Got grapes (under your table)?

February 2007

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.




Filed under Adoption, Children, Family, Friends, Home visit, Love, Maeve, Parenting

6 responses to “Got grapes (under your table)?

  1. Ah, the home visit! Do you know I perform home visits as part of my job, but when it was time for ours to be done, I was just as meticulously crazed, crazily meticulous?? Isn’t it funny how none of us are immune to the strangeness of being “observed in our own habitat?” I always tell my clients thier home needs to be “clean enought to be healthy, messy enough to be happy.”

  2. We have home visits all the time from The Biscuit’s educational team. That didn’t set off my alarm bells quite like the comment from the social worker at the hospital when I was getting ready to be discharged after the c-section to have him. He had been whisked to the NICU when he was 3 days old and we didn’t know if he would be discharged the same day as me so that we could go home as a family or not.

    She said something, I can’t remember exactly what, that basically said we had “passed.” And that was when I realized that we had been tested. I was instantly frightened to my core to realize that it was possible we could be judged and found not capable of bringing home a baby with Down syndrome and a major heart defect. I didn’t feel the relief of having passed until a day or two later when we had him buckled into our car and had left their parking lot. Off their premises I finally breathed a sigh of relief. We came home and had a picnic dinner on the floor — our first as a family. No other dinner will ever be as special.

    Maybe this is why I relate to what you write? Who knows. But I sure like coming here!

  3. Maureen

    The visit is done, and I think I can happily say…. we “passed” too!! One step closer to child #2….. And, like I told mamagigi yesterday, I did manage to pick up the grapes before she arrived… And the cheese that was down there with it!!

  4. Our house was never as clean as when we had the home study visit . . . and never will be again!

  5. Oh, I’m so glad those are behind me! Although I would really love to see the house clean again!

  6. The funniest thing for me, is I did both of your and maureen’s 1st visits… and I believe I told you both not to stress about it… but hey, what does a social worker really know anyway?? 😀 You guys are too much! Thanks for the fabulous reading material!!

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