Maeve recently had her first visit to an aquarium. And, like any happenin’ toddler would do, she arranged to meet a good friend there and ‘do’ lunch afterwards. This is Maeve hugging her dear pal Taylor goodbye at the end of the day.
Both girls had their little hands stamped at the door before being ‘strollered’ in to watch the seals at feeding time, turtles, penguins, sharks and alligators, and huge Funky-Colored Fish (so I didn’t take notes, ok?) that seemed to swim in place perfectly within the girls’ sightlines.
Ironically, both girls munched on Goldfish crackers the entire time. (Kind of sick, actually. But
their parents these girls do have a sense of humor. Even at 18 months old.)
Well, today, Taylor’s folks had their final home visit as they dot the I’s and cross the T’s in the final days of the process to adopt their second child. When I reached out to Taylor’s mom this morning to wish her a nice visit, I could sense that she and Taylor’s dad had been busily preparing and were eager to get the visit done. In fact, it brought back some memories of our own home visit preparations a couple years ago.
From frantic cleaning (as if the house were ever in a state that literally would cause us to be found unfit to parent) to baking cookies I never offered our social worker — I was, let’s just say, meticulous and crazed. Or meticulously crazed. Or crazily meticulous. They all work. We’d wanted to be good hosts and had prepared a cheese, cracker and grapes tray (which she declined) and played music in the background. Once it was over, my husband and I sat in our squeaky-clean house, numb and tired, wondering how we’d eat all the cookies … and the cheese … and the crackers.
The most painful part of the home visit? The out-of-control prepwork on our part that now, looking back, I see was unneccesary. We were fine, our house was fine and super-shiny floors and warm baked goods weren’t going to make us any more fit than we already were. Crazy, perhaps. But not any more fit.
Having known Taylor’s parents since we met while traveling that adoption journey, all of us first-timers, we have come to consider them some of our best friends. And believe me when I tell you, they are fit. They are genuine, compassionate, down-to-earth, funny-as-heck and full of devotion to Taylor. They are wonderful people, wonderful parents.
Yet, no matter how good at parenting we ever may deem ourselves (or others), in situations as surreal and pressured as the home inspection visit — with all that hangs in its balance — it seems otherwise rational, intelligent and reasonable people are transformed into folks frenzied and fretting about the funniest things ever. And only because I have been there myself, I feel comfortable in highlighting my friend’s frenzied fret.
Her statement to me this morning:
“The house is clean and I even baked! I think the house is ready. Except for the toys Taylor has been playing with and, well, the few grapes that rolled under the kitchen table during lunch. I just wish she were here already.”
Um, what? Sorry, but can we get a replay please?
“Except for … the few grapes that rolled under the kitchen table.”
Yeah, that’s what I thought she said. Not only do I find that a brilliant slice-of-life anecdote — after all, the time spent telling me there were grapes under the kitchen table could have been spent actually picking them up — but I think that comment, uttered amid the energy of the day, perfectly describes the home-visit experience. (And these folks have done this before.)
And really, as my friend had pointed out earlier in the exchange, her social worker was coming to see the home as it is in real life, on a daily basis.
The house was just perfect, I say.
After all, grapes under the table are simply par for the parenting course.