Thursday, June 01, 2006

Saturday With The Girls From Uganda

I was awakened by Happy, knocking on my door. She was correct about waking at 7 a.m. And she wakes up as well as she goes to sleep-Happy! She asked, "Auntie, what may I do?"

I picked up her pillow and a blanket, and let her curl up in her P.J.s on the couch, watching cartoons. She said, "Auntie, you do TOO have Disney. Look!" I had to explain that ABC uses many Disney children's shows for Saturday mornings. No matter what channel, we were glad to have something on to watch as we waited for the day to begin.

Soon, Hope joined us, and they were glad I wasn't making them jump right into the shower to start their day so early. I offered them French Toast for breakfast. Happy said, "Please Auntie, no cinnamon, sugar, or syrup." She ate hers with salt (her favorite seasoning and condiment!). Hope did not want French Toast, and also did not wish to have the seven kinds of cereal I offered her (don't ask me why I had so many kinds!). So, since the group sponsor told the hosts the kids were taught not to be picky, I decided to scramble the rest of the egg for her, and give her some toast. She ate the toast and a bite of egg with salt. And milk. Milk was the hit of the day.

We made deals about getting showers and dressing for the day. The deadline wasn't strict. We just had to be ready to go by noon. That was when "Uncle" came home from work. We headed for Newport on the Levee. First we ate at Johnny Rockets. The girls wanted two beverages, and we indulged them. Hope wanted French Fries, a shake, and milk. We ordered her a hot dog too, and she ate it once it showed up at her spot. Happy ordered a Cheeseburger with almost everything-she loves tomatoes, but not pickles. Fries. A shake, and an orange soda pop. She is a good eater! I have to confess that people gave us funny stares-these two very dark girls, loving on these two very white adults they called Auntie and Uncle. Let them stare!

I took Hope to the restroom, and enjoyed being in the stall next to her. All I saw were her feet, but I could hear everything. She hummed along with the fifties-style music, and her feet started dancing (while her bottom stayed planted on the toilet). Then she could hardly contain herself and she started clapping too. This little 52 pound eight-year-old has seen more suffering than most humans will ever know their entire lives, yet she knows how to be joyful. No matter what, we need to let our spirits DANCE!

After lunch, we watched a street magician and then walked halfway across the Purple People Moving Bridge-a pedestrian only bridge that spans the Ohio River, joining Cincinnati with Newport, KY. The girls enjoyed the view, and we took great photos (if we can get my camera memory card restored to undelete the photos we lost when my computer harddrive died).

Next was the Newport Aquarium. It was okay, but not as WOW as I expected. The girls liked it. Lots of people though, due to it being Memorial Day Weekend. The big feature was the sharks, but we liked other things better, like the jelly fish and the rays.

We took the scenic river route home. I pointed out a dock for the ferry to cross. Happy said, "Auntie, there are no such things as fairies (thinking I said fairy rather than ferry). They are make-believe." I explained the difference between ferry and fairy. But then I asked Happy how she knew there was no such thing as fairies. She said, "because we went to Disney and saw the wires on Tinkerbell helping her fly. She's not REALLY a fairy." Smart girl, she!

On the way home I suggested we make up relay stories. I made up a sentence and hand off to Hope. She continued to create the story and then hand off to Happy. And then back to me. On and on it went and we had great fun. Some of it was at "Uncle's" expense. According to the story, he landed in jail, where there was not enough hair gel for his spiky white hair, followed by the fact that he ran out of hair for his gel! They loved him, all right!

We went home to check on Jazzy, and walked her at the park again (the girls requested it). More photos, and more playground equipment.

Did I tell you about the rocks game? Hope clutched five small rocks in her hand almost the entire time she was with us. She played a game similar to jacks with the rocks. Actually there were two different ways to play. One was to throw the rocks up and then try to catch a certain number on the top of your flat hand. The other was to lay the rocks on the ground. Throw one in the air, then try to snatch up one rock from the group, then the one thrown in the air before it hits the ground. Then snatch up two and the thrown rock. Then three. And finally, four. I wasn't good at either game, but Hope was an experienced player. I think those rocks kept her company. Maybe they were almost like her pet rocks.

Then, we talked about different choices for a restaurant to eat out that night, or I would cook. The girls asked for Chinese food. We went to a buffet, that happened to have a seafood buffet that night. Happy showed us all up by eating: sushi, mussels, crab legs, and shrimp cooked two ways. Russ introduced her to frog legs and crawfish. She ate it all and declared it was all good! She found other yummy treats as well. Hope wasn't as hungry, but she enjoyed some rice and noodles, and ice cream for dessert. I asked her what her favorite meal was back home. She said it was rice and beans. What she didn't tell me was, it was what she ate almost every meal. What she did say was, "Oh Auntie, our beans are the best. They are a certain kind of bean, grown a certain way, and cooked special. I love them!" Now what a positive attitude to have! Maybe she is afraid to let herself enjoy too much of the American food because she is afraid it will be too much "culture shock" to go back home to poverty and basic meals.

Speaking of Chinese food-around this time Hope declared that she knew three languages. Happy said, "you do not!"

Hope said, "I do too. I know English, and Ugandan, and British."

You would think Happy was her biological sister, because she corrected Hope. "No silly, they speak English there too!"

We sure had a good chuckle over it, though. I guess I'm bilingual and didn't even know it. Tee hee!

Back home, we watched one more movie while we performed manicures and pedicures. The girls dance barefoot as part of the program, so I gave them a nice natural buff color. Happy loved getting her nails done. Hope wanted to do them herself-little miss independent. But we had to tell her that she wasn't allowed to use the nail polish remover or nail polish in the living room. She had a choice between going to the dining room table where there would be less chance for spills, or Auntie or Uncle would do it for her. She took about twenty minutes to finally conclude she wanted Auntie to do her nails. And she was quite proud of them once they were complete!

Remember how I said Happy said she loved dogs but didn't want them to kiss her (lick her)? Well, on Saturday night I noticed Happy and Jazzy were both missing. And quiet. I looked down the hall, and found Jazzy on her back, feet straight up in the air. And Happy was bent over her, planting kisses on her LIPS! haha! It was priceless. They were best buds.

It was bedtime again. I couldn't believe this was my last night with these two precious little girls, so full of life. Wise beyond their years due to the pain and suffering they have endured. They begged to stay up later, saying the sun was still out. It was 9:00 p.m., and they had a strict Saturday night bedtime to be fresh for Sunday performance. We plopped on top of their bed (after Hope bounced up and down on the mattress a few more times, watching her image in the mirror). Bedtime prayers were said. Hugs were shared. And me to my bed, a blessed woman.

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