In one respect at least, Austria has a close relationship with Ethiopia. It may have started when the actor Karlheinz Bohm, best known by Americans as the cinephilic serial killer in Peeping Tom, began doing NGO work with Ethiopian children in 1981. The upshot of this is that there are two agencies in the country who are licensed to facilitate adoptions from Ethiopia, and the upshot of that is that we know several other adopted Ethiopian kids in Vienna. Lately, Adinah has grown closer to Teresa, who's one of our favorite people.
Teresa goes to the same Kindergarten, and that's great. Mostly. I sometimes suspect that Adinah and Teresa get shunted together there, even if they'd rather play with some of their other friends, because they're both little brown girls. Occasionally, some of the other parents have mistaken them for sisters, not because they look alike, but because...they're both little brown girls.
I know that's some racism right there, but I'm also learning--very slowly--that you have to pick your battles. I think we're so lucky that Adinah has a friend like Teresa in school. She tells me they draw pictures together.
Our kids are old enough to notice skin color, but they're still too young to understand subtler distinctions. In fact, most of the other kids in the Kindergarten are not from Vienna, or even from Austria. They're Serbian, or Croatian, or Turkish. Ibrahim is Egyptian, I think. But Adinah and Teresa look different. And within the Kindergarten, that's important.
Outside school, when they're with us, Adinah and Teresa are great friends. But competitive as hell. They spend a lot of time fighting about who gets the last raisin or the first gummi bear.
We went to the zoo last Sunday with Teresa, her parents and their second adopted Ethiopian daughter, Emily. It was pretty excellent. Adinah and Teresa fought over whose turn it was to ride the scooter, but they mostly had a good time. It was almost impossible to get them out of the bird house once they discovered the flamingos, whom Deanie calls "loud mingos." (Because they scream so.) Myself, I liked the orangutan who looked like Ozzie Osbourne.
Yesterday, they went to their third kids yoga class together, and afterwards, they fought like the dickens. Anette sat down next to them and said, 'Why are you guys fighting? You're best friends!' Suddenly the war was over, and they spent the rest of the afternoon giggling.