Thursday, April 09, 2009

The World

When you live in a small, closed community, such as an indian village, it is easy to lose touch with the larger world. The universe contracts and becomes the space you occupy and the people you see daily.

As an outsider and an adult, I still found this would happen to me occasionally, but for my children it could become normal for them to think the world revolved around our little village. The other villages along our river were 'foreign' like other countries even, and town, where Spanish was spoken, was down right alien. The strangest of all would be the 'gringo' people who would appear in our world from time to time.

Once, when my youngest daughter was but a toddler, we found ourselves in the village for a longer stretch than normal. We had not left the village in over 6 months and in the mind of a toddler, that was forever.

About that time a North American man and his grown son decided to fly out and visit us. When they arrived we were quite happy to visit and chat with them in English. They stayed with us for several days and were very kind and generous to our children, They had brought them coveted books and goodies from the US, so the kids were thrilled to have them as visitors.

Except for the baby.

She seemed very upset the first few days. Although normally a bubbly, out going child, she withdrew and became shy, even rude to the guests. After one meal where she refused to speak with the gentlemen, I had to take her aside and try to figure out her problem.

She began to cry and informed me that these men were speaking 'our' language! How did they know 'our' language? They we not 'our' family! Who had taught them to talk like us???? Of course, this was all expressed in the vocabulary of a 3 and a half year old.

I was floored! My blond, blue eyed child thought that our family alone spoke the English language! She felt threatened that strangers, who looked a lot like us, could waltz into her life and communicate intimatley with us in our family's private language! Her enitre world view had been shaken, she was insecure in who she was and where she fit into the big picture.

Because of this, we learned that we had to make an effort to leave the village fairly often, every two to three months, and spend a few weeks out of the jungle and way from the tribe so that the children would not get over whelmed with the outside world. Even so, we still had times when the children would come up with something that totally blew our minds as parents.

Such as when I was teaching my daughter about the US flag and that each state was represented by it's own star. She wanted to know which star represented our village.

Another daughter was learning map skills and I was called away for a few moments. I handed her a piece of chalk and asked her to draw a map of the world while I was out. Our school room had untreated cement floors, so I used the floor as a work space for the kids to do their drawings, spelling words, and even math drills.

When I returned, she had covered the floor with an amazingly accurate map of the world.

Her world.

In other words, the village.

The World


Lady Glamis said...

Wow, what a great post. I can't imagine what that would be like for a child! Quite traumatic, apparently. How do your children fare now?

Jungle Mom said...

Lady Glamis,
The children have all turned out surprisingly well. Here is a post about that written by my oldest daughter.

Gayle said...

I think I'm in trouble. You're three-year-old's logic seems perfectly reasonable to me! :)

Kathy said...

That's amazing! We just never realize what is going on in children's minds. Bless her heart! Now she has Paraguayan boys wanting her phone number! Who could figure???!

Sarah Joy said...

I can see how that would happen! It's funny how they interpret things, no matter how careful I am to explain the way things are.

Brenda said...

I think a post like this helps us understand the people we work with. If they have never left the part of the world they live in, how do they know of anything different. Just like children.

Paul always did drawings of the world as he saw it, I still have some of those, its so interesting.

Jientje said...

I was fascinated by your story. And children have a different outlook than grown ups, we don't always realize that, don't we?

redneck preacher said...

Compare this post to kids brought up by TV, commercials, liberal teachers, and rock music.

When our kids use words longer than two syllables or say sir or Ma'am or make a joke an adult understands the world thinks they are geniuses.

I would guess your kids have a better spin on life and are more confident in relationships than other kids.


Liz said...

Once I took my 5 or 6 year old son to downtown Caracas. Which is very 'different', compared to the part of the city where we live; is dirty and crowded (dangerous too).

We took the subway and stepped out in a totally strange place for him, he said "mom, I don't like this country!". I explained that we were in the same country, same city.. he couldn't understand!! To him, the train ride and the different ambiance was enough to believe we had travel to a foreign land.

It's amazing how children react and reason... usually they just take the facts, black and white. I find that very sobering, it shows that we as parents and adults have to explain things further; even though we might think that they don't 'get it'.

Pam said...

I love the way kids minds work! Great insight into what your kids needed.