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Published: September 1st 2005
Playing with construction paper
This is one of the daughters of the lady who washes our clothes. Another of her daughters lives in our house as a maid.
A couple of days ago I didn't have class until 2:30, so I decided to sleep in. At 11 I woke up to the sound of a baby crying, so I jumped out of bed and put some clothes on to go investigate. It turns out the woman who washes our clothes brought her baby to visit us. Another one of her daughters lives in our house as the maid. The baby was playing on the floor, and I gravitated towards her of course. And she was so scared of me! I think I was probably the first white person to attempt to pick her up. She looked at me with these huge scared eyes and started crying. It was so sad... So I handed her off to my 12 yr old host brother, Papi, because she knows him and likes him. He gave her a pill bottle to use as a rattle, and I sat next to them and played with her. She still wouldn't let me pick her up though.
They yesterday she came back for another visit. I tried picking her up again, and she let me! It was defiantly the highlight of my day. We looked
Hayden and the 6 yr old
This is Hayden, my former housemate, and my 6 yr old cousin. He lives downstairs.
in the mirror together, rattled another pill bottle, and danced around the room. Eventually I sat down on the couch with her, and she reached for my pile of cut up construction paper (I was making Wolof flashcards). I have a ton of them so I let her play with them (in them…), and she loved it! She smiled and tossed the paper up in the air over and over and over. She was really funny.
I noticed that the kids here just really don't seem to do much, particularly the ones in my family. The 12 yr old just naps or watches TV all day long. I don't think he's allowed to leave the house, and he has nothing to do. I haven't seen a single toy in the house. The 6 yr old follows the maid around and helps her or watches TV. He never plays though. It really bothers me. I think the poorer kids get to play more, because they gather on the streets (where their parents are trying to sell stuff).
The crayons and markers I brought were a hit. I was cutting up construction paper the other night, and the 6 yr
This is my host mother, with the 6 yr old next to her.
old came up stairs and started watching me with extreme interest. I asked him if he wanted to color and he nodded. I brought him some paper and crayons, and he started drawing monsters and fish in abundance. Then the 12 yr old started watching intently. I was afraid maybe he was too cool to draw, but I asked him if he wanted to join us, and he came right over. I gave him some markers, and he's really a pretty good artist. I thought it was kind of interesting that he didn't just draw things he thought of, instead he drew the remote control, his dad's cell phone, the center piece (all things he could see in front of him). That was the first time I really got to interact with the kids, and it was a great icebreaker. Now I talk to them all the time, and the 6 yr old always runs up to great us when we get home. He kind of reminds me of Spaz. : )
I don’t interact with my host Papa too much because he works a lot. When he’s home he talks to us some and seems interested in getting
This is my host brother, Papi. He's 12 and has just started English lessons.
to know us. I’m still not quite sure what I think of him. I really like my host Maman though. She laughs a lot and is really interested in talking to us. She’s bossy though, which is weird. She tells us when we have to be home, how we should arrange the curtains in our room, how we can interact with the little ones, how much we should eat, and other stuff like that. It is so strange. So far it’s not bothering me, but I suspect it’s going to be a point of contention in the future.
A couple of days ago, Hayden, Lauren, and I got home pretty late, around 8, and found dinner already out on the table for us. Neither parent was around, but the maid told us to go ahead and eat. We thought it was a little weird because we normally eat at 9:30ish and also it was the same food Hayden had eaten at lunch (Lauren and I ate on campus). So we ate a full dinner of rice, fish, and veggies, and then I went straight to the shower. While I was in there I heard everyone in the living room
This is my roommate Lauren eating dinner with a fan in-hand to swat the flies.
laughing really hard, and I couldn’t figure out why. It turns out that that was leftovers from lunch that Maman left sitting out in case we were hungry when we got home. We had another full dinner coming. Maman thought it was absolutely hilarious that we thought that was our dinner. She laughed all night about it, but she defiantly expected us to eat again. So we had two dinners.
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