This is us

We aspire to be a normal family.

We have 4 adopted children very close together in age. About 3 ½ years from the oldest to the youngest. When the oldest was five, I scribbled down what the last 24 hours had looked like…. Ready?!

It started last night. I was still awake gone midnight fighting with technology to print out pictures of the stupid pre-school bear who had visited for the weekend. I am struck that the bear has a better life than me.

The following morning, Son 1 was delivered to school. On the journey to pre-school with Sons 2 & 3, the council bin lorry drove past.

Son 2, pointing at rubbish bags: “Look at all that sin in there Mummy. That is bad news!”

I was amused at this apt insight into life and said sarcastically, “Yes, truckloads of sin being driven right down our street.”

Suddenly realising that this humour was not helpful to son 2 & 3,“No, that is just rubbish. Like sin, it is messy and not nice.”

Son 2: “Are they taking that sin to Jesus?” “No they are taking that rubbish to the dump. But you are right, only Jesus can sort out actual sin.”

After picking up the crew, collapsing the buggy and clipping 4 car seats I am driving to town on a feet measuring expedition. We have to go to town as Son 1 has mild cerebral palsy and needs certain shoes. We stopped at the lights outside the Greek Orthodox Church building

Son 3: “Is that Granny’s church?”

“No, that is a different kind of church. It’s big like Granny’s church.”

Son 3: “How does Jesus get in that church; there’s no back door?”

Deciding to ignore the ‘back door’ thing “Jesus doesn’t come into church like that now. Where is Jesus now?”

Son 1: “Jesus is in heaven, and in our hearts.”

Son 2: “How is Jesus in our hearts?”

“Well God is a special team, like mummy and daddy are a team because we are married. God is an even bigger and better team, there is God the Father, who made everything, there is Jesus the Son, who came to earth and did amazing things, and God the Holy Spirit who lives in us to help us love Jesus.”

Son 2: “Does God have a kit if He’s a team?”

Son 3: “What will those people do in a fire if there’s no back door?”

Feeling pleased with my on the hoof explanation of the Trinity, whilst driving through rush hour city traffic, I decide not to get drawn into a discussion about team kits, or fire exits and mutter something along the lines of, “Let’s ask Daddy.”

Back at home, we were eating leftover Easter chocolate for pudding. Delicious. Not nutritious. Easy to prepare.

Son 2: “I love the Easter bunny! Who do you think loves Jesus more, Mummy or Daddy?”

Son 1: “I know someone who loves Jesus even more. God!” Son 2: “But do you know who loves Jesus the most? It’s not Mummy or Daddy, it’s me and I love him like this,” stretching his arms as wide as they can go.

So many thoughts fight for attention in my mind:

• Is it alright to have a loving-Jesus competition?

• I do not want to discourage the loving-Jesus concept.

• It is probably not the right time to tackle the sin of pride.

• Since when did 3 year olds notice fire exits?

I settled for, “Great. Thank you” Attempting to change the subject, “Son 1, it is your doctor’s appointment tomorrow afternoon, so I will pick you up early from school after lunch.” Saying this to remind self rather than telling Son 1.

Son 1: “Why do I need to go to the dopters again?”

Son 2: “Because your walking is bad and your leg is wobbly.”

Which while being right, lacked a certain something, “It’s just to check that you are still doing well, and you are. But they just like to see you every year.”

Son 1: “But I don’t want to be adopted again” My heart sinks and I feel like crying. I want to explain that doctors, ‘dopters’ and judges are all very different things.

Daddy walks in the door. I feel drained of all ability to think, speak and act, so I serve Daddy a burned salmon fillet, saying, “Sorry about that.” I’d love to explain why our tea is burned, but decide that I can’t be bothered.

Daddy: “I like it crunchy” Almost convincing. Well done Daddy!

Son 2: “Let’s talk about coins. I want to see them all with the Queen’s face on. Can we do it now?”

Son 3, eating last kinder egg from Easter, handing Daddy the Chinese instructions: “Look at this. He’s got a sucker upper. Daddy, can you do the reading with me?”

Son 2 doing some imaginary shooting with small plastic kinder egg man while I flinch. Daddy reminds me that he’s not being naughty. I know that. But it is annoying. Daddy hasn’t been annoyed for much of the day.

Son 1:“Can I watch Minions?” “Yes, fine, can you put it on please?”

Sons 1, 2 & 3 disappear to the back room. The phone rings. It’s the estate agents discussing an offer on our house. We want to move house. We want more space and less drug dealer neighbours. Daddy and I start discussing the offer.

Son 2 re-enters, “Do you want to see how much I love Jesus?” Daddy wasn’t there for the previous discussion. He thinks this is lovely and gives his full attention whilst Son 2 holds forth with stretching, etc. I attempt to convey the discussions of the day to explain why I’ve had enough toddler theology. Daddy tells me that I should write the toddler theology down. I think of things that Daddy should do.

Son 2: “Can we look at coins now?”

Son 3 re-enters: “Can we do my reading now?” still holding Chinese Kinder egg instructions. “That’s not really reading. We’ll have a story later. Why don’t you go and watch Minions?” supressing the urge to scream, “GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN AND SHUT UP FOR A MINUTE”

Daddy makes a cup of tea, sorts out bedtime milk cups, while Daughter runs in and out of the room on hyper-drive. Daddy goes into the back room to deliver milk to the Minion screening.

Daddy to Son 2, who is standing on sofa: “Sit down. What are you doing, SIT DOWN!”

Daddy to Son 1, who is lolling and about to fall off the chair: “Sit up. SIT UP!”

I have taken Daddy’s advice to write it down. I am laughing, listening to the ridiculous, sit down/up instructions. I realise that our life is totally ridiculous. As confirmation, Son 2 re-enters the room with a partially deflated parrot and says, “Can you blow this up please?”

This is us. This is family life. This is a mess. This is ridiculous. But woven through it all is a bunch of imperfect people trying to know and make known a glorious God. He is our strength when we are weak. He is our reason to carry on. He is enough. His Son fights for us. His Spirit is with us to help us with every detail before us; be it rubbish trucks, burnt salmon or an inflatable parrot.

Amy Smith