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, May 21, 2011

3 teens in the house

Three years ago we were awaiting the arrival of a new baby. I had been awakened around midnight by the cries of a child with a nightmare. As I reached up to comfort him, my water broke and the journey began.

We thought we were pros by this point; prepared for anything. We already had Baby #1 who was born wide-eyed and ready to tackle the SATs. 19 months later we welcomed Baby #2 who was born with a look that told you he always had something up his sleeve and who knew how to entertain. And now, 19 months after that, we were just waiting to find out if we could only produce boys or if there just might be a girl in there. I felt the same during those 9 months as I had for the first two pregnancies, causing most people to say it must be a boy. We couldn't decide on a boy's name and actually spent our laboring time in the hospital writing names on papers, having John hold them behind his back, and having me say "right" or "left" to narrow it down. Not being able to pick out a name usually means the parents will have a baby of that gender. And if you believe in the fetal heartrate method of gender-guessing, this baby was most-likely a boy.

As we all know (since she's always front and center), Baby #3 was definitely a girl; wide-mouthed and announcing her presence to the whole ward. I am certain that's where she first started to practice projecting to an audience. It's also where we decided that this every 19 months deal would have to come to an end. We had finally figured out how that was happening. But it's all good. Look where that early experience has gotten her.

Even her name was correctly chosen for her personality. My aunt says I should have known better, being a former teacher and all. But she hadn't met Mariana yet when she said that. No, a plain Jane name just wouldn't have worked for this child. Have you ever met a Drama Queen whose name was Mary or Ann or Sarah or Sue? (Disclaimer: To all the Marys and Sues, etc., please do not write to express your offense at my suggestion that your names aren't good names. They are. My only point here is that they would not have worked for Mariana. She needed a difficult and different name.

For someone whose name is mispronounced 9 times out of 10, Mariana has no qualms correcting people. She still has close relatives who insist on calling her "Mar (as in car)-eeeee-an (as in can) -nah" instead of "Mary (as in Mary)-ahhh (as in what you say when the doctor sticks a log down your throat)-nah" A friend in dance has shortened her name to Mar (rhymes with far) and one young friend had such trouble that the best she could do was Winnie Wanna (funny thing is, it stuck, and you can still hear the older boys calling for Winnie Wanna on occasion). Forgive us. It was our attempt to use the name of two former students of mine (Ana - pronounced Ahhh-nah), while also honoring her grandmothers: Mary Ann King and Christine Bauman. All that to introduce our unpronounceable name choice: Mariana Christine King. But don't get all nervous about what you should call her. She will let you know. From across the room if she must.

The spelling of her name has been just as painful. From MaryAnna to Marianna to Mary Ana to anything starting with an "M", she's had to be on top of this one from day one. At age three we were at a children's museum when another mother, trying to make a friend for her daughter, asked Mariana her name. Mariana emphatically replied, "It's Mariana. That's with 1 "n" and 3 "a's." Alright-y then. I think the other mother walked away, determing that my daughter was much too bold for her daughter.

So Mariana, let me just say that I am extremely proud of you. You have not hidden your talents nor have you pushed them aside until you're an adult. You use them now, every day, in many ways. How many parents can say that their 13-year old daughter has a longer resume than her mother? And how many mothers have a 13-year old daughter who brings home a bigger paycheck than Mom? Well, let's be totally honest. You've been bringing home paychecks bigger than mine since you were about 8 years old. And your resume surpassed mine in length when you were 10. But I'm okay with that. Really I am.

It all started in Aunt Shirley's basement when you wrote, directed, produced, and starred in The Mariana Show with your cousins, most of whom were older than you.


Then on to Molly in Annie in community theatre.

After that it was the start of several seasons at Allenberry,


a run with Sight and Sound Theatre,


and two Christmases with Hershey Park.


No matter where it is, I love to see you on stage.

But more than that, I am proud of your character. Since in all honesty we've been calling you a teen-ager for oh, about the past 3 years, let me just say that you put me to shame. Your faith, your commitment to Christ, your maturity, and your ability to understand deep and serious subjects, is well beyond your years. You are a role model to many. You are a light to everyone around you and I am proud of you. Keep it up.

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?

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