The teenagers play the shotgun game every chance they get.

You remember this game — first player to call it, gets to ride in the front passenger seat.  Except, it doesn’t count if you call it before the last player has left the house/store/building/stadium/etc.

Those are the basics.  The players may then stipulate to further rules and restrictions governing who gets the front passenger seat for the ride.

Often, The Fashionista and Subway Dude forget that I, as driver, am the final arbiter, and there are no appeals from my rulings.  I can also use my awesome power to override the players in an arbitrary and capricious manner.  For example, I can decree that my girlfriend, Running Girl, gets to ride next to me.

“Because.  That’s why.”


Island Boy is at a very impressionable stage of his life.  He watches and listens closely.  His world has now expanded well beyond the confines of Kay Nou.  Yet, he is most influenced by his fellow Kay Nouers.  His siblings in particular.

Several times in the past few weeks, Island Boy has left the house joyfully shouting, “Shotgun!” on the way to the family vehicle.  It’s clear he doesn’t understand the rules of the game.  The important thing is: he really wants to play along.

This is true no matter where he goes.  He wants to fit in.  When the bigger kids at his YMCA program are playing capture the flag in the gym, IB desperately want to play.  So what if he forgets which side he’s on?  Doesn’t matter that the rules are well beyond him.  The bigger kids are good sports.  They remind him what to do.

When we tell a joke at the dining room table, Island Boy joins in the laughter.  So what if he’s a little late to the party and stays a bit too long?  He wants to be in on it.

If we happen to be taking a college campus tour, or say, visiting the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois, when the tour guide asks if there are any questions, IB’s hand is always the first to shoot up.  Unfortunately, when called on he is not always certain of the expected response.

Unfortunately, it appears that this is what is happening in school as well.  Island Boy desperately wants to participate with his classmates.  But, he doesn’t always understand what is expected of him.

We are told by his “team” of professionals at school that he will eventually catch up to his peers.  “Trust us,” they say.  “We’ve seen this situation before and we know what to do.”

IB's reading material of choice.

Right now, Running Girl and I inclined to put ourselves in the shotgun seat while the “team” drives IB’s education.  Like any good passenger, we occasionally offer advice or observations.

By and large, we are satisfied with the level of service that our special guy is receiving.  And he seems to be making progress.  In any case, he loves school, loves writing, draws creatively and carries around thick German dictionaries in his backpack claiming that he can read them.

These are all good signs, right?

However, every once in a while, the “team” will throw us for a loop.  “Do you feel your child’s miscomprehension is due to the fact that he just started learning English or due to a cognitive deficit?”  we are asked.

How the hell should we know?” we want to shout at them.  “You’re the freaking experts.  We’re just the well-intentioned parents.  We’re kind of trying to figure that one out too.”

Several of the International Adoption for Dummies-type books inform us that with some children, the date of arrival with the family is a more realistic birth date for purposes of cognitive development than the actual date de naissance.  As time goes by, we are seeing the wisdom in this.

So, this means that we need a lot of patience with regard to Island Boy’s childhood development.  “Play the long game,” Running Girl and I keep telling each other.  On the whole, this is a good philosophy.  However, inherent in the long game is the realization that we may be old and stooped over by the time that IB graduates from college or otherwise becomes independent.

But, maybe not.

Every once in a while, Island Boy will write down a collection of letters that actually spell a word in the notebook that he carries around.  And we catch him applying something he clearly learned in school on a nearly daily basis.

IB's Mon-Fri hangout of choice

This is offset by his failure to count accurately past 13.  And by his inability to say Bon Appetit — a phrase that he heard from birth in his native tongue.  And by his apparent inability to decipher the few words written on flash cards that we work on reading each night.

Running Girl and I are okay with IB’s pace of development.  After all, his problems are far fewer than we had anticipated when we embarked on this project.

When Island Boy yells SHOTGUN!, he wants to be in the game.  And that’s what really counts, isn’t it?

— The Major


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