After updating everyone on how we got here, I thought it would be fun to share about what our first night here was like. The week leading up to moving the kids in, I kept a constant list of things we would need to go over with them when they moved in. We were trying to look at it from the eyes of about a 3 year old knowing that they were coming into living conditions that had never known before. Things on the list included not putting items into electrical sockets, teaching the boys how to hit the toilet when using the bathroom, and not leaving the sink turned on.
The first thing we had to teach the kids was how to turn the lights on and off. They did not understand that it was as simple as flipping the switch up for on and down for off. If you think your kids are bad about leaving lights on try it with 19 kids who had never had electricity before. The next thing the kids wanted to do was shower. They had been asking the whole week before when we were just using the house for tutoring if they could shower and we hadn’t let them yet. We knew that there was no way we could just send them in to shower. There had to be lessons before. I first walked the girls in and talked about the toilets. We talked about the fact that you can actually put toilet paper down the toilet and that they needed to flush it after using it (this was all new to them). Next we focused on the showers. I showed them how to turn them off and on and to be honest how to use a shower with running water. Before this they pumped water from a well into a bucket and used the bucket to shower. After that we talked about the sinks and the fact that when you are done using it, you turn the water off (something we are still working on…it’s hard to get used to that when you have never done it before). We then repeated this routine with the boys and Matt did some more specific teaching about “hitting the target” (another thing we are still working on). The kids showered and then we all sat down together for our first “family meeting”.
First on the agenda for the meeting was to tell them how happy we are to have them here and how much we love them. They knew this but needed to hear it. A lot were still pretty shell shocked about what the day had held (Matt and I were too…my Dad and Brad went out to get us some food at one point and I don’t even remember eating it). Even today when I try to remember that day it is very fuzzy. Next we went over house rules (which we would continue to add to and still do on a daily basis). After that we put on a movie…which has always been one of the kids most favorite things to do. This time instead of watching it at the orphanage on our laptop we had a projector with a speaker. This was exciting for them.
After the movie came the best part. We sent them all to bed but before leaving them in their rooms, went around to each child, told them we love them, and kissed them goodnight. For those of us that grew up in a household where this happened every night (like I did) this may not seem like a big deal. Keep in mind these kids had never had this happen before tonight. There was no one there to do this for them until now. The girls giggled all through it as I worked my way around to every bed and I told them that this is what my parents did with me every night. This is a routine we do every night now and almost every night Malayika still asks if my mom did this for me every night when I was a little girl and I always tell her yes. It is almost as if she cannot believe the thought of having someone tell you they love you every night. The kids went to sleep (after about 5 more trips to the bathroom-flushing toilets are an exciting thing) and Matt and I finally crashed. I remember laying in bed not being able to sleep and not being able to really comprehend what all had happened that day. It is still hard to believe that every night I am tucking our kids in and telling them I love them.