Ilsa had loaned some things to a friend who’d forgotten to drop them off before school ended for the summer, and she stopped by one afternoon. I said, vaguely, that she should come play with Ilsa sometime, possibly Friday afternoon, and did we have her phone number? We didn’t, but Vera promised to send it to Ilsa on Facebook.

Friday morning at 8:30, the doorbell rang. I was expecting Khadija, but no, it was Vera. “You invited me to spend Friday with you,” she said in her clear, high voice. She arranged for her father to return at 5 to pick her up, and skipped merrily into the house. I had to wake Ilsa up. “Your friend’s here!” I hissed at her from the doorway, and then Vera waltzed past me into her room.

It worked out okay. Khadija didn’t come that day, so I cooked a big lunch and made salad and tried to pretend we eat like this all the time. I have learned the hard way that the children’s school friends expect more than a sandwich; both French and Moroccan cultures tend to eat proper hot meals in the middle of the day. One friend of Abel’s in particular has let it be known that he is shocked when he’s not fed properly, although his mother rolled her eyes when I mentioned it to her, and told me he never eats much at home.

So we had pasta with alfredo sauce with turkey ham in it, and salad, and yogurt and fruit for dessert, and I made oatmeal-chocolate bars for afternoon goûter, or snack. And Vera ate heartily and professed herself satisfied and the two dug out Ilsa’s black and pink copy of “The Double Daring Book for Girls” and decided to make a piñata, which meant boiling flour and water all over the stove to make papier-mâché. They walked up to the hanut and bought two balloons, in case one broke, and a lot of cheap candy.

The piñata didn’t dry before Vera had to leave, but Ilsa didn’t mind. She dressed it in old cut-offs and painted a face on it and hung it off the balcony, where the string (yarn) kept snapping. Melissa, an English friend, came over and the 2 of them, plus Abel, had a lot of fun banging on it until like all piñatas it burst and scattered largesse all over the driveway.

Humpty Dumpty hung from some yarn

Ilsa and stick

The yarn kept needing to be retied

Abel wore his roller blades

Baseball pinata

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