Prince Charming

I know, every mother thinks her baby is the cutest, the sweetest, the most precocious. Our Enoch, having just turned two, is at that stage where his baby-isms have won the hearts of  everyone in the family. We’re always sharing little stories of “what Enoch just did” and laughing about his antics and ways of saying things. But he hasn’t just charmed us…it has become more and more obvious to me that many in our little village are quite taken with him.

Zay and Enoch
Enoch hamming it up with his big brother

Enoch regularly goes across the street to Silas’s shop with one of his older siblings to fetch morning’s milk and other needed items. Mama Sharon (Silas’s wife) often sends him on his way with a “sweet” or an extra mandazi. When Silas was visiting the other day, he chuckled as he told Isaiah about how Enoch came for milk while Mama Sharon was still asleep in their little room off the shop. Apparently Enoch, who knows which side his bread is buttered on, wanted to find Mama Sharon, so he toddled into the bedroom and touched Mama Sharon’s face. When she didn’t respond, he simply pulled back the covers and climbed into bed with her! Eventually she got up and went into the shop to get him his treat for the day.

Yesterday when our home fellowship met, I was saying good-bye to an older Mama who has just begun visiting with us. She speaks no English, so we haven’t gotten much beyond greetings and small talk. However, she shook my hand and then offered a hand to Enoch, whom I was holding. Surprisingly, she greeted him by name, and in response to her “habari” salutation (generally, “How are you doing?”), he properly responded, “Mzuri!” (“Fine!”) Her pleasure was more than evident, and she went on her way with a smile.

Florence couldn’t wait to take Enoch from me after our morning’s fellowship time. She asked to bring Enoch to her place, where (as I heard reported from the other littles) she washed his face, hands, and feet, then gave him some chai and a sweet. While there, he also got carried around by his favored Marie (Florence’s daughter, who is 13). Whenever Marie comes over to play, she more often than not has Enoch on her hip or is pushing him in the swing.

Many mornings as we begin our day, the neighborhood children come down the path on their way to school. If Enoch chances to be outside, he greets everyone by name: “Eh, Marie!”, “Eh, Dori!”, “Eh, Rosie!” And of course, they respond with giggles as they continue on their way.  (Marc and I were discussing the other day how multipurpose, “Eh” is. Depending on the inflection, the length of the syllable, and the accompanying facial expression or body language, it has a range of meanings. It is used to convey greeting, make general acknowledgement, or express surprise, indignation, and uncertainty, or even impart correction. I could probably write a whole post about, “Eh!” But I digress.)

Enoch also loves our neighbor, Mama Manu, who comes nearly every day to do wash. He is eager to “help” her and show her things he is doing, and his antics often, of course, make her smile. Her daughter, Nila (eight months younger than Enoch, but the same size) is his favorite friend. When she comes with Mama Manu, Enoch drapes his arm around her neck, tries to hug her, and gives her his books and toys to play with. Unfortunately, when she doesn’t respond to his gestures, he’s also been known to hit her with whatever book or implement he is trying to offer her. We’re working on that. Even so, Mama Manu is often found shaking her head over Enoch and I frequently hear her say, “Enoch, you are funny!” She even knows how to translate many of his Enoch-isms, which sometimes are English, sometimes Swahili, often a mix, and rarely perfectly enunciated.

But by far, Enoch’s favorite is our neighbor, Auntie Jane. Enoch is potty training, and these days he’s often found walking around without pants. I try to keep him in a long shirt, for modesty’s sake, but sometimes, his wardrobe is limited and we just go with the flow. I try to keep him in the house if he’s not presentable, but whenever Auntie Jane walks by outside, she usually shouts, “Wapi Enoch?” (“Where is Enoch?”) and of course, wherever he  is, he RUNS to the gate to greet her. And she always obliges by picking him up and greeting him (even if he is pants-less), and talking to him about whatever she is doing. When she comes to the house to visit, she often ends up engaged in a game of hide-and-seek with Enoch, who positions himself under the table or around the corner and asks, “Wapi me, Aunt Jane?” He regularly gets picked up to go over to Auntie Jane’s house, where she or Nyanya (“Grandmother”) make him chai or roast him some maize, one of his favorite treats.

Enoch and Auntie Jane in the early days of their friendship. Even at 10 months, he wasn’t too young to enjoy molasses candy after she came back from the market.

Indeed, children are a blessing from the Lord. Watching Enoch thrive here in Kenya is just one more reminder of how fast these days fly by and how thankful we need to be for the way each one fills a special place in the family, and in our larger community.


6 thoughts on “Prince Charming

  1. I saw this title this morning but had to jump on the bus to head to Nairobi. This is my first opportunity to read it and I really enjoyed it. He is so big. Yes the term eh is often used. I must say at first I found it annoying. Insufficient and lazy. Now? Eh, it’s ok. Keep up the writing, and God bless you!

  2. What a blessing to see how Enoch “belongs” there, and to see his ability to learn two languages as he grows–easier for him than for all the rest of you! How wonderful that God sent so many to love on Enoch as part of your “pay” for daring to go and love others. So sweet! My little will be two this month, and every day we are sharing his new cute (or not so cute) phrases and antics. It never gets old, does it? Sweet babes! But you just wait… you’re in for a treat, because God’s gift-wrappping of your oldest is about to come all the way off and you’re going to watch him turn into a man before your eyes–the man he was destined to be by God, the man you’ve wondered about and waited to see since the day he was born. I was surprised to find that is more amazing by far than the newborn babes! God bless you and Marc, and all your “babes.”

    1. Cam, it is a sweet blessing, indeed. 🙂 And I am patiently waiting for that “unwrapping” of my oldest which, yes, is happening much too quickly. I’m still trying to enjoy the time we have left. God is good. Pray you and yours are doing well!

  3. How sweet! I can just picture it all since Enoch and Ethan are so close to the same age. I also love the picture of simple life and community that runs through the story–so many natural connections. We have been in a process of trying to discern God’s leading for our family. Life in the country has been sweet and healing in many ways, but we are feeling that perhaps God is calling us back to a more populated area so that our daily interactions can serve as ministry opportunities. We’d be grateful for your prayers and any insight that you feel like sharing.

    May God continue to bless you and your labors of love, Lorna

    1. Lorna, I’ve been thinking of you and *almost* sent an email off to you yesterday, but time got away from me. I’m on my way to write more now. 🙂

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