Today marks 3 weeks since we left Australia, and what has been apparent since day 1 of our travels is that we stand out. A lot. People stare at us every time we go out. At first this bothered me – it’s uncomfortable being stared at – but when I sat down and thought about it from the locals’ perspective I realised that yeah, we look pretty foreign. And, well, that’s what we are: foreigners.
Firstly, we’re white, and that’s uncommon in this region. The most white faces I ever see in one place are at tourist spots. Also, three of us have blonde hair and I sport some fairly cute, but unusual-to-the-area, ringlets 😉
Secondly, we’re a large family. Aside from my 6’3” husband (looking quite the Viking with his long hair and beard), most families we have seen have 1-2 children max, and we have 3. I learned while in Singapore that there was a push in the 1970s & 80s by family planning to only have 2 children and that seems to be their cultural norm today.
So sticking out quite obviously in public makes it all the more harder when I’m trying to rein in my children’s rambunctious behaviour.
I’ve raised my children to be fairly free-range and in Australia that’s okay. I’m part of Australian society so I get to contribute to its social standards, and mine are that children are allowed to express themselves freely, occupy space in public, and be free from ageism/childism. But now we are living in areas where children’s behaviour is much more reserved and my free-range children have arrived completely oblivious to it.
So we’ve been having lots of conversations with our kids about how we are guests in these countries and that we need to observe the behavioural norms and follow accordingly. We have been attempting to raise their awareness that when we unleash them on a playground that it can be very intimidating to the one or two other children there (who may be only-children themselves) who watch, wide-eyed, as my three swarm a ride like locusts shouting and laughing and chattering with each other with exuberant joy. I’m trying to frame it that while my children aren’t wrong, it’s just that we need to be respectful and polite when we are guests somewhere.
After three weeks of talking, feeling exasperated, whispering urgent reminders, and battling my feelings of embarrassment as I do this under the near-constant gaze of locals, I think we have finally gotten through to them. We were reaching a point where my husband and I were simply too reluctant to go out with the kids because it was exhausting to have to go through this each time, but yesterday we went out and the kids did great. In the words of my eldest: “we need to be nicer and calmer in their country”. Phew!
Back in the apartment, however, they continue to be as joyfully exuberant as ever… 😉
#freerangekids #unschooling #worldschooling #raisingsociallyconsciouskids