When we got up today, we were facing a logistical problem—we were running out of clean clothes. We needed to do laundry, but didn’t want to be away from T all morning. We decided that we would see if the place we picked out would wash, dry, and fold our laundry for a reasonable price. Before we went, we decided on an amount we were willing to spend (no more than $35). Armed with that information, we headed to the laundromat. When we arrived, we asked how much it would be to take care of the giant bag of clothes. The answer? 212 Rand, which comes out to about $12.63. That was an easy decision!
On our way to the home, we got a call and text from the social worker that works full time in the home. She said T had asked for us three times (by 9:20) and she wanted to know when we were coming. Thankfully, we were 3 minutes away. Praise God he was asking for us and wanting us to come visit him. He hasn’t turned us away, yet, but it’s good to know he at least wants us to show up.
Today was a really good day with T. It was us shifting from being with T the whole day alone at the home to seeing him interact a lot with his friends for most of the day. When we got there, there were several women waiting to interview for open positions at the home, so the room we typically spend all of our time in was being used as a waiting room. We were told to go out to the classroom and visit with T there and outside today. We were excited because his file mentioned how much he loves to play outside, but he has not played outside once with us there (perhaps as a way to really focus on spending time with us specifically.
We pushed the door open to the classroom (just one room that’s about the size of an average living room) and discovered a fun chaos. Kids were dressed up, playing pretend, coloring, and assembling puzzles. One of the caregivers put out some tables and they began preparing for school, which starts tomorrow. She asked T to write his name across his coloring page, he refused, she asked again, and he lost it and began to cry. I went over and rubbed his back and asked if he wanted to come sit by us (he was across the table from where we were sitting). He said yes and he moved. I don’t know exactly what caused that response, but we will be talking with his favorite caregiver tomorrow and asking about that, along with a giant list we have.
After coloring was snack time. It is never so quiet at the home as when they are feeding the kids. They get their food and silence descends. Their main goal is to finish and get extra if there are any. These kids are well fed (thank you, God), so it’s not a survival of the fittest situation. They are just intent eaters.
With snacks and juice consumed, we headed back to the classroom for even more chaos and fun. We observed today that T enjoys playing with his friends, but he also enjoys playing by himself amidst these friends. He played one-man cricket for a little bit before Brian stepped in to pitch. For the life of me I cannot understand why he was instructed to stay inside while partaking of this activity, but it was apparently preferred. I was waiting the whole time for someone to get beat upside the head with T’s cricket bat. Thankfully, it never happened.
Lunch was a good time with fish and chips being served. It was the first time we had eaten with all of the other kids. It was silent until the local comedian (a boisterous kid with a super fun nickname and only one volume—"11") thanked the cook for cooking his lunch today. He’s clearly the best eater in the home and Auntie Florence (the amazing cook who knows the value of a good eater) lost it with laughter. All of the kids lost it, too. To hear all of them laughing together was so sweet.
After lunch, our normal room for playing in had been vacated. T and I played with Legos and safari animals while Brian sat at the table getting a little work done. It was nice for us to be back together with just the three of us. After a while, we packed up and headed to the mall.
We let T guide us around the mall as he desired. We ended up in many stores and admired many watches and neck ties (watches are a reoccurring theme to our mall walks, but the neck ties were a new one). At one store, he really liked a dapper straw summer hat. I had wanted to buy him one before, but I didn’t know if he would wear it. We promptly found a kids store and let him try on the four kinds of hats they had. Watching him try on hats was heart-meltingly adorable. He would put the hat on, turn his head, and consider each hat before he made his decision. I cannot wait to post a picture when the time comes. He is such a handsome little dude!
After strolling around and getting lost (because every mall here is huge and just keeps going in weird directions), we headed to dinner (also at the mall). We let T choose where to eat and he chose a fairly posh restaurant with an interesting menu. Thankfully they had cheeseburgers (the only thing this kid eats when given a choice, apparently), so we settled into our cool chairs. T loves watching people walk by. He gets very quiet because he’s taking it all in. After eating, he opened up and started joking around with us and talking about our plans for tomorrow (visiting the zoo if the weather holds up).
We are thankful for today and hopeful that tomorrow is even better. It will be our first big outing together as we will arrive at the care home early and take him out shortly after that to the zoo.