I called the boys this evening and talked (or rather listened) for a whopping 49 minutes. I never have a clue how much time has gone by until I hear that nasty automated woman saying, "You have two minutes left," and then I have to scramble to get out the last messages and I love you's before I hear the nasty automated man saying, "Thank you for using Sprint." I hate both of them.
Emmanuel had the phone first and, in typical Emmanuel style, told me that he was sad but refused to tell me why. "It'll make you sad too, Kez, so I don't want to tell you." Well then you shouldn't have mentioned it at all, genius! Of course, I have to hear it now that you've told me. How else can I know how to help you, how to pray for you? I love you, remember, and it's OK for me to sad about something that makes you sad. That's what love is about. He finally spilled the beans: he got in trouble this week because he talked back to soccer coach Manno Magloire up at the field. Dr Bernard was angry with him and he is being punished by not being allowed to play sports for 2 months. Emmanuel says that Miscardet was teasing him, so he was upset and wasn't playing well when Manno started talking to him. He has apologized to the coach and the good-natured man is going to see if he can reduce to punishment to a few weeks instead of 2 months. Yes, I was sad, mainly because Emmanuel knows better than to mouth off to a grown-up, and he knows that as one of the oldest kids, he has to be on his best behavior all the time. I reminded him that I am not there to defend him as I was before; last year, I was able to be an intermediary between the boys and Dr Bernard if their punishment was too harsh or if a behavior of theirs was misinterpreted by a nanny. Those nannies do a marvelous job considering there are only 6 of them for 60 kids, but they just don't have the time to get to know the kids as intimately as I did, so they do not always realize when behaviors are triggered by sadness or loneliness instead of a bad attitude. They really do love the kids but sometimes another opinion is helpful. In this case, Emmanuel misbehaved and I wouldn't get involved even if I was there, but hopefully it did him good to tell someone and to reminded that I expect the best from him because I know how good he can be.
Emmanuel said that he has still been writing down his thoughts in the notebook that I gave him in May - I used to find him sitting by himself on the stairs or on his bed, just staring off into nowhere and I finally asked him what he was doing. "Just thinking, imagining," he said. A few days later, I gave him the notebook and told him that sometimes it helps to write those thoughts and those imaginings down. It was one of the those days when he did not respond to anything I said; he took the notebook without a word and I walked away thinking that the idea was a complete flop. That afternoon, though, I passed by his room and there was the notebook, the first page covered with his unique handwriting. A success after all.
Acheley said that he didn't go to the soccer field today because his leg hurts, so he is trying to take it easy. Renick said "Hi", Janel, the janitor, also said "Hi", and Miscardet made sure that the boys told me that his cleats are torn. Fortunately, several of my December Haiti team members have soccer-playing little brothers, so we should be able to replace his cleats. Bernadin and Emmanuel both said that they will do fine on the exams that start on Oct. 22nd. Bernadin confessed that he struggles with chemistry and math, but that he is working at it. He has been asking Jacques, Jefthe and Mathurin for help when he doesn't understand something.
Duck took the phone next - I love talking to him on the phone because I can hear him smiling as he's talking to me. I told him so, which may him burst out laughing. He said, "I'm always smiling, Keziah, except when I'm thinking sometimes. You know that." I do, but I still get a kick out of the fact that I can tell exactly what his facial expression would be just from the way his voice sounds. We went through a whole drama of figuring out his shoe size that involved me threatening Bernadin that I would never talk to him again if he didn't help us. Then of course I felt bad and got him on the phone to tell him that I would never really do that. He said, "I know."
Vandomme was the last one I talked to before my time ran out. I had a hard time understanding him because he was mumbling, but he seemed to be telling me that he was having some problems. When I asked what, he started on a monologue of which I only understood part, but the basic gist was that he feels like the girls are getting more attention than the boys right now. I wish I had been able to understand more or talk to him longer, because there have probably been only 1 or 2 situations to make him feel that way and I bet with a little bit of explaining and encouraging, he could be made to understand why they occurred. He is an young man who is very grounded in reality and very concerned with justice. Frustrating though it may be to not know exactly what is happening and to not be able to assist him, all I can do is hand it over to God and ask Him to help Junior be patient until things get worked out.
I told them that Bryn is coming to live at the orphanage. They didn't react at all. But that is how they are; they don't react to any news initially, good or bad. It takes them a little while to process it and then they go crazy, either with excitement or sorrow. I can guarantee that all they will be talking about tonight is Bryn becoming their new teacher, friend, and sister. It's going to be one of those nights when the lights go out at 10 but the conversation doesn't stop until midnight.