Sunday, September 25, 2011

Family Fun Day

Family fun days growing up meant going to the Bronx to see one of two sets of grandparents, the aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Drinking egg creams from the corner candy shop, being pushed on the swings by my cousins, and being shoved with greasy, wonderful Jewish cooking was my typed of family fun day.  Sometimes in the summer, my father would sneak my brother and I away to walk to Yankee Stadium to catch a game.  Funny, with all the bantering back and forth, no one ever knew we were gone.  My father, who was quite tall for his time, I 'd be holding his hand, looking way up, asking if Mickey would hit a honer.  "Sure he will" my father would always say, and sure enough, the Mick always came through.  Years later, when my father passed, the one thing I kept was his Yankee shirt.  It doesn't take long to get that weekends with my new family is a wee bit different than watching Mantle hit a homer.

Last night, mum asked me what time I wanted to get up tomorrow.  It is my only day off and I asked if I can sleep in late, or at least lounge around until, let's say, Monday.  Sure, no problem!  Excellent,  just what I need to rest up, get rid of this cold, and try to avoid any chores.  I stay up late reading, and at 8:15, I hear "Tshepo, get up, we have many things to teach you today."  So much for sleeping in and doing nothing on my day off.  Up I am, brush my teeth, no bucket bath today thank god, and now I am off to gather my laundry.  She told me that I can take 2 small items to learn how to hand wash, and the rest can go in the machine.  Great, this is going to piece of cake, but why on earth did I have to wake up so early?  Here's how the morning goes, she tells me to fill one big bucket, put water in another bucket,  put a pail of water in yet another bucket, and get one bucket to leave empty, and oh, by the way, "Tshepo, don't spill any water, we don't waste water here."  How on earth can you not spill a little water going from spout to bucket to bucket?   I wonder if the Peace Corps really knows how to do your laundry correctly, and if they do, are they gonna purchase all these buckets for us!  This is worse than the bucket bath, but apparently in Africa, everything is done in or with a bucket!  What Fun!  She shows me how to take a piece of clothing about 4 inches apart, and start rubbing, then go in and around til everything is scrubbed---aah, but don't forget the dirty parts under the armpits and around the neck---yes mama!  This is really hard work, but she sees I am passing this skill, so she decides that we can do all of my laundry.  Great,  my only reprieve is that she walks away for a few minutes, telling me to keep scrubbing in the hot sun, so sneaky me, always trying to get out of something, gets Kesego to start scrubbing.  This is good, I can sit and watch while my little 6 year old sister pays me back for playing with her endlessly.  I hope mom stays away for the next day, but no chance, "Tshepo, you can't be tired already."  No mom, Kesego wanted to help me, so I let her!  After all the laundry is done, I learn how to hang the laundry so we don't have to iron anything.  This really is a fun family day!

Next chore sitting in the hot sun is learning how to wash spinach and cut it properly.  She teaches me how to wash, cut the dead stuff off, how to roll several leaves, and cut into small pieces, rotate, and cut again.  This is easy, why didn't I think of doing that a few nights ago (because it is so damn time consuming!)  It's now 11:30, and I am chopping spinach and other greens, wondering why Peo, my other sister gets to play on the internet all morning.  We then have to learn to make bread which is harder than doing laundry.  I have no energy left, my muscles are sore from learning how to permagarden for two days, and while I watch her kneading the dough, I pray that someone in the family would knead on my aching back and legs.  No such luck!  Ok, the bread is made, the laundry is done, lunch is being cooked, and I'm ready to kick back and pretend I'm watching Sunday football, when I hear, "Tshepo, next weekend you will do a garden for us like the PC taught you, and I will evaluate your new skills learned today, then write you a recommendation."  Please mom, I hope the recommendation is for the Peace Corps to send me on vacation!

On a side note, my friend Karla comes over to pay a visit with her mom late in the afternoon and I told her about my day, and asked what she did on Family Fun Day?  Well, Karla slept in late and was then taken to a nature reserve to look at birds and exotic plants.  Did you do any chores today Karla?  Nope!

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