Scheduled for mischief
Though he came at a very early age, Paata quickly adjusted to the daily routine of his SOS family. "I can set my watch according to him," smiles Maya. "He wakes up at exactly seven o'clock every morning and comes to my room to cuddle for a few minutes. Then it's washing, dressing, breakfast and he's out of the door."
Paata attends the SOS Kindergarten which is right next to the village. He knows his schedule there very well, too. It's playing, colouring, snack, building blocks, singing, jumping and then home. "Wait, wait, when the weather is nice, we go in the sand instead of the gym," says Paata.
Lunch in Maya's house is at three in the afternoon sharp. How can one tell? Paata has already brought the napkins to the table and is seated. After lunch it's time to be impossible. Paata giggles. "He's the youngest in the house and a tad spoiled because of it," explains his SOS mother. Paata stands still holding his laughter as his SOS siblings tell how he colours where he's not supposed to, leaves the toys all around the room and changes channels whenever he feels like it.
Star on the rise
Paata with his favourite teddy bear (Photo: Katerina Ilievska)
Upon hearing this, he grabs the remote and shouts "Paata is in the TV!" Maya explains that last year, a local sports channel visited the village and among the others, filmed Paata goofing around the yard. They then used this part as advertisement for their station. "It's a popular station. People recognize him on the street," adds Maya. Paata smiles, points to the television and proudly exclaims "I'm in there."
Newfound stardom has triggered new ambitions with the little one. He has become a regular in the dancing classes in his kindergarten. "I like dancing," Paata proclaims. "He picks up dance moves very quickly. His teacher says he has good rhythm and is promising. I let him explore his interests, but I'm not pushing him. Paata will decide on his own," says Maya.
No more war!
Paata still remembers the horrid sound of shells from the war of last year. "I wasn't scared!" he points out. Maya pats him on the head. "When he'd wake up from the distant sounds of bomb shells, he'd sneak in my bed, hug me and tell me that he's watching over me." She gently kisses his forehead.
Paata is relaxed in his mom's lap. He adds determinedly "There'll be no more war ever again when I grow up, so all children can go on vacation. I missed my vacation last summer. There can't be a summer without vacation. I need to have two this year. Mom, can you tell Mr Otari [village director, editor's remark]?" Maya smiles and hugs him tighter.