Thursday, April 15, 2010

Family Day

Two years ago today, Eric and I stood outside the Addis Hilton at 10 am and waited as the rattling old car pulled around the curve. Abdissa was driving, and his wife was in the backseat holding Dessi, with another child (Johannes) on the seat beside her.

She got out and handed Dessi to me. Eric took a picture. I mumbled something. We stared at our baby. OUR BABY. She was so beautiful and small and quietly unblinking. We were awkward and emotional and really, I think, kinda stunned. That this scheme actually worked. That they were going to give us this beautiful child.

Dessi then proceeded to not move (although once she kicked her foot) or smile or even cry (unless it was suppertime) for the next two days. She just watched us. (We have six hours of the most boring adoption footage ever.) Then on the third day, Dessi napped and we, as always, sat and watched. She awoke, looked up at these people who were still just looking down at her, and she smiled. Finally.

And from then on we have been on the superhighway of kicking each other and saying, Good gracious, is this amazing light really our friggin kid? Because she is just. too. much. Anything anyone could ever hope to be or aspire to, she already is.

She is 2 1/2 today. We have been a family for two years today. We can't really express how happy we are, and I know parents can be soooo boring when going on about how amazing their kids are, but it's family day, so please excuse the indulgence. Here are some random delights of the past few weeks (beach pics are scenes from last month's trip to Casamance):

Dessi says 'No poopoo here, No peepee here,' mostly after I insist that she just sit on the potty and TRY.

Her favored expressions lately are 'Pas รงa,' and, alternatively, 'Pour moi.' (Not that / For me.) She also likes to look at us all mooney-eyed and say, "Daddy, I love ... and you think she is going to say 'you' and instead she says .. POOPOO! I love PEEPEE!"

She calls me honey. Sometimes hon.

Before bed we name the people we love. She says, "I love you grandma. I love you Tata Erin. I love you Daddy." Each person gets their own "I love you." It can take a while. It's worth it.

At night before we eat, Eric and I say something that we're grateful for. We're not allowed to say our family (too easy). We assumed she had not really understood the exercise. A few weeks ago we asked her what she was grateful for. She reached her hand to me and said, very sincerely, "I'm grateful for mama." Then Eric. Touching his hand. "I'm grateful for daddy."

She says thank you not only for a toy or an orange, but also after a great outing to the beach or the playground. And sometimes, just walking down the stairs together. Her tiny hand squeezing my hand. "Thank you, mama."

She loves drama. Mama, make a sad face. Daddy, make a happy face! And then there's the face of Grumpy Bird.

Last week I snapped at her. Half an hour later we sat down and I said, "Dessi, I'm sorry. I should not have yelled at you. I wanted to get your attention, I want you to come when I call you, not to run away. But I should not have yelled at you, and I'm sorry. Do you understand? Mama shouldn't have yelled at you. I am sorry. I am not going to yell at you anymore."

She looked at me for ten seconds, then hugged me and patted my back and said, "I love you mama."

About six months ago, I did the same thing (snapped, then apologized). She did the same thing, too. She wasn't even two years old then.

She hides. She goes behind the curtains in her room (which, for the record, are transparent) and says, "Where'd Dessi go?" A few weeks ago she did it at a hotel in Casamance. Here is a picture:

She sings herself to sleep at night. Sometimes for an hour. She wakes up singing in the morning. Sometimes, if I come in too immediately, she'll ask me to go back out. I think she likes to have some time for herself. (Although, God only knows why she doesn't want any during the day! Because boy howdy she does not.)

A few nights a week, we put on hip hop and dance in the living room. She has all the moves. Sometimes she will get on her back and spin around like the brakedances used to do. (You know. In the '80s.) She loves dinosaurs and looks for them everywhere around town. When we walk up to the lighthouse on the weekends she will point to each mashed-in cow patty and exclaim, "Dinosaur poopoo!"

I used to call her my plum blossom, which she couldn't say so she calls herself Plumplum. Mama, you hug your plumplum? Mama, Dessi is your plumplum.

She is a light beyond all lights to us, with an almost heartbreaking tenderness and vulnerability and compassionate joy for life. Her beauty shakes me awake every day. We are pretty lucky people. These days are good.


Carina said...

You have an amazing ability to express your feelings and thoughts. Feelings and thoughts that I am grateful to be able to read from time to time. I am reminded to slow down and appreciate the beauty in my own two year old, to have times where I feel that I am 'shaken awake by her beauty'. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with me.

jen said...

Oh my. she is lovely, isn't she? lovely girl. beautiful family.
sorry I'm a bad blogger - are you on fb?
Also, I love Abdissa and Selihome.

Happy Family Day!