Thursday, June 9, 2011

But They Can Pee Indoors!

If you find yourself comparing adopting a child to adopting a dog and writing a list of how they are similar and different, the former may not be for you. I was guilted into going to visited an orphanage a few weekends back because my husband had volunteered us to go and was going to "check it out" if I was or wasn't. I asked him if this was just playing or shopping, but I never really got a straight answer for the motives behind this outing. I was given the option to not go, and it was a genuine offer, but somehow the response of "laid on the couch until around noon, foraged in the kitchen for food, and then painting my toenails while deciding if I liked crunchy or smooth peanut butter better" to the question 'what did you do this weekend?' doesn't seem like an option when your husband can respond with, "you know, playing with real live orphan" because you know, I like to make it my life goal to never let anyone ask the question. 'how did SHE end up with HIM?' I like that table neatly turned as it turns out. Because you know, that isn't insecurity or anything. Of. Course. Not.

An hour spent on the air-condition deprived metro, because we live in 1978 and an hour in the back seat of a car where I managed to not get car sick (hooray!) brought us to the orphanage. I spent the entire trip over nervous about my interactions with the children which typically involve a lot of awkwardness after I ask my go to kid questions of, "So, how's school going?" and the follow up one that makes Barbara Walters weak in the knees, "What's your favorite subject" After that I am out of ammo and the awkward silence usually envelopes all around. In fairness I am not just an adult that doesn't know how to relate to kids, I was also a kid that didn't know how to relate to kids. If I wasn't alone silently playing with Barbies, who were having very real deep conversations in my head, I was being indoctrinated with  discussing right-wing politics with my Grandmother. I was never interested in dirt, intramural sports, boy bands, or candy land as a leisure activity. Magnum PI was my first crush, not Joey Macintyre. Fucked up, I know. Maybe I missed out on something, or maybe you missed out on something. Who can tell? I am incredibly ill at ease around kids, just like my dad, and his parents before him. I come from a long line of children-make-me-uncomfortable-folk. Coupled with my disdain of being touched by strangers and this was shaping up to be a perfect Saturday.

I am also not good with pity or sad situations. That nervous laugh? That came from me. Really, genuine emotion in general, not my forte. So, we are spending the day with orphaned children. Yes this seems like exactly something I should be doing. But my excitement to try new things inability to say no because I am worried someone will think I am a bad person won out. Nervous laugh. What do you talk about with orphans? "So how do you like living in an orphanage?" Seems inappropriate. "What's your favorite thing about not having a family?" also seems a bit forced. Turns out, these kids aren't even orphans, they were extracted from bad home lives. For a child to be taken out of the family home in Russia, it had to have been pretty awful. Afterall, this is the country that is excited they have a child-service hotline now, and their PR person gave a conference bragging about how a 4 year old left home alone while her mom went to work the other day called because she was bored and was read storeybooks over the phone by the operator. A flawed system they has.  I was truly expecting emotional basketcases to come bounding towards me. Then, they weren't. These children, politely approached me, extended a dirt-caked-hand, and offered a heavily accented 'how do you do?' They were excited to practice the few words of English they had been taught, excited to play with the sidewalk chalk we brought, and fascinated by the parachute game. Before we came, I wasn't worried I was going to get punched in the nose, I was expecting it. After an hour there, I was laying on the sidewalk having myself outlined in chalk.

Maybe not being expected to have comfortable conversations, after all they know about 5 words of English and I know about 20 10 words of Russian, helped ease the tension for me. I don't know what it was but I found myself with a sense of peace and joy.

I went home with dirty fingernails considering an option that has never been one for me. Maybe it was when I was making a mental list of how it would be harder and easier than adopting a dog, or maybe it was going out that night in heels that were too high deciding what was an appropriate amount of rubles to spend on drinks, that I realized I am probably not ready for that noise.


  1. Ew. I don't really like kids that much. They're so germy. Probably extra germy if they live in an orphanage. I always find it very noble when people do charity work at orphanages but I'm glad someone else is doing that noble work instead of me.

  2. Kyle, at my old job in a sales meeting one time they were giving our team options for charity work that year: volunteer at a kids' camp or sort donation clothes, and without thinking I blurted out, "no way I am working at the camp, kids are sticky and they smell like maple-syrup," I never lived that down.

    I wish it was as easy as with cats..if someone doesn't like cats they can just pretend to be allergic and everyone leaves them alone, if you are a woman and don't like kids no one buys that you're allergic to them.

  3. I love the way you write! So funny!!! I ALWAYS laugh when I read your blog :)

    p.s.the name of the blog is just awesome :D

    Fashion Fractions

  4. You are absolutely hilarious! I found myself laughing pretty hard at certain narrative parts of this post! I'm glad you had a good day overall!


  5. you always make me laugh. adore this. thanks for another amazing post love. swing by to see pics of Hollywood's most celebrity filled neighborhood. xoxo