On Saturday I came out of the kitchen to find all 6 kids on their hands and knees, circling the couch and mooing. ‘They’re crazy’, Mama Kim laughed, and I had to agree before reminding her that it meant they were happy and healthy enough to act crazy. We are grateful to have crazy children.
Lucy is our newest baby. She’s two and a half, extremely small for her age, super bright, and quiet. She’s almost a certainly an introvert; possibly the first introverted Kenyan I’ve met. She is smart and she’s observant. She’s still being potty trained and she wears a pullup at night. She’s allergic to milk and she can colour for hours and she’s afraid of the dog.
Trisa’s a leader. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it. She’s bright and picks up on things quickly, which is helpful when I’m trying to teach the kids new habits (like covering their mouths when they cough…!) She is very outgoing and confident, and she scratches at her neck when you confront her about something or try to have a ‘serious talk’ with her. She’s helpful with Lucy and includes her in her play. She likes to read and she likes numbers better than letters.
Poor Peter needs a brother. On Saturday he turned our play-tunnel into a monster, and ran around ‘eating’ the girls’ dolls. It was hilarious, and that and the girls’ responses was a textbook example of ‘this is how brothers act toward their sisters’. He treats the girls so well, though, and is helpful, kind and polite. If we ask him something (such as stepping away from the dinner table to wipe his nose) we don’t have to tell him again. He is a good listener and a hard worker and he’s picking up on English very quickly. He likes to draw and play football and help me in the garden.
Peter’s sister Jane is a cuddle bug. She soaks up physical affection like it’s going out of style. She likes to play house, and ‘cooks’ in the play kitchen almost every day, usually with a baby doll strapped to her back, like a good mother. She’s stubborn. She turned four last week and from the look on her face, she’s never had her own birthday cake before.
Presh loves to write. She loves to take care of Lucy. She is growing out her newly-shorn hair. She is very observant and has a very good memory. She’s tall, taller even than Peter, and strong. She eats salad with me! She wants to be first in everything, and we are working on having a servant’s attitude. She’s a fast eater, a fast runner and a fast drawer. She likes the dog and she likes to wash the car.
Rita is our happy go lucky girl. Nothing gets her down, not even the wracking cough she’s had for 3 weeks. She skips to the bathroom, skips to the bedroom, skips to the table. She loves to sing and play and draw and read and talk. She keeps the girls up late talking at night and she’s the first to get up in the morning, to stand outside my bedroom door and loudly stage whisper, ‘Auntie Ashby??’ if I’m not up yet. She’s learning her numbers and letters and she is beautiful, like a model. She’s enthusiastic in almost everything she does.
On Saturdays we stay home and play outside. We play in the garden and we play with the dog and we play with the football and we colour and draw and play kitchen. Peter follows the caretaker around and provides a running commentary on everything the dog is up to. We eat oranges and drink lots of water and we don’t do any homework.
On Sundays, twice a month, we go to church. The kids go to their classes and on the way home they tell me what they learned, what they coloured, what they ate for snack.
During the week they all go to school. The weekdays go by in a blur; the kids leave at 8 and then I leave and run errands/go to meetings/make appointments/meet with government people/buy food and household supplies/visit people in the slums/try to spend time with Abram. The kids are home by 4 and I’m home by 5 and we do homework and draw pictures and eat dinner and read one book, maybe two, and go to bed. I’m becoming a master at juggling six kids, one bathroom, six toothbrushes, six pairs of pjs, 4 mosquito nets and one pull-up. Our bedtime routine is my favourite part of the day, and as I tuck each child in, I ask them, ‘who loves you?’ and they each reply, in turn, ‘God, and Auntie Ashby’. (Ashbean, actually.)
I’m learning more about their personalities every day. I love them, and I want them to know they are loved. I want them to succeed in school, I want them to be well behaved and well mannered, well adjusted and physically healthy. I want them to be creative and fun loving but responsible and respectful. I want all these things, and I want to take in more children, and I want more time with the ones I have, and I want to know why people keep having babies, and then dying, and I want to know what we can do to stop this terrible trend.
And I want to get more sleep at night.