There has been an unexpected and welcome turn of events here in our house. We have a babysitter!
I'm actually looking for someone more long term who can travel with us and hang out with the kids. Just enough so that I can write, and sometimes hang out with Chinua while he plays concerts in the evenings, or go to a meditation in the middle of the day. It's a bit of a pipe dream, but we'll see.
For the time being, I've been asking around here. "Do you know of anyone who can watch kids? They have to speak good English."
Many of you might remember Jaya. Since we moved out of the house that Jaya lived in, I've always had a neighbor helping me for a couple of hours in the mornings. For me, the things that are oh-so-necessary, but really bust my butt when I'm homeschooling with a baby and daily meditations happening on my rooftop and communal lunches (in Goa) are the floor cleaning and the dinner dishes.
In Goa, my next-door neighbor, Maria, helps me. I love Maria, oh how I love her. She is like a brilliant shining star in my day, always laughing and joking. (She was on my dad's Happy Birthday video, in the beginning.)
When we first got here, we met a woman named Tripta who lost her husband to cancer two months before we arrived. She is responsible for her elderly in-laws and her three teenaged kids, and now her husband is gone. He used to run a shop, but she is dependent on their guest house for income now, a house that is heavily mortgaged. We have been looking into other ways that we can help her, but when I asked her if there is anyone she knew who might want a cleaning job, she almost started jumping up and down with her hand in the air. She needed the job.
Tripta calls Solo "Giptu." I truly think that "Giptu" has become such a healing part of Tripta's life. In the end, playing with him for a few minutes every day doesn't really make her life better, but it's one time that she is really really smiling. She's always suggesting that when I go back to "Israel" (I keep telling her that I'm not from Israel, but she either forgets or doesn't believe me) that I leave Solo with her. And then she tells him that I'm not his mama, she is. He is such a perfect little baby for India, too, where everyone pinches cheeks and talks to him. When Tripta talks to him he smiles back and touches her face and gabbles away and gives her round-mouthed baby kisses on her cheeks.
One day a girl came over who was interested in watching the kids. She was with another neighbor of ours. She was very shy and wouldn't really talk to Chinua or I. I mentioned that we could give it a try, having her watch the kids. But all she would say to the neighbor was, "What time do I come? And how much will you pay me?" Chinua was pretty sure that it wouldn't work. The kids are pretty rambunctious. I mean, they are kids.
Tripta was at the house at the time and the next day she brought her thirteen-year-old son over. Ankit can watch your kids, was the gist of what she said. At first I was skeptical, because he's only thirteen, but then we came up with a plan.
So now Ankit comes over every morning with Tripta, and plays with the kids outside for a couple of hours while she works. I sit in my back bedroom with my manuscript strewn all over my bed, writing, and the kids run and scream and play. Sometimes they play soccer, sometimes they climb trees, and sometimes they hide behind boulders. It's pretty much perfect in many ways. Tripta is here for back up, I am here for back up, and the kids have someone a little more mature than them to play with, someone who is also almost a kid himself. It's pretty fun.
The one bit is that I don't trust him with Solo yet. So if Solo is sleeping, woo hoo! If not, I type with one eye on Solo while he does the inch worm around the room and chews on my books. It's still better than nothing.
In this way I've been writing 1000 words a day. Not the super greatest, but not bad for a homeschooling/cooking/community-minded/mother of four.
The other practical change I made to my life I made the day before yesterday. As I mentioned, someone is not in the daily family picture for a couple of weeks. So grocery shopping has been an issue. Grocery shopping means walking down the mountainside with a backpack, usually in the morning when the vegetable sellers still have vegetables. The other day I was completely stressed out, and I had to sit back on my heels and investigate why.
I was trying to get the kids working on personal schoolwork while I got ready to get the groceries, so my sister could supervise them working, and I was keeping one eye on the clock so that I could be back in time to write. It was not all that sustainable. So I gave the owner of one of the shops down the hill a call. And forty minutes later, my groceries were delivered. It was like magic.
I'm known for doing things the hard way, at least in my family. So this easy thing of asking someone to bring me my groceries was an amazing discovery for me. And like that, school time got much easier. Things are often time-constrained here. I can't go in the afternoons because often the veggie stalls are all out of spinach, or peas, or carrots. And I can't go in the mornings because of school, and all that it takes for me to get my family ready in the morning. So it was amazing to find a solution.
Now all I have to do is find the right tailor... starts and stops and starts and stops. Life.