20 March, 2011


Well, Wayne left for the US to see his ailing mother…for 3 weeks! After he left on Friday morning, I spent the day (and I must admit into Saturday as well) moping about feeling sorry for myself. I was in a bit of a ‘poor me’ state or even some ‘I can’t do this’ attitude. I hadn’t realized how much I depend on Wayne to keep things going and I am just kind of his sidekick. Like, Wayne does this or that and I offer a change or two and then follow his lead. Once he left, I started to realize that it’s up to me now all by myself. I thought of how nice it was being in my mom’s house a few weeks earlier…lazing until 10am…casually making veggie meals and hanging with my family, then casually going to sleep in perfect comfort and luxury. I was thinking, fine! I am just going to ‘run home to mama’, I don’t need this responsibility, this stress! “What was I thinking coming here and trying to do whatever it is I’m trying to do!”

Now really, the place does run by itself, there are numerous staff to cook, clean, and watch the kids. Basically the children’s primary needs are met with or without us…but it’s the other things that I have realized are a big part of Wat Opot as well. Such as the Saturday cleaning of the adjacent Wat (Buddhist temple) grounds and then prayer/meditation which follows, there’s yoga and art class on Sunday and the new nightly meditation before snack every evening (not to mention the twice daily med’s for the HIV+ kids). So again, beyond their basic needs (food/shelter/clothing) there is really so much more happing here. Things that take Wayne’s supervision and guidance to make sure it runs as smoothly as possible.

I started to dread my first official duty on Friday which was meditation then snack. It was finally after 6 and I walked to the office/dorm. I turned on the computer to find the nice soothing music Wayne uses, but the music playlist only had ‘untitled’ music so I hit play on one of them. It turned out to be some kind of rap/rock stuff, which was of course blaring out of the speakers! I started to laugh and over the music, said, OK, now everyone close your eyes, and then I laughed at their reaction. I did find a Josh Grobin song and figured that was a bit more meditative like. I looked around the room and realized that there were only about 12 kids there. I immediately thought “oh my gosh, they do not take me for an authority figure at all!” and started to panic and I turned to Srey Lak and said “Where is everyone” and she answered “Wedding”. OH YEAH, I thought, Sokley, the daily child-care lady was getting married that day and most everyone was there.

The Wedding was a blessing in disguise since the few kids left at WOCC were perfect little eyes-closed, hands-in-lap angels. it went smoothly and they got their snack in a calm fashion. I then took a handful of kids and we went into the playroom to watch a movie until bedtime. I thought…wow, I made it through this day, but tomorrow is going to suck…how will I manage ALL day with none of them in school! (not nice thoughts to fall asleep by).

Saturday is the Wat cleanup. Like clockwork, the kids came to the office around 2:00 to get the brooms and barrel (for trash) and headed on over with the Sat. child-care help, Sitah. I followed with a paper list of all of their names. I wanted the list partly because there are still some of the boys who I just can’t get their names straight but also I wanted to jot down who actually worked and who just walked over and lazed around. Once the kids saw that I had the list (Wayne must have brought it in the past) then they all started being little “Eddie Haskel’s” (or for those of you under the age of 25, little “Malfoy’s”) and over emphasizing their cleaning ability all the while saying “Melinda! Melinda! I clean”.

Having a bit of fun with them now that they have down pat “Melinda, may I come in?”. I had them say, “Melinda may I work?”, to which I replied “Yes, Yes, work!” and then chuckled at my little joke. Anyway, we got through the cleaning up and then Channa (a Khmer guy who works in the office) spoke to the kids once everyone was seated in the Wat. Not sure what he said, but one of the boys later told me that he talked about their behavior and that they need to go to school every day and don’t goof off just because Wayne is gone…or something like that.

Well after the meditation, I felt a little better, and worked a bit on the computers with some of the older boys. I then went into my room and suddenly began to sulk some more. It was weird for me to feel that way, but I guess a normal reaction to a sudden change. I stayed in my room (house) for a few hours and then went to give medicine, meditation and snack. This evening was much louder and the kids more rowdy, but they settled down once the music started. You know it’s probably only been a week or so since we changed the snack thing and it didn’t take them long to catch on to the new routine. We still have a few coughers and/or snorters during the ‘quiet time’ but that too will fade over time.

After another movie and then shooing them off to the dorms and I was able to retire to my room once again. Before falling asleep, I contemplated the last day and a half and admitted to myself that Yes, I was not really prepared for this and Yes, it’s not exactly easy, but I also went to sleep with the concurrent realization that I’m exactly where I am supposed to be and life is really like a box of chocolates and I really would not want it any other way. Tomorrow? BRING IT ON!!

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