Every Saturday, when the weather is tolerable and the children’s health is in good order, I bike over to a house two villages over, in Tiszabükeny, where I tutor the two oldest children in English. The house boasts 8 children in all.
This is the bike I’ve been riding to Tizabükeny of late. Of all the bikes the school has let me use, I like this one best. I’m not sure how many kilometers/miles the road is between our two villages; it takes me about 45 minutes. The ground is flat and poses no difficulties such as steep hills (which is a good thing because this bike has only one gear), but I am getting to be an expert at dodging pot holes. The trick is to not just avoid them with your front wheel but also to keep your back wheel from swinging into them.
Here are two of the sweet children, Bogi and Lila. Bogi brings unbridled energy to every tutoring session, and I am constantly required to come up with new ways to keep her whole being occupied. Her character is intense: when she rejoices, she flies to the ceiling; when she is upset or makes a mistake, she buries her head in the book/cards/paper and moans that all is lost. She loves her siblings and parents and me and Marielle, who comes to work for them sometimes, with just as much intensity.
This facial expression on Levente was rather remarkable at the time. He had been surly and hard to get to know, but one day, he suddenly bloomed into familiarity with me and actually seemed to enjoy our lessons and games. Though, for all his antics and conversation, it must be admitted that he would rather be out in the fields or at the barn with his father the farmer. He’s always rushing to the window to see what his dad is up to now.
Levente and Lila are the only biological children in this family. Bogi, Kati, Gyuri, Dora, Laci, and Emilia are all foster children.
Here is an excerpt from my journal on a February 15 visit to the house:
Saturday dawned sunny. And it’s been sunny ever since. But Saturday was unique because of the wind. During some gusts, if you stood on the icy patches between the kitchen and the classroom building, I think you could have slid across the ice without any effort. The wind howled—it really did—through the upper parts of the buildings and shook parts of the corrugated metal roofs violently.
I taught at the K—— house on Saturday. Levente was surprisingly amiable, and my lesson with him and with Bogi went pretty well. I had them play a game with each other, and they didn’t kill each other, though they did become rather murderous towards their on-looking siblings. Timi and Pisti had to leave, I’m not entirely sure where, but there were two girls there who did cooking and cleaning and apparently also children-watching. I couldn’t leave until 1pm when Timi’s friend was taking me back to the school [the gale-force wind had precluded bicycle riding], so I ate lunch with them. I think I should make a note here to my future self or to anyone else who happens to read this that having 8 children, 4 of them the EXACT SAME AGE is probably not the brightest idea.
The pálmeny [dumplings] got dished up, and we each dug in. There were multiple battles and discussions regarding the vinegar. Some children wolfed their food down, and some just picked, and everyone talked. When the tea mugs were set on the table, there was a tussle over those, and tea, a bowl (broken), pálmeny (scattered), a chair, and Bogi all ended up on the floor.
Three of those four children exactly the same age will be starting school come September.
This is Dora with Gyuri in the background. Gyuri is mentally handicapped and non-verbal, so he will not be attending school now with the others.
And finally, Laci. I had a conversation with Timi one afternoon in which she confided to me her worries about how to pay for certain school expenses for these three – backpacks, notebooks, pens and pencils, desks to study on at home. They are a farming family, and bad weather and fickle food prices have been cause for struggle in the past few years.
I know that Eric, an American here before, had helped the family procure funds for fixing up parts of their house. So I was wondering, would any of my friends and family back in the US be willing to contribute some money towards a school fund for Dora, Kati, and Laci? If you are, shoot me an email: cassidhe.p.hart[at]gmail[dot]com. Once I have some interest, I can go to Timi with the plan and get some cost estimates.