Christine Rhyner

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Dust Bunnies and Poo
Friday, July 19, 2013 by Christine

We all get offended pretty much on a daily basis.  There's the impatient driver behind us who keeps honking for us to drive twenty miles over the speed limit too.  Or the grocery clerk who packs our carton of eggs on the bottom of the shopping bag.  Or, our spouse says something critical and hurts our feelings.  It's a given that as a member of the human race one is bound to suffer injustices, emotional upsets and offensive remarks.

As parents through international adoption there certainly will be moments in ours and our children's lives when we will find ourselves exposed to some unpleasant situations and language we didn't expect.  It's a fact.  But rather than be blindsided by, or ill prepared to deal with these incidents and either a. sweep them under the rug or b. go on the attack, we can know what to expect and learn positive ways to be the parents our children need us to be.

When we sweep a matter under the rug we make a conscious choice to hide a mess rather than expose it and clean it up.

The issues and offenses placed on us by others can truly be gross and messy.  We often pull away from them revolted, not wanting to take a good look at them.  Since we don't really see them for what they are we don't know how to rid ourselves of them.  Our inclination is to disengage from their source but the mess usually follows us elsewhere.  The unwanted and unexpected contact with them makes us feel dirty but we just try to shake it off or ignore it.

But we speak of others who sweep things under the rug critically.  We decide they're wrong or lazy in not dealing with the unpleasant issues of life.  We see them maintaining control by keeping anything too ugly or difficult to clean by stuffing it, keeping it under wraps.

Of course, the problem for people who have a tendency to do this is that even though they won't look at or share with others what's going on in their lives, it's still there--growing.

Whether these matters are like fluffy, light dust bunnies or more insidious piles of poo, stuffers keep sweeping.  Sooner or later, over either the short or long haul, the mound they've created under the rug will trip them up.  If forced to pull back the rug they're easily overwhelmed and don't know how to get started with the cleanup.

Dealing with insensitivities, assumptions or unrealistic expectations, which are the commonest of offenses made concerning international adoption, is a lot like facing and cleaning up the dust bunnies and poo that accumulates through life.  You can't just stuff it.  It keeps growing until finally you can't move past the lump.  You become a prisoner to a confined area that grows smaller as the lump grows larger.

When it comes to an offense by someone either unknown to or disliked by us, we are inclined to be dismissive or stick it to them in the manner by which they have stuck it to us.  After all, they elicit no loving thoughts or responses from us and we don't want any type of relationship with him/her.

It's perfectly normal to feel anger and a desire to retaliate against an injustice or injury.  God doesn't expect for us to never feel ticked off with others or to have relationships with everyone we meet.

But responding to an unkindness or bad behavior with anger, unless it poses a real threat or danger, really serves to fan the flames fueling the offensive party to gear up for another negative encounter with someone just like you.

Once again in the Book of Proverbs, the Bible says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)

When I think of the impatient driver honking behind me getting a good look at my middle finger as he zooms past me or turning red in the face as I slow to ten miles below the speed limit and shout a profanity at him, I realize that fueling his fire might cause him to actually harm someone else on the road.

When something offensive is directed toward me or my children I think about the other adoptive parents and children I know are out there and they all give me great reasons to not want to indirectly create a mess in their lives.

Even more importantly, I know that giving a verbal "eye for an eye" won't promote a sense of wellbeing for my children.  Letting someone have it for being inappropriate might feel good for a moment, but I don't carry that sense of relief or release with me throughout the rest of the day.  More often than not, the moment passes and then I'm irritable.  A cranky mom produces cranky kids.

When my kids are with me I have to be especially sensitive about how I handle these situations.  My anger does not make all well.  On the contrary, unpleasant confrontations with others make my children feel unsafe.

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