As I was entertaining a toddler today with hand gestures at Panera while his mother and grandmother were chatting , I got an chance to strike up a conversation with his grandmother. Even though the conversation with “Granny” was brief while mom was in the bathroom changing juniors diaper, we found out we had quite a few things in common.
Me: How many grandchildren do you have? (asked while she was clearing off the table and depositing everything in the trash can just to the left of my table.)
Granny: I have 3. Two in Florida and one here with one more on the way. We had two kids of our own..
Me: We have 4 kids. Two of each. Fourteen months between the boys and 16 months between the girls. (Her daughter who was in the bathroom was pregnant with #2-18 months between her kids.) Right now, we also have 2 exchange kids.
Granny: When the kids were younger, we had 7 exchange students. Four from Germany; 1 from Switzerland; 1 from Finland, and 1 from Chile.
Me: I am sure there was quite a contrast between the European and South American exchange students! In the past we also did foster care. (I don’t know if I was trying to “top” her accomplishments or not, but I did seem to want to find an area where I had exceeded their families desire to “do good”.)
Granny: We adopted a sibling group of 3. The oldest two moved out when they turned 18. The youngest is still at the house. When he turns 18 in two years, he is probably going to leave too. I told him I would get him back to Pennsylvania, and then I guess I will be done with him like I am with his brother and sister.
Me.: When you told me before, you said you only had 2 kids….
Granny: Yes, I know. They just never felt the same. I adopted them at 11, 10, & 8. They just never felt the same. Jenny (who is now done with changing diapers has joined us) was 23 when we adopted them. I kept our adopted daughter from getting pregnant, and I kept our adopted son out of prison. I had higher goals, but those are the only things I really think I accomplished with them. (she pauses) When the last one leaves, we will be done.
Me: Wow, well God bless you for doing that! I know it must have been hard! My wife and I had a sibling group of 3 for awhile. We didn’t adopt them, but the family that did, watched them leave their families as soon as they graduated from high school. They packed up their things and moved to Florida with their older siblings. I hope it is something you are glad you did even though it wasn’t what you hoped for.
Daughter: (She was noticeable irritated. The adopted siblings didn’t seem like a favorite family discussion.) Okay, mom. Time to go. (Looking at her mother.) After the baby is born, I am hoping to take some hot yoga classes, will you be able to come and watch the kids while I go. Since they are 5:30 in the morning, I wanted to……
I felt sorry for the mother and daughter. I am sorry their family didn’t get the support and counseling they needed. (okay, it is hard to know everything in a brief conversation. ) And, of course, I feel sorry for the kids who were adopted and either never felt loved OR would never let themselves be loved. Also, I feel very grateful my family never went forward with any adoptions. We could have, but chose not to jump so far into the unknown. However, I am slightly jealous in a way. With all of the blessings my family has, it would seem like we have a responsibility to share them in a larger way then we presently do. Maybe the “idea” for doing sharing our blessings is just a conversation and a Panera visit away….