Blynken and Nod

The boys moved down south right around the time we moved to the Philippines.  We moved because they seemed less than interested in spending time with us anymore.  Then some stuff came up in their lives and they started asking our kids when we were coming back and what we were doing and one of them sent a beautiful tribute to my husband that he had written for an English class.  At first I felt awful- some of the things they deal with are so hard and I felt bad we were not readily available to them.  Then I realized that maybe the fact that we had moved away made them feel the lack and *that* is why they suddenly started asking about us again.   Sort of absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Also, I learned that they thought we were adopting the Ukrainian boys and they were jealous and angry about it.  I knew they were jealous of the Ukrainian orphans. I did not realize they thought we’d adopted them.

So… now we are back in the U.S. briefly.  Have I shared this new thing?  Our original intention was to return to the Philippines for a paying job at a secular school in about a year from now.  Instead, we are going to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia this January for another missionary position for which we are working on raising support and we will be working with a group starting an English language missionary school there, and, we hope, doing some sort of work with stateless children in the area, most of whom are from the Philippines, and we are hoping we can help at least some of those kids in some small way, whatever opportunities the Lord provides.   We’ve committed to two years, and we’ll be coming home for Christmas and summer breaks this time.

Meanwhile, about the erstwhile LIttle Boys, who are little no more.  They asked us if we could come pick them up and bring them back to stay with us for about half the summer.  Of course, we said yes, and why not the whole summer?  Well, because the 15 year old has a girlfriend (can you believe FIFTEEN?!) and the 12 year old would miss his mama.

So that was what we were doing the last few weeks, because adolescent males are time consuming- mostly in a good way.  But I could not sit down and focus on any writing projects at the laptop for love nor money during the day, and by evening I was exhausted, mostly in a good way.  They wanted to talk. They had questions.  They wanted me to play a game or watch a movie or take them to their friend’s house, or they didn’t want any of those things and seemed to be occupying themselves just fine but if I sat down and got involved in something, magically there was a need for my attention.  Even if they were out in the woods on the golf cart, somehow, there was a shift in the universe if I sat down to concentrate on a writing project and there would be an accident, an argument, a new idea, or a sudden deep and physical hunger that had to be addressed immediately.

I won’t go into all the details of their visit.  I won at MadGab and was magnanimously permitted to win at Chess and lost ignominiously at Apples to Apples.  I made deviled eggs, chicken, cheese tortillas, baked beans, brownies and peach cobbler- and ramen and frozen pizza.  I paid them to dust bookshelves and books.  I watched Godzilla because the 15 year old said he’d rather watch it with me than his friends because going to the movies was for a date or family time and I was family time.  I would never in a million years have chosen to watch Godzilla but it wasn’t bad- we had the theater entirely to ourselves so we could talk at will.

It wasn’t all awesome and love and rainbows, of course, and the 12 year old got so mad at us for letting his brother have his own room and a few other things that he had his mom come get him and take him home early and it was a mix of sadness and relief.   I think there were things we could have done better and differently ourselves that would have improved the situation.  But there was nothing we could do about the cell phone in his hands 24 and 7 and the constant calling home to complain to mama about whatever decision we made that he didn’t like, and the constant fighting with his brother was frustrating his brother, too, so the 15 year old enjoyed the break.

Meanwhile, better things….

When they arrived there was a good hour of running around the house going, “remember this,  remember that, remember that time when…”

The 15 y.o. told us if anything ever happened to his mom he was coming to live with us.

They remembered where we measured their growth year by year on an upstairs wall, and wanted to be measured again.

More than once he said that we practically raised him.

More than once he came and sat on our bed to chat with us until after midnight.

They asked to come back for Christmas.

When we told them our later plans, the 15 year old started to shake.  He’s still not super happy about it, but we will be home for summers and Christmas so they can come back and visit us again and we have assured them of that.

I have shared this one little instance with a lot of people.  I guess it’s kind of a humble brag but it just warmed my heart so very much and it is a little episode I think I will cherish forever.

My husband is tutoring for four different Chinese families.  The dads like to fish and sometimes they give him one or two of the fish they’ve caught that day- great big things, usually.  My husband brought them home and grilled them and the boys loved it.  Once it was three smaller, bonier fish and the boys did not know what to do about the bones.  I boned a lot of grilled fish in the Philippines, so I took the 12 year old’s plate and started boning it for him.  The 15 year old looked at me soulfully and held out his plate of fish so I took his to debone as well.  It was kind of fiddly work with a fork and a knife, and I commented, “If we were in the Philippines, I’d just do this with my fingers.  That’s what moms do for their kids there.”  The 15 year old said, “Titi, you have been using your hands to feed me nearly my whole life. Probably half of my meals have come from you.  You can use your fingers.” So I did, and it was a warm and tender moment, sacred, almost.

At least to me.

And then I missed a bone and he choked.  Somehow, life is always like that.


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