Sometimes when things happen here it so exposes a persons inmost being that I feel like maybe I shouldn't tell it. It feels almost like I've been told a secret. However, I couldn't resist telling this because it so deeply exposes the heart and mind of the orphan which I think is important to think about.
There are a few older boys at the center here who have an appearance of a tough outer shell. One in particular doesn't smile much and is a bit stand-offish. Yet, I adore them. This is only my third time visiting in the last year but there is an obvious difference in them even from 6 months ago. There are the beginnings of something. A smile here and there, allowing hugs, and believe it or not the hardest seeming one requested prayers for me when I was sick. His prayers for me were beautiful. I spent a good thirty minutes yesterday just sitting on a bench with several of them and every time I felt like getting up I resisted because I kept feeling that it was important to sit there with them. Tonight a few of the same ones sat on either side of me in silence for a while and then slowly questions began to come.
"Do you have children?" (they know I do) "Do you spank them?" they asked. I should probably note here that a few of them are prankster types so this conversations was infused with plenty of demonstrations. One boy held my arm strait and slapped the inside of my arm really hard and giggled. "Yes, but not like that" I say. "How?" "On their bottoms" I reply. I thought that the questions would end there due the the uncontrollable laughter but then the quieter one asked how I wake my kids. I wasn't sure what he meant so I asked him to say it again. Also, I wasn't fully sure how to respond to that question because I don't necessarily have a set procedure. So, in response I said, "Well, they usually just wake up on their own but if I ever do have to wake them up I will usually just pick them up and pat them or rub their backs." Inquiring looks abounded so while most of them weigh as much as I do I demonstrated by picking up the one who is somewhat small and jokingly cradled him and patted his back saying in a babying voice "wake up amara, wake up". They didn't laugh. They smiled. Longing smiles. I repositioned myself in between the main two questioners and asked "How do you wake up?". They said that their companion slap their shoulders to wake them sometimes. I don't doubt that in this prankster group. The next in the line of questioning was "Do you scratch their backs?". Again, I had to make sure that I understood what they meant so I asked "Like this?" and gently scratched one's back. "Yes" he says. So, I told them "Yes. Levi loves to get his back scratched". Again, they had that sort of dreamy look and I was just overcome with the sensitivity that they were exposing as the questions went on. I don't know what experiences they have had in the past with mothers or the lack thereof but I know that they should have one now. I know that I hate that these boys-beautiful boys-should have someone scratch their backs at times, to listen and answer basic questions, and to just sit and be present with them. It was such basic questions, things that every good mother would do without thinking- but that it appears they have never experienced. How that saddens me! So I scratched their backs. And if all that was their way of playing the white women into a back rub then I am such a sucker!