Monday, July 22, 2013

Accidental Adoption

My French has greatly improved.  I study it like it is my job (which I suppose it sort of is) and every day I get better.  Cameroonians often are amazed at how well I speak when I tell them I learned it in country and arrived only ten months ago.  But the thing is I'm mostly just good at pretending I know what is going on.  There are certain conversations and phrases that I know so well I can fly through them as well as anyone.  Often these are just filler I've learned specifically for this.  Back when I lived in Italy, that was my game.  To get really good at certain bits and see how long I could fool an Italian into thinking I was native.  Problems arise from this game.  A) people assume you are better than you are and thus don't clarify anything and B) you can easily miss key information and to admit such is to lose the game.  For example: you might hear a sentence from your host-mom like "We will come and visit you and I will leave after a couple days."  It is really easy to miss the key pronoun change from "we" to "I".  A mistake like that might have you agreeing to some visitors and then finding yourself entirely surprised when momma departs leaving three children behind.

What can I say about my new predicament?  I suppose I'm glad I have two bedrooms and that mine has a lock so that I can pretend I'm not an accidental father from time to time.  There are some added benefits.  The oldest can cook and doesn't like cous-cous.  That's a definite plus.  I'd also have to say that all other cooking is better, even the fish (I shall never completely escape).  My house is cleaner than ever before.  They clean the whole thing every morning.  Let's see, multiply by zero… yea, it is been mopped infinitely more since their arrival.  Thank god they all speak French unlike the barbarian children of Mbakaou who know nothing but one of their tribal languages.  The kids have even done a decent job of defending my home against the revived onslaught of interest generated by their arrival in that local heathen population.  I finally have a tiny army I can command against them.

Still, I get no peace.  Even know I'm bombarded by questions I simply don't know the answer to or why I would care.  "Who moved the pot in the kitchen?"   "Why is the bookcase open?  It's ok I closed it."  "What are you doing?  Is that English?  How can you read; it is so small."  For the first time those boring moments at the Health Center where I've no idea how to occupy my time seem like blessings.  I think I'll find myself there more often.