The Greatest Gift of All
Watching your child grow is frightening and rewarding in equal measure. I know I have talked one too many times about the nativity play that my six-year-old daughter Xena participated in recently, which might make you wonder if our lives are that desolate. So, before I start to sound like a broken record, hear me out one last time.
Xena loves telling stories, most of them born out of her experiences and interactions but some of them are imaginary. Being a sleepy head, getting her out of bed every weekday morning when schools are in session is a battle. But once she descends the small ladder that connects her top bunker to her sister’s lower bed, she’s worse than an active volcano. Her inexorable banter begins.
First, she narrates her dream or nightmare as she’s having a bath and yaps on while dressing up. She babbles some more as she saunters down the staircase and the prattle continues even as she stands by the kitchen doorway, screaming instructions of her preferred meal. The dining table is where memories of incidences at school come flooding, so she narrates them with so much pomp and colour as her cereals sit despondently, begging to be consumed. And even as I drop them to school, she makes comments about the music playing on the car stereo; either asking me to pump up the volume because it’s her favourite song or tasking me to sing along if she sees me nodding my head to some song.
“Mama, if that’s your song why are you not singing along?”
Half the time I don’t know the words and I am at pains to explain that it is possible to enjoy a song whose lyrics you don’t grasp.
All this time, her small sister buckled up in the back left stares at her in awe and in complete silence, and will only exercise her vocals when Xena breaks into a song. From the roadside where we park our car, Xena yaps about the weather and the cars on the road, asking questions like why all number plates begin with the letter K, or why some cars are old and let out smoke, and if cars eventually die and where they are buried when they do.
As we walk past the school gate, she loudly greets the Askari and at the offloading zone adjacent to the class, she makes conversation with all the classmates as she retrieves her folder from her bag and change into indoor shoes before placing her bag in her pigeon-hole. By the time I walk Xia to her class and walk back, she is usually still at the offloading zone only this time talking to a new set of classmates, the earlier bunch long gone to class. That’s Xena, in a nut shell.
However, over the past month, things took an interesting twist. She was still the usual colourful raconteur, only this time she was babbling about one thing only- The school nativity play, where she had been assigned the role of one of ten narrators. From the moment she woke up, she would take on the narrator’s role and go over her lines ever so passionately, as if her role was in a film that was positioning itself for the Oscars. But as I later would discover, this play meant the world to Xena, as much as a potential Oscar-winning film would mean to any actor.
Xena has always had an enviable memory, something most kids tend to have anyway as they don’t have multiple taxation to worry about- neither do they stress over looming deadlines at work or bills, and worse still pantries whose constituents like cooking oil and maize flour and bananas seem to be sniffed off the shelves. So, her grasp of her role in one day did not come as a big surprise to us. The first day she came home with the flash card bearing her lines, we expected her to reference it, at least once. But instead, she beamed with delight as she told us of the different roles her classmates were assigned, then went ahead to narrate her bit as she waited eagerly for our reactions, the flash card never to be used.
As days went by, she updated us on the progress back at school while placing several demands along the way, the first one being her acting outfit.
“Mama, you are required to buy me a green dress and red doll shoes for the play.” She demanded as we were driving to school one morning.
“Who requires this of me?”
“Mrs Otieno.” She responded. “The narrators will be in that outfit, all ten of us.”
Usually, the teacher indicates in their diaries the deadline for submission of the outfits- which is typically a month from the day of notice. However, my forgetful self is always late to deliver; as late as driving around from mall to mall on the deadline day whilst praying for a miracle.
But not this time round. I was haunted by Xena every morning and evening after her recitals for at least a week before I finally yielded. On that particular evening, I posted on Instagram what I needed and amongst so many responses in my inbox was Rayelle’s: a young self-taught fashion designer and ex banker who quit her job last year to pursue her passion. She sent me a couple of designs and promised to deliver my outfit of choice in three days, a deadline she diligently met.
I held my breath as I spread out the dress on my bed the evening Rayelle sent it over. It was gorgeous, even in the eyes of a fastidious six-year-old. She quickly slipped into it and ran towards my mirror. She lit up like a Christmas tree the moment she saw her reflection. The bow around her neck and the flow of the dress at the bottom made her look like royalty. The ruffled suspender like sleeves added pizzaz to the outfit.
“Oh my God mama, it’s so gorgeous. Thank you!” The beam on her face spelt gratification. I finally remembered to breathe.
What started with her reciting her three sentences at every chance culminated in her performing the entire play to the dismay of everyone that had the honour of listening or watching her. This first happened when we had travelled to Nakuru to see my folks. While she was in the shower, she broke into this discourse to the shock of everyone within earshot.
“Cavina Primary School presents, the greatest gift of all. Welcome. Over two thousand years ago, in a city called Nazareth, there was a young woman who was named Mary. Mary was promised to marry a man named Joseph, who lived there too. One day, an angel from God came to talk to Mary…”
And so she went on, switching from one role to another while interspersing the monologue with Christmas carols every so often. By the time she was done, we were all standing outside the bathroom door in awe, my dad and mum and myself, her younger sister Xia prancing about the corridor oblivious to our admiration of her big sister. She stepped out of the shower to a standing ovation. On that day, her love and devotion to this play was reaffirmed.
A week to the play, she reminded us daily of the d-day, as if not wanting to take chances with our failing memories. We were also promptly advised to dress smartly. She picked a blue shirt for the dad and asked me to wear a green dress to match hers. I didn’t have one but my choice did not disappoint. On the morning of the play, she was happy as a clam. And as I dropped them to school at 7.30am, she reminded me to be on time.
“Make sure you get a seat at the front.” She said as we crossed the road.
“I promise I will.”
“Will you be the first one?” She inquired.
“I better be.” I said to her.
The play would start at 10.00am and I intended to be there an hour before. I was going to be there for her in all the ways she expected me to, and then some. And I did. Front row seat, with her dad and her nanny Mercy, phone camera on standby.
With remarkable gusto, the narrators, resplendent in their green outfits, stepped on stage and introduced the play. The play unfolded beautifully to the delightment of the seated crowd, each kid taking their role ever so seriously, including the donkey and the sheep. Even then, I whipped myself into a frenzy as I waited for Xena’s turn. When it finally came, she gracefully walked up the stage and spoke with enviable confidence while smiling and looking around the crowd for recognition. I was afraid she would forget some of her words when she spotted us, but instead she smiled harder and carried on.
We did not realise how fast an hour had gone by, until when all the kids were crouching on the stage and Xena sprouted up, dramatically throwing her hands in the air and shouted “THE END!”
There was great roar from the crowd, parents overwhelmed with delirium over the stunning performance by their little people, some of them as young as three years. When the chatter settled, the headmistress took over the mic, thanking the kids for an incredible performance. Her next words left me beaming with pride.
“Xena, oh Xena. What do I say? Watch out for this girl, she will be the next Lupita Nyong’o”
To say that I am proud of the person my six-year-old daughter Xena is becoming is an understatement.
***This post was sponsored by our favourite kids’ shoe store- Matique Junior. Without them, we would not know where to run to for shoes for different occasions and seasons, such as the ones Xena and her sister Xia are spotting in the picture. As you may have rightfully guessed, they will be awarding one of you with a KES 2,500 voucher. Simply drop a comment telling us of one of your proudest moment as parent/guardian/uncle/aunty/sibling. What is this thing that the child did or does that makes you so proud to be associated with them? Also make sure to follow Matique Junior on Instagram. The winner will be announced next week on Tuesday in the comment section.
Also, all winners of the last two giveaways have been announced in the respective comment sections.
Lucyann- Picazzo Brunch
Lucy Kathinja- Entim Sidai Spa
Janerose- Pan Asian Yao brunch
If they don’t email me on firstname.lastname@example.org to claim their vouchers by next Tuesday we will randomly pick other winners. Good luck!***
All your comments have warmed the cockles of my heart 🙂 You are all winners and if I could, I would gift you all. But today, let’s take a moment to appreciate aunties and uncles who step in whenever we want a break from our kids. They let us catch that much needed breath without a single worry because they treat our kids like their own, sometimes even better than we do. For this reason, I am awarding Nkirote the shoe voucher from Matique Junior. Keep rocking that aunty role! Get in touch with me on email@example.com.
Xena can do so much at at six years and the way she was bold in the video You posted while she was on stage Woow I don’t I even have her courage. they look so beautiful as always. My nephew is almost turning two and it took him long before he could walk confidently on his own and few months ago he started walking now the only thing he does is run and making sure you can see him. its like he is making up for the lost months of him not able to. Hehe. He makes us all… Read more »
One of my proudest moments as a parent is when my two kids 4 and 2 years old tell me that they love me Many times i have critisize myself and how i am doing this whole motherhood thing , sometimes I feel like a failure when I can’t get them something they want or need, or when at times I’m overwhelmed with everything and can barely find the time to laugh and play with them But at the end of the day when they come to me and give me a kiss or a hug and tell me love… Read more »
My daughter will be turning 2 in a weeks time and a very proud mum coz of the progress she has made so far.. She amazes me how fast she has learnt to talk and confidently express herself so fuently.Her pronunciation of some words makes us all burst into laughter for instance ‘piton’ insert American accent (Piriton) bu dan”blue band and her hilarious laughter just melts our heart. It’s been a rough year for me been a single mom no job and my sister having lost her job this year who has been supporting us. Winning this gift voucher would… Read more »
When I came back home from hospital with my second baby, Tendai, his sister ran up to me, gave me knee tight hugs and then asked me if she could ‘miss’ (kiss) Tendai which she did and said to him ‘I love you so much’. Then she went ahead to ask me if I was okay. She told me how she will always take care of Tendai. She is a big sister. My heart melted. My ceaserean wound was still fresh but I smiled from the pits of my belly. I used a tear too. All along while carrying Tendai… Read more »
I live the shoes
My daughter Nina joined school last September and after a week her teacher asked me if she was previously in another school reason ….she is smart
I was so proud of her ……
I am 23 year old single mom of two pretty daughters… Despite what I have gone through I regret absolutely nothing especially when it comes to my kids they are a blessing I can’t thank God enough for. I feel so proud when my kids shoulder each other even when not under my watch…. They are 3 and 2 years respectively but take great care of each other … I would be delighted to win the voucher so that I can get them a pair each this Christmas… Thanks
Joy, Xena and Xia are eye candy really??. I am an Aunty to a wonderful girl, Mwendwa. One of my highlights is when she finally got brave enough to have her hair blow dried and plaited and demanded herself that I take her to a hair dresser. It had been a struggle previously since she has the kinkiest of hair types. I could see her really trying to sit still during her session. Slowly her hair is growing longer and she totally loves it. That plus every time she comes up with a noisemakers list, I am never on it… Read more »
My girl Baraka is 1year old and she is the best gift to me .I have never seen such a kind & loving child.When breastfeeding her, she seems to enjoy the milk so much that she gives me the other breast to have a taste too?? and whenever there other people around that time she tends to pull the breast towards them and point it to them to take…
First,am number 1 fun of your beautiful daughters.Xena is an incredible little being.I look up to you in Soo many things,I have two daughters too with an age difference of of 2 yrs 1 month.One is 4 yrs 10 months and the other 2yrs 9 months.What amazes me is they have almost the same characters of Xena and Xia.Valerie or Val as we call her is the eldest.This gal really amazes me and everyone who comes across her,she is Soo jovial,full of life,she is fearless,she interacts with everyone she comes across since she was a baby and they get along… Read more »
Hi joy..my son is turning 3 years on Jan 2.2019
And one thing am proud of is he has grown being a grateful kid. He hasn’t learned to speak fluently but there is this one word he says when one gifts him something: ‘ten que’ thank you. For me am so proud that my son is gaining what my mama taught me since I was a kid; say thank you
Aaaaaw…much love to Xena and may God open great opportunities for her to nurture her gift♥️.
My baby girl Minna is two years old. I love how she easily notices when you’re a little sad or angry then she so sweetly tells you powe (pole) as she gently taps your head…her gentleness overwhelms me so much.
My best time as a mom is when my son was learning to talk and he could sing along most of the adverts on TV.It was a defining moment !! Very much a happy moment for me and a voucher for a shoe would definitely make him a happy boy !! Lovely piece Joy !!
I loved the play!! My twin girls also attend school at Cavina. They are younger, in PP1! They were wearing white angle outfits. It took me forever to get their costumes including the angel wings but it was worth it and i think Xena was amazing. I loved her green dress! Please share the contacts of the designer.
Xena, ooh Xena! What can I say. Watch out for this girl, she will be the next Lupota Nyongo! …..what powerful words! May God grant Xena her heart’s desires!