Letting Go.

Now that Baby Boy is good and attached and can go without me for short periods of time, I decided he would be okay to head to Kid Care at the gym while I work out a few days a week.

The first day I left the kids for just fifteen minutes, being nervous with his allergies, attachment, etc. But when I walked back into the room he and Yaya were giggling and playing with the other kids and having a great time.

So the next time, Joel and I went together and decided to leave them for a half an hour while we worked out. I peeked through the window a few times, and saw Yaya always at her brother’s side. It put my mind at ease to see him always at his protective Big Sister’s side, and I felt even more at ease about the whole thing.

When we packed the kids up and headed home, Yaya was upset. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me that one of the boys was being mean to her brother. I asked her what happened, and she said the boy said that her brother’s hair was gross and weird and that his head was shaped like a jelly bean, and proceeded to call him “jelly bean head”. I was trying to process this and suppress my rage when Yaya said:

Don’t worry, Mom. I stood up to him. I told him he shouldn’t say mean things like that to Benjamin ‘cuz he used to be an orphan.

Joel and I looked at each other and tried our best not to laugh at her response to this little boy. We told her how proud we were of her for standing up for her brother. While they weren’t the words I would have given her to use on such an occasion, I realized that I hadn’t exactly prepared her or equipped her with appropriate words or even so much as warned her that this might happen since Baby Boy has different hair and skin or a flat spot on his head. Yaya and her brother are typically always with me, and the playgroups we have during the week are with other adoptive families whose children would never say such cruel things to her brother. It honestly didn’t even occur to me that at this age, my toddler would be encountering such mean comments about being different during the thirty minutes that I was in the next room over.

My first reaction was to refuse to send my kids to kid care anymore. Clearly I had made a mistake. Clearly it was too early to leave them and I had failed hugely by not equipping Yaya to handle such an encounter.

But then I realized…I didn’t need to get involved or stomp off in a huff or retreat back into the confines of our house, never to set foot at the gym again. Yaya had handled it. She had enough compassion in her heart for her brother along with Big Sisterly strength and 4-year-old wisdom to speak up for him.

When I think of Yaya starting school next year, I can barely breathe. Not just because I know I’m going to miss her so much, but because she has such sweet innocence and compassion for others, and I hate the thought of kids teasing her or corrupting her sweet spirit. And I’m sure I’ll feel the same way when Baby Boy is on the brink of kindergarten, too (though with the way that kid puts on weight, I’m pretty sure no one will dare say a mean word to him).

But I can’t always protect my kids from everything they will encounter. God is with them when I cannot be, whether it’s at Kid Care at the gym, the playground at school or a hospital in a third world country. He protects them and strengthens them. I will do what I can in setting the foundation at home and praying for them when they are at home and away, but I can’t constantly keep them by my side, or I’m preventing them from the growth that will come to them as they encounter real world situations — both the blessings and the difficulties that will shape them into the people God wants them to be.

(But mark my words, if someone ever makes fun of MY son’s beautiful curls in front of me, my response will be much different — and not so kind — as his sister’s!) – See more at: http://www.africatoamerica.org/blog.html#sthash.fGc8uvGk.dpuf

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