Stop And Smell the… Easter Eggs?

When I first spoke with our caseworker Sherri on the phone to set up our first Home Study visit, she gave me a nice long list of things to do: schedule physicals, get fingerprinted, have our well-water tested, get a vaccination record for our puppy, and contact our references.

“Oh, and can you have your Daycare provider write up a reference for Elise too?” she asked.

Immediately my mind went to the image of Elise chasing down one of her “friends” for a toy.

My response was delayed. “Well…” I said, “I’m sure she would. I just want you to know that Elise is going through the whole toddler-thing right now and it may not be the best time in her life for a shining reference.”

Sherri laughed and I pretended to laugh too.

“Uh, seriously though, I’m not sure-”

She didn’t let me finish my sentence (and for that I was grateful. How do you put it nicely that your kid tramples other kids for toys?).

“Just have her write a few sentences on her personality and her interests.”

She seemed to recognize the panic her initial request had created.

That’s the thing about adoption. It makes you kind of crazy:

“Oh no, I won’t be approved! My house is too dirty from our dusty gravel road!

or: “Oh no, I won’t be approved! I got a speeding ticket four years ago!”

or “Oh no, I won’t be approved! I have lint between my toes!”

I appreciated Sherri’s understanding, so I put it on my mental list to talk to our daycare lady Karla when I saw her next.


“How’d Elise do today?” I asked. How could asking such a simple question invoke such polarizing feelings of joy and dread?


Oh no. I knew that wasn’t good.

“It was not a good day for Elise. We had a bit of trouble sharing and playing nicely with our friends.” I knew what that was code for.


I certainly won’t claim that we do everything right. But I promise you, friends, while we are affectionate and affirming, we also enforce the rules. It’s tricky business disciplining a little soul who can’t fully understand or empathize yet.

I tried to trick Elise into putting her coat on, “Elise, can you find your coat pockets?” It had worked before. Maybe it would work again.

She’s a smart cookie, that girl. She can smell bologna from a mile away.

Not literally. You know what I mean.

So distracted by her theatrics, I forgot to ask Karla to write the reference letter. Oops.

Maybe I should just ask her another day, I thought. But my urgent need to cross items off my list prevailed.

“Hello?” Karla answered the phone.

“Yeah, hey.” I said. “So… when I talked to the caseworker last week, she said she needed a reference letter from you.”

The irony was palpable. “Okayyyyy…” she laughed.

I repeated the instruction that Sherri had told me to give to her. I think she was as relieved as I had been. Thank goodness Karla loves Elise and knows that her worst behaviors are not the core of her character. In fact, I think Karla has been the greatest encouragement to me through the toils of toddler-hood. More than once she has reminded me that this is a phase – she will grow out of it. While stubborn and ornery, she is also sweet and funny and loves to be a helper.

Long story, short: despite her current outbreaks of possessiveness, someday, Elise will be a great big sister.

Because who wouldn’t want a big sister who teaches you how to stop and smell the… Easter eggs?:


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