We woke up the next morning to a happy little boy, quietly playing with his Curious George stuffed animal in his bed. I don’t think he had any idea it was his birthday but by the end of the day, he probably felt like king for a day! There is still some question as to how old he turned. His birth certificate claims that he was turning five and while we think he is probably closer to six, we will probably maintain that he turned five since most kids in these situations are a bit behind with emotional maturity and with schooling. It takes the pressure off him in a lot of ways, mainly in school, if he starts in kindergarten rather than first grade next fall.
After breakfast, we ventured out of the guest house and walked down the street to the neighborhood park. There were some beautiful grassy areas that we would have loved to have kicked the soccer ball, or just run around in, but we had been told by other families who had tried such things that people actually weren’t allowed in these grassy areas! Um, it’s a park, where kids play and run, right? We didn’t get the logic but there was no sense in arguing, so we walked on past and headed for the playground area. It made me thankful for our own playgrounds as this one was in bad need of repairs and updating. A slide, a see saw, and a merry go round type contraption were the extent of anything typical, while on a concrete platform, there were about half a dozen of those types of “rides” you see outside of grocery stores here in the US. You know the ones–you stick a quarter in and the kid jostles back and forth a bit on a horse or in a car. Wogene had clearly never riden anything like this and while he was tentative at first, he soon became eager to finish one ride and get to the next. We played for awhile and then headed back for the guest house (while taking a quick “illegal” detour to let him run on one of the grassy areas–you could tell he was just dying to check it out). As we were leaving the park, a car turned the corner to enter the park. I had Wogene’s hand in mine but the car scared him so much that he bolted from me straight into the path of moving vehicle. Definitely gave me a scare (it sounds worse than it was–we retrieved him quickly so there was no real danger of him being hit). I realized that he had absolutely no street smarts–why should he? We both started holding each hand from then on when we were out of the guest house and around cars!
We had little presents for him that we had brought from the states, wrapped and signed by the kids. We pulled them out throughout the day and he made many trips back and forth to our room at the guest house to play with all his loot. We had sent him a lot of little toys over the course of the nine months he was in flux, waiting for us to return, and when we left with him at the transition house, the nannies gave us all of them back, unopened and brand new. We sent them for him to have as he waited for our return, not to save for when we came back! I didn’t really understand why they stored them away and hoped that he had at least seen them before that, but who knows. At any rate, he was perfectly happy discovering them with us there. His favorite “toy” was a racket of some sort he found in the guest house courtyard. He would whack a rubber ball we gave him back and forth to Larry and I, loving it if it went under cars or somewhere we had to chase it down!
That afternoon, we took him to a local bakery where were establishing quite a reputation since we visited it every day for a macchiato. We know the staff liked us because we tipped generously but we felt like celebrities walking in every afternoon, as two of the employees quickly ran out to greet us and seat us every day! They were very sweet with Wogene and helped him pick out a piece of birthday cake, coupled with Sprite, his favorite soft drink. He devoured, and I do mean devoured, that piece of cake! Most Ethiopians aren’t big sweet eaters but that is not the child we adopted! He’ll fit right in with this family and his baker Mama!
Since we had been out several times that day (park, lunch, bakery), we decided to have a simple meal at the guest house for dinner and call it a day. He was pooped but happy. A warm bath was just the thing to settle him down for the day and end on a very content note.