Let me set the scene
It is Thursday afternoon 4:42pm. Kendi, Keyo and I are sitting in the balcony, doing some crafting, and watching the neighborhood kids play in the street below.
Jay (not his real name) 4 year’s old
Dora, Jay’s mama (not her real name)
Kendi: Mama, you see that boy there? (She points at Jay and another little boy running around with a ball)
Me: Yeah (I look up briefly from our crafting)
Kendi: The big one, not the small one.
Me: Uh huh. Keyo, press it down like this. Look at mama.
Kendi: The one with the black shirt.
Me: Yeah yeah, what about him? (Curiosity is killing me. Keyo can figure out the sticking by himself)
Kendi: OK, he’s Jay. He’s my friend.
Kendi: But, promise you won’t tell Baba.
Me: OK, I won’t tell Baba (seriously Keyo, how hard can the sticking be?)
Kendi: Do you promise?
Me: Yes, I promise
Kendi: Say ‘I promise’
Me: (Losing patience fast! But I know that she’s about to drop the bomb on me so I must maintain my composure. My back is actually starting to hurt with anticipation) I promise I won’t tell Baba (wait till Martin hears this)
Kendi: (Smiling and covering her face) OK, so the other day we were playing back there. At the back of the house
Me: Mm hm…
Kendi: And he kissed me
Me: Oh really? (I need an Oscar for how calm my voice sounds right now. Jeez, even my face has not changed. I require actual applause)
Kendi: (Nodding sheepishly)
Me: On the mouth?
Me: Did you kiss him back?
Me: Ah OK. And? (There’s obviously more)
Kendi: Then, we were pretending to have a wedding. And he was touching my belly like this (lifts up her shirt to demonstrate rubbing her belly)
Me: Oh I see. And?
Kendi: We were pretending that I had a baby in my stomach (bursts out giggling)
Me: Oh OK (seriously, where are the Academy people, if only they could see me now)
Kendi: Yeah. That’s it
Me: OK, msichana, you know you can only kiss your family right?
Kendi: Yeah, like you and Baba and Keyo and Ninja (our cat) (more giggling) No, I don’t want to kiss Ninja, he’s nasty
Me: OK, you don’t have to kiss Ninja (smiling amicably)
Kendi: But I can’t kiss Ruth (their nanny)
Me: No, you can’t. And you can’t kiss Jay
Me: And mama, you can’t play secret games. No playing at the back of the house, where no one can see you OK?
Kendi: OK, mama
Me: Good girl
I pick up my phone and message Dora, ‘Hey Dora, Kitt here (Kendi’s mum). Today, Kendi told me that her and Jay were playing a wedding pretend game, where they kissed on the mouth and she lifted her shirt and he was touching her tummy. I told her she’s not allowed to kiss non family members. And not allowed to play secret games. I thought you should know’.
Dora called me!
We laughed. She was horrified. She sent him straight to bed after reading my message. I was amused. It turns out she’s actually pregnant and Jay touches her stomach regularly.
What an afternoon.
Afterword: My parents raised my sisters and I very slowly. There was no rush. It wasn’t a race. One of the slowest things they did was to let us know that they were completely alright with boyfriends. We could bring them home, we didn’t need to hide and sneak around. Boys were not bad, they didn’t need to be chased away (although many of them ran away after seeing my 6’2″ dad in the doorway). We very quickly learned that the boys that weren’t interested in coming home, were no good. We dropped them! I really want Kendi and Keyo to know this as well. Bring whoever you’re interested in. Don’t hide. There’s nothing you’re doing wrong. And you can always talk to me. No matter what!