Multiplying — Not Adding
“Grandma, you hangry,” Molly said in an accusatory tone. She was right. It had been a frustrating day and I had lost my temper.
When a new child comes into your family, you don’t just add one to your number. You multiply. There is not only your new relationship with the child, but also the relationship each person in the family has with that child. In our case, it was six new relationships. And we are off to a somewhat rocky start.
“Andy bad. I not like,” Molly announced. Upon investigation, I learned that he called her a water buffalo. I did my best to explain to her about forgiving and being patient, but her English and my Thai were not sufficient for such deep thoughts, and Lek, our translator, was gone for the day. She retaliated by spending the rest of the day trying to get him into trouble. Which wasn’t hard.
Andy is 11 and what we euphemistically call “all boy,” which means he is always doing something and it is usually something he ought not to do. Since he speaks no English at all and our translator had gone with Paul to try to get ID’s for the kids, it was an uphill battle for me to keep track of him. Molly, however, kept me informed of every infraction.
“Andy, he jump on bed.” “Andy, he take book Preston.” (We are working on possessive pronouns, but aren’t there yet.) “Andy, he,” pause to find word, “he do this to Bang.” (Demonstrates a kickbox to my face which does not relieve my tension level.)
But the worst was to come. We live on a fairly quiet side street in an extremely busy neighborhood. Traffic is horrendous and no one watches for pedestrians. If you get run over, it means that you should have been watching better, and, anyway, you probably did something bad in a former life and are paying for it now. Paul has already had one bicycle wreck when a motorcycle ran into him and flipped him over his handlebars. He came out with minimal injuries, but we are aware of the dangers of navigating the streets. Besides, we have an enemy who might snatch one of the kids to make trouble for us. Not to mention that we live in one of the pedophile capitals of the world. Perverts travel here from across the globe to “buy” children.
So we made sure Andy and Bang (who is here for the week) knew not to go off our street. But they did. Molly quickly told me about their defection and I spent a panicky hour looking for them until they came back home. They finally rode in on the bicycles, loaded down with candy and pop. It seems Andy’s mother had left him with money to spend and it burned a hole in his pocket. Did he understand he wasn’t to leave? Did I say “7-Eleven” specifically? Maybe he thought he was only to avoid the busy street that 7-Eleven is on. I had no way to know if this was a misunderstanding or deliberate disobedience that must be nipped in the bud. Frustrating!
“Andy, he bad. He not bicycle one week,” Molly said smugly. And I lost my temper.
“You have a bad heart,” I told her in Thai. “You are to love, not to get people in trouble. Don’t tell me anything else that Andy does. And pick up the mess you made in the living room.”
I banged into my room, locked the door, and sank into gloom. I felt like a miserable failure. The kids were acting as kids do. It’s inevitable that they try our limits and not surprising that Molly is reluctant to share her spot as the youngest. (Especially with someone who called her a water buffalo.) It’s not their fault that I can’t talk to them and that I am no longer young with reserves of energy and patience. I am all they have, so I must do better. They have seen enough anger and heard enough yelling in their young lives. It’s up to us to show them something better.
I emerged from my lair in a chastened mood to find the kids companiably watching a movie on our tiny portable dvd player. I couldn’t tell what the movie was about since it was in Thai and I did not know where they got it, but felt unequal to investigating at the moment.
“I’m sorry,” I told Molly. “I should not have yelled at you.”
“You hangry,” she said.
“Yes, I was angry, and that was wrong. I will try to do better. And you must try to be kind to Andy, not try to make me angry with him.”
“I pick up mess,” she said. And she gave me a forgiving hug.
And Andy? That had to wait until we had a translator. The best I could do was give him a smile and a hug. It seemed to be enough. He gave me a surprisingly sweet smile in reply.
Another boy is coming any time, and we have the possibility of getting two more girls and another boy (a sibling group) if we can figure out the logistics of housing everybody. Prayers appreciated as we figure out how to blend our growing family peaceably. We also need a new place out of the city so the kids won’t be so cooped up.
And we need to figure out a better schooling option. It looks now as if we must temporarily enroll Andy in school with Molly after their break is over. He is also far behind his age level. He is 11 and in third grade. This is not a good situation, and we are not happy with the Buddhist teaching and several other aspects of this school. Please pray that we can figure out a legal homeschooling option. If we can figure out something workable and reproducible, we can help, not just our kids, but the many tribal kids who start too late to ever be on grade level.
And please pray for me – that I will be patient and loving, and not “hangry!”
ps. The movie turned out to be William’s — and we discovered that Molly sneaked into the boys’ room (which is off-limits to her) and borrowed it without his permission. Ah, the joys of parenting! Did I mention that I needed prayers?