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Thursday, March 03, 2011


Today is Jack's day . . . and it seems to be a popular one with Kijabe babies, there were so many being born this morning that the nurses were scrambling to get the ID bracelets attached to their ankles as we stacked them up two to a bed where they lay blinking and waving, waiting for their mothers to revive and hold them. We began our celebrations this morning by breaking out the final tiny 4-ounce jar of apple butter that our kids smuggled through security in their backpacks, to have with our biscuits. By 7:30 the kids were heading up the hill to school and Scott and I to a staff meeting. As I tried to engage in the discussion of appropriate triage of patients, and the structural implications of the nursing school upgrading from a diploma to a degree program under Scott University, I was thinking of how to get my NICU work done in time to finish party prep, and looked around the room. There are three other women consultant-level doctors here on a staff of about 25 to 30, but none come to meetings, and none are really in my position (two are young Kenyans who are married and mothers-of-one, and one is a single American surgeon). It hits me: I'm a mother of four teenagers, as of today. And it's as demanding in its own way as being a mother of four toddlers.

Jack decided to invite his whole basketball team to lunch. There are ten boys on the Jr Hi "A" team, and they finished their last regular game of the season undefeated this week. I am so thankful for this natural grouping for Jack, a healthy way to spend almost every afternoon with a core of classmates. I never dreamed he'd spend his 13th birthday with a basketball team, since he just learned to play a few months ago! They came down the hill shouting and teasing, very comfortable with one another, and thanks to help from my trusty houseworker Abigail and an hour-off from my trusty paeds team, I was ready. We turned ice cream, and ate chili and corn bread, then celebrated with a chocolate cake. Noisemakers, balloons, sodas, laughter, stories. It turns out that Jack was by far the youngest, 2 boys have been 13 for a while and the rest are 14 and even 15, even though they're all a similar size, there is a wide range on the puberty issue (sometimes I try to remember why we let him be an 8th grader, but it's complicated. Should have thought harder about sports). An hour later they all bounced off the walls and into each other and back up the hill to school. It was a fun party, and the first time Jack's had such a large group of peers to celebrate with. This evening we had a family gourmet dinner (Jack does love his food), much quieter than the wildness of the junior high boys. Phone calls from Grammy, the Bundi team, and Acacia. Emails from a CSB classmate (may you live to blow a thousand candles), and absent brother Luke.

Jack at 13: still growing into his body, reckless abandon in all pursuits, intensity, messy, curling up with a book, avid fan of premier league football, affectionate, teaser, handsome, attention-seeking, anxious at times, friendly, popular, loud, sprawling, adventurous, emotional, spiritually sincere, still mostly kid with hints of the young man shining through, sharp and creative with unanswerable questions because he sees things in his own unique way, smart and artistic, unsure of himself, low frustration tolerance, a drive to win. A remarkable person, who surprises and enriches us every day. I am thankful for that day 13 years ago when I walked into Kijabe hospital with Scott as my doctor and delivered him on the very bed where my patients today were born.

1 comment:

Heather Pike Agnello said...

wow. how is it possible that the tiny life we didn't even know about all those years ago is this amazing 13 year old individual? joining you in thanking God for His protection and provision in giving you this amazing kid. and praying for you, mom of FOUR teenagers!!Happy Birthday, Jack!