Friday in the Congo was blissfully boring. There were no trips, no meetings, no agenda: just enjoy our new family and our new friends.
As I watched our kids play and interacted with them, I realized that, if all went well, in about 72 hours I would be getting on a plane with them to go back to America . . . on a 33 hour trip!
Now a trip that long is hard on anyone, much less a child, much less a child who doesn’t understand the rules of western society. These precious gifts from God were, well, a little on the wild side. I wasn’t quite as worried about Emmanuel as I was about Addie Rose. She is boundless energy and high volume from the moment she wakes up to about 15 seconds before she falls asleep. (During those 15 seconds she whispers to herself.) There were many things that American children and/or children who do not grow up in an orphanage already know that Addie Rose and Emmanuel had just started learning:
- Washing hands
- Using a toilet
- How to color more than one line on each page of a coloring book
- Not belching 427 times a day
- How to sit still for longer than 15 seconds
- Brushing teeth
- Not destroying toys
- Using an “inside voice”
- Wearing a seatbelt
- Not hitting someone when you want something
- Obeying adults
- Sharing toys
- Using utensils to eat
- Covering your mouth when you cough
- Not stuffing every piece of whatever you find interesting into your backpack
Add into it the stress of tiny bathrooms, foreign languages, customs, security, immigration and sitting for hours and hours on end with little to no sleep and I knew we were in trouble. All of this can be overwhelming for even a seasoned traveler. There was so much to learn, not even for our sakes, but for the sake of the people we would be sitting next to for 8 and 9 hours at a time.
It’s hard to appreciate how much time and effort is put into teaching children manners, rules, and guidelines until you begin to parent two children who haven’t had such guidance for the first years of their lives, or that have had them undone while living in an orphanage with little adult intervention. While they are trainable, and generally want to please, there was just so much to learn in precious little time.
My goal in the following 72 hours were to get them airplane ready, because ready or not, we were going to embark on an incredibly long journey.
If only those would have been the biggest battles we were to face. . .