Saturday 28 August 2010

Winter fledgling

The Baby moved out today, gone flatting with four strange (though hopefully not actually strange at all) boys over in the city, and we've all moved on a stage. It's already odd, knowing she's not here - although in practice, when she was, she was always in her room anyway so it's not as if things have changed markedly, except that there's still icecream in the freezer. But knowing that she's gone, even if it turns out to be only temporary, makes the house feel different.

It's a very Western thing, I think. In so many of the places I've been, especially Peru and Ecuador, childhood is a much more independent time. These children above, for example, we came across just wandering along the road out in the country, all by themselves. They're well dressed, and it was school holiday time, so there was nothing odd about it - they were just out, looking after themselves while Mama was busy. They probably counted themselves lucky, able to play unsupervised (near, I remember, a spectacularly steep ravine), unlike this little girl, who had to help her mother with the shopping.
They'd been to market, come home on the back of a truck, and hired this donkey to get the shopping home around the rim of a volcanic crater lake. Then, I imagine, someone - possibly the little girl - would have to return the donkey and go home back again.
Children who grow up playing unsupervised on the roof of their house must see life very differently from our pampered, protected offspring with their computers and MP3 players and impatience at being asked to empty the dishwasher - and their mothers, too, with none of our leisure for fretting over what is nothing more than the natural course of events.

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