Our family was asked to volunteer at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert tonight. Normally, we're not concert goers. Three or four live songs is generally enough for me. But this volunteering was for a good cause.
For those of you who don't know, SCC is a huge adoption advocate. He has adopted three children from China himself and has started a foundation
that gives need-based grants to adoptive parents. On his tour, Chapman is collecting "Change for Orphans
". The money they collected at the Toledo concert tonight will be given to a family in the area to help with adoption expenses.
In addition to our booth-manning, Neti and Meke held a "Change for Orphans" bucket at the door while concertgoers arrived. Neti handed them a brochure while Meke would smile and say, "Donations please," in her thick Ethiopian preschooler accent. It was fun to watch people walk past several adults who were holding buckets only to be instantly taken in by two little girls. We just sat back and watched. At one point a man in an obvious hurry ran past the girls. 30 feet after passing them you could visibly see the impact. The man stopped dead in his tracks, smiled, reached for his wallet, looked at us and said "That's not fair."
The lowlight of the night:
During intermission I was holding a five-gallon "Change for Orphans" bucket in one arm and Meke in the other. By that time of the night she was getting restless and hungry. She wanted down. She wanted food. Right now!
Not a good time for either in a crowded lobby...so I gave her an answer she's heard many times: "In a little bit." Intermission was only 15 minutes long, after all!
If you've ever held a preschooler that doesn't want to be held, you've probably experienced something similar to what I'm about to explain. While they generally don't become violent, kids this age have the uncanny ability to become instantly slippery. It's akin to putting a big healthy worm on a fish hook.
So the battle to hold Meke began. (Remember, this is all happening with a five gallon bucket in one arm and in an extremely crowded lobby where people are stopping and wanting to talk.)
I felt her bottom wriggle out of my elbow pit so I compensated. She wriggled the other way. I compensated again, this time clamping down hard. Bottom captured. Escape averted. Battle over. Daddy wins.
How do you say "OK Daddy, it's on!" in Amharic?
Undeterred, she began trying to find ways to make things uncomfortable. Two little hands began pushing on my face, not hard enough to be naughty, but forceful enough to be annoying. Again, I mounted the counterattack. I was able to capture one of her hands with the "bucket" hand and quickly hand it off to the "bottom clamp" hand.
An inexperienced parent of a preschooler will quickly conclude that the hand to the face is the front line of battle. NOT SO. This is a diversionary tactic. Having not been there in several years, I had forgotten. Bucket in one arm, Meke's bottom clamped to my hip and hand captured with the other, I thought I was in control.
Then the climbing began. She stopped wiggling down
and began to wiggle up
. Her free hand grabbed for the top of my head. She began pulling herself up. Her feet began climbing my body, looking for a foothold.
Now moms generally have an advantage here. If a preschooler is clamped to your hip and they begin climbing moms generally don't care where the foot lands. For dads, it's different. Even while in conversation with a donor I realized there are areas that need protecting so almost subconsciously I shifted Meke toward the back of my body so as to avoid any unfortunate connections from taking place.
My fatal mistake? Among other things I fell victim to the diversionary hand to the head/face. Somehow (and I still don't know how this happened - it seems so elementary as I write it now) I forgot to maintain the clamp of Meke's bottom to my side. The climbing continued. This didn't register in my brain that this would be a bad thing ("Oh good, she's climbing UP now instead of wanting DOWN!")
That's when it happened. She found a good foothold (fortunately, not a painful one for me) and pushed up with all her might.
Now picture this. I'm at a concert because I'm an advocate for orphans. I'm wearing a shirt that says "Show Hope: Change your world for orphans" and a pin that says "I support orphans". I'm holding my adorable little daughter - a former orphan herself - and I drop her on her head on a table.
That's what happened. At least that's what probably appeared to happen to those who didn't see "the war" that led up to the drop.
Once Meke climbed her bottom about 12 inches above my arm she pushed off my face with her free hand and leaned into what I can only explain as a backward swan dive. I clamped on, catching her by the back of her knees just as her head hit the table with the brochures. (Actually it was more of a tap of her head on the table since the hand I had captured earlier allowed me to keep her from feeling the full impact.)
I tried pulling her back into my arms but she would have nothing of it. Her eyes told the story to me and everyone who happened to be watching (and there were plenty!): "You DROPPED me!" In typical preschooler fashion she ignored me for 15 minutes before wanting to play.
All is well now. Meke's forgiven me and we raised $4200 for a family to adopt an orphan.
There's a story behind every picture. Here's our family with Bethany Dillon (who opened for SCC). As you can probably guess by the expression on her face, this picture was taken shortly after "the war" with Meke described above.