Shortly thereafter, we met a family that had two daughters. The older daughter was biological, their younger daughter had been adopted from China. This family has done a lot of charitable work in the community and it clearly showed in their children. The girls were gentle and compassionate, and although they were a few years older than our children, they were extremely kind with our "little" kids.
At one point, I overheard one of our children ask the girls how they knew each other. And when I heard them simultaneously respond, "We're sisters!" I could see the wheels start spinning in my children's heads.
Now, I should interject here that we know a lot of people (more than 12) that have added to their families through adoption and our children really seem(ed) to understand the concept. But following this exchange, I was a bit worried because six-year-olds have just the right combination of overwhelming curiosity, excellent verbal skills and immature social graces.
And, they tend to be verrry unpredictable.
A year or so ago, when we were in the grocery store and one of the kids pointed at the man who was obviously not pregnant and inquired, "Do you have a baby in your tummy?" I could divert the question by cheerfully saying, "That's right, love! We have a BABY at HOME who likes to sleep on their TUMMY!" or any number of combinations wherein I could use the words "baby" and "tummy" in some totally irrelevant, but hopefully, distracting context. Then, I'd pass the kids a pack of raisins and all their attention would be laser-beam focused on opening the box.
These days, when I try to divert an awkward question, our children will revisit the topic despite my desperate prayers, eyes bugging out of my head, lip puckering and imaginary throat cutting gestures that I'll make with my hand.
If I try to do some fancy diversion tactic in this day and age, the kids (particularly the girls) will shoot me an exasperated look (roll eyes, lip sneer) and say, "No, Mom. I didn't say that WE have a BABY at HOME. I'm asking if THAT PERSON HAS A BABY IN THEIR TUMMY!"
I didn't think that my children's smack talking would start until they were 12. And it really doesn't seem fair since they've only been potty trained for what? Three years?? How and why did they get so
fresh wise, so fast?
Is this the influence of public school?!
So that's usually when I'll just look at my child with a confused expression and jokingly say, "Oh Dear. Why are you calling me Mommy? Do I look like your Mommy? You poor thing. You must be lost..."
Sure enough, my children were not placated with the response that these two girls were sisters. So one of my daughters fired the follow-up question, "How can you possibly be SISTERS? You two don't MATCH!"
(I saw that one coming.)
(I really did.)
The older daughter very sweetly responded, "We adopted my sister from a country called China. That's why she and I don't look alike!" I could see the wheels shift in to overdrive and seconds later, my daughter asked the follow-up question, "So, does it make you sad that your mother and father didn't love you and gave you away?"
I DID NOT SEE THAT ONE COMING.
For a brief moment, I thought that maybe I was asleep, having a nightmare because our kids know better than to ask a question like that. Right??
Then I realized, nope. I'm awake and my six-and-a-half-year-old just asked the most insensitive question to a sweet 12-year old girl. When feelings aren't being hurt, I try not to meddle and let the kids sort things out, themselves. But my heart dropped to my feet as I heard the adopted girl quietly say, "No, I don't think that's it at all..."
Unaware that I had been eavesdropping, my girls were surprised when I swooped out of nowhere and said, "Actually, her mother and father love her so much that they made a very difficult decision to give her to a family that will hopefully, give her a better life. It's the hardest thing in the world to give your sweet baby up for adoption, but her parents must have known that their baby needed more than they could provide." Then I added, "Just think about how lucky she is to have two families that love and care for her so greatly!"
The adopted girl smiled brightly.
Our children smiled brightly.
My heart smiled brightly.
Everything was good.
Fast forward to last night when the girls were in the process of cleaning their rooms. I should probably note that our definition of "cleaning" is inconsistent. In my vocabulary, it means picking things up and putting them away where they belong. In my children's vocabulary, it means standing on top of all the things that you need to put away while making funny faces in the mirror and acting like a monkey.
I'm telling the children that anything remaining on the floor will be bagged up and carted off to Goodwill ... and as one of my girls says, "Yes Miss Hannigan!" the other one rolls her eyes and says, "If you really loved us, you'd give us to a family that wouldn't make us clean our rooms."
Oh, they are SO cute.
I could just pinch them.
But I fight the urge and instead, embrace them both in a tight hug and say, "No way! It's because I love you with all my heart, that I'm teaching you the important responsibility of picking up after yourselves and contributing to our family household. Now don't forget to put away the zoo of stuffed animals you've stockpiled under your bed because next, you need to grab a broom and sweep the kitchen."
As they scowled at me, I gave them a wink and said, "Cheer up, sisters. The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow. MAYBE."
Sadly, they don't think I'm nearly as funny as I think I am.