Saturday, October 30, 2010

My Life and Kids

I’ve finally come in contact with my host person in Uganda. Herman has left me several voicemails which are somewhat hard to understand because of sound quality. Anyway, he seems nice and has informed me that I will be staying with his family of 4. He and his wife Annie have a three year-old daughter and a 10 month-old son.

This means that I will be around children pretty much constantly. It’s going to be a change from my normal exposure to kids, which is pretty limited and almost exclusively family. I don’t necessarily love the children I happen to interact with or overhear in public. But, maybe this is just because I only notice the ones who are misbehaving. I don't mean to be a new-aged Miss Hannigan, or anything. It's just that generally the presence of children makes me pretty uncomfortable, because I’m highly unaware of what they like or how to relate to them, I don’t want to do something their parents wouldn’t approve of, and I have a hard time understanding why they do the things they do in general.

I know my idea of the kid throwing a fit at the candy counter isn’t appropriately descriptive of the overall experience of raising, educating or otherwise having children in your life. But I wonder how much of it is cultural. I know American parents are constantly criticized for coddling, spoiling, building their kids up to think that they are already this earth’s gift from God. But an entire trophy generation is now responsible for raising their own kids and I’m curious about how this affects a culture’s expectations for children’s behavior.

My presumptions are that kids are kids. They aren’t exactly critical thinkers or good at considering others. They are messy and unaware, and I was absolutely no exception. I’m sure I won’t have a problem adjusting to being around kids so often, but I am still convinced that there will be a considerable difference in the way these kids act. Which makes sense because their life experience, expectations, etc is so different than those of American children. I would assume that Ugandans have a lot less of the ‘tantrums’ my parents says I got so accustomed to as a toddler.

I would assume that when daily life requires a little more work and less comfort, behavior adjusts accordingly, because everything changes in perspective. It might not be in my best interest to make expectations beforehand, but I hope at least that the children I interact with at the development centre and at my host-home will give me a new perspective of children in general. I hope I can let them teach me in patience and understanding as much as I hope to teach them in school lessons.

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