Growing up in America isn't what you and I and 300 million others think it is.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 31 years

What hath mom wrought

Photo courtesy of Kenley's mom
Kenley right after he was adopted.

May 11, 2014

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2014, The Post-Standard

Kenley has two moms. One, in Haiti, had to give him up. The other, here in America, would never give him up.

Kenley was adopted along with his two older brothers when he was a little kid -- when he knew nothing about tech stuff.

You ought to see him now.

Growing up in America isn't what you and I and 300 million others think it is.

Things get new all the time. We're used to that. In fact, we expect it. A new kind of phone? What's new about that? Cars that drive themselves? Some folks do that all the time, steering with their knees while they send texts, put on lipstick and light a cigaret.

That's because we grew up with things changing all the time. We even had to adapt to the bad stuff; it kept changing, too. Nuclear this, terrorist that. Hijackings, hurricanes, sinkholes, shootings.

Not Kenley. He got all his impressions of the world in a place you've almost surely never been. You went to school if your mom and dad could afford to send you. You had clothes, shirt and pants, on Sundays. Maybe shoes. Things didn't change much.

Getting a ride meant climbing onto a mule. On a good day, you could smell a chicken cooking somewhere. Maybe. On all the other days, you never dared to dream.

Kenley wasn't introduced to America. He was injected into it. From a dirt-poor backwoods in Haiti to the land of Walmarts and 24-hour TV. The world's biggest repository of commercials. Messages of all kinds, all the time.

But there is something about Kenley you wouldn't expect. His mom lets him find himself. He explores, always asks about whatever he sees, tries to make sense of stuff. His twin brothers came here with two more years of life's adventures under their feet. They're more cool, more "How do you do?" Kenley is more "Is that an iPad 2 or 3?"

Kenley is 8. He and his brothers were spending a week with us when Kenley bumped down the stairs and saw me on my laptop, looking at trucks.

"Buying a truck?"


"For what?"

"To pull a Fifth Wheel."



"Make sure you get a diesel. Heavy duty. 4-wheel drive. Touch screen."

Did I tell you Kenley is 8?

"With a plug for your iPod."

You're doing a good job, mom.