The sunburn 

First I need it to be noted that I wear sunblock everyday. Yesterday I had applied said sun blocker but was unprepared for 3 hour walk, in the hot African sun . It does not hurt much, it is not a bad burn. In fact I would say it’s the sweetest sun burn I have ever had. . .

Maria and Gift have been on a three day all out brawl. It’s exhausting. Everyone here has their own advice but it’s the same every time, “just beat em already! Your their mom, give em a spoon or two!” 

From the moment the sun comes up to the time it sets: Maria will say something snotty but quietly and Gift… won’t be so quite. Then I get mad and tell them both to knock it off, which neither of them  understands. 

This morning the sun had not yet dawned the morning with it’s glory, and the girls were yelling at each other. Gift was crying, which she does under any stress doesn’t mean she is sad,  she was angry.

“Lord, God, Father of all…. PLEASE fix this.” I fervently prayed.

I went into their room and said, “Lakea!(stop!)” But it didn’t do a thing. 

“Bosse!(Quit!)” Gift stopped but Maria was determined to tell me all of what happened.

“CHA!(DON’T!), I don’t care who started it, just stop.” I said calmly but firmly.  Maria wouldn’t have it. 

“But mom! She is doing “xyz” and saying “xyz” and I am giving her good council!” Maria said, as strongly as she could without yelling at me. 

“Maria, good council is best given when the person comes to you for advice, not when You grind it into them. Gift is crying, that’s not good council. She is 13 you are 19. She knows anger. She knows beatings. She needs to learn patience and kindness.  You are not teaching her patience or kindness, you are only showing her the same anger she already knows. If you want to kill fire you don’t add fire you add water, the enemy of fire. If you want to kill anger and childish behaviour you use kindness and patience, the enemy of angery children. Mavawa?(understand?)”

“Yes.” She said.  And laid back down on the bed. 

“And you,” I looked at Gift. “Come eat breakfast.”

Alone with Gift in the kitchen I watched her choke down a hot peanut butter and pride sandwich. I know that physical touch is her love language so I grabbed her hand and attempted a conversation. No response. I was very kind and patient. No response.  She wouldn’t even look at me. I could hear my own words to Maria and I was feeling like a fool. 

I pulled the shirt off of my shoulder and pointed at my sunburn. “Do you see this?” I pressed my fingers into the redder part and watched the white imprints quickly refill with the burning red. “Mawana, you were born stronger then the sun. But me? Eeee… No. The sun will beat me every time.  If I’m in the sun long enough I could die.”

She laughed a little like I was joking.

“Serious! Much longer yesterday and I would have blisters, longer than that and I would be covered in soars. Longer still and I could get heat stroke and if I stay out longer I will die.” She was looking at me now. 

“The sun is mean to me.  But the saddest part is- I LOVE the sun. I love the way it feels, I could spend all day in the sun.  But the sun? Will only hurt me.” 

I looked at her eyes with all the gentleness I could give and said. “Mawana(baby), you are the sun. No matter how much you burn me I still love you. Zulow, laylow, maowa (yesterday, today, tomorrow) I will always love my sunshine.” Then I pulled down my shirt over my shoulder again and pressed my fingers into the deepest part of the red, “eeee, still hurts though.” I smiled at her and went to my room to get my coffee. 

Then I heard the sweetest sound of all, the click clack of marbles as she set up our usual morning bow bow game.

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