Two shifts back to back. On Tuesday there will be three. The few hours can seem longer especially when there are not enough children per volunteer. Or at the orphans' bedtime-- especially difficult at T Orphanage. The children throw shoes, hide under beds, refuse to brush teeth. Roles reverse at bedtime--we are the vulnerable and preyed upon.
Bedtime was always the worst at my house too. The rituals, the delays, the "Just one more book," please. Little children sneaking down the stairs once we'd started the movie. Yes, I should have enjoyed it more, but as a parent, I was just as vulnerable as I am now. Children are tricky little beasts.
So while we are traveling to El Maiz restaurant, past our dinner time, while I wait cramped on the last bench in the back of a van to make sure they can feed a group of ten, I feel overwhelmed, pooped out, done. Finit.
I distract myself from the pity party by texting Deb, and bless my soul, I am a whiner. No more humanitarian trips! Too hard.
Deb returns the lament. She just spent a day with seventh graders in credit recovery.
The conversation continues in the same tone until I climb out of the van and walk a short distance on a misty, warm night, in Ecuador.
The restaurant is lovely, especially when we are seated on the covered patio. The tables are for four, but we ask to push them together. Finally, we are seated as one big happy family at the end of a day in which we have given our all.
The stories and laughs, begin to flow. The discussions that follow fill my heart with gratitude. The ambiance, the company, the country...the tasks. Outside, al fresco, the day is rescued.