Winter has come to Yakima. The leaves have finished changing sunlight into food and are now transitioning into fertilizer. Scrapping frost off of the car windows has added some light cardio to my morning routine.
A couple weeks ago, I helped six families finalize their adoptions at the Juvenile Center in Yakima. The court room was packed. People were laughing, crying, and hugging as each case was presented and approved by the judge. I’ve never asked a judge to approve a decree while my clients are eating cake. All courts should feature light refreshments.
As I write this, I’m sitting in my in-laws living room, sweaty and bruised after serving as the karate practice dummy for my three nephews, all at once. The younger ones are ages 2 and 5. They throw punches into my legs and giggle when I tickle them. The oldest, almost 9, is a future karate master in the making. He likes to grab my upper body and then kick at my knees. It’s imperative that I know where all of his limbs are at all times – because I enjoy being able to walk.
Salish is here, too. He doesn’t understand why he can’t get in on the martial arts action. He doesn’t have fists but he has a mouth, teeth, and a positive attitude. He seems confused when I scold him for grabbing on to someone’s pajamas and pulling them around the room while they scream. Why don’t I understand that this is the Best. Thing. Ever?
It’s about this time that I realize it’s my fault. It usually is. Salish is chewing on blankets, running around the house, and turning children into chew toys because I haven’t spent enough time with him. He has needs, too. He just doesn’t know how to tell me that he needs to run in the leaves or chase an imaginary bunny across the field. After Lindsay and I take him for a walk he settles down and naps in his bed.
Time is value. I have a good relationship with my nephews because I spend time with them. When Lindsay and Salish interrupt my leisure time to bite me and pee on the carpet, it’s usually because I neglected them.
Part of what makes the adoptions so special is that, at the core, it’s about people showing kids they want to spend their time on them. It’s a powerful gesture. The experience reminds me to evaluate what I spend my time on. A little reflection and an effort to reallocate my attention goes a long way.
I’ll start by asking Lindsay about her day and taking Salish for a walk.