(Dear Scott: Thanks for having my favorite MGMT song in your music for the kids. I’m going to listen to it on repeat until I finish writing this entry. Sincerely, Sam.)

Woke up early and hung out with Mbak Ika this morning; she’d spent the night with me. I slept great last night, which was very much necessary. In Indonesian, I told Ika that I slept like a rock and she said the expression here is slept like a dead person, a saying that we have in English, too, I think…slept like a dead man? Do people say that?

After breakfast I went to play group. This is a group of about fifteen tiny, tiny children who get together with three Ibus and sing songs, play games, learn stuff, and generally do what kids should do. Bart’s mom, a relative of my host dad, and another lady from town are in charge of the deal. Play group met at the kantor this morning instead of their usual spot, but I hadn’t ever been, so it didn’t make any difference to me.

We had such a lovely time. The kids were adorable; they wore matching sky blue and purple uniforms. We first sang a few songs together and did some kiddy calisthenics. The best song was about a duck that decided to go swimming with her babies before climbing a mountain where she eventually lost all of her babies, one by one. A little grim and sung in a minor key but the interpretive dance moves were priceless.

Let’s see… we learned colors together and I “taught” the kidlets their colors in English. That was fun. They were fairly terrified. After that, they jumped over a rope that was about three inches off the ground. Then they played soccer and catch. Lastly, we sang a song about washing hands and eating by ourselves…which we got to get some real life experience with when the bakso man came ‘round to the kantor. We ate bakso. At nine in the morning. All by ourselves! Adorable… and filling.

I went home with the relative of my host dad and hung out at the family compound for a bit after drinking some coffee. The keponakan Ibu gave me a copy of the Malang Post from a few days ago, yang ada Sara, Diana, and Sam on the top half of the front page. It’s a good picture and all, but… it’s so strange to see a picture of myself (a huge picture, or at least seems huge to me) on the front page of a newspaper. We’ve been in the newspapers quite a bit but this is the first time a photo of me has been published. Malang isn’t a small city… it’s larger than Bloomington, definitely, and one of the biggest cities in Jawa. To us, it always seems like there are bigger things going on that could be reported, but to Indonesian reporters, we’re the big news.

Kembali. After a little bit of chatting and snackin’ on some banana chips, I realized I had the perfect opportunity to do a little research; four generations of women in my father’s family were sitting around the coffee table in my host grandmother’s living room, ranging in age from 6 to 64, I knew it was the perfect time to ask about pregnancy and child-bearing and differences in experiences between generations.

I asked my family about giving birth here in Indonesia. The ladies I asked were my host grandmother, my host aunt, her child (a mother of two great kids, one of whom is already in elementary school), and my host mom. They told me about the Polindes offices (pos pelayanan kesehatan desa) that exist in every village. The Polindes officer deals with all of the health issues in the village that aren’t severe enough to warrant a trip to the nearby hospital. His/her services are available to all and largely free of charge.

Tlekung’s Polindes officer is the charming mother of two of our best friends, Raihan (Kit-Kat), age 4, and Raffi, age 7 months, and she can’t be more than thirty years old. My family says she’s not yet a doctor but she could become one if she went back to school. As resident Polindes officer, she’s the midwife for pregnant ladies in the village, who either visit her once a month or request house-calls during their pregnancy. Normally, and traditionally, ladies have babies at home in their bedroom, on their bed, with the officer. If the officer makes a house call to deliver the baby, he/she stays in the home of the family until the baby has been delivered, eating all meals there. This costs 400,000 Rp, or approximately $40. They can also opt to have the baby in the Polindes office, and in that case, the cost is 300,000 Rp, or approximately $30.

My host mother had her baby in my host grandmother’s house (her mother-in-law’s) and my host cousin had one of hers at home (and the other at the hospital). Host grandmother had her eldest—the host aunt of mine present during the conversation—when she was sixteen years old (which was 1946). The ladies told me that women these days are going to hospitals to have babies more frequently but still take advantage of the Polindes officer during the pregnancy, probably because traveling to the hospital is expensive, time-consuming, and difficult (in terms of transportation). I should find out how much a hospital visit costs… come to think of it, I don’t know anything about health care in this country. Time for some recon!

(Fun Fact: Nobody in Tlekung with whom I regularly interact and who’s Indonesian speaks English; I’m proud of myself. The conversation about child-bearing, etc. was great—I’m reaching a point where the driving force behind a conversation is no longer the struggle to comprehend or be comprehensible but is simply the content itself. Awesome.)

After coming home I had a difficult time convincing my Ibu that I didn’t need to eat anything since I had already had my mid-morning bakso treat. Took a little nap and then relaxed with Ibu while watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York dubbed over in Indonesian. A friend of Ibu’s came over and we chatted a bit; I’m going to church with her tomorrow since her nine-year-old daughter—a friend of mine who enjoys singing with my host dad during karaoke nights at my house—is singing in the choir. I’m looking forward to it quite a bit; I’ve not yet seen or been inside a church here in Indonesia. Hopefully I don’t have to say anything in front of the congregation. Ibu told her friend I’m Buddhist, so I’ll hopefully be able to be solely an observer instead of a participant.

The family went to Batu for supper and ate rabbit satay. Excellent! I asked my Ibu when the rabbit was slaughtered and by whom and she said this afternoon by the warung (food stand) owners, of course. She also told me that meats at the traditional pasar (market) are usually slaughtered the night before they’re sold. Since the market starts selling to vendors at 1:30am and the general public at 3am, that’s incredibly fresh meat, especially when compared to US grocery-store meats (I don’t think you can get meat that fresh at the farmer’s market in Bloomington, even—just frozen meat, right?). But of course, it’s never refrigerated…but whatever?

I can’t believe I’m up as late as I am right now—it’s 11:34 on Saturday evening. Getting’ picked up for church at 7am tomorrow and headin’ to the pasar with Ibu after that. She’s set on buying me a going-away batik, which is good news for me and a little lucu since I bought her a batik tapestry in Jogja to give her as a moving-away/thank you gift. O, synchronicity!


One thought on “Kids!”

  1. Hi Samantha, Erika’s father here. Yes, “I slept like a dead man” is a phrase I have heard before English. I am very impressed with how quickly you are leaning the language(s) you will be using over the next couple of years, and I know I’m not alone in that view.

    Thank you so much for both the updates you present so well to the rest of us family members back here in the USA, and for the help I know you’ve provided to your coworkers there.


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