We all have vignettes of childhood that stick with us into adulthood. They make us feel happy or sad. We may or may not completely understand them. But no matter the feelings attached to them or our understanding of them, they often define our adult outlook on what is normal.
As we raise or help to raise children in this culture so different from our own, we try to insert “normalcy” into family, team, and school life. And yet, we know that our children will grow into adults who remember very different vignettes from the ones that shaped us.
As you enjoy the following stories of childhood here in Kibuye, I hope you laugh as we do but also use it as an opportunity to get to know these Kibuye Kids and their normal lives.
Vignette #1: A child excitedly emerges from the bathroom proclaiming, “The toilet is making noises, Mommy. I think the water just came back on.”
Vignette #2: With a puzzled look, Girl asked, “Americans wear shoes inside their house?” After learning that this was in fact sometimes true, there was a pause for processing, and then, “Very….silly.”
Vignette #3: As one child watched another walk down the hall with a long piece of thin white paper draped over her head and down her back: “You look like a bride. All you need is one of those mosquito nets that brides wear.”
Vignette #4: Upon returning to school from lunch break, one of the children put one arm into a sweatshirt while engaged in conversation. As she put the other arm in, she jumped and checked her shoulder. “Oh,” she said, “I thought I still had my chameleon on my shoulder. He was there all through lunch.
Vignette #5: After her mother had chosen some solid colored fabric (something difficult to find in Burundi) and her grandmother worked hard to recover their family’s couch cushions, Child (who is used to all the bright Burundian prints) grumbled that the furniture was so boring now.
Vignette #6: While writing a blog about guinea pigs together, the students wanted to describe the cages. One mentioned that he put containers in his guinea pigs cage so that they could play or hide. Another student promptly raised her hand to volunteer her concern that container wasn’t an accurate word and might give people the wrong impression. After all, to her the word container was associated with 40’ shipping containers instead of something that once held margarine.
Vignette #7: Many families enjoy homemade pizza and a special drink on the weekend. Thus, nine out of 10 Kibuye kids agree that a square is the normal shape of pizza, and they all enjoy Fanta Citron (said in great French accents) or BOOM Juice.
*Since these stories belong to the children and not me, I decided not to include any names.