Last Father's Day Israel weighed twenty-four pounds and clung to my husband, calling him Papa in a tiny French accent. I couldn't pry him off his Papa. And he was so sick, he had night sweats from TB, and he slept on Scotty all night, soaking him and kicking him. There are many good reasons for newborns to be small. Israel, when he was newborn to us, wasn't small, and his kicks landed and bruised us, and we hadn't had any time to learn to love him yet. Adoption can be a difficult road.
We didn't go anywhere to celebrate Father's Day because we were in shock just like brand new parents with a newborn. We worried all the time that we were freaking him out. We shouldn't have worried so much. He was totally freaked out, but he has almost no memory of it at all.
We took him to Vermont. Papa taught him to fish, and he taught him to swim. Papa played shark with him in the water, and let him ride on his back and play whale-rider. Papa was the father in the pool with whom all the other kids tried to play. Papa also taught him to ski. Now Izzy wants to learn to snowboard, and he just calls him Pop.
Israel had a low of awe for Scott when they first got home. Scott ran a mile, carrying luggage and Izzy on his back, at the airport to make the plane. Scott carried Israel out of the Congo and fed him pizza. Now Israel knows that I am the person who will feed him, but he is starting to grasp the idea that even though I buy and cook all the food, it is Pop's money that pays for it all. In this year's Father's Day card, he thanked him for Costco.
Here are a few things that Scott did as a parent for Israel this year. He sent him to violin school. Israel had music theory classes, group music lessons, and private lessons all year long, and he is now learning his seventh song. Scott attended his two big concerts, including one at Carnegie Hall, plus three recitals. Scott also had Israel converted to Judaism with a ritual mikveh bath and a naming ceremony. He paid for small group French classes every week. He also spends time with him over the weekends and in the mornings before work when they play ball or ride bikes in the park. Scott has stood by Israel in the emergency room and shared his iPad with him. Most of all, Scott supports our choice to keep our family as close as we can through homeschooling. So Israel was not sent to daycare or preschool this year, and he won't be starting kindergarten in the fall. He is with his brother Eddie and me all day long, and we try to help him learn what he wants to learn. The most important thing Scott is helping him to learn is that we are his family.
This Father's Day Israel weighs forty-six pounds and really looks like the five year old that he is. He is cured of TB. He has lost his little French accent. Not a newborn anymore. No longer new to us either. He is our Izzy. He still insists we are not his real family, and he threatens to leave us the minute he turns eighteen, but the next moment he is hugging us and hanging on us and hard to pry off, telling us how much he loves us.
One of the first things that Eddie did when Israel arrived was to sing to him from the Broadway show, Oliver! "Consider yourself at home! Consider yourself part of the family!" So Izzy quickly got to love that music, and I'll never forget when Scott sat down to dinner one night, and Izzy sang to him. "I'll do anything, for you, dear, anything, for you mean everything to me!"
I hope for Father's Day that Izzy will sing it again, or if not, at least Scott can remember it as part of his first year as Izzy's Pop.