Saturday, October 16, 2010

Typical day

Waking up with a long but empty day ahead of you, an active and temperamental toddler and in a foreign town where you know no one is daunting to say the least. So, I've been eager to settle into some kind of a routine. After only a week here, we've actually found a bit of schedule. It goes like this:

6:00 AM - (though this is often pushed back to 5:00 AM depending when the little monster starts crying) We wake, nurse, dress, have breakfast, play with trains and read books. At 7 AM I'm amazed to learn it's not actually 10 AM.

7:30/8:00 AM: We walk papa to work at IPA. We do the rounds of hellos. Caleb is usually pretty intimidated by the office staff and I sheepishly apologize for all his "No!"s when they and interact with him. But as soon as we leave the office, he lights up. He runs up to say "hi" to the security guards and tries to get them to play ball with him. Then we go to play with his little friend Isaac whose parents own a duka (shop) right around the corner from IPA. He's almost exactly Caleb's age, and it's a joy to see them follow each other around, and imitate one another.

9:30 AM: We head over to the one and only Busia daycare for an hour of playtime with some other little friends. The children range from ages 6 months - 4 years old. The kids his age play inside in a tiny room with almost no toys, but the older kids (3-4) have their outdoor play by the time we arrive and he usually joins with them. They indulge him and all seem to enjoy the novelty of a giggling white child stumbling after them as they run relay races, but I'm not sure how long this will last, or if it should. After outdoor time, he joins them for a snack of porridge (ugi) and biscuits, and then we make our departure.

This daycare situation is a bit tricky. I'm paying them 1/2 the months fee for our one hour visits. I'm trying to give him some social interaction, which he acutely craves, but I don't want to leave him there all day since I'm actually home all day. But I also don't want to reinforce the idea that he's special or different by making all kinds of exceptions for him. So, it's not perfect, but I'm trying to balance a lot.

Daycare is a new concept here, but born of necessity. The town is growing quickly and fast becoming more cosmopolitan. Many of the women work and can no longer rely on extended kin for childcare. Most who can afford it, hire full time caregivers, but they also bemoan the difficult of finding reliable help. So, Hope, this enterprising young woman who is trained in child development, opened up a daycare, which has quickly filled to capacity. It's lacking a lot, but the women there work really hard and the children generally seem happy when we're there.

11:00 AM: We visit a nearby pre-school during their outdoor time. Both the teachers and the children adore Caleb and they've begged me to leave him with them for the day. I keep insisting he is still too young. They turn some of his antics into lessons for the children. He was throwing rocks into a bucket of water one day and saying "oooh!" as he did it, to which the other kids would respond "ooh!" and laugh hysterically. The teachers said, "yes! You see? A, E, I, O, U. Ooooh, is the U sound."

11:30 AM: We return home to play with toys, read, color, sing songs with Jane and then eat some lunch. Usually an egg or some pasta and some fresh fruit. Papa tries to join us most days.

12:00: Caleb takes his first bath of the day. He needs it! And every Kenyan has told me to bath him during the day and before his nap to help him sleep. So far, it's worked really well!

12:15 PM or so: Caleb takes a 1.5-2 hour nap. This week, I've been taking this time to meet with some of the IPA staff and learn about their projects to suss out possible future work. I've learned loads and enjoyed the adult conversation immensely, but it's definitely enough to fill another post, so I'll leave that for now.

Afternoon: These are less structured. We'll usually have a little adventure, like heading to town on a matatu or to the market or simply searching for new friends. This is VERY easy. We just step outside our house and we find children walking home from school in their brightly colored school uniforms. In case they don't notice him (no threat of that), Caleb typically runs in the direction of anyone under 4 feet tall screaming "hi! hi" and he has instant playmates for at least 20-30 minutes.

6:00 (sometimes earlier): Papa comes home for dinner. These have consisted of anything I can scrable together with vegetables, eggs, rice, flour and pasta using two burners and a toaster oven. Mainly, it's stir fries, pasta, scrambled eggs and pancakes. Sometimes Colin will bring food home from "Msafiri" the little ... 'restaurant' is probably conjuring the entirely wrong image... It's more of a food stall with some tables and a hand made poster menu taped to the wall. We usually get chapati, rice, sakumu wiki (greens), kachumbari (tomato/onion salad) and lentils. All cooked in fat and delicious!

We can pretty much expect the power to cut out at some point in the night, so some of the eating, cooking, storytime, we'll be done by lantern light. When the lights go out, it usually terrifies poor little Caleb, but he's never far from our arms and we quickly reassure him and find a new light source.

7:00/7:30: Caleb finally falls asleep. We put him in his pink crib, make sure his bednet is secure and pray for a restful night.

Colin and I don't stay up too much later since we're both so pooped most days. We don't have a TV and streaming videos eats up a lot of expensive bandwidth. We read, catch up on emails and with each other. We've gone to friends houses twice, one time we even left Caleb at home with Jane. And I, for one, soak in and relish the adult conversation. But nightime is pretty tame most of the time, which is
a good thing considering our days are so full.

This is probably more than anyone wanted to know. But now you have an answer to the "What does a typical day look like?" question.

I'm guessing a "typical" day will evolve as I find work, but so far I'm really enjoying my stay-at-home mom typical day in Busia Kenya.

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