Around the Neighborhood

Today I'm making every moment count over here. I'm cross posting this entry for the {W}rite of Passage challenge. Join the challenge by clicking here.


Into the Fray

We were all sitting around the dinner table when it happened. My nephew, E, piped up with “I was born last because my mama had to sell Javi first.” Between choking and fits of coughing, I immediately searched for the right words to clear up his confusion regarding how his half-brother came to be my son.

Everyone knows that my older sister is Javi’s biological mother and that she was ill equipped to raise a child when he was born, even though he was (thankfully) not born with any major neurological or physical disabilities. When Javi was a baby, my oldest nephew (who was five and living with his father at the time) asked why he couldn’t come be my son, too. When E was born 14 short months after Javi, the world asked one question: Why one and not the other?

Sitting there at the table, my first plan of attack was to give E “the script” — his mother couldn’t raise Javi just then so she asked us to. I quickly realized that wouldn’t answer the looming question, so I took a big gulp of Diet Dr. Pepper to steel my nerves and asked E to start at the beginning.

E: Well, my mama sold Javi to you so she’d have room in the trailer to have me.
Me: Honey, nobody got sold.
Javi: Yeah! She didn’t sell me. She gave me away. You didn’t have to pay for me, right, Mama?
Me: Hold on, you two. Listen. She didn’t sell Javi and she didn’t give him away. She let me have him.
Javi: Yeah, so she gave me away.
E: Are you sure she didn’t sell him? We usually sell stuff. I think she sold him because if she didn’t sell him she couldn’t have room for me. I’m eight and he’s nine. So she sold him.
Me: Nobody sold anybody!
Javi: I think I’d be worth like a thousand dollars maybe. Don’t you think, mama?

This is when the mountain man decided the best way to back ourselves off of this landmine was to turn the tables on E.

MM: Alright, E. You got us. Your mom did sell some kids, and she said we could sell you right after dinner.
E: She did not!
MM: Yep, sure did. We have a new family coming to test you out in about 20 minutes.
E: You’d better not!
MM: Go on and eat up so you’ll be ready when they get here.

Cue distraught tears. Listen to Javi still trying to factor up what price tag he’d put on himself and the mountain man hooting with laughter. How did a simple family dinner spiral so far out of control in just a few torturous moments? How many times in my lifetime will I have to address the misconceptions — and the hard truths — surrounding my son’s birth?

Because sometimes holding it together is the most you can offer, I assured both E and Javi that their biological mother loves them both very much. And then I retreated to the bedroom where the dark wouldn’t stare at me with big eyes, waiting for an answer that makes sense, and the silence wouldn’t ask questions that I don’t have the right answers for.

I sat there for a while, sulking that my son — my family — rarely gets to be normal. Then I listened to the boisterous and loving laughter of the people in my life, remembered what the point of living is, took a deep breath, and dived right back into the fray.


  • Red Lotus Mama

    Don't you just love how the most difficult question gets asked at the most unassuming time. I know there will come the time when my daughter asks me why I am no longer married to her daddy and I will have to find the right words to explain the truth to her. For now I am able to redirect and give her answers that make the real question less interesting. I think a script needs to be prepared, but when it comes down to it will that script comfort her or just placate me? I don't think there is ever the right words or the right time to say them for any situation. My only answer to her now and always will be "what matters most is that mommy and daddy love you, so how are family is structured doesn't matter so much."

  • Christie

    No family is really normal, I don't think. Yours sounds so loving though. I love your post

  • Kelly Miller

    @RLM - I have a script, but as soon as I started, I knew that it would go right over his head (he's much less mature than Javi is, despite the close age range). I definitely think you give them what they can handle when they can handle it.

    What's funny is I've never really thought about all the "dysfunction" that families thrive in spite of. Like divorce, or death or addiction. Thanks for that perspective!

  • Kelly Miller

    @Christie - Thank you! We do really enjoy each other, so it helps when the kids spit out crazy things. Plus, my nephew spends lots of time with us and somehow always brings up either the adoption or Javi's biological father (who is not present in our lives). Only love will get you through that business!

  • Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    Kids are funny that way...I'm sure it'll be a point they bring up again and again together. Each teasing the other that he was sold/will be sold. ;-) You'll want to tear your hair out now, but it'll be funny to you later. ;-)

  • Kelly Miller

    @Colleen - very true! When he first said it, I worried that Javi would internalize it. Now it'll be that running joke that everyone laughs at.

  • Anonymous

    Wonderful moment! And you capture it well! Just as you headed into the darkness and I wanted to shout "normal in only in fairytales", you heard the laughter and seem to realize you have more than many! I really like this post. We are thinking about adoption and I worry alot about how a child with adjust but this shows me it's all about how much the child is loved and I know we can handle that part!

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