I’ve started talking in Spanish in my head. I think this is a good step, but I know that it is my own made up version of what I think I know. My comprehension has definitely improved, I don’t know about my speaking, which is making me really nervous to teach English. I guess I got this assignment partly because I will be here for a while and partly because it was figured if I know something I can automatically teach it. I kind of compromised and agreed to teach the younger kids so that my Spanish doesn’t have to be as strong. I will also be in each classroom for 45 minutes a day, but only one day a week, so hopefully my lesson will get better as the week goes on. I have chosen topics for each week and have also tried to come up with a fun activity. At the end I’m hoping to put on some sort of concert with songs like Old McDonald, Head, Shoulders, and songs I found to teach days of the week and months. But before I get too far ahead I need to see if I can actually teach this first.
I have also already chosen which baby I want to adopt. His name is Ludwin, and he is approximately a year old, (his exact birthday is unknown). He has the biggest brown eyes, and is so happy, except when you put him down. He literally wants to be hugged all the time. I think I relate with him because he has a corner. He likes to stand in this corner with a toy, but he mainly likes to just observe all the other babies playing. Then when I walk in he runs to me to pick him up and loves to just sit and cuddle.
The baby house is complete madness. There are 17 babies ranging from a month to nearly four. The oldest girl there, is past the point of moving up but she is having a difficult time potty training, which is necessary for the next house. I know she knows exactly what to do, but wants to hold on to being a baby. She loves the attention they get during diaper changing time, and literally giggles when she is getting diapered at night. I think that it would be better if they just put her in the next house, and she would have the example of the other kids. Plus she would look like the baby if she was the only one still using diapers. Unfortunately too, she is really behind developmentally. Because she only communicates with babies, she doesn’t talk, and doesn’t know colors or shapes. She outgrown toys available and while she looks older in size, expressively, she is the same as an 18 month old.
There are five girls who work and live at the baby house full- time, I including the house mother. They are truly amazing and love all of the children but there is just not enough to go around, especially since one person is constantly with Miguel, the newborn. It is literally like each girl having quadruplets. The house is so much more than “plop a bottle in their mouth” like some orphanages, but at the same time the babies are under-stimulated, with no books and very limited toys, and always in competition for attention. If you provide a lap about four will come up and fight for it. The other infants and a couple of the crawlers spend a lot of time in swings with nothing to look at or feel, and as a result, the backs of all the babies heads are flattened around the soft spot. When they are teething they have nothing but the toys of the other kids and their fingers to relive the pressure.
They are also so quiet, disciplined and accustomed to their routine. When food is in front of them they all use a spoon to eat it very quickly and can hold a bottle at a young age. It fascinates me what a one year old can learn when they have to or they don’t eat. Before meals, they pray and every single one will sit with hands clasped together, it is so cute! They can call each other by name and refer to the house mother as Mama. It’s nice to know that even in an orphanage “mama” is one of the first words learned. Their learning however is based on survival and repetition, not on stimulus.
Being in the baby house is difficult. It is one of those places that given the circumstance, the number of babies vs. the amount of help and the amount they have to work with, it is extremely well run and organized. Every child’s basic needs are met, however, there is simply so much that a baby needs.