Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Newcomer

The last time a new little fellow joined our family, he arrived right on schedule, after an exhausting but exhiliarating 12 hours.

It was the same adjustment: We didn't understand each other. We weren't sure what he wanted; he couldn't understand our words. He didn't always want to sleep when I thought he should. He didn't eat at the same times as we like to eat - or the same food.

How would we begin to understand and communicate our needs to each other. How would we adapt to this new boy? How would he fit into our family, and our busy daily routine?

We wanted him to have a positive experience. We wanted him to feel welcomed, to feel like part of the family, to know that we were thrilled he had joined us. We wanted him to feel that this is a great place to live.

What would be the best way to welcome this newcomer into our home and our lives?  His welcometo the family was important, because the way we related to him would influence his ideas about what our part of the world is really like.

I should also mention a few more details: the newcomer arrived weighing about 130 pounds, was as tall as me and had come from another country to learn English. (Gotcha!) By living with us he would also learn about our culture and customs.

Naturally, we adapted our home to accommodate this boy. We overlooked his upside-down sleeping schedules. We adapted our mealtimes and menus to make his adjustment easier. We spoke differently to him, talking very slowly, choosing our words carefully, enunciating clearly, and using gestures he would understand. With patience and good humor, it wasn't long before he had adapted to the our world, and our schedules and speech were back to normal.

Adapting our lives to make the newcomer's life was certainly an inconvenience, but we actually enjoyed it. ENJOYED it! Was this heightened gratification a "pitfall"?* Did it make him the center of our family universe? Did it turn him into a tyrant, running the household and destroying out unity? Did we give up our friends, family, other relationships? No. On the contrary, he loved us, and we loved him. He made many friends here and he enriched our lives. Like any other new addition to the family, he didn't come to try to rule the world. He came to try to fit in, and only wanted the chance to do so with some extra support from us to get him started.

*Ezzo warns parents that caring for a baby might give you a "heightened gratification" but calls this joy a "pitfall" that hinders your ultimate goals.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful way to look at it. Thank you for sharing this lovely perspective!