Today (even though I have sooo many things to write about and catch-up on) I’ve decided to write a little bit about the cute kids we’ve seen so far – and about something really special and different I’ve noticed about the kids here in South-East Asia.
It’s probably worth saying that I’m not a kid person. I think random babies are cute, but as soon as they make any type of noise, I am out of the immediate area like a shot. I don’t do toddlers (or they don’t do me, whatever) and any kid older than that takes one look at me and quickly finds somewhere else to be. Only one baby has ever captured my heart, and that would be my baby cousin, Nicholas. Or as I call him, Baby St. Nick.
So apart from him, there’s no real attraction to kids for me. Until we reached Malaysia. There is just something about the kids here. Something that kids back in Australia don’t have or don’t exude like the littlies here do. And it’s actually really great.
Today we went to see the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, a revered prime minister of Vietnam. The Vietnamese loved HCM so much, they named the capital of Vietnam after him. So he did some pretty great stuff for Vietnam/the people – if this post was about him I’d tell you, but it’s not so I won’t. Google it, okay?
When we were there it was obviously “school excursion” day, because there seemed to be whole schools worth of children there, all excited and waiting to go into the mausoleum and then parts of the museum. And they were adorable. They were waving and laughing and saying hello, and they all wanted to shake my hand or get a high five. SO. CUTE.
And I was walking around with these cuties, wondering why I was constantly making that high-pitched ‘squeeeee’ sound whenever we saw a cute kid, and why it only started when we reached Asia. It could be a preference for babies of Asian descent, like my friend Bek, who thinks they’re just beyond adorable. But as I kept thinking and mentioned it to my mother, I realised what it actually was.
The kids here are so free.
They’re not constantly being screamed at to get off the road, come inside, don’t say that, be quiet, don’t touch that, sit down, come here, etc. Directions that I personally remember from my childhood, as I definitely heard them more than once. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I mean, nobody wants to sit still and be quiet when you really want to tell mum about the huge kangaroos you saw in the scary swamp. I’m also not saying that discipline is bad for kids – without it you run the risk of ending up with crazed delinquents for offspring instead of the darling kids you always wanted.
But in the parts of Asia I’ve been lucky enough to see (Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia & Laos – if you’re new) have little kids who seem to be without the kind of rules and regulations children in the Western world have to listen to each day. You can tell there’s still order and rules and they understand to do as their parents say, but you rarely see enforcement or worry about what the kids are up to.
How many times have I written “kids” now…*
I’ve seen so many three year olds run out into the middle of the road, and the parents don’t even blink. I was so astonished the first time it happened that I felt the urge to call out to the little girl or grab her and take her away from the road. But the parents here just don’t worry. Kids aren’t wrapped in cotton wool – and yes, I know the road incident makes it sound like little kids here must die all the time**, and you’re probably thinking the parents are irresponsible, not worry-free.
But they’re not. They just let the kids be. They can talk as much as they want and the parents don’t mind. And it’s such a great change from the kids at home who you see in the supermarket being continually shushed. You can see the difference – here kids are just happy to be doing whatever, they rarely cause a fuss and they’re always smiling. Except for this little boy I saw today who lost his ball, but even crying he was adorable. I’ve clearly been won-over by the kiddies.
It’s been such an eye-opening experience to be around the kids who just give off such good vibes about their lives. There’s no obvious misery or inhibitions in their lifestyles. And it’s actually made me seriously consider taking another year off uni to live overseas and teach English to younger kids, who will no doubt keep me smiling. This has also been influenced by the great stories I heard from a guy I met on the boat at Halong Bay (I’ll write about it soon, promise!) who taught all ages of kids in China and he said it was a really amazing experience.
So there’s an idea for the future – and it’s also a form of sustained travelling (meaning I can travel and whatever I do when I’m travelling pays for part of/all of the travelling) which is great too.
*I’m going to guess over 100 – someone count and I’ll find a cute present for you!
** I’m not going to look up children mortality rates and the causes of death because it will no doubt make me miserable – I advise you all to just keep yourself in the dark and Google ‘Britney Spears tattoo’ instead. It’s pretty tragic/hilarious/omg.