‘Mummy look, I found a friend’ is what was probably going through Suleyana’s mind as she dragged my baby all over Habesha, an Ethiopian restaurant I love.
She ‘found’ Kendi and determined that she was a friend.
Children are adorable. They do not judge one another as adults. They ‘find’ friends. Not ‘make’ them like us.
They find them sitting on the swing set at playgroup. They find them in the wardrobes of mummy’s friend’s house. They find them on the playground at church. They are hanging upside down on the monkey bars just waiting to be discovered. They are often under beds at birthday parties. Sometimes, friends are lurking behind corners in the emergency room. Sometimes, they are stalking you while you shop in the mall. Sometimes, they are waiting to way lay you on your way to the bathroom at the restaurant.
And, they come in all shapes and sizes. Friends can be funny looking or just funny (and together you laugh and laugh about everything). They can be violent and try to pull you along with them to meet their mother ‘over there’. Once in a while, they are very sweet and kiss you when you meet. Friends can be big or small, boys or girls, old or young, loud or quiet.
Tawi, my younger sister, Kendi and I were ‘ambushed’ by a little girl last week. We were siting in the restaurant, having just finished our food and getting ready to leave. Kendi was off Tawi’s lap and standing next to me, looking at the gardens. We suddenly heard a high pitched tiny voice yell ‘toto‘ (baby/ child) from around the corner and tiny footsteps approaching at a high speed. A little girl showed up, screamed ‘toto‘ again and grabbed Kendi’s hand saying ‘come’. It was more an instruction than a request.
Kendi resisted, I don’t think she’s ever met anybody more forceful than her. This little girl had an even bigger personality than hers. She was taken aback. She looked at me. I smiled and said ‘Mama, ka ok idwa dhi, wach no!’ (If you don’t want to go, say no!) She tried to pull her hand away from the girl and said, ‘nooooo’ in the whiniest voice in the world. My little lady was intimidated. A friend had found her and was not letting her go.
After a few more of this ‘come’ from the little girl, ‘wach no’ from me and ‘noooo’ from Kendi, she finally decided to go with it and see where the adventure led. After all, that little girl’s parents must have taught her that ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try try try again’. She was no match for Kendi. Or maybe Kendi was tired (OK, now I’m just trying to defend her).
Tawi got her camera out and started to follow the two friends. Suleyana’s intention, (we soon found out her name) it seemed, was to take Kendi to meet her mother who was cooking in the kitchen. By the time, they were down the garden path, up the steps at the front of the restaurant, and through the main doorway, Kendi was done. She removed her hand from Suleyana’s, turned around and said to Tawi, ‘Tata’ almost close to tears. ‘Ating’i?’ (I carry you?) Tawi offered. She nodded enthusiastically and Tawi picked her up.
But her friend was not done. There would be falling down, pushing and shoving, hugging and smiling from there. It was a short friendship but it was real.
Just like that.
I’m going to find some friends of my own today.