Dawit has become an amateur dentist because he is greedy for tooth fairy cash
The older I get the more I understand the idea that as my days grow longer, the years fly by.
As another page of the calendar was ripped off last week I came face to face with the reality that it has been three years since three jetlagged people added a little Ethiopian to the family.
After more than a day in the air across eight time zones, it is almost impossible to avoid jetlag. But add to that emotional and temporal situation the fact that someone is being added to your family the next day, and sleep doe not come easily. As we sat there watching American cartoons with Amharic or Arabic voiceovers, late Saturday night turned into early Sunday morning turned into later Sunday morning. We knew Dawit would be there between noon and five that afternoon but in Ethiopia, that usually means around five or later. Their society doesn’t give bonus points for rushing like ours does.
We were finally asleep at 9 a.m. when we woke up to one of the guesthouse workers telling us our new son was upstairs.
There was no time to panic. All three of us threw on yesterday’s clothes and headed up to officially take custody of Dawit.
When the in-country head of the adoption agency told Dawit we were his new family and asked him if he wanted to stay with us, Dawit was quick to decline the offer. But after Blake ran downstairs to get the teddy bear he made for his new brother and some cheese filled Ritz Bitz, Dawit relented and decided we would suffice. In a matter of minutes he was taking my gum and a few hours later he fell asleep on his new mother’s lap.
Looking back over the past three years, not much has changed really.
Dawit is still a super sweet but hard-headed little dirt magnet and most of our days are filled with crazy new scenarios we never imagined possible before.
If a day goes by without me dealing with a situation that leaves me asking Dawit, “Why did you do that?” then it has truly been a rare day.
Dawit taught us quickly that we weren’t good parents. Blake had just been an easy child. Don’t misunderstand any of that to mean he is anything other than a great kid. He is just a hands-on, learn from his mistakes, overly fearless, impulse driven kid.
Blake was a man of thought. Dawit is a man of action.
But after years of learning another new language and fitting into a society that is so different than anything he ever experienced or could imagine, Dawit is one of the best kindergarten students around. I am so thankful for Pam Olson staying one last year because she has had more than a few busy bodied boys and Dawit thrived in her classroom.
He plays baseball, soccer and basketball. He loves to help clean up messes, which is good because he also makes a lot of messes.
Recently, Dawit has become an amateur dentist because he is greedy for tooth fairy cash. With four new holes, his smile looks like a pattern for a jack-o-lantern carving kit. If a tooth is even slightly loose, Dawit will have it out in a day so he can collect those two dollars and add them to his bank.
But the best thing about Dawit is that he is mine. I don’t mean I am responsible for him. I mean he is mine.
Coaching his tee ball team, I have become “that dad” who has patience for every kid on the field except my own. While I wish I were more mature and able not to feel like a failure when Dawit swings incorrectly or misses a ground ball, even those ridiculous reactions make me happy.
When you hear people talk about adoption, they say how their adopted child is just as much theirs as the child whose DNA strands resemble their own.
I always thought that was just a nice thing to say to make themselves feel like great parents.
But Dawit is mine. I can’t explain it, but every strand of the emotional web that ties me to Blake is affixed just as tightly to Dawit.
I don’t have one natural son and one adopted son. I have two sons. One just uses different hair products than the other.
Dawit said it best one night when Blake was going to spend the night with a friend. “But Blake is our family,” he protested.
He has been with us as long as he has been anywhere now and he is convinced that his place is with our family. In fact, his memories of Ethiopia grow dimmer every day. One day, we will take him back and let him smell the frankincense, experience a traditional coffee ceremony and talk about where he lived and how his road led to America.
Until then, he will keep pulling teeth, playing in the dirt and chewing all the gum I will let him have, secure in the fact that he is safe with his family.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org