I have treated Cedric, for the most part, like one of my children. I don’t allow him to have his phone at the dinner table. I talk to him about his grades and I (have almost) taught him to smile when getting his picture taken. I give him a hug and tell him I love him when he leaves for school (and like my other kids, he gets chastised if he tries leaving without the hug). I text him I’ll be praying for him before a tennis match, a test or when he’s traveling. Like my other children Cedric and I talk about dating, college and careers.
In ten days I’ll be driving my Chinese son to the airport to return him to his real mother. People have asked me what it was like having Cedric this year and my response is always the same:
We’ll never do it again.
Although there are times Cedric acts like a forty-five-year-old Chinese business man, there are also times he acts like any other teenager. His room is messy, he loves to eat and I am convinced he and Casey are competing to see who can make the tallest trash tower in their bathroom garbage can (I can picture them high fiving when it tips over, too). Cedric has one speed: slow (I call it walking in Chinese). He also tells me he needs something or has to go somewhere with approximately two and a half seconds warning. But those aren’t any of the reasons we will never host another student again.
We will never host a foreign exchange student again because we got the best one. Another one could never compare.
Despite the few things Cedric did at times that got on my perfectionist, type-A, hyper-sensitive nerves, for the most part he was perfect. He is quiet, thoughtful, generous, grateful and unentitled. Hannah and Cedric loved teasing each other. Casey and Cedric are best friends (who else would I have trusted to take Casey to Chicago?). Faithe and Cedric probably spent the most time together and shared many laughs (usually making fun of me). Cedric loves Chris’ cooking and finds him VERY funny (doubled-over, milk-almost-coming-out-of-your-nose kind of funny).
And like one of my children, I love Cedric.
How do we share Jesus with people we care deeply about? At the end of nine months all I have figured out is to love them. Pete Briscoe says love isn’t an emotion, but a choice (how could Jesus command us to love one another if love is an emotion?). Cedric has taught me sharing Christ with others is simply loving them. It’s treating everyone we hope will know Jesus’ love like we’d want someone to treat us if we were 6,504 miles from home.
I’m not sure what Cedric has taken away from our year together. I know he thinks I’m somewhat insane, and that I love Jesus, driving fast and my family. I don’t think the driving fast and insanity taught him about Jesus, but he definitely knows he’s now part of our family, genuinely loved and that he’ll be deeply missed.