A Day at the Museum


To be perfectly honest, it was closer to 1 hour & 29 minutes, but that’s still pretty good for the boy who has been telling me for weeks that he doesn’t want to go to the Carnegie Natural History Museum. I’ll admit though that I took him to Bruegger’s for bagels this morning to soften him up, and after several rounds of no’s he finally agreed to go. (For those of you who were really paying attention at the beginning, there were concerns about him being sensitive to gluten, but so far the only allergies that still seem to be significant are peanuts & pork.)

Although DJ vehemently hates getting his picture taken–so much for the photo album that I bought to keep pictures of all of our family firsts–I managed to get a few shots. His favorite exhibit, by far, was the minerals & gems, which was one of my favorites as a kid.

Polar World at the Carnegie Natural History Museum

DJ’s unwillingness to try things has definitely been one of our biggest challenges. And like so many things, it’s hard to discern when his reluctance is your run-of-the-mill 9-year-old behavior or something deeper or most likely a bit of both. I’m sure that I’m not the first mom to say this, but if I hear “Boring!” or “I don’t want to” one more time, I might lose my mind.

But as I keep reminding myself, I always knew that parenthood would be one of the most difficult things that I’ve ever attempted to do.

When you go through the adoption process for an older child, you are asked many times & in many different ways what kind of child are you willing to accept. I’m sure for every couple some questions are obvious, even idiotic. For us, accepting a child of any race was a no-brainer. We also knew that there was a strong likelihood that our adopted child would be born of parents who abused drugs and alcohol, possibly while pregnant.

And then there were the difficult and disturbing questions that remind prospective parents yet again how much these waiting children have already endured in their short lives. Are you willing to accept a child who has been physically or sexually abused? A child with a terminal illness? A child of rape/incest? A child who starts fires or smears feces or abuses animals?

After years of filling out these types of forms and attending classes for foster/adoptive parents, I feel like we had a fairly realistic picture of the types of issues and challenges that our adoptive child might be bringing to our family.

So while we’ve probably had more than our fair share of “bad days” and hours-long tantrums in the last two months, I’m choosing to focus on the incredible job that DJ has been doing as he adjusts to his new life with us. The times that he said “yes” to something new, like going to the museum today, or told us that he loves us “the mostest.”

And when I think that I can’t take him choosing to play video games over going for a walk on a beautiful summer day like I imagine all of the “good” moms & kids are doing, I’m going to remind myself that my boy is trying his best, and I love him exactly as he is right now.


10 responses »

  1. The Hillman Hall of Gems and Minerals was also my son’s favorite. Dinosaurs were “boring”. Egypt was just “okay” when he was a little older. He also preferred to look at Art, and the Hall of Sculpture. CSC used to have a kids Rockhound club. You might want to inquire about that.

  2. Margaret, as the parent of a generally easy-going and well behaved nine-year-old, I’m here to tell you that video games will win over ANYTHING! And when he’s banned from the wii, he’s taken to sitting in a chair and just staring at me while I work. WTF?! I keep saying, read a book, make art, play with your toys, using your f-ing imagination! I am including the cursing so you’ll know HOW frustrated I get. And I bet for DJ the reluctance is ten times more because he just wants what he knows and branching out probably feels like having to go out of his new shell that he’s just getting used to. It all takes time. But yeah, 9 is a tough age all around. And the mythical children who magically don’t want to play video games and but love to go for walks with their parents? They are home schooled, cut off from the rest of the world and will have a very hard time adjusting as adults (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Wheeler will go on walks on occasion but it usually involves a promise of getting ice cream while on the walk. When he was younger it wasn’t a problem at all but the past year has seen big changes in his attitude. And he has less patience for things that stymie him and will try to quit easily. So hang in there! From one mom to another, you are doing a GREAT job!

  3. girl i am sure that you already know this, but DJ is totally testing you to see if you are going to be there for the long haul. I had a “little sister” from age 12-18 who lived in a group home. She was the victim of incest with multiple relatives. When i first started being her “big sister” she was excited/wanted to go places/do things/etc. Then during the second month she became a total shit! She would run away from me in public, throw tantrums, lock her self in the bath room at a store or resturant and refuse to come out unless i bought her cigarettes (which i didn’t) stole money from my purse, etc.
    We would go to her therapist and talk about her behaviors and she would cry and say she was sorry and “i don’t know why i do those things.” This went on for the next year and I was totally exhausted but i was determined not to give up on her like everyone in her family did. With time, and maturity, and the feeling of knowing that she could be as much of a little B as she wanted and I wasn’t going anywhere, she became my “little sister” and really began to enjoy spending time with me, my family, my friends. We didn’t have to go do something exciting, she loved to spend dinner at my parents house and play board games. She eventually grew up and out of the system and moved back to her home town to live with her sister. I still think about her and wish her the best. I hope that she still thinks about me.

    • You’re absolutely right. The poor kid asks us multiple times a day if we like him, and he’s convinced our caseworker is going to send him back if we tell her anything negative. I just wish there was some way to speed up the trusting process b/c he is really stressed out a lot of the time, but I know that I just have to patient. Your story was definitely encouraging!

  4. Margaret

    I’d like to echo Liz’s sentiment on the f’in video games. What you describe here sounds like a typical outing with my family. I understand that you’re facing some unique challenges as a parent, and I don’t want to minimize them. On the other hand, I think you can take heart that many parents and kids deal with a lot of the issues described here. I don’t think there really are perfect families with perfect children. We have a number of good friends with kids similar in age to DJ and to my kids. A lot of them look perfect to me. In fact people often compliment our children on their positive attitudes. But when I got to know those parents of “perfect” children I discovered that they share all of the imperfections of mine. Nor do my children have perfect parents, and I’ve learned to accept that too.

    It sounds like a pretty good day at the museum.

    • Steve,

      Thanks for the words of encouragement! It’s hard not to assume that everyone else’s kids are making better use of the beautiful summer weather while my kid is playing WWE 12 on Xbox 🙂

    • Jeanne, can’t believe that you sent this a month ago & I’m only getting to it now…sorry! I didn’t hear the story, but I’m going to look it up now. Thanks for the recommendation!

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