Sunday, January 16, 2011

Caleb didn't nap today. Does anyone know what I mean?

I’ve finally figured out a way to explain it.  It being the particular loneliness I feel despite being surrounded by people who I easily relate to in many ways.  
The thing is that I’m the only non-Kenyan here with a child.   The expats enjoy Caleb and are exceedingly sweet with him, but they have no idea how to relate to the profound frustration and disappointment I feel when Caleb refuses to take his afternoon nap.  Toddlers and naptime are simply not part of their world yet.   
Our Kenyan friends with children offer easy companionship and we share a more common daily rhythm, but they too have no idea the profound frustration and disappointment I feel when Caleb refuses to take his afternoon nap.  "My child didn't take his nap today" would probably be met with a shoulder shrug and a head scratch ("Why are these mzungus so uptight about silly things?")   Children here aren’t scheduled and, anyway, if a child becomes crabby due to lack of sleep, they are simply passed around an extended circle of friends, family and neighbors who share in the burden of an overtired toddler.
At home, I’d call my sister or any of my mom friends and they’d offer a knowing and empathetic ear, share some horror stories of their own and maybe even some words of comfort.  They’d know the nail-biting anxiety of watching time slip by as your child wiggles and sings despite all your nursing, rocking, patting and finally pleading with them to sleep.  They’d know you’d only throw in the towel after at least an hour of trying because you know what an overtired toddler will do to your evening.  This support and understanding was my modern “village” of the old “it takes a village to raise a child” adage. 
In Busia, I still don’t have the more traditional village of extended family and neighbors to free me from the modern techniques (like scheduling naps, bedtime routines and time outs) that work to soothe and guide my toddler.   But I’ve also lost the support I used to have when I use what appear to my neighbors to be iconoclastic child rearing techniques.  It’s ironic that I seem to have lost my “village” just when I’ve actually moved to what can more closely qualify as an actual village. 
I just want to tell someone – besides my husband – that Caleb refused to take his nap today, and for them to know what that means.
What Caleb did today instead of taking his nap

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