just enough to be dangerous


My Creole is improving. I know just enough to communicate most of what I need, in cryptic directives. I’ve figured out a pretty decent system, between searching for things on google translations, and reading out full phrases from my handbook for adoptive parents. The problem is, Kembe now thinks that I can fully speak Creole. When he first came home, I was impressed with his understanding of the language barrier, and at his attempts to communicate with me through signals and gestures. Now, though, he’s abandoned those efforts and just talks back to me in rapid-fire Creole, and then looks at me with annoyance when I don’t know what the heck he’s saying. It seems like our previous system might have frustrated him less. But, we keep trying. Jafta seems to really enjoy talking in Creole, and also enjoys making up words and then asking me what they mean in Creole. i.e. “Mommy, what does comapekapesa mean in Creole?” Also lost in translation.

I was also made aware of an interesting fact by the good folks at the church nursery. Apparently, a ration of 3:1 (three children to one adult caretaker) is what the government considers to be acceptable standard for the care of children under age 3. Most of my day I spend alone with four children, which is would be an illegal ratio in many settings. I’m not gonna lie. It feels that way. Just yesterday, I looked down at Karis and she was crawling up on all fours. I thought to myself, “Huh. When did she start doing that?” And I realized that Karis made the transition sometime in the past three weeks without me even taking notice of it. Her babyhood is very different from Jafta ‘s, who got so much undivided attention, and actually had this thing called a “baby book” devoted to recording his milestones. But . . . Karis seems to be having a blast with her big siblings, and especially with her new brother. They have forged an interesting bond, where he basically roars like a lion in her face, and she cracks up laughing. I spent the first week asking him to be trankil and janti with the baby, and then realized that she loves it and he loves it, and who am I to keep him from screaming in her face if it makes her so happy?

Our house is loud. We have a baseline of chaos. I am still not sure when I will feel like I am getting in a groove. This morning e realized we were out of groceries and had nothing to serve the kids for breakfast, that we’d forgotten to make valentines for the class party, I can't seem to find the time to return emails (or shower) and that we had skipped our turn to take snacks to preschool. Our house is a mess, our finances are a mess, and we still don’t own a car that can hold all of our children. I'm having doubts that I will ever be on time for anything again. But as I’m typing this, I just heard Kembe scream in Karis’s face, and then say, in perfect English, I love you, baby. And that just makes all this chaos worth it, doesn’t it?


15 comments:

  1. It sounds like the cutest love letter to your kids.

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  2. I can only imagine that beautiful chaos of yours. I've got a contented little one year old who likes to sit and "read" her books. I grew up like your family is now though. I had three brothers and a sister. The chaos ruled.

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  3. Here is a free beginning Haitian Creole course offered by Simon & Schuster for people going to Haiti on aid missions, anybody can download for the next couple of months
    http://promo.simonandschuster.com/HaitiRelief/

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  4. "we have a baseline of chaos"...great line. i love this post. i have a son who is always roaring in the babies face and smackin' her on the back like a football coach. she loves it. thanks for the reminder for me to let them experience love and laughter on their terms, not mine.

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  5. I'm with you! We added the younger three of our four children all at once; and the youngest was four weeks old. It was SO crazy and SO exhilarating and I am actually missing important memories from that first six months. Like my sister's wedding. The youngest has grown up TOUGH- she doesn't take any crap from anyone- and she's only three. I'm hoping to have a baby book done for her sometime before she starts to care.

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  6. LOVE this post I'm there with you, if only in solidarity:) I have a 2.5 yr old and an 11 month old and in January we started watching a 15 month old most weekdays, too. I at least get a bit of a "break" when it's only my two, but having even just 3 wears me OUT!! Four day in and day out makes me send you lots of good thoughts!

    I've been following your journey as I spent time in Haiti in college and somehow through links in blogs stumbled upon yours. I'm so glad to have found it and to continue to hear your thoughts and story.

    Best wished to you - I hope you fall into a normal again very soon!

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  7. Yes. Welcome to my world! It does get better. Partly because you stop taking notice of whether it's your turn for pre-school snacks, and they stop asking you because they just mark you down as unreliable. Or you just decide to homeschool, because.. you already HAVE a pre-school.

    xoxo

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  8. It does make it all worth it!! I don't know if there is ever a normal w/four kids... once I had the twins I thought it would eventually get easier, but now that I have four in school, I am usually the mom who forgets things. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I have SO MANY little things to remember!

    xo

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  9. I cant imagine four kids (although that is the number my husband and I want to have, hehe) I only have one seventeen month old now and I feel like my head is spinning! Your kiddos are so cute and it made me say "Awwwww" out loud when I read that last sentence!

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  10. I love the last two sentences....

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  11. It's absolutely worth it, every single chaotic and beautiful minute! Enjoy the ride. As you've already seen, it will all change before you now it...

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  12. I can't remember how I came across your blog, but it was right after the earthquake. I have been praying for your family, for the work you are doing, and for your transition. We had 3 kids in 3.5 years, and with the oldest having just turned 4, I feel like we're just getting our heads above water. We're crazy, chaotic and tired. I'm sure you know it will get better and easier, but know that you are being prayed for, and when you're doing God's work, you're given God's strength! I thoroughly enjoy your writings and sometimes you take the words and the sarcasm right out of my mouth! As my husband says, sometimes you just have to put your head down and plow forward!

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  13. They are SO cute! Love the story about Kembe and Karis.

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