Monday, November 06, 2006

Instant parent

I don't think I've blogged about this already, but stop me if I have.

Stirrup Queens blogged about "finding a baby on the doorstep"; well, this almost happened to me. As in, it wasn't a baby, it was a ten-year-old boy.

When I lived in East Africa, lots of the neighbourhood kids used to come round and play on my sizeable balcony and watch my video and when there was food, they would eat. A group of older teenagers moved into a house opposite and one of the kids that was hanging around at mealtimes was A, who was 10. Turned out he was living with them, doing odd jobs, he had been living on the street, and I found out he wasn't enrolled in school, and asked around - my housekeeper suggested we needed to find out if he had parents before doing anything about this. So we put the word out on the bush telegraph and his dad turned up.

A's father was alcoholic and his mother had died when he was a young child. His father was more than happy for us to feed and clothe him so long as he didn't have to. So he moved in to the spare room. When he came he had only one set of clothes, no underwear, no toothbrush or comb, no school clothes, I think he may have had some flipflops but no proper shoes. Lest you think "well, he's a small African child", most of the children in my town had all those things, and their mothers would have been ashamed to let them out of the house in the state he was in. He didn't know how to wash his own clothes, and the other children laughed at him when they found this out, because they had all been doing theirs since they were small.

There is a lot more to this story, which I may tell you at one point, but at the time I remember thinking "well, I didn't think my first experience of parenting would be a stroppy 10-year-old boy". I was only just old enough to be his mother, realistically, but I was at least an adult. I have also had a lot of people comment "oh, how good of you that was" but really, was I going to chuck him back on the streets? What else could I do?


Thalia said...

ah you've just inspired my own memory. Not as clear an example of mothering as yours, but something interesting to blog about, anyway.

How did you end your relationship with this boy?

perceval said...

That's interesting - it must inspire you with more confidence as you set about adopting. I had no experience of mothering when we had to face that decision, so I was quite apprehensive ...

The Town Criers said...

Does the story continue? Where is the boy now? It's a fascinating look at mothering.