Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Boys

I grew up in a family of two childen. One girl and one boy. And we each had names that were used to distinguish one from the other. Cindy and Chad. No confusion there. I've been told that once upon a time I was called Cynthia but since the Pennsylvania Dutch grandparents just couldn't get their mouths around that tricky "th" it was shortened before I was old enough to know the difference. Well, except when I was in trouble. Then "Cynthia Joy" came out pretty clearly.

John, on the other hand, grew up in a family of 6 children. He happened to fall in as number five. There have been some reunions where each child goes by his or her number as in, "Hi, I'm John, #5." I remember this most vividly when John's mom remarried. To introduce her six children to his six children (they now like to say they have six and one half dozen children), and all of the spouses, we each wore nametags with our name and number. I was "Cindy, Wife of Mary Ann's #5." It worked out quite well.

But there is another trend that I have noticed in larger families and that is to clump kids together and to differentiate in this way. I have heard some families separate their children into "Bigs" and "Littles". Growing up, John's family had "Herb", "the girls", and "the three little boys". I believe they were still referred to as "the three little boys" even while we were dating. I do think the title fell away after the first of the little boys got married.

Alas, we have fallen into the same pattern here in the King Zoo. Our clan starts with, simply enough, "The boys." Next we have Mariana and then we have Isaac. To round things out we have, you guessed it, "The girls." It works for us, we know who we are referring to when using these shortcuts, and the two in the middle don't seem to be suffering from any type of identify crisis for not fitting neatly into a boy or girl category. However, it has gotten the children into trouble in other settings. At a family reunion, Mariana got yelled at by an extended family member because after hearing John say it was time for the girls to go to bed, Mariana did not seem to be following these instructions. Mariana had to explain that she was not one of the girls, that title was instead reserved for her younger siblings only.

When the kids were little we were often asked if Andrew and Jesse were twins. Believe it or not, someone just recently asked this question. It obviously has nothing to do with looks, although one can wonder if they might look more alike if Andrew's head were not man-made. On the other hand, if there is any King kid who is said to look like someone from my side of the family, it's Jesse. And Andrew is all King. But they have been pretty close in size throughout their lives. Andrew got my allergies, my poor eyesight, my behind-the-scenes personality - and my stature. So although they are 19 months apart in age, they have always been closer in height. And now, poor Andrew has been surpassed by his younger brother.

More importantly to me, however, is the close bond they share, even though it has undergone changes. They have been best friends and encouragers, even though they don't always understand how the other one is wired. Jesse's adventurous spirit often encouraged Andrew to try things he wouldn't have attempted on his own. And Andrew's love for reading encouraged Jesse to pick up books he would otherwise have skipped. Recently, as each has started public school and spends longer periods of time with others, their circles have expanded and become more separated. That's okay. My boys still enjoy time together and it's great to see them grow up, each encouraging the other in different ways. I am so proud of each of them (and the other four children, too, but today is about "The boys").

Tonight was no different. It was a good night to be a mom as "The boys" got dressed up in their finest to spend the evening with a group of friends. It's a Homecoming alternative, of sorts and I am thrilled at the planning that went into this group activity. I have been promised pictures of the whole group, but for now I will just have to enjoy the ones I was allowed to take before they left the house.

Have a great night, boys. I love you and am very proud of you.

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