We’re really, really enjoying our new neighbourhood. The kids discovered they can bring out their ride-em duck out onto the “road” (our gated community road), run along with other kids and just walk and walk. Normally walking on a regular road attracts a lot of attention – the Ethiopian looking kids with the white mama. So in our gated community, it feels as if there’s a lot more privacy.
The other day while we were playing outside, some kids wandered over to check out the girls. They are obviously from outside the gated community – raggedy clothes, holes in their shoes. I encouraged the girls to let the other kids have a turn on the ride-em duck. The kids (mine included) had a great time playing together. Eventually all the kids (there are about 8 of them) wander into our compound and seem pretty slack-jawed. They see our shelf of shoes and stop to stare at it for a while. A little one wanders straight into our house and is super excited to see all the toys. The big kids tell her to get out but can’t help checking out our place all the same. It’s incredibly awkward. I know culturally it’s impolite here to go into someone’s home. But I resist shoeing them out because I want my girls to be accepting of people no matter who they are. Eventually the kids wander back outside and I tell them to come another day.
A few days later four kids come by – some the same and some different from the day earlier. They play outside on the road for a while and everyone is taking turns while the ride-em duck gets a workout. Then eventually they all wander into our compound and the oldest one insists on sweeping and wiping everything in sight – like somehow she has to earn her visiting privileges. Zizi begins distributing bananas and mangoes. It’s getting late and they all go home. The husband says that I shouldn’t be surprised if 20 kids show up one day expecting to play.
This morning a five-year old girl from yesterday came with her grandma to show her our house. The grandma stayed for about five minutes and then left her grand-daughter at our house saying she had to work. I don’t think we Canadians have much of a culture (what’s our national food?) but leaving our children with strangers is NOT part of the culture. The girl’s name is Beza and Beza went to every corner of our house inspecting the toilet to the oven. There’s only innocent curiosity there. I also know kids talk – and that she’ll go home and report all the strangeness to her family about her time spent at the ferenji’s house. I’m not sure how to balance having my girls make friends and having them being spied upon. Beza had lunch with us and then I asked our maid (Misrak) to walk her back to her house (as the grandma had instructed!) Both the husband and Misrak insist I shouldn’t have kids over. The Canadian in me wants to show acceptance but the Mom in me is protective. I’m finding it hard to strike that balance.