Last night, we had to dodge: balls, balloons, trains and tracks, horses, blocks, dolls, grapes, icing, biscuits, sippy cups, shoes, 15 or more little people, and as many big people, to get anywhere. Rahul was fixated on a little blond girl. He’s a flirt and charmer, but this time, it was to keep HER (not any of the other 15 kids who ransacked his playroom) from touching HIS tennis ball, HIS stuffed doll version of Iggle piggle, and HIS motorbike.
Leila found me whether I was in the kitchen, amidst the big people, or in the washroom.
But when the “Tangled,” cakes they requested, came out, things changed. Leila’s had a picture of Rapunzel on it; Rahul’s had Maximus the white horse, on it. L stood tall and blew out her two candles. Rahul blew his out at early, at “…dear Rahul, happy birthday..” They stuck their fingers into their respective cakes and…yummy!
They waited or should I say cried, all afternoon for their chocolate and cheese cakes. Leila sang “To you,” to me, many times. Rahul sang, “Happy Daisy Doo,” all day because Upsy Daisy Doo has a birthday too!
Once they got their cake, and the music was pumping, they were in their element. They danced to the Bollywood hits they love, the Zambian music D2 brought for us, and some reggae.
We all had a blast, if you can say that about a couple of 2 year olds birthday party.
For his birthday, Rahul asked for a piano, Leila followed up by asking for a guitar. We were proud. Now we have a little electric organ in the living room. With a microphone. YES, A MICROPHONE. And did I mention that R and L both love to sing opera? And that we don’t know what the Chinese character for “volume” is. So yeah, we still have to FIND a mini guitar.
All week I’d been brainstorming for a two year birthday post, and yet the 1st of November came and went. It’s in a bit of a list form, here goes: I thought to write about how Leila is a beautiful, sensitive, little girl. Extremely expressive. She imitates hip hop, Belly dance, Indian classical dance, and Chinese Opera like a pro.
When she saw a scrape on my knee the other day, her face showed immense concern, she turned both palms up questioningly and asked “…happened?”
She’s the “stuff police.” No one can touch, forget about borrow, her “papa’s shoes.” Today she chased him around announcing that the t-shirt he was wearing was Jalal’s. Maher and I had wondered which one of his brothers t-shirt it was. She knew!
She’s cheeky, and mischievous. She overheard that Rahul was looking for the baby elephant toy. She found it, took it, and ran. She’s fast.
And she’s fighting back now. She’s no longer the vulnerable poor little girl who gets bitten or hit from behind. She turns right around, snarls at her brother, either pulls his hair, or snatches her toy back.
She loves her new motorbike. It’s a shared toy that either she doesn’t let Rahul ride a whole lot, and/or Rahul is not terribly interested in, and he lets her have it most of the time. Either way, we know where her motorbike gene comes from.
Maher and I spend a lot of time teaching the children how to negotiate.
Rahul is sweet, he gives kisses. He loves his ayi (nanny) to bits. Many days he doesn’t smile until he sees her.
He keeps his dads contact lens case in his palm day and night. It might be a way of keeping a piece of Maher with him.
He calls things “jolie.”
He has to have whatever L has. Yet, he can happily play on his own for extended periods of time.
He’s a word machine, and mostly what he says makes sense. He repeats anything, even Greek! He talks when he dreams: “Dog, one, two,” he said at 4am the other night.
The longer the word the better. His favorites are “disanaur”, “tephelone”, “capilo” (caterpillar), and “hecolopta” (helicopter).
L and R are jealous of each other, and they compete for attention. But if anyone gives R something to eat, drink, or play with, he always asks for one for L. Leila does the same.
Often, Leila’s first question in the morning is, “Aya?”, (interpretation: where is Rahul?). Rahul’s first question is “Naina?” (interpretation: where is Leila?).
They test our patience everyday. For every time we scream or want to scream at them, they do something that makes us want to hug and kiss them 10 times over.
So we do all: the screaming, the hugging, and the kissing.
I wrote “Medium and Happy” (http://natashadevalia.com/2011/05/09/medium-is-just-fine/) 6 months ago. We’ve come a long way since the whirlwind hit, 2 years ago.
I got an award. The Versatile Blogger Award. The last time I was awarded anything I was 16. So man was I shocked, and ecstatic! And it’s for my blogging. I only started doing this a few months ago. I’m a novice. It’s encouraging to know that someone is reading this stuff though, and even liking it.
The blogger who awarded it to me, whose blog, The Valentine 4 you have to check out, is a good, spirited writer. I stumbled upon it from a comment she made at another blog I was reading. I was immediately hooked to her strong, sensitive, and honest, writing style. So I subscribed.
She has two children, runs a household, runs a home daycare, runs races as a triathlete, does yoga, reads, writes both thought-provoking and thoughtful posts…Wow!
So back to the award. I told M immediately. I smiled, and thought of cart-wheeling, jumping up and down, and running around the house. Maybe I should have, but that morning R and L were doing enough damage.
The chocolate milk that was accidentally knocked off the table turned into on-purpose spilling. I cleaned it up while discussing the Zambian elections with my parents on Skype. Every time they said anything L sang a loud song in my ears.
I was also chatting with a friend in NY. He still had a few more hours in the evening to go, while we had just woken up. I grew up hanging out with him, in Zambia. He hoped the democratic process would win. In other news, he told me that a mutual friend and his wife would have twins soon. I was even more excited. R tapped the keyboard. Strange boxes appeared on the screen.
The computer crashed.
I was clearly trying too hard. And the whining and crying that went on a lot of the night, was worse. It was getting to me.
What we all needed was Savasana.
I walked into the kitchen where M was making pancakes. “I can’t handle it today. I’m going crazy….” I said this to him, almost shaking.
Our ayi (nanny) walked into the apartment at the same time.
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
“My Pranayama.” I replied.
“Ask xiao He (ayi) to give them a bath. Do your Pranayama in the spare room. Close the door. I’ll take them out for a walk,” he replied.
I was proud of myself for talking to him right then. For asking for help. Grateful for his response.
As I was doing my breath-work practice, R burst into the room naked from his bath. I froze. I didn’t want to erupt, not again today. Not now.
He gave me a sweet, long hug.
Maher walked in, asked Rahul if he wanted to make R, L, and N shaped pancakes with him. Rahul rushed out of the room.
The “award rules” state: Thank and link the blogger who awarded it to you. State 7 random things about yourself. Award it to 15 newly discovered blogs you enjoy. And let them know.
Here are my 7 things:
1. I used to be a classical Indian Bharatanatyam dancer. I went to Chennai, India right after high school for a three-month stint at a renowned dance school. I Chose to go to uni in Canada instead of continuing seriously with dance.
2. I was at an all girls dorm for my first year in uni. I was scared shit-less because it was the first time I would have to “deal” with girls. I have two brothers, a male cousin I used to hang out with, and mainly guy friends. Despite listening to the other girls on my floor whining about their boyfriend issues, and to my screaming neighbour if anyone woke her up after she went to bed at 8pm, she and others became some of my closest friends.
3. The last time I went “home,” to Zambia, was over 8 years ago.
4. I started to drive when I was 15 My brothers were even younger. I stopped at 17, when I left Zambia. I’ve changed many wheels, and fixed other basic car stuff. Now I don’t
can’t drive or do any car related things.
5. I’ve bungee jumped off a 110m high bridge in Livingstone, and jumped out of a plane. With a parachute! And an experienced teacher.
6. I saw a psychic in Calgary.
7. I was under 5 years old when the car my dad was driving in the middle of the night, at high-speed, on an unlit highway from Lusaka to Livingstone over-turned. I was in the back seat. A family friend was next to my dad. I don’t know if I had my seat belt on. None of us were hurt.
And now, finally to the best part. Here are the 15 bloggers who get The Versatility Award:
Hedvig’s Permaculture Adventures
Momma Be Thy Name
Peaches and Curry
Balance Yoga Wellness
The next two are young cousins of mine who trusted me enough to start blogs!
The next four are twin mum blogs that I have only occasionally dipped into, either because I have very recently discovered them, have two toddlers running around all day and up often at night, or because of the internet censorship with certain blog carriers like blogspot here in China.
Thanks for reading, taking the time to comment and discuss, even like posts on my blog.
If you’re on this list, pass on the love.
This evening in the yellow van cab on our way to the airport, past the Calgary Tower and not far from the Calgary zoo, I told the children again that we are headed back to China.
M asks : ” Who are we going to see in China?”
L responds: “Ma na!”
“Yes,” I say. “Can you say Mar wan?”
L: “Ma na”
Me: “Maar waan”
L: “Maa naa”
Me: “Maaaaar waaaaan”
A long pause.
L smiles cheekily. “Maaaaa naaaaa,” she repeats.
Me: “Ok, fine. Marwan.”
L: “Ee Ye” (Liu Yan)
Me: “Who else?”
L: “Pata, Imad, Ayla”
Me: “Yes! And ayi?”
L and R: “ayi, ayi“
A bright London day at Wormwood Scrubs Park. Maher often runs there when he is in London. We went with a couple of my close girl friends and an uncle. The endless grassy space mesmerized me. The four of us ran around and spun circles. R learned how to roll in the grass. The colorful wild flowers were pretty. L was attracted to them. An unforgettable afternoon in June.
Meg and Eoin drove from Chengdu to Cape town. This is a four-minute video of some of the smiles along the way. I still can’t believe they did it!
Catch the little boy running back and forth under Meg’s back bend.