As you may recall, TODAY show host Natalie Morales was recently attacked by wild sextuplets running amok while she was interviewing the Masche family of Raising Sextuplets, in what I called a giant discipline fail. And yet, her producers set her up again, this time with the task of interviewing a family with triplets. Except this family, led by Darla and Jeff Garrison of Iowa, is perhaps the most charming, close-knit crew I’ve ever seen. What’s more: of their triplet daughters, two were conjoined twins, who were separated after a 24-hour operation at Children’s Hospital in LA. The twins, Mackenzie and Macey, shared a third leg and several organs. They still each only have one leg, yet they are extraordinarily poised, self-possessed, polite 7-year-olds.
Take a look at their interview, and then let’s figure out what these parents are doing right! (Oh, and did I mention these kids are adopted foster children???) These people are saints:
People magazine recently profiled the Garrisons, and in the article, their school principal is quoted as saying the girls “just don’t see themselves as handicapped.” And their Sunday school classmate Abby Hill adds, “They’re fun to play with. They’re like all the other kids.”
It seems clear to me from this one interview that Darla and Jeff have great expectations for their daughters and view them as totally capable kids. I think if we all expect the best from our children, they will be more inclined to rise to the occasion than if we do what I know I’ve done in the past, which is just hope and pray my daughter doesn’t throw a tantrum in the middle of the store or pee her pants at school. It’s so easy, especially when children are very little, to worry more about what other people will think of them as they learn how to behave in our society than it is to stay positive. We spend so much time thinking about what our kids can’t do yet – and telling them not to do things they shouldn’t be doing (like, say, taking a poop in the corner and not telling anyone about it), that it’s easy to view parenting through a negative or stressful lens.
This summer, I’ve made it a priority to tell my daughter yes. Tell her what she’s doing right. “Yes, you can swim. I believe in you.” “Your reading comprehension is off the charts!” “You have had such a great attitude lately.” Of course, maybe one of the reasons my daughter has had such a great attitude is because I have made a concerted effort to develop that in her. I hadn’t really parented in such a vastly open-hearted way since my daughter was a baby, because I was so mired in sadness and just trying to get by. I think if we have faith in our kids, they’ll be excited to show us exactly how wonderful they are.