||[Mar. 24th, 2005|05:42 pm]
Kids are funny here...
Reactions vary by age group to the 'toubab'. Little ones have a tendency to run screaming or burst into tears (theory goes that the only contact they've had with a toubab is when they're given shots/hospital visit sort of thing). There's one three year old in my compound who just howls in terror every time he sees me...the mother chuckles, the rest of the inevitable group of ladies standing around chuckle and I just shake my head. Others a little older than him have the opposite reaction and run screaming towards me, yelling 'hello' or 'toubab' at the top of their lungs.
Past a certain age the requests for 'minty' or 'pen' or 'money' take over and kids lose a bit of their charm. Some (as the one I had following me from work today) take the rejection in stride, and we had a nice conversation about his school, where I'm from, and the usual questions (although not so much from children!) about my marital status and how many kids I have. Others haven't taken the rejection quite so well and get rather adamant about being given something.
I've had some scary moments when 10-12 yr old boys get rather aggressive trying to prove their manliness or whatever...
There are sooo many children in this country that you have to deal with hordes of them on a daily basis. I've gotten much better at it (wasn't used to the company of children before I came here) but it's tough sometimes. I don't want to let the cheeky ones away with their poor behaviour and can be quite stern, but I don't want to cross the line of being the 'mean' toubab and further damage an already fragile (and in some cases I imagine justifiably negative) impression.
Hm, I have a lot of opinions on the topic, but no more time to ramble on...have to remind myself to write down my observations of parenting style/effects on children here.