There is an older man who is the groundskeeper at our office building location. He lives on site and cares for the garden there and the grounds. I am trying to get the boys involved in helping with the plants and taking care of our outdoor space, but the reality is that, even with their enthusiasm, sometimes the work takes a bit more time WITH them. We needed a bit of help, and this older gentleman doesn't have a full schedule with his work at the office, so he has been coming once a week (though it is a little unclear what his schedule is, and he has seemed to appear at unexpected times as well).
Between the times we go to the office, the times he is here helping us or another family in our colony, or the times that we just end up seeing him when we are out walking on the road, he is a person we see every day, usually multiple times. Our interactions with him have been fairly limited, though. He always tries to interact a bit with the boys. They know who he is, but they haven't seemed to warm up to him terribly easily. They aren't rude, and they will even point him out when they see him walking, but I think we all are a bit unsure of quite how to interact with him. He doesn't speak any English, and he rather mumbles in a gravelly voice when he is speaking, so it is hard to understand him, even when he is saying something I probably should know in Nepali.
Last week when he was here working on the yard, and we had been outside doing something, he pulled a walnut out of Isaiah's nature "collection" box and held it up and said, "Babu..." (something that basically meant you can crack this open and eat it). I told Isaiah what he was trying to say, and Isaiah got really excited and wanted to crack it open right away, mostly to see the inside, I think. I went in to search for something, and I tried the opposite end of our can opener, but it was not nearly strong enough. Isaiah took the nut back outside and was not about to yield the quest to crack the nut. By the time I got back outside, this man was using one of Isaiah's bigger rocks from the box to smash open the walnut. Isaiah was practically squealing. He was so excited, and he was SO impressed that this man was using rocks to crack open the walnut. And that it worked! Because of using the rock, the nut inside obviously also got smashed, so the man scooped up little pieces and gave them to Isaiah. He told Isaiah to eat them. Isaiah looked at me, and I quickly settled my inner argument and tried to just smile and give a little nod to Isaiah that he could eat them.
Why the inner argument? Let me describe a few more of the details here. The man had been working in our yard and around the outside of the house and had quite dirty hands. The rock (and the walnut itself) had been outside there for quite awhile. As I watched the dirty hands use the dirty rock to smash up the walnut on our dirty (think pigeon poo and various other ick) little patch of cement there and then scoop it up with the dirty hands and hand it to Isaiah, there was a part of me that could honestly only think of the very probable intestinal repercussions of consuming the walnut. Even just the "dirt" here has so many pollutants, and even with being pretty intentional, we still often end up with some angry digestive systems.
But, as I watched Isaiah, this wasn't really about the walnut. He was impressed by this man. He now had connected with him and thought he was incredibly cool. They had bonded in some odd way without understanding a word each other had said. Saying no would have squashed that and contradicted the value that Isaiah saw in him at that moment.
Isaiah ate only a few scraps of the walnut and wasn't interested in eating much more. Then, he asked if he could share one of his Oreo cookies (a notable offer from my son) with the man. I said he could, of course. He wanted to then see if the man wanted something to drink, so I brought him a glass of water. Then, Isaiah asked if he could sit out in his little chair and finish his snack outside and watch the man as he worked in our yard.
The next morning, Isaiah woke up vomiting. Yup. Thankfully, it was actually pretty mild and short-lived, but he felt pretty crummy for most of the day. The thing is, even though it is terribly hard to watch my son being sick, I wouldn't change the decision for the world. I only wish I let it be that simple more often to really see and connect with people.
P.S. If you talk to Isaiah, please don't tell him eating the walnut made him sick! :)