"IF YOU DON'T PICK THESE TOYS UP RIGHT NOW I AM GIVING THEM AWAY TO ORPHANS!!!"
Its one of the threats I use when I'm really, truly at my last and final straw. The kids had been pushing my buttons all morning -- The Hubster was sleeping after an all night shift and they'd been squabbling and wrestling and not listening to a word I'd said. They were obnoxious and loud and the play room was in worse shape than when they'd started "cleaning" it.
But then Will said, "Mama, what's orphans?"
"Orphans are little boys and girls who don't have any parents - no one who buys them nice toys like all the ones you have."
"Oh," he said, thoughtfully. "Like Harry Potter?"
"Yes, like Harry Potter." This finally made me stop and smile. Yes, every book off the bookshelf was still in a messy pile on the floor, but my three-year-old was obviously very interested in this topic.
"He got a Mommy and Daddy but they were way mean to him, right?"
"You're right. His Aunt and Uncle adopted him and they weren't so nice."
"What's dadopted, Mama?"
He was standing stark still in the middle of the room - more still than I'd seen him all day, so I dropped down to his eye level to answer. "Its when people decide that even when they're not someone's real Mom or Dad that they'd like to be that kid's Mom or Dad anyway, and they take that little boy or girl home and love them."
The little gears in his head were turning. He was thinking about this deeply.
"Do you know who's adopted?" I went on. Will shook his head. "Cousin Luke is adopted."
His eyes got big. "COUSIN LUKE IS LIKE HARRY POTTER?!?" Luke's coolness level was instantly ratcheted even higher than it already had been because he was now like Harry Potter.
I laughed. "Yep. I guess Luke is like Harry Potter."
"How did they dadopt him?"
I was a little lost for words. How do you surmise, in toddler terms, the process of adoption?
"Well baby, his Mommy and Daddy didn't have any babies of their own - but they wanted one. And they found Luke and they knew that he was perfect for them and they were able to bring him home and love him very very much - just as if he was their boy in the first place."
He was thinking some more. "When he was a boy - like me - his Mommy and Daddy dadopted him?"
"Actually, no. His Mommy and Daddy adopted him when he was a teeny tiny baby."
Will simply nodded, accepting all I'd told him and knew it to be true. "Oh."
"Actually, I remember when Luke was a baby. I was about the same age that Nicholas is now - I was six. I was so excited to have a cousin to play with!" I smiled, remembering how the six year old me had offered my aunt baby sitting services, and how she so sweetly agreed as if it were a great idea and then stayed in the other room so I could "take care of the baby by myself."
"Luke's in the Marmy," Will said proudly, rubbing his arms.
"Yep. Luke's in the Army."
"And he has tattoos. Lots and lots of them," he went on rubbing his arms to show where he knew Luke's tattoos to be.
"You're right. He does."
The arm rubbing continued. "And he has muscles. BIG ONES." He flexed, showing me how big his muscles were.
"Yep. That he does."
"He's super duper strong. He can lift houses."
I chuckled. "Well, not exactly, bud-"
"YES HE CAN. Like TWO houses," he interrupted.
"OK then. He can lift houses."
"Yep," he said. "He's like a super hero."
Little dude, I'd have to agree.
My cousin Luke is serving with the 2nd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment and is currently stationed in Afghanistan. This is his second active tour (his first was in Iraq) and he's scheduled to come home this spring.