…and his name is Mekondjo.
It all began yesterday afternoon, when a herd of 9 children showed up at our door. Daniel was on his lunch break but had to go back to school (much to the dismay of Mekondjo, who has begun demanding that the boys play with Mister Daniel while the girls play with me), so I had the task of entertaining the kids for an hour before Daniel got off of work. We generally don’t allow the kids into the house when the group is so large, but Paulina was begging to come in (and as Daniel has indicated, I have a bit of a soft spot for her!), and it wasn’t fair to only let her in.
So the troops came in and pandemonium ensued. I should mention that among the 9 children was a baby of about 6 months old, who I should also mention was of no relation to any of the other children that showed up. He was apparently the son of Owen and Mbumbu’s housekeeper, but I have yet to figure out why they brought him to my home. The baby, Fillemon, was obviously not happy about being here, and did what all 6 month olds do under such circumstances…. He cried…. A lot.
The intermittent tantrums of this child combined with the other 8 children excitedly rummaging through my art supplies wore my patience down quite quickly, so I was happy when Daniel arrived home. The boys then went outside with him while the girls told me they were “tired of playing,” and then made their way into my kitchen, where they literally began scrubbing the walls. There were still 2 children in my living room, drawing, so I was attempting to keep an eye on them while also making sure the girls didn’t end up doing more harm than good in the kitchen. I obviously was not good at multi-tasking, because this morning I realized that two Sharpie markers had been stolen.
I was really upset. I was pretty sure I knew who the thief was (Evangeline, one of the girls who had been out in the living room drawing while the girls were cleaning. She’s actually one of my learners and at one point I thought I saw her hiding the markers behind her back, but then thought I was being paranoid and let it go.), but I had no way of knowing for sure. It was on my mind all day and I wasn’t really sure what to do about it. We’ve had kids steal before, but it’s always been pretty small things like a sweet or a sticker. This isn’t to say I think the behavior is excusable—I actually kicked Penelao out of the house a few weeks ago after she stole a sticker. The thing is that the other times were more of the kids being outwardly mischievous and not really trying to be sneaky and abscond with something of ours. This time was different and it really hurt my feelings. I decided that when kids came today I was going to tell them that nobody was allowed into my house until someone admitted to stealing the markers and returned them.
Daniel actually ran into the kids on his way home from town and began asking them about the markers. He mentioned the girl who I suspected and Mekondjo immediately said that he knew her sister and would go talk to her. He ran off and Daniel continued walking with the rest of the kids back to the house. When he came home I greeted them at the door and began explaining that nobody was allowed back over until the markers were returned. I emphasized that I didn’t think it was any of them (it was Paulina, Meameno, and Owen—some of our most regular visitors who I genuinely do trust), but that I needed to know who did it. No sooner had I said this then we saw Mekondjo running as fast as he could towards our house, holding the two markers like they were an Olympic torch. I explained to the kids that they were in charge of being our eyes and ears when Daniel and I aren’t there, and they seemed pretty eager to take on the responsibility. It was Evangeline’s first (and last) time to my house, and it’s good to know that I have honest “policemen” for future occasions when things get a bit hectic.
We were so proud of the kids for being honest and concerned for us, but we were particularly impressed with how seriously Mekondjo had taken the task of getting our things back. Daniel made him a “Sheriff” badge and had him pose with the recovered items. He was pretty proud:
On a lighter note, some of the kids actually began calling us their mother and father today. Paulina started and then the other kids caught on, and it was pretty funny. Paulina went through our pictures, pointing out who each person was for the millionth time (“And this is your mother… and this is your sister… and here is Mister Daniel…”), but today she began pointing me out as her mother and Daniel out as her father. Then she got to Daniel’s parents, and when I mentioned that they were coming in just a couple of weeks, she excitedly replied that she knew and that she was very excited to see her grandparents. I should also mention that apparently my younger sister, Christine, looks exactly like an actress that is on a famous soap opera here. It’s called “The Farmer’s Daughter,” and is your run of the mill soap opera, with the added cheesiness that the show is overdubbed in English, making everything seem even more ridiculous and silly. I haven’t seen the show enough to know who the character is, but every girl that comes to my house gasps when they see her pictures and claims that she looks just like Ava Lisa (or some name like that…). They’ve also claimed that I look just like her in the pictures where I have highlights, so I’m thinking it’s quite possibly just the hair that leads them to make such claims, being as most people here seem to think all white people look the same (kids regularly point out my sister’s husband, Ben, or my other male friends as Mister Daniel. To those of you that don’t know Ben or Daniel, they look nothing alike.), but I suppose it is possible that Christine is the spitting image of this character. If we had anything faster than the slowest dial-up connection on Earth, I would take the time to Google Image search for the actress, but ALAS, we do not. Maybe an interested viewer from home can take the time to confirm or deny the claim that has been made by every 8-12 year old girl that has stepped foot into my house.
Anyway, I think I’d like to end with a photo of me and my new daughter that was taken today. I didn’t notice at the time that we were mirroring the exact same pose, and looking at it later made me sort of think that I am, indeed, her long lost mother: