Today, Cooper was playing play-doh at the kitchen table while I was washing dishes. He was chatting away to me as he did. He told me he was going to make a face with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.
“I make him sad face.”
Something in me knew exactly where this was going, so I dried my hands and sat down at the table.
“Why is he sad?” I asked.
“He sad ‘cuz mama went to grocery store and he not find her. His mama all lost.”
Ok, think fast. Pray quick. What to say?
“Oh, and that makes him feel sad?”
“Yeah, that is sad.”
He continued to play play-doh and I continued to say a few things….honestly, I can’t even remember what now because I was on auto-pilot. In the end, the shape of the plate he was using to make the face sort of “forced” the face into a smile. I didn’t notice this and neither did he till it was done.
“Oh, he happy face.”
“Oh, yeah. He does have a happy face. Why do you think he is happy?”
“He happy ‘cuz his mama find him.”
This is the face of 4 year old grief….and we’re starting to see it and hear it now more and more. It’s a good sign (he trusts us) and, yet, it’s so hard to watch.
It doesn’t wait for you to have “all the right answers”. It humbles you pretty quick.
To be totally honest, I felt like I blew it today (although, while I can’t really remember what I said, I do remember that he never elaborated much on his story no matter what questions I asked). I’m not beating myself up though, because I know this is the tip of a deep, huge iceburg, and I’ll have many more opportunities to respond “better”. But, I did sympathize, let him talk, and tried not to put words in his mouth. I figure that’s a good start.
We’re all new to this- all of us- and I’m sure we’ll figure out our way.
Any advice on how to handle stuff like this when it comes up from those of you who have been there, done that?
Jenna is a teacher, turned stay-at-home mom, turned Children’s Ministry Director who is passionate about children. After hearing God’s call to care for orphans 4 years ago, she has become increasingly passionate about adoption and orphan care. She and her high school sweetheart, Scot, have been married for 13 years and recently brought home their son Cooper who is 3 years old and seriously adorable (go see for yourself!). They are excited to see what God will do in the next chapter of the story He is writing with their family. Jenna and Scot feel strongly about sharing their story so that they might be of encouragement to others in various stages of the adoption process. You can follow along with them on their trip and afterwards at Our Many Colored Days.