“I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!” (Ode to all of you Elf fans out there…apologies to the rest of you.)
A and I had a long-running argument before we arrived in country that I finally gave up on a few weeks ago. A knows me well enough to know that I am not the most amazing housekeeper in the world…as long as things are somewhat clean, I am happy. Sorry if that grosses you out, but it is true…and let’s be honest, it is halfway impossible here, given the constant dirt, grime, etc. Especially with a baby to chase around, making our house spotless is not at the top of my list of things to accomplish in the day. Yes, I do the dishes and pick up, etc, but I don’t vacuum and mop floors every two days like needs to happen here to keep up with before mentioned dust and grime, especially with a baby crawling around.
So, that combined with the fact that I get totally stressed when my house isn’t clean and visitors stop over (usually unannounced) A suggested we hire someone a few times a week to help with the housework. For the record, the irony is not lost on me either…I get stressed about a dirty house, but can’t be bothered to clean it properly…yeah, I have nothing to say.
So, like I said, A suggested we hire someone to come in. I was nervous about this for a few reasons. The first being pride...and shame…shouldn’t I be able to keep my house clean? It isn’t like I am working anywhere else. Well, the question is not in my ability, my husband always reminds me. It is in my motivation. And I always seem to find more motivation to write, or read books or play with my boy. So, I got over that.
I was also worried about confronting someone if they weren’t doing a super job. I would be the first to cut my leg off if someone asked me for it…nicely put, I hate confrontation. But just rinsing dishes under cold water doesn’t get them squeaky clean. A certain foreigner’s cleaning lady doesn’t seem to get that point and since I have a little boy who is much more pleasant when he is not sick, I decided not to take my chances on her.
I was also worried with her interaction with us in the house – remember I sit around and play with my kid and read books? I was especially worried about her interaction with little t. I have known of other women who find more urgency in playing with/taking care of/bossing around the children of the house than cleaning the house itself. I really really didn’t want to deal with that.
Okay, so basically, I wanted an angel to fall out of the sky. I realized I was asking a lot and being lazy in the process (and I don’t mean by sitting around reading books…I mean by not wanting to train someone myself) but I also had my eye on someone.
Our friends M and E and family have been here for about 5 years. They are wonderful couple and we enjoy them a lot. When we came to visit M-ville a few years ago, we stayed in their home and had a great time. We also met khAla. Here is your first language lesson…the kh sound is down in your throat – like you are getting ready to hock a loogie (sorry, but I couldn’t think of a nicer wait to explain) so you make that sound as you say the word haul and add an a at the end. So phonetically you say haul-a while you clear your throat (does that sound nicer?). So, anytime you see the kh sound it is clearing your throat. Anytime you see the A in a word it is the short a sound like in the word haul. Got it? Good.
So anyway, khAla was wonderful – she did her job well, smiled and was pleasant but wasn’t intrusive. She didn’t make us feel guilty when we sat around in a daze for hours on end (we tend to do that on vacation) she just cleaned around us. She was easy to talk to. She was great with M and E’s kids. She was like angel khAla.
So fast forward to present day and I begin to give in to A’s persistence that we need some help. I inquire about khAla, but she is already busy with two families and has a new baby at home (her 10th…8 of whom are still alive) and doesn’t think she wants extra hours. I had the option of hiring ‘just rinse everything off in the faucet lady’ but declined. A few weeks ago, the two families that angel khAla works for went on vacation and suggested that we use her while they were gone. I jumped at the chance.
The first morning she was due to arrive, I felt like a kid on my first day of kindergarten. I wasn’t sure what to wear, what to say, how little t would react, etc. It turned out great. Little t talked her ear off for 15 minutes and she sat and listed and chatted right back. Throughout the days she has beautifully interacted with him, talking to him when he crawls into the kitchen as she washes dishes. Giving him toys, smiling and chatting away. Even when he turns the vacuum off on her, pulls down a stack of clean dishes, tips over something she has just put away, she smiles and gets after him but always in a gentle way. She is easy to talk to and respectful of space.
She does her job well and initiates tasks to happen. Embarrassingly she realized right away that we had mice. They had just shown up a day or two before she arrived and upon investigating (pulling everything off of shelves), she cleaned everything and put it away. She also suggested that we set traps and even helped remind me by leaving a giant rat trap on the counter when she left…lovely.
Really, we are feeling very blessed and sad that our time with khAla is coming to an end in the next few weeks. We will see if we can work it out to share her, or if she can help us find and train someone else. It has been a joy to have her help…except for the giant rat trap incident…