The Observer (Kampala)

22 November 2012

Uganda: Just Writing - Graciously Learning Life's Little Beginnings

As I write this, the little guy just made fourteen months a few days ago and I'm very glad for that. Only fourteen months it's been but the things he has taught me... He doesn't even know who I am exactly. In his mind, I am sure I'm just another structure his eyes see every other day.

I am learning from the master anyway and feel like I will graduate summa cum laude come the end of my studies. At this age, he now walks and bubbles gibberish words in an attempt to have a conversation with me.

When I eagerly ask what he's saying exactly, he responds with more gibberish sentences, which draw laughter from me. He then follows suit and laughs like a circus imitator.

It's because of Jordi (that's his name though I call him Jo) that I now know that the persistent itching in the mouth that babies experience from around nine months is no cause to panic because their teeth are growing. And letting them chew on something, say a chicken bone, mitigates the itching.

I also know that a child should never be left alone. I don't care what your excuse is; you just can't leave a child alone even for a minute. A child can do a lot in just that short period that you will be amazed.

Right now I'm Jo's best buddy, considering the fact that he likes hanging around me whenever I'm near him. He hands me his toys, begging me to play with him and occasionally leaves his mother's arms and runs to me. When he cries, he runs searching for me but this is only after a fruitless search for his mother.

Now, wouldn't you say we are best buddies? Before Jo, I knew very little about babies. I had no idea that babies are bathed a week after birth. Some mothers do it earlier than a week, which is fine, but the fact that it's done days after birth shocked me because I thought they got bathed immediately after birth.

Don't get me started on the herbal stuff they use for babies' first baths. Apparently, it's supposed to cleanse their skin, making them smoother and softer. Watching Jo go about his business, only including me once in a while is amazing. I learn something new almost every day and just the other day I officially introduced myself as "Uncle Mike", which is who I am.

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