Friday, May 18, 2012

It's just a short walk

I am so touched by all the comments people have left on the blog, emailed, or sent me on Facebook about the post I wrote a few days ago.  Especially when the entire blog was about me being brutally honest and uncovering some not-so-nice things about myself.  I'm certain Ethiopia has lots of these experiences in store for me if I open my heart and mind to them. Everyone's encouragement has been so heart warming.

I did a little more growing yesterday and got my shoes muddy once more.  This time my girls were the ones pushing me to open my heart.  Adelaide drew a beautiful picture of the "Ethiopian baby next door" (this is how she refers to him).  The picture was of the little baby boy and his mother under a rainbow with flowers.  She threw out eight initial drawings because she couldn't get the baby's sleeping eyes right.  The moment she was finished drawing the final picture she jumped up and announced she was ready to go across the street to meet the baby and present her drawing.  I hesitated.  Did I want to bring her?  Should we go over unannounced?  The little mud hut and the people living in it had become sort of surreal after all my internal contemplation.  To Adelaide it was simply a short walk across the street.

Of course Arabella wanted to go too so I decided we would pack up some homemade bagels I had made earlier and bring them as well.  Arabella grabbed a little tiny stuffed puppy to give to the baby.  I was still feeling unsure of schlepping the girls with me across the street when suddenly we were crossing the pavement and Tecklu was helping Addie navigate the mud path.  Arabella was in my arms giggling as I jumped over puddles and cow poo.

Addie hesitated a bit when we reached the opening to the shelter.  A smiling woman welcomed us all inside and insisted we leave our shoes on when clearly everyone else had left their's on the little mat at the threshold.  We learned that the mother was out at the market but the baby boy was lying on the bed behind the hanging sheet.  Addie gave the woman her artwork and the bagels.  The woman lifted the baby boy who was awake but wasn't making a peep.  I was immensely pleased to see he was gaining a healthy amount of weight.  His little feet were hanging out of the blankets and his lips were plump and adorable.  His cheeks were filling out and he looked healthy, albeit a little quiet.  My perspective could be skewed on that because all three of my babies have been loud, never letting anyone ignore their presence.  Both Addie and Bella loved seeing the baby boy.  We learned his name was Marcos (precious!).  Bella gave the little stuffed puppy to the woman (who I was surprised spoke decent English).  She invited us to sit down but we politely declined and said our goodbyes.  We said we'd be back again soon.  Tecklu helped us all back to the house and all three of us removed our muddy shoes at our door.  I asked the girls what they thought about the baby.

And here is where my girls have so much to teach me.  Children don't have preconceived notions of how things should be. They believe what they see and accept things as they are without much fuss.  Both girls piped up saying Marcos was "good", "cute" and that going to his house was "fine".  Then they changed the subject to something like "now, can we get on with making dinner and playing our jumping game with the couch cushions!"  How illuminating.  Marcos is a baby they met and he lives next door and that was that.  The simplicity of the experience for them really made me think about how much thinking I've been doing.  It took two seconds for Addie to decide to draw a picture and deliver it to the baby. It took me weeks of examination on the topic, coming up with some pretty hefty questions; leaving me unsure of how to move forward.

Going across the street with the girls made Marcos and his mother real people.  I morphed the first experience with them into a self absorbed look at how the whole thing made ME feel.  A pretty typical white privileged American thing to do!  I will definitely continue to reflect honestly about myself.  But the perspective my children have given me helps alleviate the paralysis I was feeling about what to do.  Instead of thinking about it, we should DO.  Make a picture, deliver bagels, say hello, gaze at a sweet baby, and see our neighbors as real people.  Maybe a simple visit where I can look our neighbors in the eyes is the most effective way to break down the vast differences between the sides of our street.

Something about having Arabella in my arms and Addie cooing at Marcos the way they interact with Ashlynn made me realize that at the very basic level of humanity the Mother and I are exactly the same.   We are both caring for our children, living day by day, feeding our families and trying to be the best we can be.  Similarities in our human experience level out  the differences a bit.

I expect to get questions from Adelaide.  She tends to experience things and then let it simmer awhile before she starts formulating opinions and questions.  She's like her mama in that way.  This morning she asked "Why is Marcos' house so small?" and  "Where is his real house?"  I told her the house we saw is his real house.  "Hmmm" was her response. Which just means she's thinking about it all.  Which is a good thing.

I might just let the girls come up with the next idea for our visit.  They turned a tough question into a very simple answer yesterday.  Kids are good at doing that aren't they?


Nomads By Nature said...

Your girls are beautiful, inside and out! I love how children can cut through all the thoughts, and concerns, and excuses, and worries, and go straight for the heart. Well done, mama!

Daniela Swider said...

How refreshing! We certainly can learn from our kids but we have to be willing to see things through their innocent, unburdened-by-preconceived-notions eyes.

Heather P. said...

If only we can be more like kids at times. You and your girls have such a big heart. I am sure your neighbors are enjoying their new visitors -:).