Today I watched my baby boy walk out of my arms and into yours. I thought I was ready, but it was harder to watch him walk away than I thought it was going to be. He was super excited to be allowed, for the first time ever, to get out of the car all by himself – he had no idea the backseat doors even opened from the inside. He skipped up the sidewalk and into his new school, his dinosaur backpack heavy on his back. He emptied his pockets as we waited in the drop off line, car after car of moms and dads wearing pajamas, business suits, workout clothes. He handed over his Angry Birds slap bracelet, a small stuffed yellow Angry Bird, a piece of wrapped candy, two rocks, and a tiny plastic spinning top. And then he hopped out, yelled, “I love you Mommy!” over his shoulder, slammed the door, and skipped into his new school.
He is yours now, World. Please take care of him. Please be gentle with him. Please don’t show him your harsh reality just yet. I have spent the past four years keeping him close, while trying to teach him everything he needed to know to be ready for this day. I have spent years holding his hand as I walked him into daycare and preschool. He has been surrounded by other well protected children; at daycare, at China school, at family gatherings. I have controlled his TV viewing and monitored his intake of world events. Remember, World, this is the boy who spent months talking about how bad he felt for the “Americans who had people hurt in 9-11”, after overhearing his teachers talk on the anniversary of this horrible day. And he didn’t even know the whole story. He is sad when his friends are too preoccupied with whatever they are doing to include him in their play. This boy, he feels things very deeply, World, please remember that.
They say that internationally adopted children are often very fierce and independent, as though a fire burns within them. Not my little man. No, World, he is not independent. Oh, he can get his own snacks and he can use the men’s room out in public all by himself, sure. But I make sure the snacks are the ones I want him to eat, and the men’s room is in a safe environment. He is mine, World, and he has been from the first moment I held him. He didn’t cry when the nanny handed him to me. He held on, and he hasn’t let go of me yet. He still needs me, World. Don’t push your negative views, your bad attitudes, your violence and your anger onto my little boy. Share all you have to offer, World, your good and your bad, with him slowly. Show him your compassion as he makes new friends. Show him your friendly competition as he discovers skills he is great, and not so great, at. Show him your love as he gets a hug from his new principal, something they are still allowed to do in his private Christian school. Show him your amazing abilities as he learns about science. Show him your diversity, World, as he continues to learn where he fits in as an American born in China. Show him your patience and tolerance.
Keep him safe, World, as he rides one of your big yellow school buses to his after school program this afternoon. He has never been away from me for so long, or with so many new changes all at once. Before, when he left me, I walked him to his classroom and picked him up. Now he is walking in alone and riding a bus. He is going to have such a great time with you, World. This boy, he is going places. He is smart and funny and compassionate. He is still fragile, though, World, so please, handle my baby boy with care.