Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Little Hyper

The Scene: Sunday, lunch with my parents and my brother David, post-church.

We're all sitting and eating, and Mihret is having a great time, because she loooves her uncle David. They sit and make faces at each other.

The little almost two-year-old is sitting there, being two. Which means she was being somewhat hyperactive. She's eating her food for a second, then trying to play with my brother, then saying "Grandpa!" and waving at my dad.

My Mom: "Can you say ADHD?"

Mihret: "ADHD!"

The entire table loses it. Except for Kara, who rolls her eyes in shame at our inability to control ourselves.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tag... We're Thankful!

We've been tagged!
We're sorely overdue as it's a Thanksgiving tag... We need to write about five things for which we are thankful.
I'll answer this my way, and then let Josh come on here later for his.
We've been tagged by Kara V. (Many of you reading this know that I also used to be a Kara V. - and I've finally met another Kara V.! Thanks for the tag, Kara! :) )
Here are my five:
1. I am thankful that God has blessed my life with safe and (mostly) effective medications and skilled, caring physicians, a therapist, pastor and church family, a local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) chapter and a loving support system of family and friends to help me live well with my chronic illness, bipolar disorder.
2. I am thankful for my husband. He is my best friend, my helpmate, my rock, my lover, my strength.
3. I am thankful for our daughter. She is a precious one, a wonder, a joy, a blessing, a little mystery waiting for us to discover who she is. I can't wait to help her find herself, find her faith, and find her purpose/God's plan for her as she grows.
4. I am thankful for Mama Delame and Grandpa Demesse and all of our Ethiopian family, and for their courage in the face of hardship and daily struggle.
5. My first four are so serious .... so my fifth posting is going to be thanks for some random things I lurv ... ladybugs, penguins, unicorns, books, popcorn, the smell of bookprint, back scratches, back rubs, cups of chai, Post-Its, extended deadlines, Facebook, my new aloe-covered slipper-socks, our digital camera, my new scrapbooking basic tools, the fact that we have so many diverse languages and cultures in this world, and the fact that I still can be lots of things when I grow up. :)

-Kara (who will tag five other people/households as soon as Josh explains the tagger ettiquette)

Monday, January 19, 2009

She's Definitely Listening...

Here's Mihret looking like a big girl in her Emaye's glasses.

A common scenario in our house after mealtime is Mihret trying to free herself from her high chair before her hands and face are clean, usually even before her bib is off. Sometimes before her tray is gone.

At that point, I tell her "One more minute." It's been our "time phrase" that she seems to understand as "Wait, please." I also have asked her to "be patient," which we also use in conjunction with "Wait, please."

The other day in church, Mihret was playing with the goldfish crackers I kept handing to her one by one so as not to create a crumbly mess.

They're goldfish of many colors - pink, orange, green, purple - and I didn't want the dye to rub off on our clothes or anything else. So when she kept on handling the fishes instead of eating them, I put the lid back on her mini-Tupperware container and took the fishes away.

She promptly dropped to her hands and knees and began to crawl under our chairs. They're regular stackable chairs so when they're fitted side by side, a tiny peanut could easily crawl through the gaps like she's navigating a maze. Not acceptable during church time.

While my mom-in-law held onto the back of her little pants suit so she couldn't shoot out under the back of one of the chairs - we were in the very back row, a quick scamper to the stairs - I leaned forward and said in a very exasperated stage whisper, "Mihret. That. Is. Enough."

What did Mihret say in return?

(Wait for it...)

"Mama," she said, looking up at me with those big brown eyes. "Patience."


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Begins

(Note: Alex is a little boy in Mihret's day care. Up until recently, they were in the same room, but Alex just aged to the room. Mihret will follow in a few weeks.)

The scene: Saturday Morning. The little one has just woken up, and we're all sitting on the bed while Kara is on the phone with her parents.

Kara: Mihret, do you want to talk to Nona?

Mihret: Hi, Alex!

Kara: Mihret, Nona is on the phone.

Mihret: Hi, Alex!

Kara: Can you say, "I love you, Nona?"

Mihret: Hi, Alex!

Kara (to her mother): It's starting already.

Second Scene: Kara, me, my mom, and my dad, are all sitting eating Chinese food. I have just finished relaying a story about Mihret at day care.

Kara: Mihret, who do you play with at school?

Mihret: Alex!

Kara: And who else?

Mihret: Alex!

Me: Who else do you play with?

Mihret: Alex!

Kara: Do you play with Bella?

Mihret: Alex!

Me: And Logan?

Mihret: Alex!

Me: Do you play with anyone else?

Mihret: Alex funny!

Me (to Kara): We're in trouble.

Third scene: Mihret and I are looking at a picture of Sam and Rachel Bass (two of our favorite people!) and their kids (our Godkids!) Iris and Ian Bass.

Me: Mihret, who's that?

Mihret: ?

Me (pointing to Sam): Who's that?

Mihret: Unca Sam!

Me (pointing to Rachel): Who's that?

Mihret: Rachel!

Me (pointing at Iris): Who's that?

Mihret: ?

Me (pointing at Ian): Who's that?

Mihret: Ian!

Me (back at Iris): Who's that?

Mihret: ?

Me: Is that Iris?

Mihret: ?

Me: Iris?

Mihret: ?

Me (pointing at Sam again): Who's that?

Mihret: Unca Sam, and Rachel, and Ian.

Me: What about Iris?

Mihret: ?

Me: Hmmm...


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Little Unworthy

I've wanted to be a father as long as I've known what a father was - and maybe longer.

My mom was the one to point this out to me. At family gatherings when I was younger, I tended to gravitate towards the littler kids - playing games with them, being silly with them, and often throwing them up on my shoulders and walking around with them.

In more than one instance there was a child who just had to be held, and had to be held a certain way, and I was often more than happy to do it for minutes or hours at a time. I even changed a few diapers, though I never got that good at it.

Somehow, though, I always knew that there was some kind of daddy gene in me.

The daddy gene was activated in other instances as well. When our church was working on shuffling around who was teaching the babies, and who was watching the babies during service, Kara and I were always more than happy to step up to the plate.

And for a few wonderful months, there was even one little-little girl who became our Sunday charge most weeks, while her parents taught classes.

We were sad when her family left. We were just as sad when they came back for a visit, and suddenly we were strangers to the little girl again.

Time passed, and a couple of years of emotional distress, and then came one of the top five happiest days of my life - the day I really, truly, became a dad.

You can see it in our Ethiopia visit video. They caught the first time I ever saw my little girl. I burst into tears.

A few days later, when Kara and I finally got to bring her back to the guest house in Ethiopia, I held her, and tried to sing to her, and I started crying so hard my throat closed and I couldn't do it.

I finally started changing a lot of diapers, and started getting good at it. (True confession though: The first time she pooped in her diaper, the smell hit me so hard I had to go throw up. Not a magical moment, but certainly an indicator that you adjust to such things quickly. That's never happened since.)

I finally reached a point where I could sing to my daughter without being overwhelmed by emotion.

And I got good at other things - knowing when she was hungry, knowing when she needed to be changed, dealing with her spit-ups.

Through it all, I always thought I was a good dad. Maybe even a very good one.

I never felt inadequate to the task of parenting. I had the daddy gene.

As Mihret started getting older, for a long time she didn't really express any interest in dolls. She liked stuff with wheels - things she could push around, or walk with. She was, and is, kind of rough and tumble. She wants to run, and jump, and be picked up and be bounced around a bit.

Recently, however, that's changed a bit. She has a lot of dolls now - mostly given to us by my mom or Kara's mom, and she's slowly but surely starting to treat them as her babies. Which is fine and wonderful and cute, only it can be confusing because she has a few of them now and they're all called Baby.

A few nights ago, Kara was working and I was on solo bedtime duty. So, Mihret had her bath, and got her jammies on, and then we grabbed her current favorite baby and went to Planet Bed for story time.

First we put down the baby, and then Mihret got onto the bed, put the baby on her tummy and started rubbing her back.

I read Mihret the story we picked out (The Snuggliest Snuggle in the World - it may as well be called: Mom Has to Go to Work, and the People At Day Care Are Second Best When It Comes to Hugs) and I set the book down and said it was time to do prayers.

Mihret flipped her baby over, held the baby's hands together, and said, "Thank You, Amen!"

I thought that was pretty nice, so I decided to try doing a thank you prayer. "Thank you, God, for Mommy, and Daddy, and Grandma, and Grandpa, and Nona, and Papa, and all the Great Grandmas and all the Great Grandpas, and especially for Ethiopian Mama and Ethiopian Grandpa. And thank you for Jesus. Amen."

And Mihret said, "Thank you for Grandma, and Grandpa, and Grandpa, and Grandpa, and Grandpa, AMEN!"

And tears started to prick my eyes, and my throat started to close again.

So I sat there, while Mihret read to her baby, and rubbed her baby's back, and sang Itsy-Bisty Spider to her baby, and put a blanket on her baby to keep her warm.

When I told the story to Kara later, she pointed out that the reason that Mihret was doing all those things is because she learned them from us. (She also pointed out that Mihret will also, on occasion, tell her babies, "No biting mommy. No biting daddy," and then will give them a time in.) That these were all good things.

But for me, for the first time, I felt like I might not ever be a good enough father to her.

Trying to explain why is hard, but I think it has something to do with love - that strange emotion that gets mirrored for us in songs and movies and books, where creators struggle to show us what it could, or should, be.

Watching my daughter do all those things, being so wonderful, so loving, I felt like I somehow got so much more than I deserved - a little girl who is so like me, and so like me at that age, only better than me on a physical and mental level.

I felt like she deserved a better dad than I can ever be.

Writing this down now, I feel a little silly. Lots of people have told me how lucky my daughter is to have me for a dad, whether it's because I'm a hopeless goofball, whether it's because I don't mind reading the same stories over and over, whether it's because I don't run when it's time to change diapers, or even just because I "saved" my kid from a much harder life in her homeland.

But I think it's all right to feel this way. So often we complain about all the thing that aren't fair to us - not enough money, a job we don't like, the fact that we'll never be as good-looking as we should be, or that no one ever notices how smart we are.

In this case, though, God gave me so much to live up to, put such an amazing person in my life and said, "Here, she's yours, take care of her as well as I would," and then stepped back.

It's a powerful blessing that I don't know I can ever fully live up to. But I'm going to try.