One Friday I went to the orphanage with 51 kids (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but I work mainly in two different orphanages. One is for babies and toddlers, at least the children I work with are these ages; they also have a few preschool age children here as well. I also work at one that has 51 children of all ages).
I wasn’t expecting the kids to be there, as most of them are old enough to go to school during the day when I am there. So on Fridays I just do hours and hours and hours of laundry. This particular Friday they were all home. Big four day weekend of some sort. Maria weekend, I’ve heard it called.
Upon my arrival I was swarmed by a few of the older girls, while a large number of children sat surrounding a tv that was fuzzily playing Lord of the Rings with Spanish dubbing. I welcomed the greeting at first, (I do really love hanging with the kids.) until I looked over a second group of kids being combed over at table at the back of the room...for lice. I looked at the girls hugging me and their dark hair--speckled with white. One in particular had an excessive amount. I can handle a lot of things, especially things I can wash off or get over. I tried not to make my squirminess obvious but wriggled free of my lice-dotted friends and worked my way over to the opposite side of a barrier, (a railing-like thing all around the common area) near the kitchen. I stood outside the kitchen, on the opposite side of the railing--hoping it to be a bit of deterant from direct contact or at least close hugging and cuddling until people had been debugged. I stood there trying to come up with a minimal contact activity. I got nothing. So I hung out and watched Lord of the Rings and joked with the group watching--mostly boys--about which one was my novio (boyfriend) and which one was their novia (girlfriend). Grimbly is my pick to be my novio, by the way.
Eventually I pulled out some Spanish flash cards I made for myself (my first week here and sadly haven’t looked at much since). The kids went nuts grabbing and swarming. It was a bit absurd. I eventually got across, in my incredibly broken, nearly non-existent Spanish: para mi por que no espanol! No ________!
The older kids had grabbed most of them (biggest kids rule, there’s definitely a pecking order here) and figured out what I was saying....well, they probably didn’t, but they figured out what they were and returned them. A few of the boys, one in particular, took interest in them. My little playa I mentioned before who tries to get his way by smacking his lips and saying, “Tia, aaaah Tia”. You know the one. He learned to recognize the words quickly but pronunciation came a little slower. He was pretty excited to learn though--most of the kids can do numbers and colors in English already. We did this during commercials of Lord of the Rings. (Most of which were commercials for exercise equipment, which equates to more novios and novias :). )
My ipod was a big hit, too. There were a few of the older kids I let play with it. I still can’t figure out how to get it off repeat, but I think I managed to avoid having anything erased.
During all of this the older girl with the most lice was most insistent on hanging on me. I buried myself in short-haired boys as best I could and eventually got up and sacrificed the last hair tie in my bag to put her hair in a braid to at least prevent it from flopping around so much--and it was pretty and gave her a bit of attention. (I alcohol-ed my hands a million times that day...and several of t he kid’s hands as well.)
I’ve decided to start just start taking my own paranoid-nurse hygiene supplies with me to these places. Even if they aren’t up my snobby standards all the time, they can at least be clean when working with me and the things I bring.
The next day was Saturday and I had swung by the store to pick up hand sanitizer and kleenex. We’ll save that for the next post. :) I’ll tell you allllll about it.