This morning began with a flurry of excitement. We woke up and headed to a mall (not the one from last night). The mall is huge! Think Mall of America huge, but just a little smaller, and no wasted space with "attractions." We got there just 5 minutes before they opened and scoped out Toys ‘R Us to see what their Lego offerings were (we had a gift to buy after all). Seeing what they had, we headed to Toy Kingdom which boasts the largest selection of Legos in South Africa. Along the way, we found balloons, party bags (or " loot bags"), candles, plates, and napkins with lions on them (just like Roy). At Toy Kingdom, we grabbed two Lego Jr. truck sets and some Hot Wheels cars and helicopters. We also found little bubbles for the loot bags and these crazy awesome water ballon things (100 finished and ready to go in a minute without having to tie anything—magic!). After completing our party list, we grabbed a quick breakfast and headed to visit with T.
When we arrived at the home, we were greeted by a huge hug from T (my heart melted). We brought all of the stuff for the party bags and had T help us stuff them. He did a great job and was very thoughtful in the process. He kept insisting that these bubbles were for his cousins (in America), these chips were for us, and so on. We told him we could buy bubbles for cousins when we got to America. T chose Avenger bubbles for both himself and Roy (it was his birthday today after all). After packing the bags, we played with his cars and Magformers. After a short stint with those toys, we busted out a dinosaur coloring and activity book and read some of the new books we had brought with us. T sat on Brian’s lap while I read the books.
While we were eating lunch, one of the orphanage volunteers and her daughters (who have been helping there for 6 years), told us about the Tooth Fairy at the home. Apparently this volunteer “extracts” the loose teeth, then the Tooth Fairy comes and leaves 5 Rand. The child is then allowed to go to a corner shop down the street with one of the Aunties and get a sweet. (We’ve seen so many instances of the workers trying to make life special for these kids, and working in special one-on-one interactions where possible.)
After lunch, T got to open his gift from us. It was a fun moment to watch. T and Brian took the cars/helicopters and Legos out and got to building. I headed outside to set up for the party. While playing, Brian observed that T was very intent on putting pieces together and loved working with the trucks and using the Lego broom to sweep up the little Legos.
When we were ready for the party, we had T come out. We put a ‘7’ candle in his cupcake and attempted to light it (it was very windy). After Brian basically burned his hands off, we got it lit for a grand total of one second. After several more attempts, T got to blow out his candle and had a round of “Happy Birthday” sung. We passed out the green cupcakes with an orange blob in the middle and let the chaos and sugar high begin. There was cupcake everywhere. Ants were quickly on the scene for cleanup. Roy now has a little green on his snout where T shared some of his cupcake (adorable) and an orange smell from the juice he drank (sticky).
After cupcakes and juice, we set the kids loose to have a water balloon fight. I thought it was going to be chaos, but it was fairly tame, all things considered. Most of the kids threw the balloons at the brick wall. Others pinched holes in theirs and squirted others. It was a good time. When all of the balloons were finished, T handed out the party bags and they all downed some more sugar. Surprisingly to Brian and I, the potato chips were a HUGE hit (we thought it a weird request from T). Most kids went straight to the chips and then the sugar. After the party was over, T, Brian, and I went back in to clean up. We said goodbye to our boy with a big hug and plans to go out on our first family outing tomorrow - getting one of T’s favorite foods, pizza for lunch (apparently KFC is a close second).
Today we saw a few instances of our son’s kindness. He has a tender heart that is really turned towards others. One example was when a girl’s balloon bounced off the wall and flew back into the crowd of kids, T was the first to it. Instead of throwing it himself, he handed it back to the distraught girl. We were told by one of the volunteers, who has known T for 6 years, that he used money he had saved up to buy a chocolate bar. He then proceeded to break it up into pieces and shared with many of the kids and workers.
I honestly cannot believe we’ve only known this child two days. Obviously we still have much to learn about each other, but it feels so natural. Grace upon grace.