As I walked into the office, there were about 40 other people sitting and waiting; and immediately there were about 25 sets of eyes on our family. Almost all of them were smiling, but they were watching and assessing the situation nonetheless.
Going anywhere with all 6 children always includes lots of stares and lots of questions/comments about my kids' hair, skin, ethnicity, nationality, race, biological background, etc, etc, etc. I tell you this because I am very aware that we are being watched because there are so many little ones and because they look "different" (and cute :-) ).
I've explained to my children several times before that people will always watch them. They have a responsibility to represent God, their family, and their race in a way that will leave people with a positive experience. After all, it is in our human nature to base our opinions on groups of people by what we experience with them. They have taken this responsibility to heart.
It was lunch time when we arrived, so all the children sat down against a wall to eat their chips and salsa while I filled out a huge stack of papers. The children were behaving REALLY well. The boys jumped up to open doors for people needing help and the girls smiled sweetly at all the adults. They didn't make a mess... they didn't argue.... they read their books and obeyed.
People continued to stare and comment on how well they were doing. I was proud of them and continued to fill out paperwork.
After waiting for about an hour and a half, we were called to the desk to fill out more paperwork. The children sat against the desk to get their cards typed up, pictures taken, and more papers signed for each child. Even baby Jayden and Juliana had to "sign" their cards with scribbles! Of course... people still watched. I tried not to notice because I was concentrating on the children... especially Jayden.
Jayden is by far the strongest, spunkiest, and most ACTIVE 13 month old child I have ever seen. He giggles and runs yelling, "Hi!!" to everyone he sees. He is adorable, but BUSY!! I assigned different children to follow him around the office. We had been there for almost 2 1/2 hours at this point, and we were all trying very hard to continue to be patient.
We were about 10 minutes away from leaving the office when Jayden coughed twice. I knew exactly what that meant... In the last week, Jayden had thrown up at Jackson's swim meet in front of the entire crowd, at the YMCA during a children's health fair, and in the van right after church. We still haven't quite identified the problem, but we know he's not sick.
Anyway, he coughed twice, and I sprinted to my diaper bag with him dangling upside down... I had no other choice but to let him saturate my bag with his throw up. As he threw up multiple times, I threw the library books out of the bag as fast as I could. Now, it seemed like all 40 pairs of eyes were on us. I looked up and assured everyone that he just does this, and he's not contagious. I assured the employees that I had not left a mess on their carpet. I breathed very slowly to maintain peace within.
The boys grabbed wet paper towels for the library books and anything else I managed to salvage from the throw-up. My belongings were sprawled all over the floor. I went to the bathroom to wash both me and Jayden's arms and chest while the employees patiently waited for me to finish my duties. I sent Jackson outside with my bag full of throw-up.
Jayden, now only wearing shorts, wanted to run around again, and 2 year old Juliana didn't understand why she couldn't get her picture taken yet like her older brothers' had done.
Meanwhile, the employees and everyone in the lobby just watched. I guess they thought I had it all under control... but I was worn out.
We had been there for 2 1/2 hours on nothing to eat for lunch but chips and salsa, and a throw-up mess.
Right then, a lady walked up to me and handed me her emptied bag, so I would have a place to put all of my cleaned belongings. If I didn't smell like throw-up I would have wrapped my arms around her. She gave me a knowing smile as I quietly thanked her. I felt tears brimming my eye lids, but I fought back the tears of gratitude because I still had more papers to fill out and pictures to take for the kids' ID's.
I finally felt settled again... the kids were sitting against the desk again, and Jayden was actually staying still in my arms. Everyone had taken their pictures, except for Jayden. His picture was hilarious. He stood on a stool and gave the biggest, goofiest grin much like this one...
All the kids and I cheered and laughed for his smile. Right as I turned around to sign the last paper, Juliana moved the stool with Jayden on it!!
I heard a shrieking cry! Poor Jayden had fallen and hit his mouth! Blood poured out of his little lip, and I held him close. After he settled down, I looked at my white shirt... it was covered in blood down the front and on my shoulders.
I could feel discouragement begin to settle in. I did the best I could, but I was tired.
Smelling like throw-up and looking like I had just survived a war, I held Jayden close as I gathered the other children and our belongings. As I was crouched down, I saw a man's feet really close by my side. Feeling exhausted, I looked up and this man quietly said, "I just want to tell you that you're doing a wonderful job, and your children are so patient to be sitting here that whole time."
The woman with the bag and the man with the reassuring words did just what Jesus would have done. In fact, I'm positive that they were acting on my Savior's behalf. They did not just watch assuming I was OK, they followed what their hearts told them and served.