While we are staying at our last hotel in Otavalo, it seemed as though the owners had a general dislike of children. Hints like the fact that our room was the farthest from the central part of the building, the owner’s ‘first-impression’ request of me to make Stewart put a rug down (for fear of it getting dirty), and our e-mail correspondence recommending we stay elsewhere seemed to make me think that we were not freely welcome (the condition was- if your kids are good then you may stay but feel guilty and tense the whole time...)
I later had an interesting conversation with the owner, Margaret. As we talked, she gave me lots of advice about not riding buses, watching for pickpockets, etc. There were stories of how children had broken this or that, and destroyed this or that and how much money it had cost her to have destructive children at her hotel.
I think I said something about the complexity of children’s naievete and genius. I said something about how culturally our children are not accepted freely, rather they are sequestered until they reach a certain level of maturity (or have been manipulated to achieve a desired behavior).
I don’t think she heard me,
I said something about exampling mutual respect for one another, and responsibility.
She agreed, and said something about parent’s responsibility to pay for damaged things.
This very thing has caused me much anxiety when we are in these unfamiliar places. (I freaked out when Stewart dropped a piece of pottery at a shop we had to gone in to get stamp. All those touchable things! I paid $2 to recover the goods lost but I was still bitchy about it.) I try to stay away from shops and museums. I aim at providing enabling experiences, where I don’t feel the pressure to control, A difficult feat when traveling.
I haven’t studied child psychology and I don’t claim a full understanding of children. I do know that they are amazingly complex. Their understandings are surprising. It seems that their brains are like shifting puzzles, full of continually developing nuances. They get a lot of things, and they do an excellent job of pretending to get things, when they think they are supposed to. They are easily manipulated (manipulating comes naturally to me with my kids, even though I don’t want it to).
They are equally controllable and not.
So, what do do? How do I introduce them to the world (without over-explaining and being tuned-out)?
I want to learn how to nurture the essence of who they are. How do I provide experiences which enrich their person-hood, and awaken their understanding of how others in society interact with each other and their world? And, how do I facilitate three unique individuals growth at one time?
All of this makes me feel overwhelmed.
I don’t know how to do this reasonably.
Sometimes, I see that those around us are enlightened by their presence. Around the next turn people seem annoyed (or annoy-able). I wonder how to maneuver through these situations.
I decided not to take the kids to the market in which Otavalo is famous for. They were either too tired or too hyper. I'm sad about that. We leave Otavalo today and to north to Ibarra.
Photos: At El Parque de Condor www.parquecondor.org.