Thursday, January 21, 2010

Children, Part II

I’m not completely a people-person, but I am a children-person. I like children. And (partially I’m sure because they can tell that I like them) children like me.

Yes, this is painting with broad brush strokes. Children are individuals – as different from one another as adults are different from each other. But – in general – they listen better than adults, as they are intent on constantly learning about the world. They are slower to judge than adults. They have fresh eyes which they use to draw unique, insightful conclusions about the state of society. They are more transparent. They are curious. They can be terribly cruel, but it is a more straightforward cruelty that you can often see coming.

Children don’t bend as fully to the rules of society as adults. E.g. if a child wants to go climb a tree, then she goes to climb a tree. If a child feels like he needs to scream loudly, then what does he do? He screams. It’s refreshing. If I want to go climb a tree, as an adult, I have to consider who would see me climb said tree and what they would think. And even after the worst day of work, I can’t scream to release frustrations. It’s annoying.

In Rutsiro, after the second day of the foire, as we tugged bamboo stakes up from the ground and completed the last legs of our ticket-counting marathon, children gathered to stare. Five then ten then thirty-six then fifty-five.

A colleague started swinging at them with a stick to keep them back, like they were cattle.

As for me, I decided to help the situation by drawing them away from the piles of tickets. By giving them a bit of attention – by joking with them – by chasing them in sport.

I mimicked one boy speaking Kinyarwanda and the children surrounding me screamed with laughter. Literally, they screamed. With laughter. It is a wonderful, heady feeling – mob adoration. Soon my own stomach muscles were aching with my own laughter. A little boy (and then five or thirteen or twenty-nine more girls and boys) grabbed my hand – they pulled me over to show me the fire burning the trash from the foire (Cool!) – they showed me the big bug on the leaf of the coffee plant clinging to the side of the hill (Amazing!) – they showed me the karate stances they learned from Jackie Chan movies (Hahaha!). These are all things (fire! spiders! wild, uncoordinated joy!) that I find fascinating, too, and that adults overlook.

For the scant price of a bit of attention, the crowd of children treated me like a Rock Star. I gave them so little, and in return, they gifted me with enough energy to last me a month. I am so. Lucky.

The mamas and papas of the children were grinning, shaking their heads, watching us. They probably had a bit of work getting the children to unwind and calm down after I left. (A sincere apology, mamas and papas.) But I bet that most of the kids slept deeply through the night.

I know I did.


sparky said...

lovelylovelylovely. I feel the same way about children.

Rachel said...

Thanks, Sparky! :)

Carly said...

I love days like this! I had a strategy sometimes with my colleague in Bangladesh where I would purposely draw the kids away to play so she could actually get some work done!

Rachel said...

In Kitgum I was often in charge of corralling and entertaining all the children when my colleagues were doing presentations in Acholi -- that I couldn't take part in, obviously! It was the best job...

Aaron said...

YAY I can comment now!!! I love any story about children told from your point of view. You learn from everybody and that's awesome. I miss you loads!

-Allison :) (though I used Aaron's email account to sign in haha...he misses you too!)

Rachel said...

ALLLLLLLLLLLISON! Here are some fun facts for you & Aaron!

20 flights per week fly out of Washington, DC connecting to Kigali, RW! 7,320 seats are available per day to fly out of Washington, DC connecting to Kigali, RW!

Just some thoughts!!! By the way, my SAVE THE DATE better be swiftly (HAHAHA) winging its way through SkyPack!!!