The kids asked to play on Saturday evening, just as we were settling in for the rest for the night. After we had locked the gate and were watching a movie, two girls climbed over our locked gate, came to the door, and called for us. They then proceeded to show Stephen that the gate was locked and it made it difficult for them to get in.
Which was, indeed, the point.
Either way, I told them Saturday that Sunday was busy: I had a wedding to go to in the morning, we had a swing dance class in the afternoon (!), and then a surprise party that night. But Monday, I told them–Monday was a holiday, and we’d have a little holiday ourselves and play together.
We were going out the door this morning to run & swim. Three girls were waiting at the door, and I explained that we would go for a little while, and when we came back we would color.
I’m amazed at the improvement in their English. They are getting basics: go, come back, wait, not now, etc. If I put them into sentences, they understand, and a few of them can make complete sentences themselves. We walked outside the other day and little eight-year-old Yedi said clearly, “Awwwh, Kelli-Stephen have to go.” Other than combining our names into one word, that’s grammatically correct!
Anyway, they were waiting for us when we got back. They piled into the house, just a small group of seven. We sat and colored. I made an “I love you” sign at first; one of the girls asked to keep it. I said yes, resulting in every other child wanting one of their own. I then proceeded to draw seven pictures that somehow said “love” in bright, bold colors.
I was just coloring, but it’s a little bit insane with seven little ones. I was trying to think of different ways to make each picture special, since I had a chance to give the child something specific for them. It’s small–just a crayon drawing–but it will probably go on their wall, and this is one word many of them know and I want them so desperately to feel. I tried to make each one unique, and in some way shaped around their little personality.
Meanwhile, I hear, “Kelli!” every few seconds, and they held up their drawings for me to see. Again, a moment to give them some one-on-one attention and tell them what a great job they are doing. I try to make my statements unique, make different facial expressions and sounds–yet all that they will understand.
And still meanwhile, one little girl starts naming colors, so I am practicing colors with her while we color. Red, green, orange, blue, yellow. She had learned to spell them at school, so she begins to spell them out in magnets, but needs help finding some of the letters. Again, a great opportunity! She is learning so much, and it is great for her to reinforce what she has learned at school, particularly in practicing with a native speaker. But spelling out “orange” and pointing to the correct magnets while complimenting others’ drawings and making seven drawings myself: my brain was getting overloaded.
They are all munching on grapes, as well, putting their seeds into two small bowls. One gets dumped over, and I have to ask them to pick them up.
A little boy is climbing on furniture he shouldn’t; I tell him to get down. This happens at least five times.
I’m wondering if this is what mothers of many children feel like: trying to manage chaos while making every one feel special and trying to maximize every opportunity that arises.
Except I can send them out the door an hour later, and I’m simply the cool neighbor. It’s definitely different.
But at the same time, there are some I don’t want to send home. I know this one’s mother has left for work years ago and not returned; I know that so-and-so’s father is regularly drunk; I know that this one loves to be held and loved on, seemingly not getting that at home; I’ve seen that one punished in a way that still leaves me worried; I know that nearly all of them will just be eating rice and chillies tonight.
Either way, I’m glad we colored today. I’m glad they like to sit next to me playing Angry Birds & Dots. I’m glad they are giddy with joy at the three dolls we found & purchased in the market.
I’m glad there is love.