|Tabita with her new "big girl" hair extensions. So pretty and so proud!|
Name: Tabita Manuel Joao
Nickname: "Little Mouse"
Age: 6 - 8 years old
Grade: No school
Likes: Candy, Being helpful, Earning pennies, Taking Pictures
Dislikes: When her sister pulls her hair
Siblings: Romao, Uzia, Danilo, Nelson, Feta, and Jovita
Dan and I first met Tabita in our first few days in Zobue. She was small for her age-- sweet, shy, and diminutive. Her fear of me and Dan was outweighed by her desire to understand us, and she spent hours at our doorframe, peering in and watching. Occasionally, she would ask for things.
As the months wore on, she became our little shadow. She became my number-one helper for small things around the yard, from sweeping to mopping to rinsing off the dishes. When she wasn't helping, she was watching. She liked to watch me cook, plan lessons, and clean my house. Sometimes I would let her come inside and sit.
Of all of the neighborhood children, Dan and I became most attached to Tabita. She's an unobtrusive and unassuming little critter, and she's our very favorite child. In many ways, she's our right-hand girl.
Tabita is special for two reasons. The first is the fact that she loves to use my camera. She doesn't mind having her picture taken, but she is the only child in the neighborhood who would rather be behind the lens. She's taken hundreds of pictures so far, and would take ten times that, if only I would let her.
The other reason that she is special is for her fondness for adults. She'll play with other children, but she's an unusually serious little girl. She would much prefer to spend time with me, doing grown-up things, than simply play outside. And for this, she is my favorite.
Best Memories of Tabita
1. Tabita loves to ask for things. She'll ask for anything she sees, and she is a serial-asker. Usually, she will ask until I say, "yes." Here is a conversation that she and I once had:
Tabita: Can I have that notebook?
Lisa: My notebook? No, I'm using it! You can't have this notebook.
Tabita: Can I have that phone?
Lisa: No, you can't have my phone.
Tabita: Can I have that toothbrush?
Lisa: You absolutely cannot have my toothbrush.
Tabita: Can I have a piece of candy?
Lisa: No, Tabita. I don't have any candy.
Tabita: Can I have a piece of chalk?
Tabita: Can I have some sugar?
Tabita: Can I have some salt?
Tabita: Can I have a plastic bag?
Lisa: A what? A plastic bag? Yes, Tabita, you can have a plastic bag.
(Tabita took the bag with glee and then skipped away, delighted)
2. One night, I was washing dishes. It was late and I was tired, so I didn't let her help. My mood didn't phase her, though, and she sat with me, instead, sitting quietly at my feet. After about ten minutes, I noticed that she had gone to sleep. She was curled up against the wall, directly underfoot. Smiling to myself, I finished up my work. Then I wiped my hands on my pants, picked her up, and brought her back home to her mother.
It was a small little moment-- forgettable, really. But it was one that spoke volumes about our relationship, and for that it has stuck with me.