Yes, I still call you that. Remember when I asked you to comb your hair before dinner that one night and when you came to get the comb from me I instinctively reached out and started combing your hair myself? Yeah, sometimes I forget just how close you are to not really needing me anymore.
This trip cemented that for me, but it cemented so many other things. For one, if I ever had a doubt in the world (which I didn’t really, but if I had…) that I was raising a great man, that lingering doubt is now gone. You were my rock on this trip. You were your sister’s rock. You were an awesome travel companion. Heck, you were my friend.
Yes, can you believe I said that?!? I know. Every time a mother tells me that their children are her “best friends” I make a point of telling you how that sentiment makes me gag. I remind you that it’s not my job to be your friend right now, that it’s my job to raise a good and kind person, and then when that’s done, we can hang. When I know you’re well on your way to being a productive member of society, then, and only then, can we call ourselves friends. Sweets…
We’ve reached that point. At the age of 12 years old, you’re a better person then I was when you entered my life. You’re more confident, more loving, and worlds more patient. You took a freaked out, sick and sad little girl and turned her into this.
She adores you. In just ten days, you became an integral part of her world. You did that. When she screamed all night, you never once complained. In fact, you got up and offered to help me. You are the most unselfish 12-year-old boy I have ever met.
I am in awe.
I watched you love on kids who other children might shy away from. They high fived you. You hugged them back. They looked at your skin in wonder, you simply told them patiently that there are whole countries of people who look like you, that in the country you come from, the one they’re going to, there are people of every color. When adults of this new world stared at you, you didn’t care, you decided to wink and smile in return. I thought that was amazing. A gesture from a stranger that could be interpreted as rude is met from you with one of humor and kindness. You never let any of it bother you.
You fell in love with this country, not its food, not its history, but its culture, its liveliness and its people. You told me you love it because it gave you your sister, such profound thoughts from someone who could be so easily jaded by the way people of your color are looked upon here. As soon as you said that, as soon as those words were out of your mouth, I stopped trying. I knew I no longer needed to take you to the museums, or make you see ALL the sights for you to really “get something” out of this experience. You had learned all you needed to learn, something that it took me three trips to Ghana to learn. You love a country like you love a person, despite all its flaws, despite how it may occasionally abuse you, you love it for the sacrifices it made for you. Both Ghana and China sacrificed a lot to give us their children.
You get that.
So, we went on long walks through the neighborhood streets. We ate ice cream in the local parks. We did things I knew YOU would want to do. I stopped trying to teach you, and I let you teach me. I made sure you knew how important everything you had to say to me was, and will always be. You told me so many things about yourself that I never knew, that I never had time to know, and that I promised not to share. I know them now, sweets, and I hold every single one of them in my heart.
Even though this adventure is coming to a close, and you have said that you have conflicting emotions about that, I reminded you how many more adventures there will be in your future, ones that you might share with me in the future. You have promised you will. I’m holding you to that my baby boy. For ever and ever, I’m holding you to that.
All my love,