Right now I am laying in the dark on the tile typing on my laptop while two small children are falling asleep in my bed. Tonight, I couldn't say no. A few of my favorites came to my room and we played with army men and hot wheels and drank juice boxes and ate fruit loops while we watched (weird Ghanaian) TV. It became 9:45 and Clement stepped in as the voice of reason and said its late and they should all go to bed. Immediately Bishop pretended to be sleeping. He is the most stubborn kid, but I always think that is the quality that will pay off later in life. He is one if the special ones. I tell them that he is not stubborn, he is spirited, and they make this smacking sound with their lips that means they don't like what you are saying. The youngest boy who was here, Morris (7), looked at me with his big brown eyes and I whispered to him that he could stay, too. He is such an intuitive, funny, smart little child and immediately won my heart even though I just met him this trip. The kids tease him for having a big head and I told him its for his big brain because he's so smart.
Some things are fine here and some things still make me sad. It breaks my heart when these kids get so excited about things that we think should be a given. I have a thick foam pad for my mattress, a white fitted sheet, and two pillows, which they stared at, and jumped to try out. I let them use my extra toothbrush with some toothpaste and they were overjoyed, and spent about five minutes each brushing their teeth. They turned the knob for the shower and giggled as the water came trickling down. "SHOWA! SHOWA!" they cheered. When I asked them if they wanted soap they looked like I'd just offered them a steak dinner, and gladly accepted. When I asked them if they had to use the toilet before bed they both smiled, looked at each other, and nodded furiously. They usually just go outside in the bushes or wherever they are. "Should I flush it?!" Morris asked, and sounded really excited. (Last time I came here flushing toilets didn't really exist around here and I used a drop toilet in the volunteer house which was the worst part of my day. This time I feel like I am living in luxury.) they got into bed, and I hugged them both and told them I loved them - something I know they won't get when I'm gone. It makes me sad, and then it makes me angry - angry that these kids might never know how awesome they are, and I pray that is not the case.
Today the head of the orphanage and school and church saw me at school with a crowd of kids following, all trying to hold my hand or my arm or any part of my body really. He usually just speaks very matter-of-factly, but this time he had emotion in his voice. "Stephanie! Mother of all the children!" and I have seriously thought about being that because again I feel like I have given them something that will leave when I do. It makes me think its not fair, and it makes me think: what if I stay? I could live this life but my ambition always gets the best of me - like there are two prominent things inside, battling for which one will prevail.
I just looked over and both kids are asleep, their black limbs sprawled across the white sheet, still clutching the hot wheels I have given them tonight. I don't know what it feels like when ambition doesn't win, but maybe it is this.