Category Archives: children

The Truth About Siblings

http://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/the-truth-about-siblings?cid=sm_fbn_pt

The Truth About Siblings.
Published on November 2, 2016

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Ah, siblings, the tormentors of the soul and the reality slappers of life. Siblings don’t care about boosting their sister’s fragile self-esteem or protecting their brother from the sure sting of football team failure and they certainly don’t give a rat’s patooty about navigating the hormonal minefield that is adolescence. Oh no, siblings just wade right on into the middle of that muddled mess saying all of those life truths that we parents gingerly sidestep. Things such as:

Yeah, it was totally your fault your team lost. You suck.

Why do you look like that? Is that on purpose?

The way you breathe…it’s super annoying.

I can’t tell if that haircut is hysterical or just plain awful. I say don’t leave the house for a month, at least.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not the outfit that is making your butt look huge. Maybe it’s time to cool it on all those Frappuccinos.

I just read your “journal” and God, was it boring! Seriously, get a life already. Oh, and stop being so pathetic, that cool guy is never going to ask you out.

Yes, that science teacher totally hates your guts.

You. Can’t. Sing. You. Will. Never. Be. A. Famous. Singer.

Is that a pimple or a tumor on your forehead? That thing belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records! Where is my phone? I need to Snapchat that now.

Why are you wasting your time reading all that Shakespeare crap? Haven’t you ever heard of Spark Notes?

Hahahaha! How embarrassing! Of course everyone saw you! And believe me, tomorrow at school, they are ALL going to be talking about it.

If you EVER touch my stuff again, I will post that picture of your ginormous tumor- zit online.

Yes, siblings are the humble makers and bull-crap cutters, but along with all of their never-ending tactless observations they also occasionally throw out these two gems:

“What did he (she) say to you? I’ll kill him!”

And,

“OMG, Mom and Dad are soooo weird!”

And it is these last two truths that are really the most important because they confirm that even though it doesn’t look it or sound like it, your siblings actually do have your best interests at heart and like it or not, you are bonded together forever by your weird, weird parents.

https://tentotwenty.com/the-truth-about-siblings

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we’re all in this together.

 

 

 

Every Story Needs A Beginning.

Published on http://www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2015/11/every-story-needs-a-beginning/
By Anne Sawan

There are some stories in life that we tell our children over and over. Favorite books, old fairy tales. Books that hold messages and lessons we want to pass on. Stories that have meaning, that matter to us.

I was driving in the car with my seven-year-old daughter. It was a warm summer night, just the two of us, a wide-open evening full of possibilities and fireflies. After camp she usually likes to tell me stories about her day, about the arts and crafts they created, the games they played, but this day she was quiet and I thought she must be tired from a long day. She certainly looked like she had been busy: her hair a mess, her sneakers scuffed, her knees dirty.

It was just the two of us that evening, my other children scattered about at various friend’s houses to swim and eat hamburgers. I asked her what she wanted to do with our free time together.

“Can we go to the mall and get some sushi and Legos?”

I smiled.

It was always the same answer.

As we meandered down the road I glanced in the rear view mirror. She was staring out the window, a serious look on her face, her lips moving slightly as she muttered something quietly to herself.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she said, her eyes looking away, her finger tracing a path against the glass.

There was a beat of silence and then, “Mom, I know someone else who

is adopted.”

“Really?”

“Yes, he is at camp.”

I nodded, “How do you know he is adopted?”

“I heard him tell someone.”

“Oh. Did you tell him you were adopted too?”

“No.”

We drove along. Each lost in our own thoughts for a few moments. I wondered why she had brought it up, about this other camper. Having no real inkling about what to say next, but knowing there was something there, hidden in her words, I casually asked, “If someone at camp were to ask you what that other camper meant by adoption, what would you say?”

My daughter shrugged, her finger still smudging an imaginary track against the window. “I guess I would say, it means someone had you but they had to get rid of you, so your mom and dad got you.”

Get rid of you?

I pulled into the mall parking lot, my heart thumping.

My daughter.

My beautiful, sassy, silly, sweet, wonderful daughter thought someone just… got rid of her?

I turned around. “Honey,” I said. “Your birth mother didn’t just get rid of you, she loved you.”

My daughter stared at me, her brown eyes growing wide, her hand falling away from the window.

“She did?”

My mind swirled.

Hadn’t I told her?

Hadn’t I told her, her adoption story a million times?

Hadn’t I told her something like this:

You didn’t grow in my tummy, you grew in your birthmother’s tummy, but she couldn’t keep you, I am not sure why. But your dad and I wanted you soooo much so we flew far across the deep ocean and over the tall mountains, picked you up, wrapped you in a soft pink blanket, flew back across the big ocean and over the mountains where everyone was waiting for you and we had a big party full of love and kisses and cake!

Brakes.

Rewind.

Did I say, “I’m not sure why, but she she loved you very much”

Did I say, “I’m not sure why, but she loved you very much and it must have been very difficult for her to say goodbye.”

I must have.

I did.

Didn’t I?

My child’s beginning is unknown. I don’t know the reasons why her birth mother couldn’t keep her and I realized that in telling her I try to breeze quickly by that part, the beginning. It just seems tricky and messy and fraught with such hard questions and deep sadness that I hurry through, telling my daughter instead a story of a kisses and cake and a soft pink blanket that enveloped her with love; shielding her from sorrow.

I so want that story to be enough. For our love to be enough…but it can’t be, because it’s not her story.

When we open a book, we don’t just jump into the middle. We need to have an understanding of where the story begins, and my daughter’s beginning, although difficult, is just as important as any other; a beginning that doesn’t start with my love, but with the extraordinary love of another person. A love that while complicated shouldn’t just be casually rushed over. A love that deserves to be talked about slowly and carefully and with respect. A love like a cherished old book on the shelf, that can be revisited over and over again.

So I took a deep breath and slowly, slowly I spoke,

“Sweetie, I don’t know why your birth mom couldn’t keep you but I do know that she didn’t just get rid of you. Maybe she was too young to have a baby, or maybe she didn’t know how to be a mom yet but she loved you very, very much; and she did the hardest and bravest thing a mom could ever do and found you a place where she knew you would always be safe and where she knew there would be a family that would love you as much as she did.”

My daughter stared, her brown eyes meeting mine.

“Really?”

“Yes, really. She loved you and you know what else? You are full of extra love because you have love from your birth mom and love from all of us.”

A broad smile settled on her lips.

The story was shifting, the words were changing, slightly perhaps, but it was enough… for now.

“Can we go get some sushi and Legos now?”

“Of course.”

Anne Sawan is a mom of five, a psychologist and an author, having books published with MeeGenuis, as well as having articles published on Adoption Today, Adoptive Families, Brain Child, Scary Mommy and BluntMoms. She won The International Picture Book contest held by Inclusive Works and Clavis Publishing in 2014 and her book, What Can Your Grandmother Do? is scheduled to come out sometime this year.

A Real Mom

I haven’t written anything here for so long, but something irked me recently and I have something to say, and when a mom has something to say, she says it! So roll your eyes if you must, here it is.

I was perusing my Facebook news feed the other day, checking up on friends, reading various articles, when I stumbled upon this post posted by a well respected, well known online news publication.

A photo of three dogs with the caption: We’re adopted? OMG!!! You mean you’re not our real mom?

And underneath the post: Precisely why I’m not letting my pups know. What they don’t know, can’t hurt ’em.

Immediately I stopped. Now obviously it’s about dogs, great, I get it, and I know, it’s suppose to be funny, I should lighten up, but… those words, “You mean you’re not our real mom?” stuck with me all day: at the supermarket, the post office, the coffee shop; everywhere I went I saw infants strapped to their moms, young children skipping along next to their moms, teenagers slumped down in the front seats of cars next to their moms, adopted or not? I don’t know. I am sure some of them were and some of them weren’t but all of those moms sure looked real to me. I tried to talk myself out of my silly thoughts, perhaps I was overreacting, so I went home and reread the post, which by now had thousands of likes, hoping to see it through different eyes, and then I scrolled down and read the comments, here are a few:

“I never say, “adopted” in front of my fur babies because I know they understand English”

“I never say the “A” word.”

“Mine would never believe you if you told them I wasn’t their real mom.”

But you said that we’re your BABIES!!”

dogs

And then came another photo of a dog, that said, “I’m adopted??? OMG! You mean you’re not my real mom?”

Maybe I shouldn’t have read those comments by all those ignorant people, but I did and my blood began to boil. “I never say adopted”, “The A word.” “You mean you’re not my real mom?” Wow, I thought, how would my daughter or someone else’s child feel reading this? I had always promised myself I wouldn’t become one of those crazy, over the top, annoying, politically correct parents.  I believe that the world should strive to laugh more at itself; I don’t want to be one of those people that everyone has to be extra cautious around, and maybe four children back I would have been the one saying, “Oh calm down! It’s just a joke!” But life changes you, love changes you and I am not the person I use to be.

What does it mean to be “real?” Real means to be actual, genuine, valid, true, physical and tangible; something not imagined. I am my daughter’s real mom. I worry when she is sick, I laugh when she is silly, I hold my breath when I see her struggle, I get annoyed when she acts up, I cry when she is hurting and sometimes, as I watch her sleep, her hair a dark tangled mess, her eyelashes fluttering against her cheek, I have to take a deep breath, humbled by how fortunate I am to have this child in my life. These things are not imagined. These feelings occur with all of my children. I love each of them to my core, to the center of my soul, to the middle of my bones, whether they grew beneath them or not. I am a real mom to all of them and I am tired of people insinuating otherwise when it comes to adoption. Adoption is not the “A” word something to be hidden or ashamed of, adoption is something to be celebrated and we will celebrate because we are a REAL family. Real: actual, genuine, valid, true, physical and tangible; something not imagined.

And by the way, the dog joke…it’s not funny.

Princesses

 

Watching Princess Kate on the “telly” with her impeccable manners, fantastic clothes, and her jet setting life style it’s hard for a girl not to think, wouldn’t it be grand to be a princess? Always perfect, always poised and pretty, but… what if you just aren’t that type of girl? What if you prefer messy spaghetti to neat finger sandwiches; and overalls to long gowns? Can you still be a princess?

I have two wonderful daughters. Two daughters, two girls, two VERY different people.

When my oldest daughter was little she was a princess loving freak! She wore dresses and tutus and loved anything that glimmered and shined. She watched Ariel and Jasmine and Belle over and over; beautiful (and overly priced) dolls littered the hallways and stairs of our home and she dreamed of one day actually living in her own giant, pink, plastic, elevator-equipped Barbie Dream house.

My younger girl…not so much. Most days it’s all I can do to get a brush through her hair, and she barely made it through one year of ballet class. This little girl spends much of her time being a Ninja warrior, and for her birthday this year she wants Legos (not the pink ones), an extra large plastic container of orange cheese puffs, and karate lessons (God help us).

 

 

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It takes all kinds of girls, and thank goodness for that.

So for my two girls, and for the millions of girls in this world, those that are quiet and those that are loud, those that are graceful and those that are not, those that dream of being princesses and those that already are, I wrote this little rhyming picture book.

 

 

 

SOME PRINCESSES

 

Some princesses wear high heels, shiny and new.

Some princesses wear flip-flops, or red running shoes.

 

Some princesses walk slowly, their heads held up high,

Some princesses like to skip, leap and soar to the sky!

 

Some princesses’ attend grand balls and waltz all about.

Some princesses rock the drums and totally jam out!

 

Some princesses play croquet, gently tapping the ball.

Some princesses play baseball, hitting one up, Up, UP…

and over the wall!

 

Some princesses eat sandwiches, with the crusts all cut off.

Some princesses crave tacos, or spaghetti with sauce.

 

Some princesses watch their manners and try not to slurp,

(but all princesses pass gas and ocasionally burp).

 

Some princesses’ dress in long gowns covered in jewels.

Some princesses wear overalls, with pockets for tools.

 

Some princesses have hair that’s always shiny and neat.

Some princesses have hair that just FREAKS out in the heat!

 

Some princesses make a mess, and have maids put it all away on a shelf.

Some princesses have moms that say, “Princess, go clean that mess up, YOURSELF.”

 

Some princesses have brown skin, some freckly, some fair.

Some princesses wear eyeglasses, some use a wheel chair.

 

Some princesses may be quiet, while some are quite bold,

but all girls are princesses, with hearts spun from gold.

 

It’s true.

 

No matter who they are or what they like to do;

ALL girls are princesses, especially,

 

Girls.

Just.

Like.

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Anne Sawan 2014

March Madness and Three Little Pigs

So we are all into March madness over here, both the basketball kind and the kind brought on by prolonged winter cabin fever.  Lucky for me, Susanna Leonard Hill is sponsoring a March Madness writing contest to help alleviate some of the boredom and restlessness that has settled into my brain. This one requires a 400 word max fractured Fairy Tale. thIt’s all just for fun (and a few great prizes) so give it a try, you just might get hooked!

http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-march-madness-writing-contest-is.html

Inspired by almost-true events:

Go outside Three Little Pigs!! 

Once upon a time there were three little pigs.

Three little, lazy pigs that just sat around all day and did nothing but play video games.

Until, one sunny day when Mama Pig decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

“That’s it!” She said, pointing to the door. “I have had enough! Go. Out. SIDE!”

“What?” said the First Pig.

“You want us to go out… there?” said the Second Pig.

“But, there’s never anything to do outside.” complained the Third Pig.

Mama Pig threw open the door.

“Have an adventure! Use your imagination! Just go outside, NOW!”

So the three miserable, lazy pigs went outside.

“It’s sooo hot out here,” moaned the First Pig.

“I’m sooo bored,” whined the Second

“I miss my video games,” cried the Third.

A dark shadow crept slowly along the fence.

“Little pig, little pigs, let me in,” whispered a deep, gravely voice.

“The wolf! Mom! Mom!” The three pigs banged on the door.

“Go away,” said Mama Pig from inside the house.

The three pigs stared at one another.

“Quick!” said Pig Number One. “To the straw pile!”

The three pigs ran across the lawn and burrowed their way into the middle of the straw.

“Ha!” laughed the Wolf. “Do you really think that measly house made of hay is going to keep me away? I am going to huff and puff…”

The three pigs dug as fast as they could through the back of the straw pile.

“To the tree house!” yelled the Second Pig.

The three pigs clambered up the ladder to the tree house and slammed the door shut.

Snap!

A branch snapped, and then another, and another.

Snap!
Snap!

Suddenly through the wall came the wolf’s furry head, his red, beady eyes and his pointed teeth.

“Really, a house made of sticks?” He snarled.

The three pigs quickly threw themselves out of the treehouse, landing one by one with a thud on the dirt below.

“Over there! Behind that brick wall!” yelled Pig Number Three.

The three pigs scampered behind the wall but they knew it was no use;

sharp claws soon crept over the rocks…

“Help! We’re doomed!” They cried.

“Pigs! Oh, Pigs, time for din-ner!” Yelled Mama Pig.

“Awww, already?” said Pig Number One.

“That was way more fun that video games!” Said Pig Number Two

“Sure was.” Said Pig Number Three. “See you tomorrow Wolf?

“See you tomorrow Pigs.”

Do You Believe In Magic?

I am in a really bad mood today. Don’t know why, maybe its the never-ending pile of snow outside my front door. Maybe it’s because the door on my car was frozen shut when I went to drive the kids to school.  Maybe it’s because I had zero gas in my car once I finally opened the car door and then had to stand out in the snow and wind and freezing rain to fill my tank. Whatever the reason, I am not in a good mood. So on the advice of my sister I am headed to HomeGoods to buy something with a starfish on it and then I am going to bake a cake. A chocolate cake. In the meantime here is a little story I wrote about a girl who woke up in a bad mood, and the help she gets from her brother to turn it around, because sometimes all it takes is a little, fun, child-like magic…(and sometimes it takes HomeGoods and chocolate cake)

Harry’s Magic

 

Eliza woke up on the wrong side of the bed,

her hair all askew, her eyes seeing red.

She didn’t know why but she felt angry and mad;

her insides felt twisted, and crinkly and bad!

Her head was all groggy, her lungs full of steam;

she wanted to shout, she wanted to scream!

She put on her shoes and downstairs she clomped,

Each step getting louder: stomp,

STomp,

STOmp,

STOMp

STOMP!

 

“Hello!” Called her brother,“ What’s that? Whose out there?

Is a there a dinosaur in the house?  A monster? A bear?”

“No, Harry, it’s me,” Eliza said with a growl.

“I woke up feeling grumpy, my mood is just foul.

I don’t want to laugh or smile or play.

I just feel like yelling, so stay out of my way!

I am furious, irate, annoyed and quite fuming.

I feel like a beast, like something not human!”

 

“A beast!”  Harry said. “Well, I can fix that!

Quick, bring me my wand, my cape and my hat!

I will drive out that fiend! I will shatter that curse!

I will make you a potion before it gets worse.”

 

“Now, let’s see…

First, I will need the dog’s chew bone, then some old bubble gum,

three hairs from a hairbrush and an earring from Mum.

A sock that is smelly, a Band-Aid that’s new,

a crayon that’s green and dad’s left running shoe.

Some Halloween treats, an old boiled egg,

a button from your sweater, a scab from your leg,

some bologna that’s slimy, an elephant with wings,

three rotten apples and a dolly that sings.”

 

Eliza reached under sofas and reached under chairs,

she peered into closets, and ran up and down stairs.

She pulled back the curtains and opened the drawers,

she climbed into the bathtub and searched behind doors.

She gathered it all, the old and the new,

the smelly, the gross, the slimy, the chewed.

 

“Let’s go!” Harry said, throwing open the door.

“Outside! We aren’t done, there is still a lot more!

We must search all around and find all that we need,

like that slippery worm! Quick! Over there, by that weed!

Next a butterfly, then some flowers: both yellow and red,

a grasshopper and a rock from under the shed.

Wild goose feathers, and a jumping bull frog,

a nut and a twig and some moss from that log.”

 

So, Eliza ran and jumped and climbed into the trees,

she crept through the bushes on her hands and her knees.

She gathered it all up and put it into a pail.

“And lastly,“ said Harry, “one teeny-weeny snail.”

 

Eliza searched and searched until at last she found one.

“There!” She said, “Is that it? At last, are we done?”

“Almost,” said her brother, slowly stirring his brew.

“But there is just one more small thing I still need you to do.

You must jump! Dance! Leap! And sing out a song!

And when you are done, that beast will be gone.”

 

Eliza growled and groused, but did as he said,

singing sort-of-a song and barely nodding her head.

She gave one leg a slow shake and the other a jiggle,

she wiggled her backside and then… she started to giggle.

Huh?!

 

Eliza’s eyes grew round, her mouth opened wide.

“Harry,” she whispered.  “I feel different inside.

I am no longer crabby, or mean, or a beast!

I feel silly, elated and not mad in the least!

All gone are my monsters, my meanies, my pout,

I just feel like singing and dancing about!

I feel crazy and happy! I’m Eliza! I’m me!

Oh, thank you! You did it! You set my fun free!”

 

“You’re welcome,” said Harry, with a wink and a bow.

“My magic always works and I’ll tell you how.

First you conjure up some sillies, then stir in some fun,

give a hip and a hop and… ABRACADABRA! It’s done!

Because no beast can survive, no grumpies will stay,

if you just let a little Harry-magic into your day.”

I Love You!

       Happy Valentines Day everyone! Here is a small, silly, rhyming children’s book I wrote for my kids about all the ways in which we can express and keep I Love You in our heads and hearts. Hope you like it and feel free to share it with those you love…especially if you love a publisher of children’s books 🙂                                                  safe_image.php

I Love You

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

 

I can yell it out real loud,

or whisper it real low.

I can chant it, I can hum it,

I can tap it with my toes.

I love you!

 

I can holler it as I wiggle,

I can whistle it as I skip.

I can shout it as I jump,

I can shake it with my hips.

I love you!

 

I can say it in Chinese,

or how they do in France.

I can sing it hopping on one foot,

or while I do a crazy dance.

I love you!

 

I can quack it like a duck,

I can croak it like a frog.

I can spout it like a whale,

I can bark it like a dog.

I love you!

 

I can be a scary monster and say it with a growl,

or maybe with a grunt…

or a roar,

Or a HOWL!

I love you!

 

I can scratch it in the sand,

and scrawl it in the snow.

I can write it in the clouds,

and in the brown dirt down below.

I love you!

 

I can spell it with spaghetti,

or from carrots, or even peas!

I can scribble it in the bathtub

while I scrub my dirty knees.

I love you!

 

I whisper it in my bed

while I’m counting sheep,

and I see it in my dreams

when I’m fast asleep.

I love you!

 

I hear it in my head,

but I keep it in my heart

for those times when we’re together

and those times when we’re apart,

I love you.

I love you.

I love you.

Anne Sawan, 2014

The Playground

Image

As the weather improves I have been frequenting the playground with my youngest daughter and every time I am there I see parents chatting away on their phones as their kids play and I think to myself, “I wish there was a No Cellphone sign here.” One of those signs hanging on the fence with a picture of a cell phone on it and a big black X through it. Perhaps just a gentle reminder to all of us to hang up and play, run around, be silly.

It seems to me that cellphones have taken over our lives!  We can’t seem to be without one for five minutes and it really is so ridiculous. I know it is hard to believe but I survived a good portion of my life without a cell phone and whats-more my parents never had a cell phone and they not only survived but they managed to raise twelve fairly normal kids! How did they do that?

Believe me, I am not lecturing, I am just as bad as the next person. If I am in my car (or on the playground) and suddenly realize I don’t have my cell phone my heart rate skyrockets. Oh no! What if someone is trying to reach me and I’m not available?! What if there’s an emergency? What if my son stubs his toe at school or my oldest forgot her homework, or my friend calls to tell me about some juicy gossip from the book club that I missed? Breathe, breathe. How far away am I ? Should I go back and get it?

Okay, seriously, how many true emergencies happen to you in one day? Or one week? Unless you’re a brain surgeon or the CEO of Google do you really need to be available at all times to everybody?

I sort of miss the days of going to the playground B.C. (before cell phones) because back then, any news, any “emergency”, any gossip would just need to wait. I simply wasn’t available. I was busy. At the playground. With my kids.

THE PLAYGROUND

You said, “Let’s go to the playground today.

We’ll spend some time together and have fun while we play.”

“Yippee!” I yelled, “I know just what we’ll do!”

And I ran to get my sweatshirt and find my left shoe.

First, we’ll swing high on the swings and go down the big slide,

then hang down from the bars and play “you search while I hide.”

“Hello? Where are you?”  You will say with a smile,

(Knowing exactly where I am, all of the while).

Then we’ll look up at the clouds and see funny things,

like a rabbit with pajamas and a bear that can sing.

We’ll dig holes in the sandbox and pour sand in the trucks,

then walk down to the pond and feed bread to the ducks.

But when we got to the park I knew it wasn’t to be,

because the first thing you did… was sit under the tree.

“Go and play.”  You said, “I’ll just make one quick call.

It won’t take but a moment, really, no time at all.”

So, I tried a few cartwheels and a front forward roll

went to the sandbox and dug a huge hole.

I called, “Look at this!” to you as you sat,

but you just turned away, caught up in your chat.

You sat over there yakking away on your phone

leaving me to play, by myself… all-alone.

So, I glanced up to the sky but saw nothing there,

no silly cloud animals, just blank, empty air.

I climbed the tall climber and tried out a new trick,

then I sat on the swing and gave a few little kicks.

And after a while you yelled, “Com’on! Time to go!”

and I walked to the car; my head down, my feet slow.

And as you buckled me in, you said, “Oh, what a great day!

I’m so glad that we came to the playground to play.

Wasn’t it fun, but, boy, it went by real fast,

I wish I could find a way to make these special days last…”

Anne Sawan 2013

When Santa Was Small

Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, whatever suits you.  It has been a hard week for this country.  A week full of grief and sadness.  I have no new words to share, no pearls of wisdom about this great loss; I just thought I would publish this small story I wrote to help spread some cheer. A story about Santa.  A story to remind us all about childhood and the fun and the mischief we got into.  Have a great holiday and hold your kids close, but also hug those adults you love. They were once kids too.

DSCN2373When Santa Was Small

T’was the night before Christmas, the kids tucked in tight,

all drifting off to sleep on a cold winter’s night,

with dreams of Santa Claus dancing through their heads,

and the gifts they would find when they sprang from their beds;

wind up robots, sparkly dolls and chocolaty sweets,

new books, bouncy balls, and shiny skates for their feet!

All except George, who sat up straight in his bed,

while visions of black coal filled up his head.

His eyes were big and round, his lips all a quiver,

his legs starting to shake, his body to shiver.

Was it real what he heard? Was it all true?

Santa could see everything that you do?

Like the time he told his mom he ate three cookies but really had four,

or when he taped “You have cooties!” to the girls’ bathroom door…

What about last week when he threw a spitball during lunch,

then kept throwing more, until he had thrown a whole bunch!

George slid down under his covers and hid.

There would be no presents now! Santa saw what he did!

Then his mom walked in and switched on the light,

“What’s wrong George?” She asked. “Something not right?”

George pulled back the blankets, poked out his head,

cleared his throat, took a gulp and quietly said,

“Mom, do you think Santa was ever just a young boy, like me

a boy who worried he might not find a present under the tree?

Do you think Santa ever sat in school, trying so hard not to wiggle,

but then his mouth started to twitch, and his legs started to jiggle?

At lunch did he gobble up his Jell-O, but not his fish sticks or peas,

and did he have to be reminded to say thank you and please?

Do you think he ever passed gas or let out a HUGE burp?

Did he drink his milk fast, through a straw, with a slurp?

Did he leap off the bus with a rip and roar

run up the steps and throw open the door?

Did he holler and jump, sprint and dash all about

until his big sister yelled, “Mom!” and his mom said, “Go out!”

Do you think Santa went out to skate on the ice

spinning and showing off,  then falling down…twice?

Mom, do you think Santa tried to be good, but sometimes was bad…

acting up, yelling out, driving everyone mad!

George’s mom smiled, kissed the top of his head,

pulled up the covers, fluffed his pillow and said,

“You know what I think…I think Santa did,

all of those things because he was once a kid.

A kid filled with sillies, with love and with joy,

a kid who made mistakes, like any small boy.

I bet… after Santa fell, his sister helped him back up,

and gave him hot chocolate in his favorite cup.

Then his mom made him a warm bath all full of bubbles

to help him unwind and forget all his troubles.

I think Santa sat and soaked ‘til he was shiny and clean,

and then brushed his teeth ‘til they glistened and gleamed.

He went and found his favorite pajamas with feet

and slid into his bed under soft, cozy sheets.

I think Santa’s dad read him a book and gave him a kiss,

and said, “Go to sleep now, little Saint Nick.”

Then his mom shut the door, leaving on one hall light,

whispering softly, “And don’t let those jingle bugs bite!”

And as he laid in his bed, I think Santa looked to the sky,

and dreamed about flying in a sleigh way up high…

with eight magic reindeer and hundreds of presents with bows,

zooming and zipping through the white Christmas snow.

So yes, I think Santa was once a just a boy,

a boy full of mischief and sillies and joy.

And I think he remembers what its like to be young.

all of the hard stuff and all of the fun,

because Santa, like you, was once little and small,

and Santa knows being a kid, well, that’s the best gift of all.

Anne Sawan 2012

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Does She Know?

November is National Adoption month. 
Does She Know?
Last week I was at a function with my family when an older woman came over and asked about my children.  She knew one of my daughters is adopted and quietly whispered into my ear, “Does she know?”  I didn’t think she was being rude, just curious. She is from a different generation and culture than me. A time and place where children often weren’t told they were adopted, and parent were even encouraged not to tell, not to talk about it. Secrets.
 
I nodded and whispered back, “Yes, she does.” The old woman smiled and patted me on the shoulder, “It’s better that way, don’t you think?” Then she walked away.
Secrets…perhaps she has her own.
 
I sat there for a while after she left and looked at my young daughter, mulling over the question in my head, does she know?
Does she know?  Yes, she knows she’s adopted. She will tell you, if it comes up, “I am adopted.” We have conversations about adoption, have read a few books that explain what adoption is, and many nights as we lay together I tell her the story of how her dad and I flew far across the ocean, wrapped her up in a pink blanket and took her home to a big party of waiting siblings and excited relatives. But does she know? Does she truly know what it means, this word, adoption?
 
No. How could she know? She is young, and busy with more important things like trying to figure out how to cross the monkey bars and how to ride a bike and how to count to one hundred.  Her head is full of birthday cake and colorful crayons and soft lullabies, and that’s how it should be. She knows we love her, her siblings love her. She knows we wished for her on a star, she knows we flew high above the mountains and across the ocean to get her, she knows her uncle helped us, she knows her family far away and those close by helped us, she knows about the country she came from, what they eat, how they speak. She knows a word, adoption, but its all abstract to her. She doesn’t really know all of it.
She doesn’t know.
 
She doesn’t know about the never ending sorrow that must have filled a far away woman’s soul as her belly began to grow and stretch, making room for the mysterious little arms and legs that were budding deep inside.
She doesn’t know about the rivers of joy and sadness that flowed together in the woman’s heart every time the child inside of her moved and danced, a tiny foot sending ripples across tightly pulled skin.
She doesn’t know about the spirit of grief and loss that hovered like an unwelcomed messenger in the sticky summer air, warning the woman that as the dull pangs of labor grew longer, her time with her secret was growing shorter.
She doesn’t know about the millions of tears that were shed and the hundred of kisses of joy and sorrow and thanks and love that were showered upon her before the woman finally wrapped her in a blanket and handed her to another, saying goodbye.
 
So, does she know the word, adoption? Yes, but does she truly know what it means? 
No. 
It’s a hard truth, a harsh reality to take in, that love and pain can be so connected. So entwined. So when will my daughter truly know what adoption means? When will she finally learn, understand the whole truth of what this word means?
 
I think… when it is her turn.  Her turn to hold her own child, be it through the miracle of adoption or the magic of biology, then she will know. When it is her turn to gently kiss her child’s soft cheeks, gaze with awe into its sleepy eyes and breathe in all its sweet wonder, then she will know.  When it is her turn to wrap her child in a soft blanket and bring it home to meet its family, then she will know.  When her heart rises up and she cries a hundred tears of thanks and joy and sorrow and love then she will know… finally, truly know what this word, adoption means.