Mzungu Memoirs

Caleb’s Friends

I’m sure I am no different from other mothers in my concern about my child’s friendships.  Living in a third world country adds a whole other dynamic to that concern.  Caleb is an extrovert (I’m not sure how two introverts had an extrovert, but we did) and he easily makes friends.  In fact, he craves interaction with other kids, so I feel I have to be particularly diligent in finding him friends to play with.

As part of a mission organization, seemingly automatic friendships are formed with children of other members of the organization.  Unfortunately, some of the friendships that already existed in this realm were pretty tight, but after some initial awkwardness, Caleb seems to have integrated into the circle of friends fairly well.  There are two little boys that are very close to Caleb’s age.  Unfortunately, they are a year ahead of him in school, so they tend to play together while Caleb plays with one of the boy’s little brothers.  But Caleb doesn’t seem to mind.  He’ll play with just about anyone.  He particularly likes to play with the “big boys” of one of the other families.

Caleb has also made some fast friendships with kids at church.  There is a Dutch boy, Reuben, who is about the same age, that Caleb loves to pal around with.  They seem made for each other as they are both active, rambunctious boys who don’t necessarily relish the idea of sitting through a church service.  Before church, they can usually be found running around together, but once the service starts they will find their way to the very front row, sitting next to each other until the kids are dismissed to Junior Church.

The church we attend strives to be an “all nations” church and there are many Ugandans that attend.  Caleb has made friends with many of these Ugandans both young and old, but it is the kids who come to play.  Two in particular, Alan and Frank, have come over several times.  They are a bit older, so I worry a little about the dynamic but it seems to have worked out.  Mostly, I think the boys are interested in all the cool electronic toys that Caleb has, so we have had to coach Caleb on keeping an eye on things when other kids are around so toys don’t walk off.  So far we haven’t had any problems.  With both boys in school, we haven’t seen much of them lately.  This is especially true of Alan, who attends a boarding school somewhere away from Kampala.  Caleb took these two pictures of Alan and Frank.

School is often a great place to make friends, and Caleb has made many.  Leroy, a Ugandan boy, was his best friend, but apparently they have had a falling out.  Leroy has come to play here at our house and Caleb has gone to play at Leroy’s a couple of times.  I hope they can mend their differences as they really seemed to play well together.  Caleb also talks a lot about Noah, an expat American kid in his class.  I think Noah is one of the “cool kids” that everyone thinks they want to be like.  Caleb really seems to admire him.  There are many others and Caleb wants to have them all over to play, at the same time.  I told him I thought I might be able to handle one or two at a time.  So he has a list, at least a mental one, that we need to start working on.  The picture above shows part of his class wearing penguin costumes for Heritage International School’s Rain Festival. Caleb is the penguin behind the bunny in the foreground, Noah is the “cool” penguin in the leather jacket beside him, and Leroy is the tan, skinny polar bear next to Noah.

There are lots of neighborhood kids to play with as well.  But I get a little nervous about just letting Caleb run around and play, so we have the kids over to our compound to play.  When we first arrived, I tried to encourage Caleb to play with the little boys who live behind us.  Our guard took Caleb over to see if the boys would like to come play with him at our compound.  Samuel, who is a little older than Caleb, and Conrad, who is a little younger, did come to play a few times, but they didn’t really seem that interested in playing until recently.  Now they want to come all the time.  The boys actually play really well together.  Caleb has improved about sharing his toys, although he can still be quite bossy at times.  Samuel and Conrad also like to bring their toys to share with Caleb.  It has been interesting to watch the friendships grow.  Samuel, who is already in school, speaks English quite well, but Conrad, who is still at home, struggles.  However, Conrad’s English is improving probably due to playing with an English-only speaker.  Samuel and Conrad have been trying to teach Caleb some Lugandan, and Caleb does try to use it although he mostly gets things mixed up.  Oh, well, at least he’s trying.  Caleb also took these pictures of Samuel and Conrad.

Actually, I’m kind of jealous of Caleb.  The diversity of his circle of friends far outreaches what I could have even dreamed of at his age.  I hope that he can take what he learns from his cross-cultural friendships, both African and European, and use it throughout his life.

“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” – Proverbs 12:26
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17

posted by Robert in Uncategorized and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Caleb’s Friends”

  1. Peace says:

    This is a great experience that Caleb has had at a very crucial stage (the formative stage) in his life. Only God knows why and what He has ahead of him. I believe it is for a purpose. It is amazing how his personality has worked together with his present life station to open such an opportunity for learning how to mix with other cultures; mum you have done a good job of balancing your concerns with what God’s plan is at this point in time for your lovely son. I admire you.

  2. Valerie says:

    Ahh, it makes me think of our son Gabriel who was seven when we were there. His best friend was a boy named Jookie who was ten. They stay in touch to this day.