Caution: Touch the 2 year old at your own risk.

Every Wednesday evening for some time now, my father, siblings and I have opened our home to whoever will come. The line up is usually the same: tea, music and spiritual edification.

We have a resident 23-month-old who is as cute as she is dramatic. She loves attention and adults are all too willing to give it to her.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Kati the more attention she gets, the more dramatic she becomes, which makes adults pay her even more attention. It’s a cycle that when put in motion is almost impossible to break.  Sometimes I am tempted to sellotape a placard to her back reading: Pet this baby at your own risk. All tantrums that occur up to five minutes after your petting are to be quelled with with no expectation of help from the members of this family.

Our cousin Ashley lives right next door and so on one occasion, her mother thought it would be a great idea to bring her over for cell. Now these two girls have only one week’s age difference. They are like twins. They encourage the kawuka of madness in each other.

At first glance, they are the picture of perfection, sitting on a sofa gulping down milk, or lying on a mat, learning how to use crayons. And then you make the mistake of looking away. When you look back they are: Chewing crayons. Creeping to the bathroom. Pulling the cat’s tail. Trying to topple the sugar bowl. Tearing Books. Trying to fry themselves with electricity. Trying to jump off chairs. Licking the bottoms of shoes. Painting their bodies with lipstick. Laying waste to feminine hygiene products. You get the picture.

When Ashley arrived, that was the end of sanity. We weren’t able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time because to two year olds, everything is an emergency. They demand all of your attention and usually have nothing to fill it with. They just want you to witness their lives as they happen.

A home-cell cannot withstand that kind of pressure and so it  turned into a five-person babysitathon and not even the tricks that I had learned during my weeks of leave helped.

Thanks to my broken leg, I spent almost three weeks at home and was able to really hang out with these girls. According to the internet, children’s minds are more permeable than sponges at this stage and so during the first week, I was all like, “I’m starting a nursery school!”

I tried to create a fun syllabus.The subjects were simple. Snacking, chasing chickens, counting, naming body parts and sleeping. They added secret-fighting, force-feeding one another and giggling to the list. Don’t get me wrong, It is magical when a two-year-old girl giggles but when she is out of sight, with another two year old, you’d better run to the crime scene.

AdorBable! Also, she'd just intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had painstakingly gathered.

AdorBable! Also, she’d intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had just painstakingly gathered.

At the end of the cell-turned-nursery school, mama Ashley and I had one main prayer request: For God to give us all patience and the grace to recognize that no matter what atrocities two year olds commit, they are not being malicious.

Actually, there are legitimate reasons why children around this age behave so erratically. Melinda Wenner on Slate writes that, “The frontal lobe, which is responsible for planning, logic, reasoning, working memory and self-control, is vastly underdeveloped at this age and because of this toddlers are really living in the moment, not thinking about consequences…a semi functional frontal lobe also means that toddlers have practically no sense of time and patience and therefore experience wanting as needing…” Look, just read the article HERE.

Her bigass Opwonya foot when she was a few days old.

Her foot when she was a few days old. Big is Big.

In two days, Daniella will turn two. My life, our lives,  would be dry and meaningless husks without her. Happy birthday, baby Danniebooboolocious. You’re proof that Opwonyas are born, not made.

My darling and I

My darling and I

Advertisements

Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.

I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.

My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.

This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.

I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.

whosaqueen?

This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him.  I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.

During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.

I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.

I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Plans are all over my life like back acne.

I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.

I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.

Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.

See how I have cutiefied my crutch.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

Respect My Hunger.

Because food; the eating, growing, cooking, serving and wearing of, is one of my favorite things, I take the service I receive at restaurants very seriously. I feel truly betrayed when a waiter tells me that my order will be steaming in front of my watering mouth in 15 minutes and then 40 minutes later, he or she has not even carried the tomato sauce and cutlery to my table. I become overwhelmed by a  hysteria that, on a good day, will end with my leaving the premises, sobbing quietly into my palms, and on a bad day, have me assuring everybody from the manager to my fellow patrons how they are seeing me for the last time in their lives because I am never coming back! When it comes to food, people have to be truthful and honest. They need to have a sense of honor.

I have met some very interesting waiters and restaurant owners in my time, the most entertaining being a lady who owns a restaurant somewhere in Nakasero. Or is that Kololo? Anyway, it is located close to Fairway Hotel. 

This woman is a real character. It is without a trace of malice that I say she has the demeanor of a tall cockroach. How somebody like that is able to maintain a restaurant that has apparently been popular for years, I don’t know.

Anyway, on the day I encountered this lady, I was in high spirits. It was my graduation day. I had just gained a pretty good degree, considering how many morning classes I had refused to attend while on campus.

Three years down!

Three years down!

My father was strutting and swaggering, as proud as only a father whose first born is graduating can be. My Aunt Cherry was ululating every few seconds. My siblings were radiating awe, and I looked gorgeous. It was a good afternoon and we wanted to crown it with a hearty meal in a restaurant with good African food.

The first thing Madame restaurant said when she spotted us was, “You people who come many many like this! I hope you are going to be able to afford me!” She then turned to my father and said, “You you are bringing so many young girls here this afternoon. I hope you can pay for them all!” I was nearly passing out from the pain of standing around in four inch stilettos and so my focus was on finding a seat, and not this crazy lady’s words. For some reason, dad did not herd us out.

We were soon in line for the buffet. Aunt Sherry is a professional chef and so when I saw that she had declined to pick from four of the bakulis, I asked her what was up. She just shook her head and turned away with what must have been a giggle. It is when we brought our first spoons to our mouths that we realized why our aunt had been so reluctant to serve. Everything was off. From the beef stew to beans to the basket of fried chicken that the woman brought me as a “graduation present”, it was a spit and a lick from being completely rotten. We were all confused. This food was going to cost 25,000 a plate and it was just a few hours away from having maggots.

We left everything untouched and all stood up to leave, apart from my aunt who was, with a very determined look on her face, mixing everything together so that the woman would not be able to serve the same sauces to unsuspecting people the next day.

Food is sacred. People with bad manners should not be allowed to prepare or even sell it.

What it means to come first.

If you’re a firstborn and you know it, ball your fist and bump the place where my caricature’s might be.  I begin by borrowing from an old nursery rhyme to make you madly interested in yesterday’s Stiletto Point. Is it working? If you’re a firstborn and you know it, say, “Oh yea.”

As far as I know, I am the first child of my parents. This has always filled me a disproportionate sense of pride, as if there was some race in which I beat all 5 of my siblings to the finish line and came bursting into the world with the word lovechild tattooed on my face.

There are many similarities I have noted between myself and other firstborns I’ve met, biggest being Lugezigezi. That sells us Kabisa. Know a loudmouth who wants to always be the leader? Ever sat next to a person who won’t stop telling the taxi driver which alternative routes he must use? You have likely met a firstborn.

We grow up calling the shots, being regarded as infallible gods and goddesses by adoring and secretly hateful followers and when we get into the real world, find it hard to shake that sense of entitlement.

Note that if you’re grown and your followers are still secretly hateful of you, your dealings with them haven’t matured. I used to suffer anxiety and flashes of anger about how my loyal, obedient and fearful subjects would eventually outgrow my powers, and they’d stop seeking my approval, but that all dissolved when I stopped having silly expectations.

Firstborns are protective, so much so that in school, we’re the ones who take on the emotionally wounded to try and make their lives better. Also, because we’ve always stepped up and disciplined our siblings when our parents are being slow about it, we are both confrontational and defensive.

A firstborn will usually have a savior complex. Is Martha lacking something? Is Joel feeling sad? How can I take his sadness away? Has Bosco eaten? And that extends to the rest of the world. This will be especially strong if one parent has died and the eldest is trying to make it seem like the gap isn’t as huge as it really is.

As we’re born to brand new, right-out-of-the-box parents, we receive the most canes or leniency,  but usually canes. We were experiments, the ones on whom half-remembered teachings and directives from their own childhoods were unleashed.

We also come to see and know more than everybody else because we’re first companion to our very human parents. This little person they made has ears and often, all a human being needs to survive an ugly situation is a listening ear.

If lucky, firstborns get to be brash risk takers because of how much support they enjoy. Siblings are a protective cushion that lessen the disappointment of a project gone wrong. They’re also the first to brim with pride when one goes right.

Siblings who hate and sabotage each other, even after they’ve come adults fill me with alarm. I hate to imagine what evil situation exists that can drive a wedge between people with a shared childhood.

From Jacob to the people in the 21st century whose stories I know, all none firstborns feel honored and nervous when they somehow find themselves at the helm of the family. Being the one to steer people who trust you is as difficult as it is thrilling.

I love my siblings. They make me strong.  

Barongo got it wrong this time.

Barongo got it wrong this time.

All in the genes (DAD). #3days

I work out quite a lot nowadays. I no longer feel like my blood is crawling sullenly through my veins and I don’t need to crunch my stomach muscles that hard to see the beginning of two WHOLE abs. My workout routine involves a short run (preferably up a hill), a squat (during which I curse myself for ever starting in the first place) and then a vigorous dance that may or may not involve shaking of booty depending on how my day has gone.

When I described this to my boyfriend yesterday, he gave me a look and said, “I envy the way you live, Mildred. Nary a fuck to give” which made me happy.

When I described it to my sister, also yesterday, she called me crazy. That, coming from the person with whom I (regularly) break into song and dance in the middle of the street is very rich.

I wouldn’t call grooving in public with an aim to get fit crazy or eccentric. There are, however, things I’ve done that fit both of those bills and I blame it all on my father.

See, Dad does not know the meaning of self-consciousness. He does not recognize its existence and expects everybody to experience the world as he does, or else they have a bad case of Satan, or something.

Dad got himself a reputation (and a nickname) for being the lawyer who goes to court in sandals. On any given morning, he wears his coat and trousers (mismatched), gown, sandals and then heads off with a weather beaten laptop under his arm.

At some point, he grew as big an afro as his hair-quality would let him. Whenever a client or an employee would poke fun at him/ complain, he’d say, “Mildred says it looks good.”  Self expression oyee!

He wore sunglasses everywhere for some very long months of my life.

He once dug TWO fishponds in the backyard of a house we were renting in Bugoloobi and filled them with catfish. I’m surprised that nobody in the family has whiskers.

He keeps us in laughs, stories, and FML blushes.

The most just-watch-how-much-I-care thing that I remember him doing happened when he took us all to Didi’s world to experience Uganda’s first recreational park with rides and everything. We were excited, but not as much as he was. He herded us to the water slides, somersaulted into his swimming costume, climbed the ladder and slid ever SO slowly down the big, winding slide. He had a very large, laughing and pointing audience but did he care? NO. I don’t think he even noticed. The pool was empty, so nobody died when he splashed Panda-bearishly into it.

I was proud of my family in that moment. We didn’t run and hide inside the bumper cars. We stood torn between cheering him on over-loudly and trying not to cry.

My 22.9 years have been filled with incidents like this and there are many more to come so don’t judge this girl when you see her shaking her belly fat off on the side of a busy street in KLA. Blame her father.

My mumsy outfit of the day:

Mum would SO wear this