31 March 2009




Victor is one of the boys who hangs out around our house every day.  We now have two regulars: Victor and Isaac (aka the Camo Kid).  The two are friends and both come by each afternoon to hang out.  They will sit and watch a movie if one is on, will play with the tennis ball or any of the toys we have.  Each of us have taken a personal liking to one.  Victor is my favorite, and I have no problem saying that.  His is 6 years old and in class one.  Since he is here all the time, I figured that it was about time to give you all an introduction.  The picture was taken today as we were waiting out the rain.  He was caught here when the rain started, so I let him hang out with Sue and I to keep dry.  When the rain slowed down, he dashed out and returned with a coat.  Hence the picture.

The group of girls who used to bother us have moved on, now we have a following of boys.  Every day there are a few that stop by to say hello or play in our courtyard.  We have no problem letting them play as long as they do not bother us.  If we are watching a movie, some with trickle in and sit down quietly to watch along.  Of course they like action best because they do not know English well enough to follow a plot that does not have a little action.  James Bond seems to be a favorite.  They all enjoyed watching Diamonds are Forever when Connery is driving a moon vehicle in Vegas.

In addition, they have been our Swahili tutors.  We will ask them questions about what different things are called and they will respond.  In return, we have been teaching them a few new English words.  They do not remember much and neither do we, but it is good to have practice with our Swahili.  To ask them to do something or play elsewhere, we must use the little Swahili we know.

I can't help but think how this whole relationship between us and the boys would not be allowed in the United States.  I am not advocating spending all my time with children, but it is sad to think that this would not be allowed.  Accusations would be launched, whispers in town, awkward looks at the grocery store.  There are a lot more freedoms in this country that cannot be enjoyed at home.  We may have a better system of laws, but overprotection has overridden what used to be a childhood.  Could you imagine the comments that would stir if a parent allowed his or her 4 year old child to walk into town alone and go to school?  Here it is commonplace.  Young children walk in groups.  Some barely above the age of crawling.  Kids go about town as they want.  I do not find it to be something to glorify, rather different.  My thoughts on the matter are far from completely formed.  However, I will argue that a certain amount of freedom in children is positive.

Having taught last year, I had to be mindful of the situations I was in at all times.  I drove children home but had to ensure that they were in the back to prevent a possible problem.  I had to keep my door open when talking to students, particularly girls.  All sensible considering the consequences of a misunderstood comment or action, but a sad way to work.  Often I would feel anxious in situations that I knew could go wrong when I knew that there was no reason for this emotion.  Here I do not even have to consider it.  Children come by and say hello.  They sit in our courtyard and watch me as I wash the dishes.  No big deal.  Today, Sue and I shook the hands of numerous children outside the SJC.  They jumped and danced around when we would wave back to them.  The ability to bring joy to a child by just shaking his or her hand is humbling.  Children will laugh if we goof around as they pass by.  If I did that in the middle of Boston I would probably be chased off.  I'm rambling, so I will put it to an end here.