Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's the little things...

My new sister has arrived!  OK that sounds a bit odd especially for those of you who know me, but it's true.  OK so technically she's my cousin, but her mother passed away about 8 years ago and my mother began the lengthy process of adopting her.  What makes this so interesting is that she was born and raised in a tiny village in Tanzania and arrived in yeg this weekend.
She's 19 now and for all intensive purposes is a typical teenager.  She loves texting and music videos.  She bores easily.  She rolls her eyes.  ALOT.  But there are some pretty big differences.  She has never seen or used a dishwasher or microwave.  She's lived without a flush toilet her entire life.  She has lived under power failures and brownouts.  She's used to charging her cell phone with a hand crank generator (the juxtaposition here makes me giggle!).  She doesn't look at you directly when you speak.  She speaks no english.  I could go on and on. 

Since her departure from her village less than a week ago she has seen more new things than she could have ever imagined and she is handling it all with a stride. 

Now the language barrier has been tricky.  Half my family speaks her native tongue.  The other half not a word.  Now this has added several decibels to our family dinner, but it's working great.  My 3 y.o. was doing flash cards with her.  She'll say the word in english and then learn the word in swahili.  CUTENESS!!!

Now when the conversation veers english for too long she has developed a strategy that involves grabbing my baby Pikey "Mr. Allergic" and playing with him.  They communicate silently.  It reminded me of that movie "Babies". It is adorable to watch and has led to some pretty hilarious moments:

1.  When she was explained that the rash on his face was due to a food allergy, she suggested we stop giving him the food that does that to him.

2.  When we explained that we were trying to that, she reponded that all we needed to do was smear him from head to toe in pork fat.  (We are totally going to try this!) stay tuned @Zoomjer

3.  Within moments of being introduced she had grabbed him by one hand, swung him over her shoulder and tied him to her back with a loose cloth.  This got me thinking of those baby wearing advocates like @CosyBbyHappyMom

4.  She is completely dismayed at the fact that this 8 month old is not crawling.  She is convinced there is something wrong with him.  I caught her dangling him by one arm dragging him from one room to the other trying to get his body to cooperate.  Stay tuned for results.

Now this fourth point has really got me thinking.  In her culture, they spend every waking moment with their babies trying to wean them from being physically dependent.  The faster they can crawl/walk/feed themselves, the faster they can contribute, or maybe less selfishly, survive.  Their babies make our babies look pathetic!  In our culture we always say "They'll sit/crawl/stand/walk when they're ready."  Is this really true?  Maybe there are ways we can pressure our kids into hitting these milestones earlier, but it is our own laziness that prevents it.  It's much easier to carry him from point A to point B than to drag him.  Am I right?  Who thinks this strategy will affect how quickly my kiddo starts moving?


  1. Wow, what a difference in cultures! I think that smearing ones' self in pork fat from head-to-toe could cure many things. Hahaha! Just kidding, I have never done this, HONEST!

    I'll be interested to learn more about your experiences. We should have an international tweetup to celebrate culture.


    1. I totally agree about the international tweetup! Thanks for reading.