Perhaps it was a moment of insanity, or my intestinal fortitude had increased, or maybe I was running a fever, but I decided to take both kids grocery shopping with me at two different grocery stores last week. After hearing nightmarish stories of culture shock from other adoptive parents who took their kids shopping in the early days when they were home, we avoided taking Addie and Palmer to the store at all costs for the first year we were home. So because stores are still somewhat new to our kids, and because our kids have an insatiable curiosity, and because they both really like to ask questions, comments and questions are usually hurled in my direction in machine-gun fashion.
Addie: “Mommy, why are some peppers red and some peppers green?”
Palmer: “Mommy, why do you have to put a quarter in there to get a shopping cart?”
Addie” “Mommy, why are there people in the back of the refrigerator?”
Palmer: “Mommy, why does hamburger meat look like spaghetti?”
Addie: “Mommy, Palmer pushed the cart last week. Can I push it today?”
Palmer: “Mommy, why is some of the food cold and some of the food not? Why isn’t any of the food hot?”
Addie: “Mommy, why are there so many kinds of cereal?”
Palmer: “Mommy, why do we go shopping at two stores instead of one? Why doesn’t Aldi have sesame oil and cilantro?”
After 5 months of Addie and Palmer not talking to us when they first came to America, I swore to myself I would never regret when they spoke. But sometimes it’s just a wee bit easier to concentrate on figuring out what we need at the store without the 3rd degree. Just sayin’.
I managed to survive grocery shopping with the kids, but we decided to stop and get Wendy’s because the kids both wanted the new Superman kid’s meal, and I realized that with all the grocery shopping we had done, we were hungry and had nothing to eat.
As we were standing at the cash register, Palmer was pelting me with questions, which I was deflecting with the skill of a ninja Jedi.
“Mommy, do they have hamburgers and chicken here? Mommy what does that machine do? Mommy can I choose my toy in my kids meal?Mommy, why is there money in this box? Can we have it?”
I explained to Palmer that there was a box at the register collecting change for families who are adopting. “Adopting is expensive, I said, so if anybody wants to help another family who is adopting, they can put their money in there.”
Palmer reached into his pocket, and pulled out some change. “Can I put money in there?”
In the midst of questions, Palmer had asked one that, for him, was life-changing. It was the first time he had ever asked if he could give money away. HIS money, not mine.
Since Addie and Palmer grew up in destitution, their obsession with money has been natural. They pick up every penny. They save and scrimp. They talk about money with great love and great passion. When they are given money to put in the offering, they ask if they can keep it instead. The lack of money in their African lives had disastrous consequences in their early childhood. Their earliest memories were about not having enough. To keep a tight handle on money is understandable. But he gave his money away to support adoption. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but maybe deep down inside he feels blessed for the results of the gut-wrenchingly difficult journey he has been on.
As we stood in Wendy’s, I recounted all the times when he had chosen to hold on to his money. Through all of the fundraisers at school, the offering plates that have passed them by, the chances to give to others, our kids just haven’t been ready to share. They wouldn’t be ready to share until they realized they had enough. Until they knew that giving away a quarter wouldn’t mean going without food for the next two days. Until they felt secure. When Palmer dropped his money in that box, it was a momentous sign that he felt safe enough to give to others. I couldn’t have been more proud of him, and more pleased with his choice. My eyes brimmed with tears of joy in the line at Wendy’s.
I think the same is true with giving our resources, our best efforts, our lives to God. Until we know that He is enough, we will hoard, protect, guard what we hold most precious to us. And He is patient, waiting for us to come to understand that our security is in Him. I can also imagine how God’s eyes fill with tears of joy when we decide to trust Him enough to give back to Him what we value most.
I’m thankful every day for my giggly-goofy-happy-smart-strong-sensitive-inquisitive boy who teaches me to let go and love.