Like A Child

Been a while. I guess like in everything, there are seasons. Seasons where I am itching to write and seasons where I struggle to. I hope you have been keeping well.

This morning Sonny proudly brings to my attention that he has broken wind. He even gave me his score, “Mommy, I just made three farts.” I say I know. How? He asks. It’s in the air, I tell him. I further say to him that this is not information we share publicly, that you should not even do this in the midst of people. The things I have to teach him; do not fart in class, excuse yourself, chew with your mouth closed, wipe your bum properly… I digress.

He looks at me puzzled. “But mommy, I do not like to keep secrets” he says. I am struck by this simple uncomplicated thinking. In that instance, I want to be a child. That my biggest worry would be that I have broken wind and I need to own up. So innocent. So curious too. Take for instance some questions he asks:

Him: Have you ever finished 500 kilograms of doughnuts?

Me: First of all how do you come up with this? But no, I have never finished 500 kgs of doughnuts. I cannot even figure out how we would carry them from the bakery and where we would keep them in the house.

Him:When we all go to heaven, who will remain here on earth?

Me: I honestly don’t know papa. My understanding is there will be no earth left.

Him: In church they said we came from soil. But I was in your stomach?

Me: Thinking to myself, how do I start, from Adam, Eve to him?… I do not know how to simplify.

Him: That is a half moon mommy. Where is the other half?

Me: I have a headache

I think we need to learn how to simplify, we make things hard for ourselves plenty if not all the time. Probably till when we get old, that age where we simply do not give a hoot about peoples thoughts or views of us. Let us remember, man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play. Heraclitus. Now trust me, I am completey aware that as adults we have to make desicions, tough choices. But even as we are making these, let us not overthink. It is from mistakes that we learn.

Speaking of play, Djasiri like any other child, loves to play. He plays with kids from the various regions of this country and outside of it, at home, in school, in church, kids he meets in the mall, in a hotel, by the road. He does not stop to ask them, where do you come from? He does know there are different tribes. He however does not know anything about hating because of differences in tribe. They are just his friends. The only difference he is aware of is gender. And this is limited to the fact that there are girls and boys. Because they are taught to use different bathrooms. He is not even aware of the different anatomy. He thinks I stand while peeing. You should see him urging me to stand next to him and pee, that he does not mind sharing.

What is this nonsense adults have, that this one is from this part of Kenya and I am from this other one and therefore, solely by this fact, I hate them? I tell someone my name and they say no, I am asking for your second name. I am floored. I am disgusted. I am angered, especially by those parents who are teaching their children this hate.

Some of us have heard of weddings being cancelled because one party cannot see how their son/ daughter would skip all these tribes and land at the only one that they cannot agree to marry him/ her off to. Parents, whose happiness are you focusing on here? You do not understand, you might be saying to me. You are right. I do not understand. I am convinced there are bigger things you should worry about; a persons values, character, for instance. They could be from your tribe of choice but they are mean, disrespectful, violent. You would rather this?

The amout of hate going around is beyond me. I read comments in social media and cannot comprehend if some of us are thinking at all when responding. That we can manage to miss the point of the post, a blood appeal for instance, and focus on this persons tribe instead.

Is there hope? Can we learn something from our children? May God help us.

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Fear

I am not sure where I am going with this post to be honest. I started thinking about it in August, it has been a draft for almost two months. Just imagine what can happen in two months; babies have been born, people we never imagined could ever hold offices are, a school term is almost over, someone exercising by walking one hour every day could have lost around 9 kilograms by now. But here I am, stubbornly trying to put what is in my head into words since I can’t stop thinking about it. And also, maybe largely, OK maybe entirely, because I really can’t stand seeing it marked as a draft, and I lack the stomach to delete it after reading it so many times as I tried figuring the direction I was going to go with it.

It is almost two months after the August elections, and weeks after the announcement that we are going back to the polls next month. Everything is back to normal, only in the sense that we are back to work, the central business district is not the deserted ghost town it was. Everything else is not back to normal. There is a lot of uncertainty, there are travel advisories already issued, business has visibly slowed down in most if not all economic sectors.

See, during the August election week, I had been indoors, along with majority of residents here in Nairobi. As a precaution, most people had been advised to stay away from their offices and work from home. You could taste the anxiety as we waited for the election results announcement to be made. Many of us following keenly to see what happens, trying to read the mood from the safety of our homes. At the end of the day, I am usually almost running home, after a week of indoors, all I wanted was to get out, the house had stopped being a place I could not wait to get to, want to be in, and morphed into a prison of sorts.

I got to thinking; was I giving in to fear, or just looking out for myself and my family? Common sense. Was it selfish to want all this uncertainty over with so that we could carry on with our day to day, despite other parties feeling aggrieved? I mean, everyone deserves to be heard right? This, the election and its aftermath, is such a complex issue, with many angles, I will not even begin to unpack it.

One of the things I have been thinking about as a result though is; standing for what we believe is right and the way we go about it. And at what cost? This in the sense that standing up for ourselves and what we believe in is important, something I would most certainly want my son to know and do. But I also want him to know that as he is standing up for himself, he should consider what effects that has on other people.

I guess this leads to the question of instances when one should be selfish and put their interests first and when one should consider the common good. Because, I am convinced there are times when there is no option but to think of self, and it is important to be able to know when such a response is called for. Similarly, when our actions have far reaching implications, when they involve masses, does one sacrifice self?

Another thing I have been thinking about; how do we react when we find ourselves in situations we cannot control? Prior to the election, there was for instance mass exodus from Nairobi to domestic as well as destinations abroad, we shopped and stocked our houses, manuals were given on how to stay safe and so forth. I just wonder then, why, when faced with other situations we should run away from, we do not. Why for instance, do people stay in bad, or even worse, abusive relationships? Why do we not employ the same precautions we took during the election time? Put our well-being first and take off?

In his book blink: The power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcom Gladwell looks at those instances when our instincts betray us. When we have a feeling something is not right but we stay put because probably we desperately want it to work, or we are paralysed by fear of the unknown. He further states that our unconscious is powerful but it can be thrown off, distracted, has to compete with all kinds of interests, emotions. Maybe this explains why our sense of flight at times fails to launch even when we know its best to take to the skies. I digress, back to the subject…

Fear is how you lose your life, a little at a time. What we give to fear, we take away from faith, said Mitch Albom in his book the first phone call from heaven. So come October 26th, go out and vote, again. And as much as we should be cautious in our movements, let our lives not grind to a halt, surely life has to go on.

Much love.

 

 

 

 

Smart

Couple of Sundays ago. We are at the security check getting into church when I realise I forgot to give Djasiri his back pack. It contains his bible, a notebook and pencil. For a moment I consider not mentioning, it will hit him when he lands in class as the other kids are scribbling away and all he can do is fiddle with his fingers. But I am in church, I know God is omnipresent, I figure He is more present here, it is in my best interest to own up.

So I act like I just realized and say, darling, we forgot your bag. We. I am including him in this most definitely, he too could have remembered, he is all of six years, surely that should also be his responsibility, yes? Then comes the kicker, “but mommies are supposed to be smart, how can you forget?” I know, the nerve. There are too many witnesses for the kind of response I have in mind, we will address this later.

He survives the lesson minus his tools and on the way home I cannot resist displaying to him that this mum is smart, more than he can comprehend. I not only know how many zeros one million has, I even know how many a trillion has! That gets him, hahaha. I also remind him that he did not know how to hold a spoon until yours truly taught him. You think i am overreacting? Come on, I could have gone on and on on things i have taught him.

Couple of Mondays ago, I started working for a different outfit. It has been a really great time, settling in. But it is change none the less. I am still getting my bearings. My system is adjusting. Explains my absence here for a while too. Done so many trainings, my spare time is spent regurgitating this information.

There are times that, at my new place of work, I feel inadequate, like i felt when i forgot my sons bag at home. When you are a rookie and you need to do mundane things like go for a number one, or even a number two – nerves can make your bowels get a mind of their own, your hormones go haywire- you will need to ask for directions to the bathroom. You get lost in the corridors, you are meeting so many new people you develop new appreciation for name tags since you can barely remember your name let alone theirs. It is very humbling admitting that I do not know, because only then can I ask and learn.

Being a mother has a way of making me feel like it is my first day of work at times too. But as someone mentioned to me, and I think this is applicable to everything we do, you trudge on irrespective, and it works in the end. Keep working, keep striving to be better.

In the words of one of my favorites,Osho: Go on seeking, searching, finding. There may be many errors, but there is no other way to grow. Trial and error is the only way. By and by, you go on eliminating the errors. Less and less errors happen and more and more purity becomes available. Don’t stop in the middle.

We are going to the polls tomorrow Tuesday. I urge all of us to go and vote. It is our responsibility. Not voting is not a protest, it is giving up.

Lets us all be instruments of peace.

Love and love, Vicky.

Wanted: Brother and Sister

Djasiri wants a cute little sister and a little brother. He had been away at my sisters for the weekend of 16th so I was seeing him Monday evening when I got back home from work. So I want to hear all about the weekend; what he did, where he went, did he have a good time. We are going on at this then he drops the bomb on me…

Djasiri: I want to tell you something

me: yeah sure

Djasiri: I want two children

me: you already want to adopt? how old are you? because you cannot possibly father children let alone be thinking about having them, two no less.

Djasiri: nooo. I want you to have two children. I want a cute little sister and a brother

me: I cannot do this for you darling, not now. What prompted you to want this?

Djasiri: what is prompt? how many letters does it have? (he has lately been counting how many letters words have. I know, strange, I am not sure what he will be counting tomorrow)

me: what made you to want this? I will explain what prompt is and how many letters it has later.

Djasiri: We were was watching Storks, I think we should get two, not one like in the movie.

me: I need to grab a shower.

Yeah, I ran. But only to get words. Maybe to also battle with the guilt I felt.

I am thinking we are done with this until later I am in his room tucking him in. The routine is bedtime story, prayer, then I sing a lullaby and its lights out. When its time to pray as usual I go first. I finish my prayer and I am holding his hands waiting for him to take over. Then he is whispering, “mummy you forgot to pray for God to give you my sister and brother”. I am tempted to quote and remind him that in the movie that has inspired him, babies were delivered by storks who now work for Cornerstore.com company. Maybe he should write to them too. I open my eyes and tell him we don’t usually speak mid prayer. He continues in a whisper, which is really tickling me, and insists I have to pray for this. I guess he figures God will not hear us talking if he is whispering. So I ask the Lord to bless Djasiri with a brother and sister.

Even though this was all thanks to a movie, it is an issue that I have thought about from time to time. How do I explain to him that may be later on, but at the moment I just cannot see myself having another child? I am just not ready. I have been the subject of so much unsolicited advise, that I need to get him a sibling, that I am already late, that you get your second child for your first not for yourself, that I am being selfish, and it goes on. Maybe I should refer these people to, mind your own womb, a fantastic post by Nadirah Angail.

My reasoning is simple really. I asked myself a couple of questions I felt were core; Am I in agreement with my partner, am I emotionally, physically and financially capable? If there was even one no, then there was reason to pause. I have two amazing sisters, and I do not imagine existing without them. I however refuse to do it again just because of this.  I have after all seen siblings who do not even talk to each other. Is this selfish? Maybe yes. To each their own. I have made my bed, I will sleep on it, or is it in it? Until I get another one (bed) when it is time to. The prejudice against one child homes is here to stay. But I think we should not defined by the number of children we have. The goal should be to raise responsible, respectful and loving humans. I could be wrong.

So what else is new? Plenty. He has a loose tooth that everyone who cares to listen has been told about. We are excited, this is his first. I was running out of answers on why the teeth were refusing to come out while his friends in school have gaps. I told him something about milestones and how each child moves at their own pace. He looked at me strangely. The nanny dug in and said since Djasiri walked when he was pretty young, his milk teeth would delay coming out. Me? I am just happy we have a loose tooth. Hopefully they grow back straight. Maybe I start saving for braces just in case, hehehe. And yes, we will take a picture and share it with everyone in our circles, maybe even those who are not. Should some random person ask me how I am, my response will be, “very fine, my son just got his first tooth removed, see, as I show them the photo.

He has also developed this habit of looking at the fuel gauge of every Uber we take. The drivers then have to tell him why they are driving on empty. Are they sure they will get us to our destination? It’s been educational and hilarious, the explanations. Don’t even get me started on how he urges them to race other drivers. He may have watched some scenes of fast and furious. And yes, I am well aware it is pg rated 13. I have never claimed to be perfect.

He is also keen on looking cool which means that at times we are not in agreement on his outfit choices. I assure him my picks are way cooler than his selection, check in the full length mirror, I tell him. Problem is he at times is fixated on one pair of jeans, or a particular shirt or pair of shoes and will want to wear that all the time. Which may be a good thing, he clearly does not mind putting on the same thing two, three times in a row, which then means I can shop less. Besides, he is growing so fast, therefore outgrowing things at the same speed.

In ending, nothing can totally prepare you for being a mom, being a parent. You do your very best, give it everything, and pray, a lot. I think. I could be wrong.

love, mamadjasiri.

 

 

Watermelon Halves

Greetings from Bermuda, Hamilton! My home for the past two weeks.

This time has been spent relaxing; beach sits and walks, sitting in parks just breathing and taking in the surroundings, roaming the streets, taking tonnes of pictures, meeting new people, sleeping, eating. The books I plan on reading: J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, Chimamanda’s Half of a yellow sun (for the second time), and David Baldacci’s The Hit, have barely been touched. I have never felt better.

It is so quiet I did not realize how loud Nairobi is. Especially now with all the campaigning going on. It is so clean. It’s a shame this is a point even, because it should be the norm. But when you see someone rolling their car window down to throw out an empty water bottle, or a banana peel at home, I guess it is something that surprises you, clean streets, something that you notice. The locals say it is not as clean as it was before, I wonder to myself how it must have looked then. I guess too, it will be spruced further as they prepare to host the America’s cup 2017 in June.

The people are so friendly, you say hello to everyone, everywhere. Caro, my sister, has to remind me at times. On the streets, stores, in the parking lot, in church they actually give you a hug, tell you they love you. Now I am not sure whether this is superficial or something that is done without much thought, but it sure feels good. We are all going through something and at times all we need is a stranger saying hello and smiling at us.

The clubbing scene is nothing compared to Nairobi, but it’s alright. The best spots are on one street, Front Street. Soca music is very popular, and very dance-able I might add. It finds is origins in Trinidad and Tobago and is a fusion of calypso and Indian Rhythms. Like Kevin Lyttle’s Turn me on. Some revelers I was chatting told me Jamaica, Kingston, is the place to be for partying. So now you  know where to go. The place I have been to had mostly expats, some Kenyan friends told me that one ni ya wazungu so I asked them to recommend ones that give me the local vibe. Now you know where I will be Friday and Saturday. Harbor nights have started, every Wednesday. Harbor nights is a street festival characterized by local Gombey dancers and street food. The shops remain open till late, folks  mingle, chat, dance, eat. Awesome sauce.

People jog here especially on Sundays so I have temporarily ditched my cardio, abs, and strength workout routine for jogging. I mean, how could I pass on the chance to jog whilst surrounded by water, houses painted in pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, all colors you can think of, all with white roofs and boats parked upfront, greenery? It makes it enjoyable, easier, even when you are huffing, puffing and dripping with sweat since it can get hot and it is humid too.

Stuff is expensive though. The currency, the Bermudian dollar is equivalent to the American dollar and one can use either. A 680g loaf of bread is $6.29, one half gallon of milk $ 5.59, water melon halves $10.99. I stopped mentally converting to the Kenyan shilling because my head was spinning each time. Guess this is due to the cost of importing goods especially since there are almost no taxes levied here. There is no direct income tax, no capital gains tax, no income tax returns to file individually, no wealth taxes. There is however payroll tax which is around 6% and land tax based on value of property. Makes this place a kind of tax haven for the rich.

This week on Wednesday there was unfortunately a road accident, between a motorbike and a car. The person on the bike succumbed to the injuries. This was the 4th death since beginning of this year related to road accidents. Speed limit is 35km/h and visitors cannot hire cars, only scooters or use the bus and taxis.

I guess it is easier running the place though given the population is just slightly over 60,000. Can’t really and fairly compare it to home.

I miss Djasiri terribly. Try video call him every other day. But I noticed one thing, he is OK, barely spares a full minute for me before he wants to run off and do something. Made me realize that maybe it is the parents who need the children? Like emotionally or to validate us or something, I am struggling with the right words. The children are fine, really.

I think at times, we use the kids as an excuse to not do certain things, or to limit ourselves. Now I am in no way suggesting that we ignore our children, not spend quality time with them, and be all in their business. I am proposing that it is fine, probably recommending even, to take time for ourselves as parents, to recharge. I know how challenging it can be, for example maybe to find someone you are comfortable with, can count on, to watch your child, but when you get an opportunity, even if for a day or two, to travel to another town, city, country, take it.

I urge all mothers, once in a while, to take time for themselves; a day at the spa, tea/ drinks with the girls, a holiday by themselves or with their girlfriends.  Would be good for you.

Got to go folks, the beach beckons. My chance to  don my short shorts. Oh and the Bermuda shorts are actually official wear, in the summer especially.

Happy Mothers day to all moms.

Much love,

Vicky.