Willa wouldn’t nap today. Charlotte doesn’t have school on Thursdays. I’d sent the housekeeper to a first aid course, so I was alone with the kids all day. By 2:00 pm, I was pretty grumpy. “This transition never ends!” I moaned to Dan over the phone, during a 15-minute bitch session. “I am stuck in this house! And our new driver just informed me he can’t start until the end of the month!”
While it’s true that getting used to life in Addis can take some time, I don’t actually have a lot to complain about, and I know that. Some days here, it just starts to feel hard, even when it’s not. The reason I complained about being stuck in the house is that my back has been all messed up for about a week now (happens to me every year!), and I didn’t want to carry Willa on a walk and exacerbate the problem. We have a single BOB stroller which I often take out on walks with just one kid at a time, but the double City Mini stroller isn’t tough enough for Addis streets. But after ruining Dan’s afternoon with my complaining, I decided (with some coaxing from my Up band) that I needed to get some exercise. I already have a massage booked for this weekend (at the high-end spa near my house, it costs about $15 for a 90-minute massage), so my back will just have to deal with it. Willa seems okay with the Mei Tai these days, which isn’t too horrible to carry her in. For a while she would only tolerate the Baby Bjorn. I was getting sick of all the comments about how terrible the Baby Bjorn is for your back. (People have literally emailed me about it with deep concern after seeing a photo on Facebook with me wearing the Bjorn.) No shit; it’s the worst. “Have you tried an Ergo?” Yes, I tried the damn Ergo. We own a Bjorn, an Ergo, a Moby, and a Mei Tai. Willa hates them all, except for the Bjorn. Every kid is different. And by the way, how did I acquire 4 baby carriers and 2 fancy strollers (we have 2 other “normal” strollers, too)? This is all so unnecessary. But it happens.
Now, where to walk? A self-serve frozen yogurt shop (exactly like the ones in the U.S.) opened up about 3 blocks away. I’ve been meaning to take Charlotte there since it opened. Frozen yogurt is good for you, right? Right? So off we went. Unlike our route to the supermarket, there are no sidewalks on the way to the fro-yo shop, so I haven’t attempted it before with the kids. But today, traffic was light, and Charlotte was very good about holding my hand. After all, there was a treat in it for her.
On all our walks, every single person we pass starts a conversation with us. There are a million ways to greet someone in Amharic, and I only know about 5, so a lot of the time I just smile and nod. When I surprise them by answering them in Amharic, they ask how much of the language I know, but just say “tnsh, tnsh!” (a little). “I have an astamari (teacher) and will get better, kas bakas (slowly). They love that. People with good English skills will sometimes walk with us for a while. They ask Charlotte a lot of questions about her name (especially its meaning–every name has a meaning here, so I had to do some research so that I could tell them it means “free man”), her age, and her favorite color. This is probably not a great thing for a little girl who already believes the world revolves around her.
We enjoyed our chocolate frozen yogurt with Oreos on top. (Why choose fruit when you can have Oreos? I am a terrible mother.) At the table next to ours, two well-dressed Ethiopian men typing on their iPhones shared a cup of yogurt with two spoons. I appreciate their willingness to share, even though the cups are free and the price is based solely on weight (3.4 birr per 10 g, or about $2.50 for a very small dish), but why not chat with each other instead of obsessing over their email? Modern life, man.
After we finished, Charlotte insisted on buying a dish for Gazaw. I really didn’t want to, mostly for logistical reasons (I already have two kids to worry about, no sidewalks, and now a dish of quickly-melting frozen yogurt? too much!). But she was simply so loud about it, and let’s face it, she’s spoiled. She gets her way. So we bought him some. When we got home, he was so excited. “This is my first time having ice cream, madam!” Wow. Now I felt really bad for almost not getting him any. And then I had to explain that it wasn’t ice cream, but yogurt. He seemed a bit confused, but he also seemed to like it.
I looked down as we were about to go back inside, and Willa was fast asleep. Finally. So we took another lap around the block.
I added about 3,000 steps on my Up band during our walk, I feel better about everything, and I had something to write about. Isn’t exercise amazing?