There are those temperamental moments in parental life that fill you with self-doubt, anxiousness and downright defeat. It can be something we say to our kids in the heat of the moment. Maybe it is love we withhold because we feel hurt. Worse, there are those issues from another aspect of life (men: read work) for which our children pay. This aftermath is a cascade of negative self-talk (“I’m a horrible father”), guilt (“I’ve ruined them”) and regret (“their never gonna get over this”). Yet, if there is one thing I’ve learned about children in my years it is this: Tomorrow is another day — You get a do-over!
Yesterday was a do-over day for me. I won’t get into the details of two days prior but you’ve been there in your own life. If it could go wrong, it did (and this was all by 7:00 am). The next day I woke up and determined not to go the same place — starting off with prayer helped set me up for success by placing my day in God’s hands. I found the same challenges I experienced the day before but a different mindset made the difference! My world didn’t come crashing down, even when the calendar revealed a forgotten doctor visit for my son, Sam.
Sam was one of my “problem” children the other day. His history, prior to adoption, is traumatic and that manifests its ugliness from time to time in unique (not fun) ways. Ultimately, these behaviors just mean, “I need to know I’m safe. I’m secure. I’m loved” but on the surface (and in time real) reading between these lines is beyond blurred. Sam lacks the ability to articulate, or even truly understand, why he does some of these things. Therefore, I need to help him process his anxieties and needs; I need to be on my A game when these moments happen not somewhere lost in my own stuff!
So he’s got this doctor’s appointment and I’m taking him. This is a ripe opportunity for a do-over day! I lead off with letting Sam pick which vehicle we’ll take. He is a monster truck fanatic and I know he’ll chose my F-150. This is a perfect choice because it only has a front bench seat. I slide him right next to me so we can talk and I can put an arm around him!
Sam needs an ultrasound before seeing his doctor, so we head to the Radiology waiting room. Here, there’s about 10 patients waiting. Some kids are running around, some are glued to the TV, some are coloring at a central table. The adults in the room though, are all doing the same thing — the thing I always find myself doing — they’re mindlessly scrolling their smartphones. Not one person is engaged with a child! Today, I choose the road less traveled.
I finish registering Sam for his appointment and find him engrossed in the activity of the waiting room aquarium. Snails (one of Sam’s favorite creatures on Earth) cling to the glass walls and I explain they help keep the tank clean. This leads to a barrage of questions, some of which I can only answer by asking Google.
Sam and I go back for his ultrasound and I do something different than my typical. I pay attention to Sam and not the ultrasound screen (I’m a nurse and easily fall from my role of Dad in these situations). I can see Sam is nervous about this procedure and explore this a little with him. His fear turns to fascination. His lower GI and urinary systems are being evaluated and when you’re an 11 year old boy, there’s nothing better than a good ol’ convo about Poop and Pee! He does great through the study.
Next, we head to Urology. We’re a little early so I introduce a classic board game, now turned into a Kindle video game, called Othello. We play multiple rounds and I give him some of my best secrets (“always try to get your pieces in the corner spots!”). He wins some, I win some but it’s win-win for all because the wait time passes quickly. The team evaluates Sam, makes minor recommendations and were done long before I expected. That’s when a bulb lights in my head — the Zoo!
The Philadelphia Zoo is about two miles from the hospital. It is the oldest zoo in the U.S. and one of the best! My parents gave us a membership last Christmas and, with 70 degree weather in February, it’s a great day to play hookie from school. I don’t tell Sam my idea (he’s hoping we might get McDonald’s on the way back to school). We get there and his excitement matches my anticipation. Walking in, we find the place is empty.
Sam charges ahead and is fascinated even by the pigeons. He asks me how they catch them and keep them from flying away.
The goats and sheep are restless and “rammy”. Spring is in the air!
The Burmese Pythons’ size blow Sam’s mind! Another prayer — Please don’t let Sam ask why the boy one is wrapped around the girl one!
The Orangutan is not feeling too social today. Then Sam rolls up and he takes the bucket off his head to check out the dude in the wheelchair — the admiration is mutual.
The lions are Sam’s favorite animals of the day. Sam says, “That lion could bite my leg right off.” I reply, “The nice thing for a guy like you is you wouldn’t feel it!” This gets Sam laughing until he is crying. Unfortunately, I get quite the look from the mother that hurriedly ushers her three and four year old children away from the exhibit.
We took a break for a little lunch…
…and some unsavory vagrants come begging for a little something.
This nut though, was the only one that got sweet reward!
And just when things couldn’t get any better…
…this giraffe, “He’s taking a dump, Dad” brought out the 11 year old boy in both of us (also, to the judgmental disdain of nearby mothers with young children)!
Sometimes moms make mistakes and dads just happen but kids are resilient and ready to give a Do-Over!
Dad Just Happened!
We Still Need Your Help!
Thank You to everyone that’s been praying for us, supporting this site and contributing to the Make Dad Just Happened Again Adoption Fund. We’ve been officially matched to our daughter and overcome other big hurdles initially in our way. Our home study is underway, as well as additional legal requirements necessary to complete an adoption. Dad Just Happened! received over 6000 visits in February — a blowout record for us! Finally, 65% of expenses are now covered by your donations to our YouCaring fund!!! As before, please keep us in your prayers, continue to like/share the DJH posts and consider donating to our fund.
Thank you again so much!!!
Adam and Amy