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My Last Day in Greece

I spent my first week at Moria working on the Afghan family compound, where I met this giant four year old.

Over the next two months, my jobs and responsibilities changed often, but I always made sure to swing by his stomping grounds to visit his family.

He’s so sweet and so bad.

He always goes commando.

He wears fifteen different outfits in any given day.

He gives the hardest bites and the longest kisses.

When he falls asleep in your arms, he’s out cold and cannot be stirred.

He inspired in me a parenting tactic called “ankle jail,” a highly effective form of discipline that I will be employing as a father.

Our favorite game was the one where I would take his hands and spin him around in a big circle, and then I’d put him down and we pretended like we were too dizzy to stand. I’ve never heard a kid laugh that hard.

The maddest he’s ever been at me was when I had to remove him from the new arrivals playground for bullying. He threw himself to the ground and flung his shoes down the road. I picked them up and sat on the ground next to him while he screamed and wore himself out. Seconds later and on the other side of a fence, a physical altercation between a man and the police got out of control. Ishmael quieted and watched, terrified, as the man’s friends shouted and slammed themselves against the fence. His eyes glued to the events unfolding in front of us, Ishmael stood, let me put his shoes back on, and buried his face in my chest.

I said goodbye to him last night.

Today is my last day in Greece.

His father kissed me.

His mother thanked me. She asked me to thank my mother.

I will never forget this family or any of the incredible people I now have the honor of calling friends.

As I made my final round of goodbyes last night, I felt uncomfortable with how many of my new friends thanked me.

I wish I could speak Farsi, Arabic, Kurdish, and French so I could explain just how unnecessary their gratitude is.

I could then explain precisely what they’ve done for me.

*Names have been changed to respect privacy and security.