Tuesday, April 3, 2012

These Boys' Lives

Around here, there's a lot to do if you're a boy. Well, there's a lot to do for girls too but such as it is, there aren't a lot of girls around here. The Waspe Family has three boys, Marley, Sonney, and Micah. Herman and Charisse have two boys, Michael and David. Divine lives here with his aunty, Emily. Girls? Well, since Tawonga left...there's just N'ala the village dog. Well, she's actually David and Michael's dog but we've all pretty much adopted her. She has a regularly scheduled dinner date at our place immediately following dinner up at her house...but don't tell David or Michael that. The only girls that have visited here have been Heidi, outnumbered by her two brothers, and Kasia, outnumbered by two brothers, and Zoey, also outnumbered by two brothers. There's a pattern here...
The days go by so quickly here and we've definitely turned a corner weather wise. From our first days here in 40+ degree heat? We've cooled significantly - the days are sunny and warm and the nights and mornings are very cool. It's great for sleeping and for just being around. It feels like fall in some ways although the leaves aren't turning colours and the most bundled up I've been is putting on a cardigan in the morning, only because I can, not necessarily out of need. Jason is in Swaziland this week, visiting one of the community based organizations there. While he's away, the boys and I have stayed around the village. I've been working in the offices and generally being Dan's fetch-it girl when he exerts himself to command me to go do something for him. Yesterday, he had Wegner and I go up to the farm with him under pretense of "taking inventory of mattresses" that are going to be donated to kids that are sleeping on the ground in their communities. We counted a stack of mattresses in about 4 mins flat and then coincidentally helped Dan haul out some furniture and a freshly dug pepper bush complete with red chilis all over it. It wasn't a small plant, it filled half of the back of the bakkie, in which Wegner and I had rode up to the farm in, while Dan sat in the coveted shot gun position in the cab. Gentleman or not, on the way back, we had to ride on top of his newly acquired dirty furniture and hold fast to his large pepper bush complete with dirt clumped roots for the ride home down 9 km of dusty red African road. Imagine my enormous respect for this guy just soaring. He's lucky he married well or I'd have chucked his chili bush off the bakkie followed by a select piece of furniture every few kilometres and then denied any knowledge of it when we arrived in an empty bakkie back at the village. But, Jen...she's worth it. So, I took the high road...literally. Meanwhile, the boys have been enjoying their days around the village. Although they claim to be accomplishing homework and fulfilling their duties, I wonder at the truth of it all. There is a lot of hammering on forts, collecting worms for bait, chasing and capturing lizards, and running barefoot going on. All I know is that Easton is in a state of perpetual dirtiness that has me resigned to calling him "Pigpen" as he kicks up clouds of red dust as he travels around the village. Aidan has grown an inch every week we've been here it seems and he's now passed me in height. Something in the African air agrees with these guys. Add to that the constant companionship of like minded boys young and old, and there's a pack mentality that I as a mother have no chance of standing in the way of...not that I'd dream of it. This is the type of childhood I dreamt of for my boys and regardless of how late it is in coming, they are enjoying it to the fullest. It's been amazing to watch. Living in community with others has in many ways been easier for the boys than any of us...they are social by nature and having been raised in the company of high school kids and college aged adults, they are right at home here with the boys around them or the volunteers of all ages. Aidan jumped in a truck the other day with Stephen to go to the "tip" with a truck full and the two of them returned as good buddies, stifling the part of the story where they stopped for ice cream just before their dinner time return. I don't know who was more worried about getting an earful, Aidan from me or Stephen from his beautiful new bride, Busie. Easton entertains many of us just with his antics of jogging through the village or practising his stealth ninja skills running up the paths and around the corners of buildings. He wasn't so stealth yesterday as he eased his way along the wall of the offices after hours and set off the alarm. I barely looked up from the computer to ask Jason, "Was that Easton?" and he, looking down from the deck in time to see Easton fleeing the scene of the crime, affirming indeed that it was our boy. Thankfully, Herman came down and reset it without so much as an inkling of blame directed at Easton. Fall weather or not, our season here at Hands at Work is also changing. We're leaving the comfortable cocoon of village life here on Sunday. We'll drive to Johannesburg early Sunday morning and catch a noon flight to Zimbabwe where we'll begin a new adventure. I'm not sure what internet access will look like for the next few weeks. I do know that once we travel up to Zambia around the 22nd of April, with Farai, we will be able at least to get access at internet shops around the Kitwe and Luyansha area. So, stay tuned. Until then, I'll leave you with a few snapshots of what the boys' lives look like around here.
A Blue Headed Lizard that the boys captured and showed around the village
Finally, a bug I recognize! This one had me singing "She's a Lady" for days. How do I know? She was on the door of the Ladies' Washroom, of course.
Easton working on the tree fort up at Michael and David's house
Easton and our friend, Sibusiso, from Swaziland. We share life with Sibu here and it's been fun to watch Easton and Sibu's friendship develop. They have the funniest conversations about anything and everything, learning from one another...from currency, to school work, to skin colour, to Kei$ha...

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