Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19, 2009 - Tuesday Morning Thoughts

Grace seems to be going through her 3-month growth spurt the last two days.  Let's hope it doesn't last too much longer because she is not sleeping much, she is eating constantly, and she is otherwise not the happiest camper.  It would not be that bad if Kristoffer was around to help, but he isn't and so I am going it alone.  I learned this morning that there is a reason Kristoffer cuts Grace's finger nails: I am really bad at it!  She scratched herself badly last night so I sucked it up to do it myself this morning, and now she has jagged and crooked fingernails all over the place.  I was too afraid of cutting her fingers!

Anyway, aside from the little one growing as she should, things here are fine.  Last week I had a show-down of sorts with Ida, our housekeeper.  We haven't been too happy with her work or her attitude and we were seriously thinking of letting her go.  Instead, I decided to be brutally honest with her, lay it all on the table, and see what happens.  I figured that if things didn't get better then we would be no worse off and, after all, we have made an investment of time and money in her so far.  The conversation we had was 40 minutes long: note that my neighbor says she has never spoken to any of her staff for 40 minutes total, let alone all at once!  I told Ida why I was unhappy and what she needed to do to keep her job.  She told me that she was afraid of me and that I was much nicer before I had Grace.  I can only interpret this to mean that I used to talk to her more before I had Grace and now she feels left out (especially since I am not using her as a nanny).  I basically told her she needed to work harder and that if she didn't get unafraid of me ASAP, she would lose her job.  Obviously the conversation included a lot more, but that is the gist of it.  And since then she has been much better - not lurking around like she thinks I'm going to lash out at her, and definitely doing much more work than she was before.  I also had to tell her that we won't be giving her any more loans after she asked for another one last week.  We are paying off our own debt and shelling out loans to every Kenyan who asks (our guards, our property caretaker, Kristoffer's colleagues, our driver Charles, Ida, etc.) increases the interest we are paying on our own debt!  She did not take kindly to this news at all and argued for the loans for quite a while - obviously she assumed that every time she asked for money we would oblige.  I told her that if she was looking for that quality in an employer than she should start looking for another job.  After that she stopped complaining.  So it is a bit difficult because we pay her and Charles well, they have great vacation, easy work hours, and we think we are kind to them.  But then when I tell her to stop asking for money I come across like a "rich bitch" (pardon my language) so I feel like we can't win.    

In other news, here is an interesting article in today's Washington Post about political tensions in Kenya these days: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/18/AR2009051802985.html

It is, unfortunately, increasingly likely that the country will see more violence, as the situation remains tenuous at best.  I have two hopes about this: if there is more violence, I hope it is not worse than last time; and, if there is more violence, I hope it happens in the 5 weeks we are on vacation and not while we are here.  Even though our immediate surroundings will not be affected and as expats we are safe from tribal issues, it is generally stressful and exhausting to be living in a country going through such turmoil and I certainly do not wish Grace to be exposed to it.

I guess that's all for this morning.  While Grace is sleeping (more deeply than she did at all last night, by the way) I should take advantage of a quiet opportunity to eat breakfast and take a shower!

LMW

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