to scamper up the tree next to Emmy. Unbelievable.

Brown Skin

Emmy is finally noticing skin color in a big way, is quite fascinated by it, and raises some interesting questions.

For example, while bathing in the tub, she asked if she washed hard enough would she have white skin. When told no, she quietly pondered that for awhile. Then she asked "When I go to heaven, will I have white skin then?"

Yesterday Emmy was on the phone with Colleen. She told Colleen she was going to draw a picture of Colleen eating ice cream. Colleen thanked Emmy and told her she can't wait to see it. Then Emmy asked Colleen "Mama, you want me to draw you with white skin or brown skin?"