Yesterday was quite an adventure! We took all three boys out of the orphanage and drove them to Zhytomir to get their passport photos taken and apply for their passports. Zhytomir is 1 1/2 hrs away. The day started at 7:45am with us getting into this late 70’s German ambulance. The boys, three care-givers, and myself all got into the back. There were two benches along the walls. Sasha and I sat on one and the caregivers sat in the other. Ethan and Silas stayed inside their strollers while traveling. No seat belts, no padding, not nothin honey. Sergi and the driver sat up front. Unfortunately all the windows were frosted and the boys couldn’t see out. I thought, “Man this stinks, these little guys have never been on a trip outside the orphanage and now they have to stare at the bare metal walls of this ambulance”. To remedy this for Sasha, I held him up so he could peer over the front seat and take in the sights. He was mesmerized! Silas slept the whole way and Ethan quietly took in all the new movement after a few initial Mogli grunts.
When we arrived in Zhytomir and the ambulance came to a rest, Sasha announce to everyone, “Ok, we’re in America now!” We had to explain to him that that was yet to come. He looked a little disappointed. Poor little guy, he has no concept of time because he has sat in that orphanage and has done the same thing day after day after day. It would drive any of us into the special needs category. About 15 minutes before arriving Silas woke up, sat up, and started rocking back and forth and singing. He’s gonna fit right in at IHOP. He’s got the rocking back and forth thing down. I’m sure some well meaning person will see him the first day in the prayer room and prophesy that he has the burden of intercession upon him ....... Um, probably not, this has been this kids only mode of entertainment for the last two years but hey, all those developed back and stomach muscles will come in handy when the spirit of prayer does hit him!
We took a group photo before going in for the passport pics. The boys did marvelously well! At one point the clerk was trying to explain to me in Russian that I needed to sign my name in this box but that my signature could not touch the lines of the box. In order to explain this to me she pulled out a practice sheet with many boxes printed on it. Then she drew a circle within the box and scribbled inside the circle. I was at a loss ... What did she want from me? Sergi was nowhere to be found – I had no lifeline. I signed my name in a practice box but tragically part of my signature touched the edge of the box. Frustrated she drew another circle and pointed to the inside of it. I didn’t know this was a practice sheet and I was grasping for anything. So I thought, “Well, maybe she wants me to draw a circle inside the box. Hey cool, this is like picture pages or a fun ‘How to draw stick animals’ activity conveniently placed in between the stressful passport process, all for my entertainment pleasure!” Wrong ..... I drew my circle inside the box, and this clerk, with a slight vodka hangover rolled her eyes and breathed heavy shaking her head. I wanted to shout with my best Brian Reegan voice, “THE CIRCLE’S INSIDE THE BOX PROFESSOR! DON’T BE SO HARD ON ME. I’M DOING THE WORK! I’M NOT A SLACKER! C’MON, GIVE A LOST & CONFUSED WESTERNER A BREAK! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?” Well eventually I figured it out and our little “not so stress free” preschool activity was over.
On the way home we stopped at McDonalds and bought lunch for everyone (except Ethan and Silas who still eat from a bottle). You should have seen Sasha’s face pucker up and his eyes squint the first time he put a french fry in his mouth. He quickly recovered and proceeded to wipe out half of my fries. He also went crazy over the pieces of “Big & Tasty” I fed him. He was so overwhelmed I thought he might break out singing in tongues with a voice like Pavoratti. When he sipped the coke he pulled back quickly, puckered his lips, and squinted his eyes. Ahhh ... The first encounter with carbonation and more sugar than any human being should ingest in their lifetime. I don’t think he’s gonna be a coke drinker. The only way I can explain it is imagine Piglet from Winnie the Pooh taking a big shot of straight vodka ... that should give you the picture. All that said, I was feeling more and more like their Daddy. Actually going somewhere together and showing them new things – it was great, especially on the way home when Sasha reached over and put his hand in mine and quietly said, “Pappa”.
The boys with 3 of the orphanage workers