Kendi: Mama, are you 1?
She asks in the sing song voice she uses after she’s sung ‘happy birthday’ at the top of her lungs. Its my birthday and I’ve just picked her up from school. I love our rides from school every day, it doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, they are a huge blessing to us. I get to see how Kendi’s brain works without the distractions of home, and she gets to have my undivided attention for the time it takes us to get home.
Me: No doll
I answer right on cue, because I know where this is going. She will keep asking, ‘are you 2? are you 3? are you 4?’ until she gets to my age. From her experience, that’s not too far off. People in her life usually say, ‘yes’ triumphantly, at around 3 to 5.
Kendi: Are you 19?
I am in hysterics now, because she’s counted all the way to here and still nothing.
Kendi: Are you 20?
Me: No, sorry.
Now this is so funny because she can only count to 20. I am waiting with bated breathe. Kendi is the most dramatic person in my life. Save for Keyo, her younger brother and Apondi, her grandmother (my mother).
She doesn’t dissapoint.
Kendi: Ai mama! You’re not numbers?!
She’s yelling and putting her hands on her head (I catch a glimpse in my rear view mirror). I laugh and laugh and laugh. This child will surely kill me one day. I love that she’s decided I am not any age, because she’s reached her highest number and I am still not that age. She knows that I must be an age ‘after’ 20 but what? What comes after 20? Is it Wednesday, grey or perfume? Or any other thing that she doesn’t fully comprehend?
Kendi: Mama, why you’re laughing at me?
Me: (wipes genuine tears away) mos sweetheart, ok anyieri. Anyiero nikech (sorry, I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing because) you’re too cute. I’m 32.
Kendi: Ok, you’re 32. Mama, are you 1? Are you 2?
We do the whole dance again until 20. And after 20, is the mysterious and now familiar 32. It doesn’t matter what age I am, just as long as I am one.