Savoring the Moment

Becton is going to dance camp this week. Yesterday, when I went to pick him up, there were two older teens (maybe young adults?) maintaining the sign-out list outside the dance room where the kids sat waiting for their rides. They asked, “Who are you here for?”

Now, I must admit, I was a little surprised. Becton took hip-hop at this studio for a year when he was six. At that time, it seemed everyone knew who he was and my relationship to him. When we returned this summer for camp, Becton was greeted warmly, with exclamations about how much he’d grown, by familiar faces. These two young women in the lobby, apparently, did not know “the famous Becton.”

“Becton…Becton Falco,” I responded.

The name was relayed to another young person in the dance room; and Becton appeared with a smile on his face. Almost immediately, he turned his attention to the snack food machine in the lobby. I turned to listen to him – but not before I caught a glimpse of the expressions on the faces of the two women maintaining checkout. Their jaws visibly dropped as they stared at us.

Becton didn’t notice. He was too busy selecting his snack and asking for money. I smiled. We hadn’t received this reaction in quite a while. Oh, I recognized it. It was the reaction of someone surprised by the fact that a black child had a white mother.

As I dug in my wallet for coins and asked Becton to count the change, I thought back to my early responses to this kind of shocked expression: I worried.

I asked myself: Are you disapproving? Am I doing something wrong? Does he look ill-attended to? Are you angry that I’ve taken one of “your own” away? Do you pity him? Do you pity me? Are you thinking ‘you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into’?

Over time, Becton and I settled into just being who we are: a mother and child; and I worried less about what others thought. After all, Becton has never seemed bothered by the difference in our skin color. He has many friends who are either adopted or a different race than their parents or both. He accepts this as the way some families are configured.

I’ve been reading a variety of things this summer and happen to be in the middle of Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. I just read a passage where the father tells his young daughter that she will come to reject him when she’s a teenager. He says to her that this is a “certainty.”

I know I have rejection to look forward to with Becton as well. The thing is – when Becton rejects me, I won’t know if it’s because of race, because he is adopted and I’m not his biological mother, or because he is an adolescent. My friend and adoption triad member therapist, Leslie Mackinnon, says it’s impossible to sort out. But, she also says, when you are adopted, it’s likely to be “adolescence with the volume turned way up.”

For now, I want to hold on to this moment in time when it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks about us because we are happy with who we are. I’ll be preparing, as best I can, for the next stage. But I never want to be so lost in worry about the future that I fail to cherish the time at hand.

Now if I can just get Becton to choose a granola bar instead of Doritos…

3 thoughts on “Savoring the Moment

  1. Your a very cool Mom and family Rebecca. All children rebel a little in their teen years but almost always return to the fold once they’ve figured themselves out. Keep on being the great mother/family you and and don’t fret about the future. The present is whats important now as it will build your future. Good Luck Mom!

  2. Our family is oh so different. 2 dads raising 5 adopted kids, daughter is black. So far we have been lucky to not have any of our kids pull away and say things like “you’re not my real father” or “how come you adopted me” we’ve always been very honest and I think it’s working. 2 of our boys did run into a few problems with their friends while in middle school and much to our surprise they stuck up for us telling their friends that if they have a problem with their dads being gay then they are not their friends. Wow, it felt great. I don’t think you’ll have much problems with your son the only thing is the looks from people that are ignorant or just don’t understand. You’re doing a fantastic job!!!! Keep it up and don’t lose faith!!!

    • Michael, your comment reminds me of something else I’ve been puzzling over. I’m starting to believe that my kids have it too easy. They live in a nice neighborhood, go to good schools, have no medical problems other than learning disabilities for which there are accommodations and little stigma. Their heterosexual parents are happily married. They lack for nothing materially — though they beg for more. Recently, I asked my teenage son to participate in a 2-hour choir room clean up (to be followed by pizza). He said he didn’t want to go because it would be work. I reminded him that he’d just been on a choir tour to the Bahamas which cost his parents a pretty penny and for which I did most of the fundraising. I talked to him about teamwork and about how there was always work involved in maintaining families, teams, and other groups. He still didn’t want to go.

      Sometimes I wish he and the others had some sort of adversity that motivated them. If his parents were gay or disabled, if one of his siblings was being bullied, if someone had a drug problem, etc. – would he – would they – rally and close ranks and contribute to finding the solution?

      Since none of those scenarios reflect us (at this point in time), John and I have decided to try a cost-benefit approach. That is – it costs a lot of money to maintain the lifestyle to which they are accustomed: housing, food, clothes, phone service, TV and computers, school tuitions and sports fees and equipment, etc. When they contribute by doing household chores and animal care, our costs are reduced and they learn life skills. When they read and study (instead of watching TV or playing computer games), they up their chances of doing well in school — leading to leadership roles and potential scholarships — thereby reducing costs again. When they exercise, they also decrease medical costs, increase the chance of more playing time, and so forth. You get my drift. So, we’ve instituted a two to one rule. Do two hours of chores, exercise, game playing with family members or others, reading or school work to gain one hour of mindless screen time. I don’t know if this is going to help, but it seems worth the try. John and I are both aware that when the family does activities together — even if we have to coerce them to participate — the stress level for everyone decreases (despite the little battles). Wish us luck!

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