It Always Gets Worse…Much Worse…Before It Gets Better

Okay, we’re two weeks in and I feel I should give another update… you know...with all this spare time. So I was going to recap the last week. Tell you about the boys' sing-song chanting: "Oh, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” While Keith is terrified…of that or the fact that they have the soundtrack memorized, Avery loves it! And, oh, the sibling rivalry that no meal is without. If it’s not a footsie fight under the table, they are scooting plates to infringe on another’s allotted space on top of the table. I want to tell you about the sweet yet destructive bonding that has already taken place between Avery and Ivan. They accompany each other to the bathroom and several times have nearly flooded the one downstairs. And their first trip to the pool! Within 3 minutes they went from being terrified to jumping in (with water wings of course). Even Ivan, whom I was most afraid for, took the next step: performing front flips into the water. Remember their first bath in Ethiopia? It was water-park-level excitement! I can’t imagine what they thought of the pool upon first glance.

Instead, I have to tell you about one single day: Today. Memorial Day 2011. This will likely be a day I never forget but would very much like to. I thought nothing would beat Thursday. Graduation day at my school. I used to be super on top of things and would get ready for the day before getting Avery up at 7:15. But with the boys getting up at 6:00 in the orphanage, I moved wake up to a reasonable 7:00. Thursday I had planned accordingly to be not just ready for work but professional enough to hand out diplomas to graduates on stage. Getting everyone on board has been tough: Garris isn't quite following the change in his routine. Who can blame him? He is my son. After waking up at 6:00, he immediately dropped down to Ivan's bed to wake him for their early morning trip to the bathroom. The problem is that they do not return to bed! How dare them! So my combat with children began at 6:15, clothed in only a towel. I was sweating within 15 minutes. I cried out to Keith for help even though I knew he was at the gym. Would have beat the floor in my pleas to God, which I admit to having done with Avery, if I'd had the time to drop down and get back up before a child escaped. I had no choice at 7:00 but to let them get up and get dressed. So lights on for all 3. Well, the boys are speedy quick with every move they make, which put them dressed and ready to go down for breakfast about the time Avery rolled out of bed. I had to find some way to keep the boys upstairs while Avery got dressed, and, oh, while I finished getting ready. The boys were content for 45 seconds before Avery began screaming about her “scratchy” outfit, and my battle with her began. At that point I didn't care what she wore as long as I didn't see It or Them. The four of us waged war until 8:05 when we loaded the van.

I wish I had the time to tell you more about last Thursday morning. I honestly thought I may have seen the worst. We've all complained about a day from hell. Today was straight from the deepest, darkest pit.

At 5:45 Garris woke Ivan up, well tried to wake him with persistent nudging and shaking. I quickly intervened by instructing Garris to use the bathroom, alone for once. After helping him back to bed and ignorantly thinking he would go to sleep, I had to go back in at least a dozen times trying to get him to stop making loud noises with books before finally taking the books from his bed. Although it’s against my soul to withhold literature as punishment, within 5 minutes I had removed 2 shelves of books…and some shoes…because now neither would stay in bed! Garris began asking for time out, i.e. playing with the fan and night light, so I granted his request. Now, while Ivan sits quietly for the most part in T.O., Garris has to be held there, which is a workout. I won’t bore you with all the details of the hour, but at 6:45 when Keith left for the airport (heading to Illinois to pick up a vehicle), I wore earplugs because Garris was wailing and kicking anything near him, and at 7:40 I removed the earplugs as he calmly joined us for breakfast ready for the day. And I was pooped. At 7:40!

One of our best friends Andy, who also lives in our neighborhood, had offered to help me with the kids at the pool. There’s no way I alone can keep all 3 from drowning, even with water wings, mini surf boards, a life jacket and star floatie. All I had to do in the hour and a half between breakfast and pool time was entertain them, keep them safe, and get out pool attire. I failed. But not too badly. After about 6 warnings of T.O. for various behavior not too atypical for boys, Garris and I suffered through another T.O. because he tripped Avery, causing her to hit her head on the table. I was more worried about having to hold him in T.O. again than whether or not Avery’s head was okay.

Swimming was uneventful, a huge relief to me.

Before we exited the gate, I repeatedly reminded the kids something of which they are fully aware: they must walk with me to the van. If not, it’s T.O. Garris took off laughing hysterically and Ivan soon followed. I am learning to choose my battles, and this one is worth it. For safety. After using the same tactics I did with Avery when she pulled a trick like that, the boys eventually rejoined us to safely cross to the van together.

After the boys were released from their well-deserved T.O. (during which the decibel of Garris’ screaming was so high that Avery had her ears covered and I couldn’t even hear the timer), Garris was still wailing and kicking the wall, I was exhausted and dripping with sweat, and Avery and Ivan sat quietly at the table waiting on lunch to be served. For the next 10 minutes, I removed Garris from the floor near the kids’ table at least 100 times because he only wanted to kick or shove it into the other 2. During this time, I was also unsuccessfully trying to get lunch out for everyone. I was shaking when I realized I needed back up. Fast. Everyone I knew was out of town for the holiday except for Andy, who quickly came and served lunch while I dealt with the relentless disobedience. We all cheered for Garris when he joined us for the last 5 minutes of lunch.

My heart rate returned to normal while I sat with the kids during their nap, a success thanks to the pool time.

Included in our daily routine is one snack, which occurs after naps. And the battle ensued. So far when Garris hasn’t gotten his way, I have seen no limit to how far he will go physically. Don’t be scared of him…no one’s been hurt too terribly. But I am getting worn out containing him or removing him from a situation. I had no idea what he wanted, but the snack I provided was definitely not it. Shocker. For the next half hour, I physically restrained him from attacking a sibling or appliance. I had called Keith in a panic as I chased Garris around the block, so he called our next-door neighbor for back up. When I returned with the now compliant runaway, I found Avery and Ivan who had stayed inside and literally cleaned up the snack time mess for me. Those two are not always helpful. They just tag team me.

Dinner went over fairly well, and I found out what Garris had wanted at snack time: croutons, that had been sitting out to go with dinner’s side salad. As if I had intentionally teased him with those delicious carbs. Sheesh!

One final task of the day, one I had never done alone: bathe all 3 kids and put them to bed. Plus, I needed a shower. Desperately needed one, despite my use of deodorant. I asked the boys to stay in the playroom, which they of course did not obey, while Avery and I took a bath. Okay, I know that’s weird, but she begged me and has already felt left out because she can’t take a bath with the boys. So, I regretfully caved. Regretful because of our vastly differing preferences in water temperature. After a not-so-thorough bath and hair washing for the gals, I sent Avery to get PJs while I helped the boys with their bath.

I have to admit that I was 15 minutes late getting everyone in bed. Gasp! But the worst part of the evening was when the boys asked for Keith when we prayed after a story and song. They call him Daddy to his face but often refer to him as Father in their cute little accents. Hearing that would normally melt me, but not after the day I had. Nope. Not after today.


  1. Oh Jessica...this sounds like a horror movie. I hope it will help to tell you that I used to have to hold John in the corner because I had spanked him all I thought I should spank him in one day. He would fight and kick while I held him there. Now he is one of the most tender, loving people I know. He is sensitive to others needs and very, very considerate...so there is hope. Don't give up the fight. Keep showing up for work every day.

  2. I really enjoy reading your post sure makes my day, laughter is the best medicine love Aunt Diane