For Our Little Dude “Who Looks Like Elvis”: Carol Ann Duffy’s “The Good Child’s Guide to Rock’n’Roll”

Morgan & Milo Blue Suede Shoes, sadly no longer available...but we'll keep looking!

For those new to our world here in The Netherlands, my husband Aaron and I are adopting two beautiful children from Ethiopia this year, most likely late this fall.  I have spent this morning opening Picasa web albums from our agency’s group account finding our little girl and our little dude’s faces in the photos and marveling again at how spectacularly unpredictable life can be.  In January, no kids and no kids on the horizon.  Fly to Tanzania in February to chaperone our international school’s service trip to Moshi.  Paint classrooms for a local primary school and spend one hot, dusty, momentous afternoon playing with a quiet little 3-year-old girl named Theresia at the Upendo Children’s Home, an orphanage run by the Precious Blood Sisters of Tanzania.  Return to the Netherlands committed to adopting from East Africa.  Research options for the region and land on Ethiopia.  Sign our contract with International Adoption Guides on April 14.  Receive two unrelated children’s referrals, the first in April, a six-year-old girl, and the second in early June, a 24-month-old boy.  Fall deeply in love with their eyes, their curly heads of hair, their shy smiles, their mismatched clothes.  And now we wait to bring them home, gathering up tiny bits of information about their personalities, their shoe sizes, their favorite crayon colors.

Every month or so, families fly to Addis Abeba to bring their adopted children home and on that trip they meet our children.  The traveling families play with the kiddos at IAG’s care center in Addis, deliver care packages from waiting parents back home to their waiting children and send precious messages back to expectant families about what their children are like, what they’re wearing, what their shoe sizes are. One family was charmed by the chubby toddler who acted like the care center was his own private social club.  They asked about this little boy, who turned out to be our little dude, and whether he had a family yet or not, they described him as “the little guy who looks like Elvis”.  Two years old, and our son has the look of the King about him.  I can see it in the photos, soulful eyes that downturn slightly at the edges of his long lashed lids, wickedly attractive smile, toddling around the center like he is its official ambassador, ruler of fun, probably up to no good.  When we tell him this story, which we are saving for him in his Life Book, how will he know why it’s so cool that he reminded someone of Elvis?

Serendipitously, I have an answer written by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in stanza 5 or her poem “The Good Child’s Guide to Rock’n’Roll” from her 2009 collection New and Collected Poems for Children:

5 Elvis Presley (1935-1977)

Elvis was King,
he swiveled
his hips, wore
drainpipe jeans
with gold zips,
sang, danced,
pouted, sneered —
You ain’t nothin’
but a hound dog

bowed, dis-
appeared.  Elvis
was King, drove
a pink Cadillac,
drank ice-cream soda
in the back.
His Mama said
her boy done well,
Elvis sang
Heartbreak Hotel,
died too young
still the King,
now the angels
hear him sing —
Love me tender,
love me true
tapping on his cloud
with a blue
suede shoe (17).

Not a bad introduction to the King for our little guy.  I’ll make sure he has some blue suede kicks to tap his feet to when we crank up the poetry and the music.  Here, at home, together.

Link to this post @ The Uncommon Reader

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