As the days march on, we are settling well into a new routine. Different forever than the old one, but not bad. Just different. Luckily, we are finding humor in things that otherwise may just push us all over the edge.
Things about America that African children find amazing:
1. Washers and dryers. Who knew? All of the kids are fascinated by the bizarre American custom of throwing dirty clothes into a deep, dark hole in a large metal machine and having them come out sometime later (after much churning and spinning) wet and clean. "MOM! What???"
The dryer . . . rates even higher however. Pulling warm clothes and towels out and holding them up to their faces just about did them in. How is this possible??? they seemed to ask with their expressions.
It has also become a game for them as dirty laundry goes in and then comes out sometime later - warm and dry and smelling like Downy - to see if they can identify the owner of each item. Phoebe especially, likes to stand right.up.in.the.dryer. when I'm trying to unload it and shout out with such excitement, "MOM!!! Phoebe!!!", "MOM!!! Eliza!", "MOM!!!! Olivia!!" (Which sounds like "O-Lee-Vee-Uh") This is cute for about the first two minutes. Then, after the first FIVE minutes or so and after about the tenth load . . . not so cute. I have to keep reminding myself that she is taking such joy in what is such a mundane task for me. It has actually helped me enjoy doing laundry. Such wonder and pleasure in such a simple thing.
For Ben, our most mechanically inclined, these two machines completely captivate him. When I'm in the kitchen, content knowing that the laundry is clipping along, my bliss is interrupted by the ringing of bells on the dryer. I tiptoe down the hall and see him open the dryer door, close it, push any and all buttons and re-start the dryer on all different settings. This little dance may happen five or six times in a five minute period. He is dead-set on figuring out how this thing can be responsible for such magic. Some days, I open the dryer and find his wet and muddy snowpants stuffed in with a load of clean and almost dry towels. OR . . . I open the washer and find a load of clothing - already washed - sharing space with wet, muddy jeans.
I started noticing that my go-to washer settings - Load size: Super, Temp: Hot, Task: Heavy Duty Wash - were mysteriously changed when I went to take a load out. The dials now read such ridiculous things as Load size: Small (this has NEVER happened), Temp: Cold (very rare) and Task: Rinse Only. The first few times I thought either I was losing it or the machine was malfunctioning. I'm slow.
Utterly fascinated . . . but not yet comprehending the process! Ha! :-)
2. Ice. Who knew? Two love it . . . two hate it. "Mom!!! (always with a LOUD volume and ended with an exclamation point!) Water! ICE!!!" . . . or . . . "Mom!! Water! NO ICE!!!"
Also included in this category is ice cream. I know this will sound so cruel, but I cannot tell you how utterly hilarious it is to witness someone's first popsicle headache. And even MORE hilarious to see it happening to FOUR people at the same time! :-) Sick, I know.
3. Volume controls. Up. Down. Up. Down. "Um . . . Isaac . . . could you please go and see what exactly is going on in there?"
This fascination also applies to remote controls of any kind. Take the batteries in. Take the batteries out. Push all the buttons. Hold it up to the ear to see if it makes a sound.
Week number two, Zane came marching up the stairs from the basement - Jesse and Ben left in his wake - shouting at full volume, "YOU ARE FORBIDDEN FROM EVER TOUCHING THE REMOTES AGAIN!!!!!" Followed by, "Mom!!! Do I have authority over them??? They are touching everything and now they have PERMANENTLY ruined the XBox!!!" Did I mention he is six? He has no fear and thinks it is his sole purpose in life to point out to Jesse and Ben all the ways they are NOT acting like normal Americans.
The unforeseen gift in this is that all of the kids, while completely annoyed at many and different points throughout the day, have also found great humor in it. All 13 of us have had SUCH moments of side-splitting laughter over the silliest things. It has helped us see how things that seem normal to us are completely weird to the new kids and we all just LAUGH. And then we fall on the floor and laugh some more.
And truly, laughter is THE best medicine for healing and growing.