Day 3 in Chiang Mai has consisted of sitting around, eating, napping and more sitting around.
On our first day we saw a bunch of kids playing on the road and I told the boys to go say hi. “We are too shy”. So I left it at that.
The next day we were walking past their house with their brand spanking new water guns. The boy’s eyes lit up and was followed by a big “Haaalloo”. A few minutes later they were best friends and the annoying parent started to kick in.
“Don’t run, be nice, try and speak in Thai, ask what his name is, don’t touch his head, take off your shoes, are you hungry? You need water? It’s too hot outside, make sure you say hello, tell him how old you are, don’t go on the road, watch out for scooters, don’t touch the dogs.” I was recording the boys playing with the hose and heard myself on the camera. I felt like punching myself in the throat for sounding like an over bearing annoying mother. Just to throw Gerhard under the bus he sounds like this too.
There are dangers everywhere you look, as much as people say “Oh this never use to happen back in my day” I honestly think it did there was just no media or social media to talk about it.
As parents we always have something to fear whether its dogs, cars, things that are too high, things that are too hot, things that are too sharp, things they see on T.V, zombies, unicorns, you name it some parent out there fear those things including us. We fear unicorns. Yes we want to protect our children but why pass those fears onto our kids? Yes we need to be cautious but if they fall they fall. Get up, dust yourself off and learn from it. How can they do this if we don’t allow them the space to make mistakes?
The boys were climbing the fence and swinging from the branches of a coconut tree and the first thing I thought was to yell out and say get off you might fall. I decided to leave them and see what happens. Yup Mattaeus fell off, cut his head, stood up and said “that was awesome.” His new friend taught him how to balance properly and how to use his legs to wrap around the coconut tree.
We want our kids to be independent and resilient yet how can they when we keep wanting to catch them when they fall?
As parents our job is to equip our kids with the tools to be good humans on the outside world but why are we waiting until they leave home? Why not allow them the space to practice these things now. We know our boys have each other’s backs when we are not around.
We are pretty far from the main center and there is really nothing to do around here within walking distance. A bus ride to the city is a good 40 min away and with no car it can be a mission to get around. I asked Markus this morning “What did you want to do today? Where did you want to go?” “I don’t want to go anywhere. Going places is boring I just want to play at my friend’s house” That was the key word. Play. The kids just want to play!! Maybe our lesson for this month as parents is to slow down, do nothing, watch the kids play and let them learn from each other rather than us trying to “find” a lesson.
We have googled so many words for them to learn and the only ones that have stuck for them are the ones being taught by others. Maybe now I really understand when I say let the world be their classroom.
As a society we have become so self-centered. We don’t talk to anyone on the street, the person serving us behind the counter or even our own neighbors. We don’t want this for our kids. They say it takes a community to raise a child and what they will learn from our neighbors for the next four weeks is something we won’t be able to teach them.
I went across the road to see what the boys were up to and ended up having a chat with the older sister who has excellent English. It started with the usual “How are you, how old are you, what is your name” questions. She taught me some basic Thai words and phrases with an audience of 6 kids, her mum and grandmother laughing at me and my shitty attempt to speak Thai. I was able to learn about their family, where she goes to school and she told us next time we need anything from the market to let her know and she will pick it up for us.
They were just about to leave for the pools (school holidays here) and asked if we wanted to come along. With me too scared to drive a scooter her mum offered to drive it for us and we hopped on the back. Perfect. So off we went to her high school to cool down on a 30 something degree day. Their generous gesture was accompanied with bottles of water and chips for the boys. They now want to teach me to cook Thai food and for us to join them in the upcoming Songkran festival.
I don’t think we have ever felt so welcomed by strangers. For someone to open their home, kitchen and heart to us is pretty special.