Two weeks ago the United States of America legally recognized Yikealo as my son during a very brief court hearing.
In a much more gradual process I've recently become a daddy. While this may sound surprising to some (what? you adopted in June!), I'm referring to the manner in which Yikealo addresses me. My son is slowly losing his Amharic and, for me, the toughest word to see drop from his vernacular is "Ababa" - Daddy in Amharic.
In all candor, I had looked forward to this word being something special between the two of us; it designates Yikealo's unique cultural heritage, stands separate from other son-father forms of address, and even has a linguistic relationship to the term Christ used to address his own Father (Abba). Sadly, it is not to be. Ababa has gone the way of so many other Amharic words that Yikealo is losing. He still understands the word, but nearly always prefers to use "daddy".
I understand the change; all of Yikealo's cousins have a "daddy". All of the children at church have a "daddy". This is the term he constantly hears in reference to male parents, and he has accordingly hung the title on me. Don't get me wrong, I like "daddy"; who wouldn't? It's just that I had hopes of "Ababa" being our special word.
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