Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Choices - Vast and Unending

Most of our children have lived the majority of their lives in Haiti. This means that they have very limited exposure to shopping, kids' clubs, youth groups, sports teams, choices, and American culture in general. Lydie and Phoebe have no memory of ever entering a Target or Wal-Mart. The two of them have spent only a few weeks of their lives outside of Haiti.

Isaac, Hope, and Noah are freaks inside of these stores. Freaks I tell you. We are making every attempt not to enter those centers of copious amounts of crap with them in tow. Isaac and Noah especially are especially ridiculous. The fact is, these places cause us anxiety, and we're 30-something adults that lived all of our lives with so much to choose from.

The yogurt section alone in a big grocery store is the size of the entire dairy section in the biggest grocery store in Haiti. (Which, incidentally is no longer standing). :( Today Troy said, "The kids like yogurt, let's get some." I thought it was a good idea until I rounded the corner to see that (above). Then I said, "Nope, the kids don't really like yogurt." And we left without any. I am learning that I prefer two choices. Not thirty-four billion. I watched Troy choose cheese today. I peeked from around the corner. It took him 90 seconds to choose a bag of shredded cheese.

Now that we're going out and about into the big world - we are realizing how much easier staying put is and how much Jeronne really helps us. What I am trying to say is: We don't think we are capable of this.

When we go places Troy tries not to create a scene - or so he thinks. Taking our family anywhere draws looks ... so many kids and of multiple skin-tones always draws attention. If by some odd stroke of luck it goes pretty well when we're all out and about, Lydie does her best to fix that. She'll scream in Kreyol or demand things unceasingly. I like when we park and Troy unloads the kids while saying, "Okay now kids, we're going to walk in quietly and we're going to stay calm and mellow." Before the sentence has spilled from Troy's lips, Noah is sprinting across the parking lot yelling and I am laughing at Troy and his overinflated and unrealistic sense of control. Just minutes later Noah opens an emergency exit to prove my point.

Last night the lifeguards at the Baylor pool told us "most parents don't watch their kids" and that we were "exceptional." I was not sure if we should be flattered and pat ourselves on the back or admit to the lifeguard guy that if we don't watch them, there is a really good chance Lydia will strip down to her birthday suit and take a dump in their pool, or Noah will figure out how to pull the plug and drain their pool altogether. (Although, if Lydie had pooped that might be a good thing.)

Our lives in Haiti are very centered on home and family. Most every night we're home. If we go out of our gate, it would be to eat with John and Beth. At home we eat the same four or five menus all the time. The variety is little but no one feels they are lacking a thing. We go out as a large group only on Sunday for church. There are no swimming lessons or soccer practices to juggle. No Target runs, and no McDonalds. We hang out and make our own fun. Nobody charges us for it. There are not constantly pressures to run from thing to thing. The lack of television means my kids are not begging for toys and all the things advertising convinces us we need. It is beautiful and it is one more thing I love about living in Haiti.

The other night we took our kids to a local establishment for dessert. They were wildly begging and had not left the house that day and just They knew what they wanted, it seems their older sister introduced them to this crack-for-kiddies before we arrived.

That establishment is case-in-point for all that is wrong with consumers today. We get fooled into believing we need so many choices -- and simply just that we NEED at all. On that night, the Livesay kids thought they NEEDED dessert.

Here is what the consumer experience looked like:
  • You walk in to a peach and teal painted shack, meant to replicate a beach-side stand.
(Note: you're still in the center of a giant state with no beach anywhere to be found. And it is still 45 degrees outside.)
  • You ask the teenage girl chewing her gum with purpose and ignoring you to take your order.
  • She acts like you've inconvenienced her but gets up anyway.
  • You then must help six children choose from not one not three not five flavor choices
... No ...
  • You must help them choose from 7,000 flavors. Grape or Guerilla Grape, Super Strawberry or Strawberry Shortcake or Strawberry Cheesecake or Sour Lemon, Lemon-Lime, Lemon Twist, Lemony Lemon ... and on and on it goes.
  • Once you've done that you happily turn over close to $3.00 for 8 ounces of shaved ice with a squirt of colored sugar water on it.
  • You leave thinking you've done something really great for your kids.
  • In reality, you've just given the beach-side shack in the commercial district of Waco, TX about $20 for colorful frozen water.
Oh Choices. You slay me.

Counseling is going well. We learned that each of us experienced the earthquake and everything after it in totally different ways. What bothers me greatly does not bother Troy. The three of us doing EMDR are still finding it incredibly bizarre -- but also incredibly effective. We can only say that as weird as it is, it works. We've always been open to counseling. I totally don't get being embarrassed by going to talk to a counselor.

Troy and I have gone to counseling on and off for years and have only had really great outcomes. Once, early in our marriage, we got really stuck in a fight about having kids vs. not having kids. We were arguing about having one more. We had the girls. (Troy's awesome package deal he got when he landed me.) I was happy and thinking we did not need more children. Troy wanted at least one. So off to counseling we went after a few weeks of disagreeing and getting stuck in a cycle without reaching a conclusion. It helped to talk through our fears and get to the root issue.
So, our compromise was to add five children ... see - see how counseling helps you make really awesome decisions like that. :) (We still don't really know how that happened.)

A good counselor can be hugely effective. Our past (and current) counselors have spoken truth into our lives and have been a huge blessing. Not getting help when you need it and ignoring problems is far more curious to me than counseling is.

Counseling has me thinking about bigger things too. I am trying to determine what it is that makes me feel a strong pull to Haiti? What it is that causes me to wish we could all go back tomorrow. Often times we do things for selfish reasons and certainly I am no different. Haiti must provide a pay-off for me or I would not feel so pulled to get home. So far I think it is just that leaving Haiti intensified the grief. Being there was so much easier. We figured out how to live there and overall this seems harder. (Yet easier in other ways.) Those who have asked how Troy is doing, he feels the same as me, is also grieving, only with 56% of the intensity. ( 2% margin of error). He's a guy. He's not going to blabber on and on about his feelings. Sorry.

I'm also realizing that one of the biggest things to grieve is the loss of what was Haiti. Of course there are those that say that Haiti now has a chance to rebuild, and use this as a way to make things better. That will be amazing when it happens, but I still cannot help but feel grief. I am a little bit stuck in the bargaining stage and find myself constantly asking God for January 11th. That normal is not coming back. Everything has changed. It makes me profoundly sad. Those people buried in mass graves don't get to be remembered and honored in the way they deserved. Their suffering could have lasted days and we'll never know those stories. That makes me sad too. The things that the survivors saw and had to do is crushing and I don't know how they will recover from those horrific sights and sounds and experiences. There are not enough EMDR therapists in the world. That makes me sad.

I am anxious to be further down the road and looking back at this time ... I want to see and feel more of the good and more of the future. I want the Haitian people to experience miraculous and unexplainable healing and peace. I want them to have a future and a hope. That is what we're praying. Lord hear our prayers.