5 Fun Childhood Experiences I wish to give My Child in a Foreign Land

By Ruth Santos

I was in a middle of a meadow, flowers all around me. Red, purple, and white… all so pretty. A slight breeze kissing my cheeks. I closed my eyes, turned my face upward towards the sun and let it bathe me in its light. How wonderful in this meadow! Then I felt a slight pull. Then a more insistent tug. I opened my eyes and found my daughter’s face. I was dreaming. We were in the bedroom sleeping. It is 2am. Then I hear her say the dreaded words… “Mommy dede please” (Mommy milk please).

Although this is a constant episode albeit in a different setting i.e. getting up from my comfortable slouch in the couch to make her milk, I know I am so blessed to have her here with me. After all, this is the Middle East where the usual scenario is that Filipino women leave their children in the Philippines for their job, to care for a child not their own. I pray that God give us the wisdom and guidance to be good parents.

But if possible, I hope my child can experience what my own childhood has offered. Below are 5 fun childhood experiences I wish I can give her. The substitutes may not be as grand but note that she also had numerous unique experiences growing up here which, she would not have had the opportunity to encounter had I sent her home to the Philippines. But that list is for sharing another time.

 

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Playing on the dirt street – imagine the scenario: children playing piko, patintero, or tumbang preso in the middle of the street, old folks on the sides, sitting on a bench exchanging stories (forget the one or two children sitting in front of the folks having their hair examined for…. lice? Bubblegum?) Such a stress-free relaxed atmosphere. Meanwhile, children here are mostly cooped up inside the four corners of a flat, not knowing their neighbors, and no development of neighborhood camaraderie. I try to bring her to Filipino gatherings to help her build rapport with other children.

 

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The chance of climbing the trees – Growing up, my sisters, playmates and I, each had our designated fruit trees to hang out on. It might be guava, mango, or santol. Call us monkeys if you will, but the experience is something I would like my daughter to also have. Yes, she can do it during vacation time when we go home to the Philippines, but it is really not the same. For now, she’s honing her climbing skills using the back of the sofas.

 

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Have fun in the rain – and as an afterthought, in the mud as well. I think my daughter doesn’t even realize what rain means. The slight drizzle that we have here is not one I will let her play in. In the meantime, we will take advantage of the availability of pools, bath tub, and showers.

 

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Have a constant childhood BFF – Unlike living in the Philippines where cousins or a neighbor who lives right next door get to be your best friend, in a foreign land, expat families such as us come and go. I am dreading her finding her best friend here and find her moving away (or us moving). It is a heartbreak she has to learn to endure when it happens.

 

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Learning to recognize the leaves – Give me a leaf and I’ll tell you from which fruit tree / plant they are or hazard a good guess based on their shape, size, and webbing. A lesson I wish my daughter can learn. I want her to know which is edible and which is not. As my grandfather is fond of saying, “this can be the difference between surviving in the wilderness and dying”. Good thing we have no imminent plan to travel to the wilderness in the immediate future. I do try to bring her often to the vegetable aisle of the supermarket so she can at least know her leafy vegetables.

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