Thursday, May 08, 2008

By Mrs. Livesay

The team has been safely deposited at the PAP airport to begin their journeys home.

At one point this week a 24 year old on the team called me "Mrs. Livesay" - that was most certainly the only low moment of our time together. ;) I know lots of people prefer their kids use those sorts of titles and teach them that is a respectful way to address someone. But my ego tells me I am not old - and therefore I cannot be called Mrs. Livesay. Ever. The funny thing is, Troy was not Mr. Livesay -- he was just Troy. What is that!?!?!?

Poor Isaac had a tough morning. I am still talking myself down because the mama bear in me rose up instantly and I wanted to take someone down - regardless of the story. I feel my heartrate increase everytime I think of it.

Isaac has been our son for five and half years. He is easily one of the most unique little boys you'll ever meet. He walks around building people up. He says things like, "I love your shirt Tess." "You look beautiful Mom." "I sure love you Jen." He is the ultimate encourager and he is sweet and very innocent ... almost to the point of seeming dopey. (He is not dopey - but some might perceive it that way.)

The last few days he has been joining the school kids to play soccer during recess. Last Saturday I stood on the porch watching him and was welling up with tears just so impressed that he was willing to go down and be the odd man out. He is a Haitian boy that speaks English and has white parents. There are plenty of reasons for the other kids to dislike him. I told Troy that I felt so nervous that they would be mean to him and I wondered if it was okay.

Today he sat waiting for the recess bell to ring so he could go out and play soccer. He ran down with the ball, full of joy and excitement. About five minutes later there was a tap at the gate. The 6th grade teacher handed Jen the soccer ball and told her Isaac was not allowed to play anymore and that he was causing trouble.

Jen and I went out to find out what was going on and Isaac was hiding in the corner of the warehouse area. About 30 school kids were standing and staring at him and seeing what was going on. There is nothing wrong with staring here - not impolite, not rude ... although, my cultural upbringing taught me otherwise. That was hard.

Seeing him hiding made me want to hurt everyone. Seriously, that little boy is the kindest boy I have ever known and someone made him feel ashamed enough to hide. I was SO mad.

I asked him to go upstairs and Jen helped me talk to the teacher. The teacher kept saying that Isaac was not listening and that he had told him no more soccer. Jen explained that Isaac does not understand Creole so he would not have known what was said. The teacher kept saying, "I told him." The teacher was not at all listening to Jen or I. We gave up and came upstairs. Isaac was crying hard by the time we got upstairs. His feelings were hurt and he said he got elbowed/pushed by the teacher and in turn fell down.

At our house ice is the cure for all that ails you so we got out the ice pack for his head and we talked about what happened. He was so sad, he said, "All the kids were laughing at me."

Thank goodness there was no one here to interpret for me because I needed a cooling down period.

I struggle to know what is best for my kids. My Haitian kids are especially on my mind lately. I want them to grow up feeling loved and valued. Sometimes I worry that Isaac will have trouble because he is so incredibly kind and gentle. Those are not necessarily highly valued things. I value it - but culture does not. I want to wrap him in bubble-wrap and never let him leave the house ... I don't want anyone to hurt or embarrass him. ever ever ever. I wonder if living here and being an outsider in his birth culture is maybe harder than being in the states might be? I want to save him from it all. I can't save him from it all.

Being an white adoptive parent of a black child stirs all sorts of things up that you never even knew existed. There are people who say white people should not adopt black kids. There are people who say more white people should adopt. Everyone has their opinions. Obviously I don't really care about any of those opinions ... I only care about helping Isaac be who he is without apology. I care about him knowing that he is incredibly unique and special to us and to God.

When Peter got back from the airport I went and asked him to help me talk to the teacher. I told him I did not want to hear the story again -- because the story was all about telling Isaac and telling Isaac in Creole is the same as saying nothing. I told him we want our kids to respect adults and that Isaac was not disrespecting him -- he was simply not understanding. I did not bring up the pushing thing because quite honestly - I don't think the truth would ever come out and it seemed like a battle not worth fighting. The fact is, while I DO NOT want anyone so much as touching the hair on Isaac's head, this culture allows teachers to discipline and I know better than to fight culture. Sometimes letting things go is just easier.

I told him that we want Isaac to have friends and the only way he will ever learn is if he can go out and hear more language spoken and play with the kids. I asked him to try to remember the language barrier and that Isaac might look older because he is tall, but he is only six. It went well, the teacher seemed to get it with Peter as my voice and we will try again at recess tomorrow.


Today as the team drove out, Matt, the same young guy that called me "Mrs. Livesay" - said to Isaac, "Now remember Isaac - Who's the man?" Isaac said, "I am the man." Matt said - "let me hear you say it louder!" Isaac said a little louder, "I am the man!" Matt said, "WHAT? I CANNOT HEAR YOU!" Isaac screamed at the top of his lungs, "IIII AAAM THE MAN!"

He is.

Thanks Matt.

Song For My Sons
by Sara Groves
this is a song for my sons for when they understand it ~ you know how life is full ~ you know we couldn't plan it ~your dad and i prayed for strength and understanding ~for things we couldn't see or comprehend ~
this is a song from my heart a small refrain to hold you ~ for times when we're apart and i cannot console you ~ i can't say your life will always go like it should ~ but i can say that god is always good ~
and when the cold wind blows like i know it will ~ and when you feel alone like i know you will ~ and when the cold wind blows like i know it will ~ don't let your love grow ~ don't let your love grow ~ don't let your love grow cold ~ this is a song for my sons ~ for when they understand it ~ you know how life is full, you know we couldn't plan it ~ your dad and i pray for your strength and understanding ~ the things you can not see or comprehend