Children, meanness and great, great fun. #4days

For the last two days, Maad Advertising has been alive. Children have brought their squeals, questions, giggles and bad manners into our office and I have loved every minute of it.

I have always liked children, in a kind of way. When I was little, I liked to carry babies and pretend they were my doll kajungu. Kajungu was not what you’d call normal. He was a head; a big, white head full of brown curly hair. Although he was good enough company, he wasn’t as interesting as real babies who had both big heads with curly hair and bodies.

When I grew into a teenager, all of my interest was turned on myself. I examined my face and body, declared them a firm 6 (I described my smile as dusky) and proceeded to decorate my face with piercing upon piercing upon piercing. There was no space for children in my life (except for my siblings).

Yesterday when these kids came in, I was shy of them. I stared at my computer and ignored them, mostly. Then my creative director called me into studio and asked if I could help choreograph a Video jingle that they were to be part of. I agreed of course. Apenyo approves of any song that goes “The beat is too heavy, I’m shaking my belly”.

I went downstairs, stared, stammered some and then chose a tame looking one and asked him to teach me a move. The rest, for sure, was history.

I have danced, played, been called Auntie Mildred, Milly, and even mommy by many adorable children. I’ve had to rush in and break up fights, most notably, one between a loud, attention loving girl and man who all of a sudden shouted, “Don’t mess with me, you stupid girl. Don’t mess!”

If looks could bust balls, that idiot would be a eunuch right now. I told him to please leave if he couldn’t respect children and then soothed the girl. She was troublesome, sure, one of those who refused to listen, jumped on tables, and clung to adults-especially male ones. She is however a child and deserves to be treated with as much tenderness as the best of them.

There was a three-year old who made my ovaries somersault with his cuteness. This one became my dance partner at the end.

After we were done with rehearsals and I was back at my desk, one boy came over. I don’t know how we began to talk about mums, but he asked me if mine is around, in the world.

I said no.

He put on this very sad face and said, “Also me. I’ll never forget the day my mother died.”

That broke my heart. I felt a solidarity with this motherless boy, especially because I have siblings his age who must feel the loss exactly as he does.

I told him to be happy and to look at us and how much we were doing, even if our mothers were in heaven. I was in the middle of assuring him of his complete awesomeness when he burst out laughing and said, “I’m lying! My mother is not dead!”

My mumsy outfit of the day:

A bit short, but she’d be kawa with it.

I was pissed. I told him to leave my table, go back to the boardroom and draw on one of the papers that I’d distributed earlier to keep them occupied.

That feeling, that FUCK YOU, CHILD feeling has stayed with me. A part of me is still feeling sorry for his tiny, “motherless” self.

And now, even as I post status updates about how much I love kids and how teaching nursery school children (TOP CLASS) at some point in my twenties is on my bucket list, It’s clear in my mind how stupidly mean children can be and how when you’re an adult you always HAVE to take the high road.

Thieves in the big city

A thief is a person who feels more entitled to the fruit of your labor than you are. In their opinion, you are a slave, born to toil with power point and fight with photocopiers, all for their benefit and enjoyment. That bag you bought in Wandegeya? Theirs. That car you tricked your employers into buying, theirs!   I’ve met some thieves that I’d like to see again, on more neutral ground of course. Their methods were impressive.

I was three years old when I first encountered thievery. Mother would deliver me to Mango Tree Nursery School Bugoloobi with a container full of fried matooke and boiled eggs. Those were my absolute favorites. I’d enter class dreaming of the wonderful, satisfying pain that would fill my tiny throat a few hours later, when I’d be chewing and swallowing whole eggs in one go. I was very proud of this ability.

Slowly by slowly, break time would arrive. I’d bolt to the back of the class, grab my container, twist it open and find only matooke. Other times, I’d find only eggs. Basically, what I ate depended less on what was packed for me and more on what teacher felt like having with her tea. One day, when I found just one egg sitting in a lake of matooke gravy, I decided to involve the authorities. I was going to report this evil thief to God, to the teacher and to my mother.

Because mummy was at home and God was in the sky, I decided to start with teacher. When I approached her table, I saw my egg and matooke on her plate; so I reported her to herself and she beat me.

This was when I learnt that the world isn’t fair and thieves, especially big, tall ones, can respond to exposure with violence. Indignation doesn’t weigh much when you’re a little person.

Thieves with feelings

My most recent encounter was as I was leaving Mateos after a particularly bland Blogger’s Happy Hour. In its haste to get to me, a taxi (with a woman hanging out of its front passenger door) swept past, narrowly missing my toes, and parked a short distance ahead.

The woman began to gesture and coo in a way I suppose she thought was inviting. Note that she wasn’t the conductor. He too was hanging out of his window, making come hither faces. In their eagerness to add me to their creepy matatu populace, they forgot to tell me their destination. I had to ask.

The people in the back looked as if they’d been scooped of their contents and taxidermied so I opened the front door and asked her to scoot over. She gave me a dirty look and tried to force her way past me, at which point I decided to get another taxi. I wasn’t going to trap myself between the driver and that woman. She began to jeer, “You people of Kampala you pose a lot. Do you susu soda? Do you pupu sweets? Shya! You not rich!” she sounded genuinely hurt about my refusal to board, probably because she wouldn’t be going home with a new handbag and wallet.

Probably because of how helpless I was when I was first stolen from, I can’t stand being cheated. I’m a pro at battling conductors for that extra 200 shillings. Victory is always mine because I enter the arena with all the Luganda and Acholi. They always let me win, either out of amusement or fear.