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Last weekend, we hosted our first visitor in Kigali – a friend from our Nairobi Ultimate Frisbee days who now lives in Tunis. Although this was her first visit to Rwanda, she was ambivalent about touristing, which was a blessing for us: having just returned from a long trip we were rather unmotivated to venture far from home. We like sharing the scenic highlights of our adoptive countries with our visitors, but we also enjoy sharing our everyday life too – and with close friends who visit briefly the latter feels infinitely more fulfilling. We went out to brunch with a couple of friends on Saturday and spent Sunday morning at a kid-friendly brunch at another friend’s house, but otherwise stayed put and let Munchkin do most of the entertaining.


And entertaining he certainly was! One of Munchkin’s slightly older playmates insisted to her mother that she wanted Munchin to have her old tiger costume; she could not have imagined just how spot-on this gift was. For months now, Munchkin has been roaring up a storm. It started with him commenting to S that “papa is like a lion” – a comment he makes whenever D adopts the gruff voice of one of the characters in Munchkin’s Russian books.

From there it was a short leap to the roaring game: “Papa, you’re being silly! You’re not a monster; I’m the monster!” he’ll say before running at D and roaring. S’s mom brought a set of small animal toys with her to keep Munchkin entertained during our long car rides on vacation, and Munchkin made all the animals roar too – not just the lion, leopard, and cheetah, but also the warthog and even the shark. And, of course, dressing him as a tiger could have only ended in him running around roaring and trying to scare us.

In addition to roaring, Munchkin has been making a lot of pretend phone calls of late. “I have to call Lina’s mama. I have to leave a message for Lina’s mommy to tell them to come to my house,” for example, followed by a pretend conversation on his toy phone in which he mimics S’s voice to a tee: “Yes? Hello? Christie? Are you in the black car? Yes, flee minutes.” Or this gem, after he forgot his stuffed squirrel at school: “Where’s my telephone? I need to send a message to Miss Sophie to bring my белку home.” That too was followed by a one-way conversation on the green plastic phone: “Miss Sophie, are you in Namibia? Are you in Uganda? Can you please bring my белку home?”

And then there’s the singing. Perhaps inspired by the alternative lyrics to childhood classics that he’s learned in school, Munchkin frequently improvises his own lyrics to his favorite songs. “Twinkle, twinkle, chocolate bar // My daddy drives a rusty car,” (Twinkle, twinkle, little star) and “The papas on the bus say, ‘Don’t touch that!’” (The Wheels on the Bus) are prime examples of the former.

Our favorite Munchkin original was a recent riff on Old McDonald Had a Farm. Shortly after a Skype call with D’s mom, Munchkin let out a hearty, “Old MacDonuck had a farm…E-I-E-I-O…And on that farm he had some babushkas, E-I-E-I-O.” D’s mom, at least, got a better treatment in that call than S’s mom, whose Skype conversation just prior ended with Munchkin exclaiming that he no longer wanted to see nana so that she would be sad: “Nana, go cry!” he commanded.


The one negative recent development is the addition to Munchkin’s repertoire of phrases such as “Sop it!” (“stop it), “Go away!” “Shhh, be quiet!” and “It’s not your turn!” – angry words he has taken to yelling at us when we don’t intuit his wishes. Fortunately, his cross moods rarely last long. The next time he Skyped with his nana he didn’t want the conversation to end: “I will let you go in flee minutes, and then you can go shower,” he kept repeating. Three minutes seem to be his response to nearly everything these days – whether the issue in question is playtime, meals, bath time, or his age. “No mama, I’m занят,” he responded to S’s entreaty to come to the dinner table, “Flee more minutes!”

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