The Second…

Our Ethiopian kids have been home for more than a year and a half and I am noticing something that brings them comfort.  That first year, everything was new and sometimes an event or season or change would send them into a bit of a tailspin as they tried to figure out how to navigate through another “first”.  Many of the firsts even came with their own new vocabulary and for my sweet kids who were new to English, it became frustrating when they would feel like they were getting a grasp on the language and then something would come along and they would have to learn a whole new set of words.


Christmas vocab: reindeer, Santa, nativity, carolling, manger, ornament, shepherd, yule, Bethlehem, North Pole, elves, candy cane, and on and on…

Olympics vocab: luge, national anthem, medal, champion, torch, broadcaster, etc.

Easter, dental occurrences, winter, fall, spring, summer, vacation, airplane, wedding, funeral, extended family get togethers, sports, classes, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and more are all things that come with their own vocabulary.

These type of things also come with their own traditions or events and the first year we were home, everything was new to Elijah and Sedaya.  New sometimes meant fun, but mostly for them, it meant scary and always having to be on their toes.  This year, I’ve been noticing that they are more relaxed about the changes that come with events or seasons.  Recently, they have enjoyed being included in discussions about last Easter and we have talked about it a fair bit so that I am sure that they know what to expect.  There were things from last Easter that Elijah didn’t remember and quite a bit that Sedaya didn’t remember, but they at least have a reference point now and instead of having that nervous energy leading up to it, I sense in them a true excitement.  I can see that in many ways, experiencing the “seconds”, may actually be more fun for them than experiencing the “firsts”.

Last winter, Elijah loved the snow and playing outside, but he grew tired of it and I could tell that he didn’t actually believe me that the snow would ever go away.  He had never experienced a Canadian spring and really thought that winter would never end!  This year, he knows that it will end and he will get to go bike riding and hiking again.

Sedaya was pretty frightened the first time she lost a tooth even though she had seen her older brothers and sisters lose teeth, but now that she’s lost several, she knows the drill.  She gets the tooth fairy thing too!!!  (though she does know who the tooth fairy really is)

I guess I’m really kind of directing this at those families who have been home for a year or less.  I just wanted to say that during that first year, it would seem like we were getting our footing and then another event or new season would come along and it would feel like we had taken two steps back again.  For the last few months though, it feels like we are moving forward and those painful days in the beginning were so worthwhile.  Stick with it.

This year for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and now upcoming Easter, Elijah and Sedaya remember them from last year and talk about what we did as a family and what we will be doing.  This reassures them that they are part of our family and included in our family traditions.  They also talk about next Christmas, next Easter, next summer, etc. and that is an important piece in creating a sense of permanence.  In this case, the seconds really have been sweeter than the firsts!



2 responses to this post.

  1. The comment about Elijah not believing you that the snow would ever go away made me laugh. I still feel like that every spring! I’m so glad to hear they are enjoying their seconds more. Amara recently looked at a favourite book that depicted a little girl in a t-shirt at the park. She said “Look! No jacket!!” She has also forgotten that the snow does go away eventually 🙂


  2. I’d love to repost this one on WAGI — let me know if that’s okay!


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