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I was unable to post a blog last night (my last night would be your yesterday afternoon). It was a day we’ll refer to as “The Many Faces of Ezra”. I know he doesn’t have a multiple-personality disorder but the thought did cross my mind. At the end of the day, I turned to the wisdom of Napoleon Dynamite on the laptop instead of collecting my thoughts and writing a post.

My overall, midweek impression of our boy is that he is a 3-year old. It has been said that God created 3-year olds to make the “Terrible Twos” seem like an overstatement. As with my other darling children, it is an amazing age of “I do it!” from them and “No hitting!” from us. Ezra, like a lot of African children I’ve seen, is remarkably self-sufficient. They make American kids appear pretty wimpy. He can osuba (pee) and osumba (poo) all by himself, and though this week marks the first time he’s sat on a zongo (toilet), he’s taking it all in stride. (He loooves the flushing part. He likes to walk in the bathroom and spit in the potty just so he has an excuse to flush it.) He can put on his sandals all by himself and, like any self-respecting 3-year old, he prefers them to be on the wrong feet. He uses a fork and spoon (sometimes simultaneously) even though he’s probably only eaten with his hands. We got him a Congolese staple for supper last night: fufu. Fufu is hunks of doughy bread that is eaten with stewed meat. This time it was goat. He ate the entire thing like a champ, greasy goat meat and all. He’s amazing.

On the other hand, he’s showing himself to be very strong-willed and a bit of a stinker. At the beginning of the week (the time we’ll now refer to as “Shy Ezra Days”), he was happy to just cuddle and kick the soccer ball with Brent. We’ve got great video of him heading the ball and catching it. It’s my unbiased opinion that he’s got the makings of a soccer super star. Now it seems the honeymoon is over. He wants to throw the ball in the pool. He won’t share with the other kids staying at our hotel. He tried to stab Brent with a plastic fork and thought it was hilarious. Before bedtime, after he’d been especially aggressive toward Papa (Brent) and I had fussed at him and told him “Te!” (no), he gave me an “eat dirt” look (like a smile it is the same in all languages) and he threw himself on the floor for the cold shoulder treatment. I tried to lie next to him but he would always roll over, away from me. He wasn’t wanting maternal comfort. I had hurt his feelings.

I know he’s testing us. He’s trying to see how far he can push us and what we’ll do about it. The African parenting culture looks different than what we’re used to. We Americans tend to pet and coo over our kids more. His caretakers up to this point have probably been a little more stern and a little less smiling. This is not a critique of African parents. God help us all when it comes to raising kids. It’s just a different set of cues and facial expressions for Ezra to learn how to read. At first, he may have seen us as pushovers. (“This white mama just cries and kisses me”) Hopefully, he’s realizing that we’re firm but devoted. We’re meeting his needs and thereby proving ourselves to him. It’s a lot of work but terribly rewarding.

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Wednesday morning

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