I was cutting carrot sticks the other day for hummus. I thought the kids might like them, so I gave them each a small stick.
It wasn’t well received, and their faces were priceless. You would have thought I gave them cardboard to eat. They twisted their faces in disgust, then noticed me watching and put on a fake smile. One little girl offered hers to a friend, who gave her a stare of insanity and refused, motioning to the fact she had her own to eat.
I laughed and went to tell Stephen to catch these faces, and I returned to one of the girls walking in from outside, where she had chunked her carrot in the yard! I told them they didn’t have to finish. One of them then smiled kindly and returned her half-bitten carrot to my serving bowl.
Also for hummus, I was cutting homemade tortillas into chips and putting them in the oven. Amidst the fifteen kids in our kitchen, I forgot about one pan until I smelled it getting a little burnt. I grabbed the pan, picked out the salvageable ones, and threw the rest into the yard.
About twenty minutes later, an eight-year-old girl came in with a pile of the discarded chips in her hand. She was eating one and making a face of disgust.
Not that she understood me, but I replied adamantly, “I know they are bad! That’s why I threw them in the yard. You can’t pick up my cooking off the dirt and expect it to be spectacular!”
Again in the kitchen, I was making cookies for some friends coming over that night. A boy of about twelve decided to watch the whole show and comment throughout.
After putting together the sugars, egg, and butter, I pulled out my mixer. He jumped back as I turned it on and then assured me, “Oh! Very good. Very good!” I let him try the final batter (it had flax seed as an egg substitute for all you rule-followers out there!), and received reassurance, “Very good! Good job! Good job, Kelli!”
As I was getting ready to head to the hospital on Saturday, I was using a “translator”–the person with the best English around–and hand motions to determine the age of the child, her birthday, and her parents names before we got there. As we talked and motioned, a man came out from the community to join us. At first I thought he might know Karen and came to help, but he only spoke Burmese.
And then he showed me his tattoo.
He pulled up his jacket sleeve to reveal a large cross tattooed on his forearm. He smiled a huge grin, missing a number of teeth, and stuck his arm in my face. He mumbled something in Burmese.
I thought he might have asked if I was a Christian, suggesting maybe that’s why I was helping these people to go the hospital, but I have no idea. It could have been entirely unrelated. He could have asked me if I wanted a tattoo like his. Either way, I went with yes, just in case he was asking if I was a Christian. I later hoped it was something where yes was an appropriate answer.
This sparked a conversation between Stephen and I: when you don’t understand what you are being asked, is it safer to say yes or no? Are there statistics on this?