Friday, May 7, 2010

Building Trust

Ahhh, May.

May always seems to be one of those months that chews me up and spits me out. Still doesn't compare to December--in which I'm like a bad science experiment and turn from a solid to a liquid. Let's just say partially eaten and decomposing aren't good looks for me.

This is just a crazy theory, but perhaps because this month is so challenging for moms is the reason why someone chose to celebrate Mother's Day in May. I must admit, it keeps me from going on strike.

Probably like many of you, I'm busy helping the girls finish their school year with tests and projects, music programs and ballet recitals. I'm also helping the boys finish their homeschooling year so we don't have as much to do this summer. This week has been so crazy that even Princess Leah and Luke Skywalker (our goldfish) are starting to complain about the condition of the house. I've got a pile of laundry that might be eligible for some kind of Guinness Book of World Records and a bathroom that looks like it belongs in a gas station. Since I don't want a rep from the Health Department to visit, this will be a quick post between loads of laundry and toilet scrubbing.

We had another "getting to know you" encounter with Daniel the other day. Even before Daniel came home, our hope was that we would be able to earn his trust. He has experienced a lifetime of disappointment and neglect. We soon realized that his level of trust was in negative numbers.

He needs to trust that there will always be enough food. To trust that we won't abuse him. To trust that we know what is best for him. To trust that he is safe. To trust that he is just as loved and part of the family as our other children. To trust that we won't abandon him. We are still trying to earn that trust a little at a time.

What I didn't consider was that he would also have to earn our trust. Trust that he would be honest. Trust that he would be respectful of our home. Trust that he wouldn't harm his siblings or pets. Trust that he would be a loving member of our family. He has earned that trust quickly but the other day I realized that he hadn't yet earned it completely.

We had embarked on a quick trip to the grocery store and had actually made it to the check-out without too many, "Mom, can I have . . . " episodes. But there we were at the register--I was eyeing the home and garden magazines and the boys were eyeing the gum. The boys asked if they could have some, I remembered a cup holder in my van that had become the final resting place for gum that had lost its flavor, and felt certain I had made the right decision by saying no. To my surprise, they took it really well and just replied with "Okay, mom."

I proceeded to unload my groceries onto the check-out counter feeling good about life, then out of the corner of my eye I saw Daniel fiddling with something in his pocket. My thoughts exploded into a dialogue of "Did he steal some gum?" to "No, I really don't think he would take something."

As the check-out lady chatted with me about Daniel's cast and shared about the time her granddaughter broke her arm, I smiled and nodded hiding the fact that my blood pressure was rising and my stomach was churning. I debated whether I should ask Daniel what was in his pocket or head home to confront him there. I didn't want to falsely accuse him, yet it was a real possibility that he had stolen something. That was his old way of life. That was how he survived.

I finally leaned over, pointed to his shorts and whispered, "What's in your pocket?" I don't think he fully heard me, but looked down, discovered his fly was open, turned red (okay, with his beautifully pigmented skin he doesn't really turn red but he looked embarrassed), zipped up and said, "Thanks, Mom." Oh great. Not only am I the driver of the get-away car, I've been letting my possible felon walk around showing London, France, and Batman underpants.

By this time I could see that, without question, he had something in his pocket. Ugh! What should I do? I wished I was on one of those game shows that let you phone a friend. Or if I could just quickly Google "Adopted son. Stealing. Mom freaking out."

I didn't want to overreact. I know many people have stolen things or "permanently borrowed" items when they were younger and they aren't currently members of the mafia. Still, Daniel knows he has a clean slate and a fresh start. He has such good character and a strong conscience and I was sad that his old temptations might have such a hold on him. I knew this small incident could tear down the trust that had been built--I would later wonder what else he might steal. That I would question his future words and actions.

I could almost hear the theme song from "Cops" playing ("bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do . . . ). I leaned over one more time and asked, "Hey, buddy, what's in your pocket?"

He looked at me with those big eyes and slowly pulled from his pocket a handful of . . . Nerf gun bullets. That were his! That he brought from home! Oh, praise God! I hoped he didn't know that I hadn't trusted him--that my mind had already had him convicted him as a Bubble Yum thief. I tried to contain my elation and nonchalantly said, "Yep. That's what I thought you had in there. Be sure to take them out of your pocket before I wash your shorts cause they might melt in the dryer."

My check-out lady has never had a customer so giddy in answering that I didn't have coupons and preferred plastic to paper. I skipped out the store with my heart rejoicing.

That night when I tucked him in, I told him that one of the things I loved about him was that I could trust him. I asked if he trusted me. He sweetly nodded. When we said bedtime prayers, he grabbed my hand and held it tightly. I was grateful for one more brick laid on that wall of trust--a brick that we put there together.

More Than Lots,


Jessica said...

Such a lovely story. You are such a wonderful and loving Mom! Happy Mother's Day! I bet this year will be extra special!

Rachel said...

I read your whole post. Your value and trust for your little one shown through your words. Those moments of grace and willingness to wait before responding are inspiring to read.

Thank you for sharing. I was blessed.


Kristin Ferguson said...

I need to go back and read up on your son's story--I'm very intrigued and excited at how far he's come! You are a great Mom and the fact that you can insert humor even in stressful moments is a gift that most people don't possess. Your kids are very blessed!


Cari said...

thank you for your comment on my blog. you have a beautiful family. btw, i enjoyed reading this post on building trust...too funny!

Angie said...

Wow, Kathie, I admire your patience to figure out the best way to handle the situation. Sometimes I let what I think overpower the actual truth that I have made a situation worse unnecessarily. Thank you for sharing and I am so glad it was a moment that a brick so beautiful and secure could be laid on your wonderful family foundation. Believe it or not you taught him something too!
Enjoy your blessings this Mother's Day.

Christine said...

What a greta ending to the story! I have been in your shoes more than once where the ending didn't turn out so great. Happy Mother's Day.

Jireh Ministries Foundation, Inc said...

Love your story and I can relate! Thanks for being there for them!

Kim said...

How glad I am he is a part of your family now. How blessed he is to have such Godly, patient, loving parents to help him overcome his past and blossom into the wonderful boy he has always been. He just needed you in his life to guide and direct him and you are doing a fabulous job of that!

sierrasmom said...

How how your heart must have rejoiced!!! Great story and thank you for sharing it with us!!! Have a WONDERFUL Mother's Day, friend!!!

Teri said...

Aw yay Daniel! I have to say I loved this post as we have had a difficult time with Hannah's trust too. Stealing food and hiding it for later in her room and she has a real stealing prob too. I even staged a "run in" with a cop to help things. So, I totally get that feeling of seeing something in the pocket and not wanting to accuse her BUT not wanting to described it perfectly! Thanks for sharing this!

Mamita J said...


I am so glad that Daniel has earned your trust. What a huge blessing!

You handled that SO WELL! I might have jumped to conclusions.

The deeper in I get, the more I know that attachment is trust. It's all about our kids trusting us in each moment and us trusting our children to honor us.