Lately, I have become intentional about spending time with my kids. I figured it is important to have a running schedule on my calendar so that my personal life or work does not eat too much into family time. So, I start my day pretty early and log off from work at 5pm, and we get to hang out from 5.30pm to 6.30pm at which point we all hit the shower and get ready for dinner which is served at 7.00pm. On Thursdays I get a break and I can hang out with friends, but Friday nights are sacrosanct. I can choose to go home late any day but not on a Friday. Fridays are movie nights and we take turns to choose the movies.
Last Friday, I was rather excited about movie night as it was my turn to pick a flick. I had done my research and came across this feature Richie Rich where Macaulay Culkin, famed for his role in the movie Home Alone, now stars as a 10 year old boy from a filthy wealthy family and has everything any child his age would ever dream of. But the one thing he doesn’t have is friends. It did not exactly tickle my fancy, but I felt it would strike a good balance between being educative and entertaining for the kids, and I could definitely sit through it without wanting to gorge my eyes out.
I love when I get to have a say on the feature of the day because then I don’t have to sit through Xena’s (our eight year old daughter) choices which are rather eccentric and sometimes weird, at least in my eyes. To give you some context, I have a rather unimaginative mind (haters might say shallow hehe) and I love watching movies that have some semblance of reality. So more often than not, you will find me scrolling through drama/romance (because I am a hopeless romantic and I want the romance served with a side of drama and better yet suspense), crime thrillers (because I get intrigued by the process of solving problems) and my all time favourite; comedy, because laughter is undoubtedly the best medicine. My life is that simple, and in the same breath, the way to my heart is a great sense of humour and an ingenious mind, as long as one doesn’t make promises they can’t keep, doesn’t lie, and never ever ignores me. Not too much to ask, right? I digress.
On the other hand, Xena is the exact opposite. Her mind is the epitome of creativity and she’s constantly questioning the norm and finding imaginative ways to do things. With puzzles, she hates following instructions and ends up creating things that she finds more interesting. Like the first time she played Jenga, she watched the pieces crumble in the end and said to me, “Is this it? Can I now make good use of these blocks?” And off she went to make her dream house complete with a sun deck and an underground parking.
When it comes to her movie choices, she loves sci-fi, mystery and anything that offers her a chance to indulge in something that is humanly impossible. There’s a time during school holidays she would watch this series The Worst Witch, a British-German fantasy drama that follows the adventures of Mildred who learns about magic and witching at Cackle’s Academy, a school for young witches. Despite the training and no matter how hard Mildred tries, her spells have a habit of going awfully wrong, causing chaos. If you’ve followed Xena’s chronicles from way back, you might recall this time at the age of four when she asked me during my trip to SA to buy her a magic wand so that she could turn her then one year old sister into a rabbit, and she caused a fracas when she realised that the magic wand was fake! Her obsession with magic did not just start recently, and its beginning to scare the daylights out of me. Anyway, my point is that I look forward to Friday nights when the remote control lands in my hands.
As I drove home into our parking lot this past Friday, our five year old daughter Xia came running towards the car from the play area with a packet of Dairy fresh milk in her hand.
“What do we have here?” I inquired as I grabbed my handbag from the passenger sit.
“I am drinking milk. It’s yummy.” She said excitedly.
“I can see that. Who gave it to you?” I asked as she proceeded to give me a tiny hug.
“Come see.” She said.
“I come see what?”
“I said come see!” She reiterated, and then grabbed my hand leading me to the play area where a bunch of kids including Xena were competing to do cartwheels.
“Oooh you want to show me who gave you the milk?”
“Mama, I told you come see!” She was now getting exasperated and I did not understand why it was such a big deal to divulge the name of this Santa who had showed up six months earlier.
When she spotted me, Xena got off her back and walked towards me as she tried balancing a hula hoop around her waist.
“Mama, have you met our new neighbour? Her name is Camsee, like come and see.” She accompanied her statement with gestures, beckoning her hands to demonstrate come and circling her eyes with thumb and index fingers to demonstrate see. “Got it? Cool, right?” She was rather amused with herself.
“I told you so many times mama, Camsee gave me milk!” Xia blurted while giving me this look like I was the dumbest person she has been most unfortunate to know.
I gathered my troop and we headed to the house for shower time. Xia claimed she was hungry and had to have tea and bread before she showered, so she headed to the kitchen and asked the nanny to fix her the same. As Xena and I went up the staircase, she decided to indulge me on her current read. Three months ago, her dad subscribed her to Peter’s Library, an online service that delivers physical books to our house on a weekly basis. They have a vast catalogue of books that caters to children between the ages of 6 and 16 with books in the genres of action, comics, adventure, facts, African stories, mystery, mythical and biographies. Once a month, she logs on to their website and selects four books to be delivered in the next four weeks. Sometimes she inhales a book in one sitting, and other times she consumes it over two or three days. The previous week she was reading Greek Mythologies– about the greek gods, and before that, Adventures of Tintin– about a young Belgian reporter and his dog snowy as they try to escape the land of the Soviets. And before that, she had tried her hand at an African story- Adventures in Nairobi-about some young kids who work together to help a guy who has been framed and suspected of murder.
When we get to the staircase landing that leads to my bedroom, she tells me about her current read from one of her favourite series Geronimo Stilton.
“Mama the book is so funny!” She exclaims. “It’s called I’m Too Fond Of My Fur.”
“That’s such a long title.” I respond. “Sounds like India Arie’s song I am not my hair.”
“Who is India Arie?” She inquires.
Of course she would not know India Arie, given that her favourite artists are Keti Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Imagine Dragons! I can already see the side eyes and hear the colourful murmurs implying that I am her influence, and I am not about to address that now because it is debatable.
“The book is about a mouse whose fur is falling off.” She informs me. “The mouse wears a helmet to cover his balding head and his friend Trap sends over some products to cure the balding.”
“Oh, we all need a Trap in our lives, don’t you think?” I challenge her as I put on the water heater.
“Yea, but trap is also insufferable!” She adds.
“And so is this heater!” I retort, muttering the words bloody hell! It reads 24 degrees, and I need it to read at least 45 degrees for me to enjoy a scalding hot shower which is much needed given the unforgiving Nairobi cold.
“So why is Trap insufferable?” I inquire as I drop my handbag on my bedside table and stretch on the bed awaiting the mighty heater to decide on my fate.
“He is always teasing his balding friend. One time he tells him to stop wearing the helmet because it will pull off the last strand of hair from his head. Another time when they are going on a trip, he tells him that his helmet might cause the driver to laugh so hard and get into a road crash.” She lets out a thunderous laugh, and while the joke is lost on me partly because I am pissed off at the heater, I find myself laughing from her infectious laugh.
After dinner we, finally gathered on the couch for movie night in our fleece pajamas and stretched a throw over ourselves for additional warmth. A bowl of popcorn was sandwiched amongst us, waiting to be devoured. But just as I launched Netflix, the lights went off. You can trust Kenya Power to have the perfect timing!