Ekaterina is a five-year old force at the orphanage. Her impish grin and adventurous spirit immediately attract. Like most of the children, a good helicopter ride makes her day. Spinning a child around by their hands produces pure joy on each face. Providing multiple revolutions of spinning bliss is something I pride myself in. If only for a few moments, these kids can forget everything in the rush of a true moment of pure childhood. Of course one ride is never enough, and in the mind of an orphan, waiting your turn will get you NOTHING, so way wait? Crowding and clamoring for another go is the only way to go. Have you hung out with orphans? They don’t accept “no” for an answer. Especially Ekaterina. And reasoning with Ekaterina? Hah! She had a ride and was ready, no, insistent for more. So insistent in fact, that she hung on to me like a buckin’ bronc rider who never heard of the eight second rule, impeding all helicopter rides. When that didn’t work, she started hitting me! I kneeled down to speak with Ekaterina, but stop was one more word that did not apply. Her unrewarded persistence was disappointing, and in her disappointment she decided that I had offended her. Her tears tugged at my heart.
But then came her silence, weeks of silence . . . months of silence. Each week when I spent time with the kids, I tried to break through Ekaterina’s wall of aggrievement. But when she saw me coming, she ably deployed my status of non-existence. I won’t lie, it hurt. Ekaterina is a great girl, and felt I had made a good connection with her. I was also impressed with the tenacity of her commitment to my non-existence; she is five after all. So I bided my time, gave all the other kids helicopter rides, searched for spiders with some of the boys, climbed the jungle gym, pushed the merry-go-round, helped color, played catch, tried to bless the lives of the kids.
Two steely months in Ekaterina informed me of my re-existence when she suddenly wanted to fish. Sometimes the kids liked to throw a line, which I would catch, and pretend to be a leaping hooked fish. They really got a charge from that game. Ekaterina boldly appeared and claimed her turn as fisherwoman. Not surprisingly, she caught me, after which I paraded around the playground with Ekaterina laughing on my back, as if nothing ever happened.
The events of this post took place in the Spring/Summer of 2013.