It’s officially Day 1 of being the Poor Lonely Single Dad – Jean is back in Canada for, gulp, 18 days – and we’ve slept in by 45 minutes and The New Young Dog goes without his morning walk but we still manage to scramble and jump in the truck and get on the bumpy dirt road outside our home in time.
It’s just past 7 and the music on this school run brings us a song about Cinderella, a daughter who wants to practice dancing with her father before the upcoming Royal Ball, that is her wedding. And while we’re not all that awake, this leads to rather meaningful conversation with the children about marriage.
Liz makes the point that she wants to adopt kids later on, but not get married. “My theory is why create new life when there are already children living who need your help?” says Liz, all of 10, while we drive to Kampala and pass Ugandans going here and there, plenty who have been undoubtedly orphaned for one reason or another.
One estimate is that there are as many two million orphans in Uganda, although an orphan here is defined as someone who has lost their mother, not both parents.
This shows how much Ugandan fathers are in the picture, but one Ugandan girl who has lost both parents is in our back seat, Hannah, an orphan for sure before she joined our family.
It’s a deep conversation and I’m actually about to pray for each of the three, for their future spouses. Not that I am one of those people who believe that marriage is for everyone. Along with the children’s mother, I was single without prospects on the horizon well into my 30s, and wasn’t suffering so much, no, not really.
But I do make the point during this talk that children tend to do better with two parents and even though adopting as a single parent is maybe a Canadian sort of thing, if Liz wants to adopt at some point in her future, she could certainly do so while married.
So I’m about to pray for the kids – Jon and Hannah are more open to future marriage – because prayer, it seems to me, is not a bad way to navigate these sorts of things, even on an early, blurry-eyed school run in Africa, a Remembrance Day morning when I can’t help but remember and take my hat off to all the single parents out there who have somehow managed much longer than 18 days.
It’s a very solemn moment because, as I’ve told my children plenty of times, in a divine way you are royals, yes, you Jon, you are a real prince, and girls, you two are princesses, and, married or single, don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different for even a second.
And this is when Hannah asks with some amount of volume from the back, to bring that 7-year-old perspective more than anything … “Are we having tacos for supper?”