Mum was telling me how one day she was coming from the market,carrying my little sister Mich in one of those baby carrying thingies, and it started to rain. So she took off running to get to the house before the baby was soaked. She looked down and noticed that Mich had a worried look on her face. So, she started to laugh as happily as she could and scream out, ‘koth chwe‘ (It’s raining). Mich started to laugh and scream too. They got to the house soaking wet but they were both laughing and happy.
To this day, Mich swims till her skin turns grey. I think that first experience with rain might have something to do with her love of water.
I am so afraid of thunder. The rain, I really love. The lightening, I don’t care about. But the thunder, I am so terrified of, that when I see that flash, I hold my breath. My mother, the same mother who was laughing in the rain, is also afraid of thunder. She realized too late that she had passed that fear onto me. She would startle whenever there was thunder while she held me as a baby. Now, I have the same irrational fear.
This could have been avoided had she put me down every time there was thunder. I would never have known her fear and subsequently share in it. Because babies at a very young age, look to their mothers to gauge what is safe. Martin and I have noticed that when we introduce Kendi to someone new, she looks at us to see how we are holding our faces. If we are smiling and talking in high pitched happy voices, then she’s happy to be held by the new person. If not, she will hang onto us like her life depends upon it.
I now know that when we hear a loud sound and I startle, Kendi will cry. I must then quickly rearrange my face, laugh and say, ‘mano ang’o? boom, boom’ (What is that?). This makes her smile and realize that sounds won’t actually hurt her. She needn’t be afraid of the thunder like her mother, and her mother before her.