To protect the privacy of my sons, I will be using nicknames. My oldest I have nicknamed Bolt after the runner Usain Bolt and they actually have a little bit of a resemblance.
Bolt is 13 years old later this summer. I often joke that he must come out of the womb with his middle finger up at the world…and this isn’t a terrible thing. He lives life on his own terms and has a bit of an edge to him, carefully honed living for years at an orphanage in Ethiopia. I spent many years wanting to soften his little heart, but I think I have reconciled myself this being part of who he is and not trying to change it, but rather to use it to his advantage. Bolt struggles with some of the issues many adoptees face, trauma and attachment issues, and is also autistic. He can argue about everything and nothing. He doesn’t really like to be touched, but it happy to get into your personal bubble (a common characteristic of autism). He doesn’t always know how to get positive attention so he spends a lot of time irritating and annoying people just to get them to notice him. These are all issues he is working on, but they are deeply imbedded.
Why do I call him Bolt? Well, he is insanely fast. Flying home from Ethiopia nearly 8 years ago, he and his brother got loose in the Washington D.C. airport and, even then, I couldn’t catch them. They got as far as the service dog entrance before security caught them. I was meeting a friend for coffee in between flights and her first introduction to them was watching them bolt across the airport. At age nine, he began running 5Ks and even a 10K. His first 10K time was 42 minutes, exactly double his 5K time. He then took a break from running and did most of his running in soccer, but this spring he joined the middle school track team and is finding his stride again.
Bolt is also a bit of a comedian with a more mature sense of humor. He loves The Simpsons and can often be heard snorting at the computer as he watches the antics of Homer. He tells jokes and laughs at himself. The past few weeks, he has been exploring, what I have called, his “gangsta” humor with lots of “yo mama”. I am not sure where he got it, but it makes me smile.
Bolt also has his own perspective on many things. A few years ago, he walked into the hospital to bring me coffee with his dad and brother. He had been told to wear a coat seeing as it was February and below freezing. He, of course, refused said coat. On the way out of the hospital, he began shivering and this was pointed out to him. He responded with “that isn’t shivering, it is my chin dancing to its own rhythm”. His observations on the world are entirely his own, and as he is maturing it is interesting to see him think and question and engage the world in the way that God created him. A few weeks after our life was flipped on its head, he was sitting in the car (his favorite place for deep conversations) and he started talking, “Mom, I know you talk a lot about making choices. You know, the choices Dad is making don’t just affect him, they effect all of us.”. I could only respond with a “yes” and tell him that personal choices have the power to help and hurt people we love. As I begin this journey as a single mom, ushering Bolt into his teenage years, I find myself listening more, not just to his words, but to his actions. I also have taken his quote from many years ago to heart and have begun to embrace him dancing to his own rhythm.