Broken children take time to heal — and we have a house full of damaged little people. It seems we get past one crisis with a child and another crops up with a major issue.
Molly has been our challenge since she came. She was angry and defiant because of the lies she had been told about us. As she learned to trust us she became demanding and greedy, which is a natural result of having to fend for herself for most of her life. She had no one to give her what she needed, so she learned to get things for herself by obnoxious behavior. It’s been our job to correct that, and we have seen some progress.
“You said you will fix my skirt. You not fix!” she said in an accusing tone.
I said it back to her, mimicking her tone. “That makes me feel bad,” I said. “Do you want me to feel bad?”
“No,” she said. “But I want you fix my skirt. I not have skirt tomorrow.”
“Say, ‘Grandma, I need my skirt. Will you please fix it for me now?” I said.
She copied my example and I fixed her skirt. We go through that formula at least once or twice a day. She really did not know how toThat problem, in retrospect, looks simple.
Now we have Andy. He is a wild child from the mountains. He is lively, funny, and a natural mimic, keeping us laughing all the time. Well … most of the time. Well … some of the time. He has never had supervision or learned restraint, and is accustomed to making his own decisions about what he will do and where he will go. He is bright and has done well in school in spite of playing hooky whenever the urge struck him – as it often did. He, also, has learned some bad behavior in order to take care of himself. Bad. Behavior.
With Andy we have run up against problems we have never encountered in our many years of parenting. For one thing, he uses bad words in a language we cannot understand. How do you correct a potty mouth when you don’t recognize the words? I don’t think we will learn them in our Thai class. Even if we did, it’s hopeless. He knows bad words in three languages. He can swear and insult people in Chinese, Ak’ha and Thai.
“Andy, speak Chinese good,” Joshua, our worker, said.
“Yes, but he say bad word,” Molly said. “I know Chinese a little. He say bad word about girl and boy.”
So, how did SHE know that word, and did he really say it or was she trying to get him in trouble – another bad habit of hers? As you can see, it is not easy. We do what we can to correct him by sensing his attitude and the reaction of the other kids, but it’s a tough call.
For another, he has sticky fingers. It’s understandable, because he has learned to provide his own needs in a culture which applauds that rather than otherwise. It’s a problem we have to fix, though. We can’t talk to him about it much because of the language barrier, but we have to watch him like a hawk.
He also has been used to going where he wants to go whenever he feels like it, so our routine is chafing to him. Again, we have to continually watch him so that he doesn’t take off and go to the market to spend his ill-gotten gain, or to hang out with his “friends” who admire his vocabulary and free spirit and encourage him in it.
We recently learned, to our horror, that the vendors at the market have no problem with selling tobacco to kids, and our eleven-year-old is already developing a smoking habit.
Add a quick, hot temper to these attributes, and you can see that Andy is handful.
Then we have Danny, whose problems with sulking and punching people who offend him seem almost trivial compared to Andy’s troubles. And we do have Bang, who never gives us a moment’s trouble, except when following after Andy gets him in hot water.
Are they worth the headache and heartache? Yes. Every single one of them are starved for the very thing we are giving and they are resisting. They want order and stability and, most of all, the security of being unconditionally loved. They crave affection and continually come to us for hugs and encouraging words.
And that’s how we will continue to work through their problems. We will aim for their hearts. We can’t talk to them, so we have to show them. After all, Andy, Bang, and Danny have only been with us a few weeks. We have to be patient and hang on while they are learning And we have the assurance that our sovereign God can break down the biggest barriers and tame the wildest, most rebellious heart.
Andy and Bang with new haircuts.
Meanwhile, our friends can pray for us. We need extra grace and strength for this task, which is one of the many we have before us here in Thailand. Please pray for the mending these precious, broken children need.
Blessings from Thailand,