When the boys woke up Sunday morning, Blake led the parade downstairs. He saw his gifts and was rightfully excited. When Dawit saw his Thomas the Tank Engine scooter, he ran across the room yelling, “Dawit schoolah! Dawit schoolah!”

Life used to be easy for my wife and me. We lived near both of our families, and we had only one child, and he spoke English.

Now we are hours from those families, and we have two children –– one of whom is from Ethiopia and is doing surprisingly well picking up his third language in four years.

Luckily, we found out recently that Santa offers flexible delivery dates to prevent parents from having to haul presents to and from Oklahoma over the actual Christmas holiday. So for our boys, Christmas really did come early. Santa came Saturday night, and both boys had a ball.

Dawit’s knowledge of Santa and Christmas is limited. He has learned most of it by watching Christmas movies. Because of how he processes things, we think he understands about half of the words we say and uses his reasoning skills to connect the dots.

I can’t imagine trying to figure out what is going on with a dancing snowman or some of the old claymation movies like “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

But Dawit knows enough to know to be good because Santa is watching. He wanted a scooter. In fact, he wanted a Thomas the Train scooter.
When he told Santa that, the jolly old elf would have heard, “Dawit, ahmat schoolah.”

With most 4-year-olds, parents sometimes have to interpret some of what they say. With Dawit, it is because some of the words are in Tigrinyan or Amharic, and his sentence structure still follows those languages rather than English.

His weekend began Saturday morning when we attended the 80th annual free movie at the Historic Augusta Theatre here in Augusta, Kan. Dozens of children enjoyed the show, but the real show starts when the movie ends because when the lights go up, Santa comes in. All of the children squeal and run to get in line for a chance to sit in his lap and tell him what is on their wish list.

I was a little worried about how Dawit would like Santa. Several children were scared of this man dressed in red velvet with a flowing white beard. Not Dawit.

He had the benefit of being toward the end of the line. By the time he got his chance, he knew that kids would sit on the lap, get a pack of fruit snacks and answer some questions. Dawit is very social and not shy at all. He also loves fruit snacks, so it seemed like a good idea to him.

So our little Ethiopian import jumped on Santa’s lap, told him he was 4 years old and asked for a “schoolah.” Later that night, Santa remembered the request.

When the boys woke up Sunday morning, Blake led the parade downstairs. He saw his gifts and was rightfully excited. When Dawit saw his Thomas the Tank Engine scooter, he ran across the room yelling, “Dawit schoolah! Dawit schoolah!”

Apparently, he was more worried about being on the naughty list than we thought. He seemed to be as relieved as he was excited.

Last year, we were preparing for our first of two trips to Ethiopia to make him ours. This year, he’s part of the family.

It has been weeks since he gave any indication that he worries that his new family is anything other than permanent. There have been no tears and no fears. He seems to have figured out that he is ours and we are his.

That may be an even better present than a scooter –– for all of us.