Saturday, April 20, 2013

I'm a Grandma!

From left - King, Memory, Queenie, Annie, Paul and baby Favour

Learning the peace symbol

"She's taking a picture of ME!"

First, let me apologize for the continuing sporadic posts.  I can't decide which is a greater challenge - time but no internet or no time but access to WIFI.  I think it's the later.

But on to the Grandma business.  Those who know me know that I have no children, sadly.  Luckily, some of my friends kids have adopted me as a second mom...or at least a kinda aunt.  It's also why I loved teaching in Faga so much - all that love from all those kids.

I've missed then more than I can say.  I'd give anything for a huge group hug from teachers and kids alike.  I haven't had as many opportunities here to just grab a kid and start hugging or tickling.  People are so funny about that.  Especially in airports.  And really funny about it in US airports.  Kidding, of course - I learned a long time ago to keep my mitts of strange American kids.  I still think the Samoan habit of handing a baby to anyone willing to hold it is great.

I'd been talking to my colleague and friend, Paul, about teaching his kids (and him!) to swim.  Unfortunately, I haven't found a local pool with enough of a shallow end to make it safe.  As an alternative, I suggested a day at Gelato Carnival.  doesn't the name say it all?  Creamy frozen treats and a carnival.

Let's be honest, the carnival is mostly a trampoline and big plastic jungle gym.  But to these three kids (8, 5, and 3) it was as good as Disney World.

After a quick stop at the house so I could meet Paul's wife and new baby (they couldn't come today but will join us next time, I hope) to take family photos, we headed to the Carnival.

Our departure caused a small stir because clearly, not a lot of camera totin' white women roll through the neighborhood.  Once again I was ever so slightly a minor celebrity as kids called to their friends to come and see the mzungu (which means "someone who wanders around" and has come to mean white people).  I asked Paul about taking photos and he said it was fine.  He translated that one girl was screaming "Look, she's taking a picture of ME!"

Adults smiled back and waved and I got a few calls of "Mama" which is what women my age are typically called and a couple "Mama Mzungu", which I kind of like.  I'm thinking I should open a beach dive called Mama Mzungu's, where the house drink will be a Bahama Mama Malamalama.  We could serve a blend of Caribbean,  Samoan and African food.  What do you think?

Back to the story.  We drove the 15 minutes or so to Gelato Carnival and mid way through the drive the baby, Annie, asked to go home.  She missed her mom.  Queenie, the 8 year old, who was under the weather with a flair up of malaria, was hanging in.  She'd been looking forward to this.  King, the 5 year old boy seemed neutral.

Once we arrived and they saw the colorful jungle gym they were interested but not sure how things worked. The staff welcomed us warmly and said the kids could play for free.  I assured them we'd order lunch a bit later.
Loving the trampoline

How fast can I get back up the steps to do it again??

The train hasn't left the station and Annie wasn't loving it.

Queenie and King climbed up and headed for the slide, encouraged by Paul.  Annie was hanging on to me (we bonded quickly) until I put her on the trampoline.  She thought that was kind of cool but wanted to be with the big kids.  Paul put her on the smallest slide.  She slid.  She grinned.  She climbed the stairs and slid again.  Repeat, repeat, repeat - for about an hour.

The kids caught on quickly and when they were joined by a few other kids, it just made it more fun.  After riding the kind of rides you see outside grocery stores (which they thought were awesome), we had a healthy lunch.  Ok, it so wasn't, but I wanted the kids to sample a variety of junk food.  Pizza, spaghetti, french fries, hot dogs.  Due to not feeling well, Queenie didn't eat much, but the other two made up for it.  And they insisted on using forks, including the 3 year old.

After lunch, they played on the slides and trampoline some more while we waited for 2:00 p.m. when the "rides" opened.  First, the train.  Typical, little kids ride - a small train that the kids could sit in, going slowly in a circle.  Two kids, our baby and another young boy, were not excited at the process.  The other boy's father said "They're crying now but in 30 seconds they are going to love it."

He knew his kid, who was beaming by the end of the ride, but not Annie, who screamed in terror the entire way.  I felt horrible but Paul was just laughing and taking photos.

I asked the older kids if they wanted to do the train again but they declined.  Instead, we headed for the "Ferries Wheel".  A little kids version of a Ferris wheel, but one I thought would scare the bejeebers out of Annie.  Actually, no.  The train was terrifying, but apparently either Annie has no fear of heights or was just resigned that the mzungu planned to kill her today.  King, on the other hand, was not a fan and happy to get off.  They all enjoyed watching it go around again after they got.

After a bit more time on the slides and trampoline, we headed to the area to get ice cream cones for the ride home.  Sun shining, kids smiling, eating ice cream, wind in our hair.  What could be better?

Spoiling kids, leaving them dirty and exhausted on a sugar high with mom and dad.  I felt like a Grandma today.
Annie and I bonded.  

Teaching them bad eating habits.

The train scared them but this was ok??

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