Sometimes with Dawit it seems like the light is starting to come on. Sometimes you wish more lights were on. And sometimes far too many lights are on.
Everyone loves tracking their children's "firsts" - first steps, first words, first lost tooth, etc.
With Dawit, we missed most of those. Only getting to know him as a 4-year-old means he had already mastered a lot of that. But in his first seven months with us, he has experienced a lot of firsts - first movie at a theater, first pizza, first hockey game.
When we went to a minor league hockey game in Wichita, Dawit was overwhelmed. An arena with about 13,000 people, bright lights, loud music and big guys skating around on ice inside a building and fighting with each other can be intimidating.
It wasn't until the third period that he warmed up to the idea of hockey being fun and not scary.
It will be different when he gets to go back. No one adapts as quickly as Dawit.
He has been through a lot, and he can handle more than most and keep a smile on his face.
But I think he prefers the scary bright lights to no lights. I have no idea what happened in the dark when he was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but it was something bad.
The little fella doesn't even like shadows. Well, we were at Blake's basketball practice recently and Dawit was playing as hard as the team was. His nose was running a little, so I kept taking him to a restroom to clean him up.
Finally, I just sent him on his own. He likes to do things for himself, so he ran over to the restroom. A minute or so later my attention was pulled away from Blake's basketball practice when I thought I heard something. I realized Dawit was still in the restroom and I recognized his scared cry. As I sprinted around the court to rescue him, I heard him banging on the door and screaming.
Apparently, the door shut behind him before he located the switch. It was dark in there - really dark. And he was scared - really scared.
He was a blubbering crying mess. I hope I am never that scared in my life.
He sat on my lap for a few minutes, dazed and recovering. It wasn't long before one of the other younger siblings ran by with a ball, and Dawit put the whole thing behind him.
I don't know what he thought was going to happen in there, but I bet he checks for light switches before he lets a door close next time. He is a smart kid and he adapts quickly. He won't let that happen again.
He is so smart in fact that he is becoming a flash card wizard.
Dawit is learning letters and sounds and he can pick out the similar items on any card.
He loves Leap Frog letters and learning to read DVDs. He calls them his "ABC-HIJ" movies.
Not only is Dawit learning letters, he has identified that the letters make sounds and the sounds are made by the letters.
Before his bedtime this week I told him "M is for momma." He said, "And Micah" (his favorite cousin who was a premie and is the same age and about the same size).
I said "P is for papa." He answered, "and peanut butter."
This is great for him because in Amharic there are 33 letters. Each of 33 letters has a pairing with seven vowel sounds for a combination of 231 characters.
Tigrinyan has its own alphabet that is similar to Amharic but different.
So anything Dawit learned about either of his first two languages would have only served to confuse the heck out of him.
For him to be coming on this quickly is exciting. At this pace he will be more than ready for a full year of preschool next year and kindergarten the next which means he won't be behind other students his age.
To come through all he has and still stay on pace with American-born kids would be a great result.
Finally acting like a son of mine
Blake is so much like his mother that I often call him Momma Junior. Finally, at the age of 8 he is stating to remind me a little bit of me - mostly when he cracks himself up trying to be funny.
He gets a big kick out of it when I honk as his mother walks out into the garage to head to church on a Sunday morning. Sometimes, we mix it up and pretend to shut the garage door on her head.
This week, we offered a combo platter of hilarity. After pretending to shut the garage on her, she got to the car only to find Blake had locked all of the doors. She didn't laugh.
Apparently, that joke is less humorous when you are outside on a 15-degree morning.
But Blake thought it was hilarious. He was laughing so hard he made all of us laugh.
"This was the best prank in Bush history," he said. "Good times!"
I love hearing my words come back from him. But it definitely makes me want to be even more cautious about what those words are.
If he is going to be like me, I better be someone I want him to be.

    Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.
With over 4,500 runners expected to participate this year and a dedication to a Kingston soldier who died in Afghanistan, the 24th annual Shamrock Run on Sunday, March 11, will be a special event.
The two-mile run, sponsored by a number of local businesses and organizations, will be dedicated to the memory of PFC Doug Cordo, who died last August. Cordo, the victim of a roadside bomb, was well known in the Kingston community. Last year, he participated in the Shamrock Run while on leave, and made many people laugh with his good-natured antics during the race.
“This race is always a fun event and really gets people excited for spring, but I think it’s important for us to all realize the sacrifices people like Doug have made for us to be able to hold such an event,” said Bob Ryan of Team Ireland, which organized the race. “All of us in the community miss Doug very much, and we are happy to run the race in his honor.”
His mother, Tracy Karson, has been especially touched by this dedication to honor him and is expected to be on hand on race day as well.
According to organizers, the Shamrock Run is considered the first float in Kingston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Following the race is a runners-only post-race party at the Rondout Neighborhood Center at 105 Broadway, Kingston. Check-in and race day registration are from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. across from Academy Green at Gov. Clinton Apartments, 1 Albany Ave., Kingston. Prizes for runners, which will be randomly drawn, include a grand prize of two round-trip tickets to Ireland.
All proceeds from the event will go to the Washbourne House for victims of domestic violence. A few of the past years’ beneficiaries include Ulster County Catholic Youth Organization, Ulster Performing Arts Center, American Red Cross, Angel Food East, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, Kingston Area Library and Boys & Girls Club of Kingston.
Many of the runners participating in the 24th Shamrock Run will also take part in the 30th Kiwanis Kingston Classic on Saturday, April 14, which features a 10K race and 2.1-mile fun run for all ages. The Kingston Classic is also a mainstay in the region and has grown in popularity since its inception in 1982. Preregistration for the 10K event is $20 before April 1 and $25 after. Students are $5 less. For the 2.1-mile run it is $10 for preregistration and $15 the day of the race. Those who are interested can enter at
The Shamrock Run event started in 1988 as a way to get people out in the spring and into running before the Kingston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The idea came from local runner Jim Kelley Smith, along with his two roommates, Ryan and Bob Nanz. The first race generated 297 runners, and this year over 4,500 are expected to participate.
In addition to the race, the parade immediately afterward will run through the city of Kingston to where the Roundout Creek flows into the Hudson River.
This year’s race starts at 12:50 p.m. sharp at Academy Green, winds throughout the downtown area and ends at the foot of Broadway. Runners may enter for a discounted fee of $10 if they sign up prior to March 1. For entry forms and to learn more, visit