By Aaron Aroriza, Uganda:
I met Helga with a kid a few days ago. Yes – her kid. And no I had no hand in that. She is married…er cohabiting. You see, I was too slow. And she was quite fast. So she moved on. I too moved on, quite slowly, in the opposite direction. But it's such a small world and evidently quite round too because here we were again, facing each other. Helga was wearing a wide smile, her eyes almost tearing, her hands softly tapping the little angel that lay peacefully on her chest with a rhythm.
I should have let the little angel sleep in peace. But I didn't. And she taught me a little lesson in 'getting what you want.' At first she looked unhappy and uninterested when I woke her up. A few minutes later, she began to make some chuckles and a few jigs. It wasn't long before she was climbing and playing me like her toy. She showed interest in my watch, a watch Helga had always told me she liked, and struggled to get it off my hand. 'She has her mother's taste', I remember thinking as I unclasped the watch off my wrist before she could bite me.
A few minutes later, when I tried to get my watch back as I was leaving, she wouldn't have any of it. I tried to reason with her. She still wouldn't have any of it. And she didn't even say a word. She didn't have to say anything. She hasn't learnt to talk yet. But she has already learnt how to take things she likes. And she made me know in no uncertain terms that she liked my watch and was going to take it whether I liked it or not. When I insisted, she screamed and cried and everyone in the café looked at me like I was a child molester. I quit and a few minutes later she was all laughing and puffing like the victor she was. I saw the wry smile on Helga's face and knew that was the last time I was going to see that watch.
It reminded me of the wry expression on a certain super market attendant as she watched a kid grab a chocolate bar. While the mum was still trying to explain that she didn't have money and that chocolates were bad for teeth and general health, the kid just un-wrapped the bar and started munching away. If the mother didn't have the money indeed, this was now the right time for her to figure out where she was going to get it from. But it's this other kid who amused me most. The little guy grabbed a toy and when the mum tried to snatch it, he screamed like hell, made a scene in the super market and then zoomed outside in a feat – with the toy still intact in his little hands. The mum now had two choices; to either run after the little rascal or pay at the counter. And she made the rational choice. The choice her kid had already figured she would make.
You see, kids aren't as irrational as we really think they are. Yes, they are irritating sometimes. But they are far from irrational. They have their ways of forcing us, the adults, into making the kids' premeditated decisions. Helga's little angel won her mother the watch she never had the tactics to take all along. Whether I think of her as an angel or a little rascal now, she didn't let me have my way like Helga always did. Not while she watched.
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