BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Children

In Vancouver children are seen as a lifestyle choice. As such you are pretty much regarded in a similar light to someone who is pushing a poodle dressed up in a pink sweater around in one of those dog strollers. Some people (admittedly few) think your child is soooo cute, while the rest of the world feels inconvenienced because you've tried to do something silly like getting onto the bus with a stroller. In Vancouver, having children means that you have chosen to stop being a productive member of the economy, and have succumbed to your more primitive instinctual self by reproducing.

The population of Victoria is heavily weighted towards seniors, politicians and tourists. Generally people are pretty relaxed, friendly, the sun is always shining, etc... In Victoria, Nikolai became elevated to the position of a demi-god. He could completely ignore the store clerk, bus driver, random person on the street and they would spend all their time cooing, peak-a-booing (is that a verb?) just to coax a smile out of my reluctant son. If he proffered as much as a small smile, or a "hi" then everyone would be in awe of the smart baby.

In Maynooth (I can't promise to be speaking about Dublin here, and certainly not all of Ireland), the old Irish stereotypes seem to hold true. Children are a fact of life here, and all of Nikolai's cutest smiles, "Hellooo", "Bye bye", or preening usually doesn't get a response. I'm hoping this isn't too detrimental to Nikolai's self-esteem as he got use to being the little Sultan while in Victoria. This is probably because they have a high birth rate. Most of the mums in my toddler group (we're talking under 3 years old) either already have 2-3 children or are pregnant. Apparently having two under 2 is normal.

When I first arrived, I assumed that children were allowed to be loud, crying, destructive little creatures. This is because for the first 3 weeks Nikolai was a loud, tantruming, destructive little creature (I'm sure that it was because everything was too new, we were a mess, the country was in the middle of a National disaster, and he had Roseola). Anyways, during that period people kept telling me "don't worry about him screaming, we've all been through it", "he's a little boy, don't worry if he's throwing books around the library" etc. Once Nikolai settled down into the routine I looked at the other children around us. They were all polite, quiet and gentle beings... and I realized that I had mistaken the polite assurances of strangers to be the rules of the culture.

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