Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I guess I forgot to mention...

...that I have a "new" son, huh?

I briefly touched on it in my last post, and many of you have asked for the scoop, so here it is.

One of Stud's friends will be staying with us for this school year. His name is Brian, and he is from Hong Kong. He has been going to Stud's school since he was a sophomore. He had been staying with his great-aunt, who actually only lives about 14 blocks from me. Unfortunately for him, his mom's aunt is an original Tiger Mom. Right after Christmas break last year, she basically threw him out. She said he was lazy, disrespectful, out of control, etc. It stemmed from the fact that he earned a B in English. HONORS English. English, which is his THIRD language. WTF?! Thankfully, she said he had to go at the end of the school year, and not right at that very moment.

Stud told me about it one afternoon in conversation, and I said I thought it was a shame that Brian wasn't going to be able to finish his senior year here and graduate with his friends, etc. I said something like, "Wow, that's really sad. Heck, if he can't find anywhere else to stay, he could stay with us." Well, little did I know, Stud went to school and told a bunch of people what I said. Next thing I know, Bro is telling me how wonderful he thinks it is that I'm doing this for Brian, and I'm such a generous, caring person, blah, blah, blah. Huh? Well, I didn't know exactly what to say, but truthfully, I didn't think it would be that big a deal.

A couple of weeks later, Brian came home with Stud after school one day so I could meet him, and he could see the house, and I guess basically decide if he wanted to do this. I know I've told you guys before that Stud's "real" bedroom hasn't been used since my basement remodel was finished because he now has his own apartment down there. So, we had an actual bedroom, complete with a brand new queen size bed, for Brian to use. I guess he liked it, because the next thing I knew, he was making arrangements for me to talk to his mom.

Flash forward (cuz I've bored you enough) to May. Brian's mom came in from Hong Kong to meet me, and bring Brian home for the summer. We met at the school, with her lawyer, so I could sign a giant stack of papers making me Brian's legal guardian for the next 12 months. The principal was there, also, and served as our witness.

After we signed the papers, we went straight to the aunt's house to get ALL of Brian's things. We unloaded everything into "his" room, then went to dinner. His mom insisted on taking us out as a thank you for letting her son stay with us. She's a very sweet woman. She also brought me some gifts to our meeting. She brought me a beautiful shawl, and a box of cookies/cakes from a Chinese bakery. (ok, I know, I'm boring you again. Sorry)

Brian came back to the US about 3 days before school started. He's been here now for about 3 weeks, and we're still in an adjustment period. I have to keep reminding myself that he's from a completely different culture, and despite spending a couple of years at his aunt's, he may as well have still been living in Hong Kong. He never left the house, other than to go to school. One of the first things he asked me is if he could go to the grocery store with me, because he's never been to one here. Sad, right?

He didn't really get any exposure to our culture outside of what he saw at school. His aunt lives in what is now a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, yet Brian had never had Mexican food. (WE could eat it every night!) I think outside of what he may have had in the cafeteria, he really didn't have much American food.

He's been really great about trying everything, though. He has yet to turn down a taste of anything I've served him. And, the best part is, he likes EVERYTHING! The only thing he still doesn't really care for is cheese. He said the Chinese don't really eat much dairy, and outside of the milk he has in cereal every morning, he doesn't eat much of it. Well, actually, he eats more than he thinks he does, because we put cheese in a LOT of things we eat. As a matter of fact, the other night I made some Hillshire Farm Cheddarwursts for dinner, and he LOVED them. As we were clearing the table after dinner, he told me how much he liked them (which was pretty obvious, as he had 3, complete with sausage rolls!), so I said, "Well you know, that's probably because they were stuffed with cheese!" He was so funny, his mouth fell open. "Really!!?"

I'm shocked at how much this tiny little thing can eat. He definitely eats Stud under the table, which is hilarious! Stud is about 6'2", about 260 these days. Brian is about 5'7", no more than 130. But, boy, that kid can eat! He must have an incredibly high metabolism. He's always hungry! I know he's a teenage boy, but still. I'm starting to wonder if the monthly "living fee" his mother insisted on giving me is actually going to cover the increase in my grocery bill. :)

One of the nice things about having Brian here has been that Stud is driving more. He's taken Brian to the store a couple of times (to shop for school supplies, haha!) and to friends' houses. He's been so awesome about including Brian in everything he does socially, even though Brian doesn't always make it easy for him. I think he's just not used to being out and doing things with his other kids. Up until now, he came home from school, and then stayed holed up in his room, only coming out to eat dinner. He definitely has more freedom here in our house, and I'm not sure he's comfortable with it yet.

One of the things he's a bit obsessed with currently is playing video games. He didn't have any kind of game at his aunt's, so now that he has several available, he's a little like a kid in a candy store. God bless Stud's patience. You have to remember that he's an only child, and has never had to deal with someone wanting to use his things all the time. Obviously he's had friends over to hang out and play games, but they would eventually go home, you know? Now, Brian's here 24/7. I'm actually kind of proud of how he's been handling it. He's been very open and frank with Brian about certain things, but he's done it without being jerky. One of the problems is that the video games are all down in the basement (because they're hooked up to the big screen tv), which is essentially Stud's bedroom. So, he had a talk with Brian and set some rules about when the games can be played, etc. He's feeling like his privacy has disappeared, but to his credit, he's trying to work it out on his own. Right now the rule is - no more video games after 10pm, which is fine with me!

Sorry, I had no intention of going on and on about Brian. But, there you go, that's pretty much the story. I have a feeling there are going to be some blog-worthy stories that are going to come from this situation. Like I said, we're still in an adjustment period. In all honesty, I think I'm the one having the hardest time adjusting. But, it'll all work itself out, I'm sure. At least I hope so.


Busy Bee Suz said...

I think you are freakin' awesome!!! So is SM.
You are giving this young man such a wonderful opportunity to see more of our wonderful world!!!!!
Looking forward to more stories and his eventual weight gain!!! {Have you shown him your crock pots yet?}
Is there a reason that his mom wants him in the states instead of Hong Kong though??? Better education??? More choices in life??? Please share.

Clippy Mat said...

Wow I agree with Suz. That's an amazing thing to do and such a great experience for Stud and for this kid. you're so sweet. When he moves out can I come and stay? I like cheese on everything!

Jen said...

You. Are a rockstar. Not just because you took him in, but because you've obviously raised Stud right. :)

And I don't see a "end of school year at the Hell Hole" ticker…hmmmm???? ; )

miss r said...

You're the best.

Katy said...

You rock!!!

And skinny kids who pack away the groceries - yeah, I know all about that. I'm convinced it's a result of having hollow legs.

So awesome how great Stud has been, like mother like son!

M said...

WoW! You are incredible! I have taught kids from all over the world...and it is so fun to have Halloween and Thanksgiving in class and amaze and overwhelm them with American culture! I can't imagine doing this with a senior!!

You rock!

C said...

that is so nice of you! it will be a huge learning/memory making experience for all involved!

you have SUCH a heart of gold. and so does stud!!!

have fun with this..

my word verif. is "supita" as in the greek version of italian wedding soupita... lmfao!!!

karen gerstenberger said...

WOW! I'm with Suz. Way to go - you and Stud are showing the best of American warmth and hospitality...and you didn't bore me at all. I look forward to hearing more!

jlo said...

You guys are doing a great thing. Can't be easy, but what a great experience for Brian!

Anonymous said...

I am so inspired. You are changing someone's life and that's just amazing.

Mary A. said...

LOVE THIS! When my boys are bigger, we are going to get our own brian. And someday, Stud can go to China to stay for a few weeks! What an incredible experience!


La Roo said...

Girl, you are the bomb!
It takes a certain kind of person and you are just that. What a lucky kid. I think this will be such a life learning lesson for all of you. All will benefit.

Mama Spaghetti said...

Wow! What a great opportunity, for you and him. I think it's great that you're doing that.

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

You are doing such a wonderful thing! My mother was kicked out of her childhood home as a teenager and it was the kindness of her friends' parents that got her through. It's safe to say I wouldn't be here if it weren't for people like you!

ModernMom said...

You my dear have a heart of GOLD! What an incredible experience for all of you. Who knows, maybe you will get to go visit him in his home country one day!