Sunday, July 5, 2009

Kids in Belize

I sometimes feel bad because Hector, one of the 11-year-old boys from next door, is always somehow annoying me and getting yelled at either by me, or by one of his parents when they realize he’s annoying me. He doesn’t really try to be annoying, he just has a talent for asking the wrong question at the wrong time, or showing up at a completely inappropriate moment, or moving fast when he should be moving slow, or slow when he should be moving fast, or being where he isn’t supposed to be, or not being where he is supposed to be, or…you get the picture. He and I just don’t usually operate on the same wavelength.

So, he was shocked one day last week when I told him how proud I was of him, and how much I wished there were more boys like him in the US. I don’t think he could figure out why Sybil suddenly showed the other side of her personality, and was saying nice things to him instead of yelling at him – and I think he’s actually more comfortable when I’m yelling at him. At least he knows I notice him!

What did he do to attract my positive attention? In his mind, nothing out of the ordinary. In my mind, he was being extraordinarily good. Tom and I walked by their house one day on the way to get the horses out of the pasture, and Hector was outside with his almost-five-year-old sister Zulmi. They were playing in the driveway, throwing rocks at a plastic soda bottle they had filled with gravel. Not only was I amazed that two kids could amuse themselves with a plastic bottle, some gravel, and rocks, but that the big brother bothered to spend time with his younger sister. Then, a few days later, Tom and I were driving home from town and Hector and his other little sister, eight-year-old Marixa, were together in the driveway, and yelled as we went by. We stopped, not sure if they needed something. They didn’t need anything, but they wanted to show us what they were doing, which was playing some game they call Hanging Man where they pull the stamens out of a flower, then try to hook the top off of each other’s stamen. The loser is the one whose head pops off first. They were totally engrossed in the game with each other, and we were again amazed that Hector plays with his little sisters without any sort of toys, props, supplies, or anything other than their imaginations and what they pick up next to the road and in their driveway.

I’ve resolved to think of this next time I’m about to yell at Hector – although I’m sure that in the heat of the moment I’ll entirely forget the good brother with the amazing imagination and yell at the annoying 11-year-old anyway. I guess I need to grow up too!

And just so you know, I had to look up flower anatomy to know they were playing with the stamen of the flower. I was going to say “pop the anther off the filament,” which is what they were really doing according to this picture, but I didn’t want it to sound like I knew anything about flowers.

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