Friday, October 10, 2008

The Best of Brazil-Attitude Towards Kids

Today the kids had an ice cream social at school to celebrate "Children's Day" which is on Sunday. I have seen advertisements for celebrations to be held all over the city-it's a big deal here.

Pedro likes to feel like one of the big kids now:

Children's Day is very indicative of one of my favorite things about Brazilian culture: Brazilians love kids! Seeing that I have 4 such creatures, I really appreciate this about Brazilians. When I lived in Small Town, one of my best friends was Brazilian and I had never met anyone who got so excited over kids that weren't her own. I thought she was just a super unique person, and come to find out, there's a whole country of people like her! (not to take anything away from her, she is a wonderful person!)

It was one of the first things I noticed when we moved here last year, how people gushed over Pedro. And having lived here a bit longer, I have seen so many more examples of it:

-Sometimes when I am out running with Pedro, a group of scary-looking-tough guys will be walking towards us and I get a little nervous because of all the street crime here. But, it never fails, as we get closer they all get big goofy grins on their faces and they wave and say hello to Pedro. I tell Guapo that Pedro is better protection than a dog in these parts!

-All stores have a special express line for people shopping with kids under 5. (during busy shopping hours I make sure I have Pedro with me, just so I can use this speedy line!)

-In the airport, when you arrive with kids, everyone ungrudgingly lets you go to the front of the immigration and customs lines. And, we have no fear of getting stopped in customs with our 18 bags and $1000's of dollars of merchandise (there is a $500 limit on new goods) as long as we have the kids with us. We push them up in front of us and they are our golden ticket with the customs agents.

-Places like malls and the larger grocery stores have, in addition to normal restrooms with changing tables, rooms designed just for changing diapers and nursing moms.

-Brazilians expect kids to act like kids, and so they are not at all shocked or annoyed to have kids running around screaming. Even when kids are misbehaving (like Pedro throwing a fit in the store because he wants down NOW!!!), they seem more amused by it than anything else.

-Some of the nicest restaurants have indoor play areas for kids (usually staffed with someone to keep an eye on them).

-Teachers are very loving and affectionate (and not in a creepy way) with their students. Every morning when I take the kids to school, I always see kids being greeted by their teachers with big hugs and kisses (again, not in a creepy way, it is part of the Brazilian culture to kiss when you greet someone-once on each cheek). The same thing happens at the end of the school day.

Brazilians just have a different outlook on kids that I find refreshing. They are very respectful of childhood- it's like they really get that children are only children for a brief time, and so they find them and their actions and their words enchanting (for lack of a better word). They nurture and care for their kids unlike any culture I have ever seen before.

I feel like living here has helped me to better appreciate and accept my kids for what they are-kids!-and not little people who should act like adults.

(Oh how I wish I could bottle it up and give it to all the people we will ever have to sit next to on long flights!)

So, give your kids an extra hug on Sunday in honor of Brazilian Children's Day!


Awesome Mom said...

Wow that line ting is a great idea! I would also love it if parents of little kids got special parking too so that you have plenty of room to open the doors and get the kids out of the car seat.

Unknown said...

This is a great post to motivate a mom to move to Brazil! I love the special express line idea!

lizzy-loo said...

I miss Brasil!!

Ballerina Girl said...

Great post Gabriela!
Yes, Twilight has been on my mind...hahaha

and I think yes, to the Halloween party. BUT, one problem, B wants a costume?!?!? Any ideas...
remember I DO NOT SEW...not one stitch, not one button...


Code Yellow Mom said...

This sounds wonderful. I would love it if I knew my kids got a hug and a kiss at the beginning of every day fromn their teachers. I think that is precious.

(One of my favorite memories from my mission is of the two cheek kisses every where we went. I like that kind of affectionate greeting. Americans sometimes take their personal space a little too seriously. ;))

Childhood really is so fleeting. How great that they celebrate it so well in Brazil.

Janet said...

Wow, that is really cool! I wish you could bottle it up too and send it some American's I know.

Super Happy Girl said...

That's pretty awesome. I had no idea :)
The express lines for families is a great idea. How come we don't do that here, like lines for moms w/kids or express lines for people with full shopping carts?

Pedro is such a cutie, no wonder he's getiing you places ;)

marine's words said...

wow these is aswesome idea! and it would be nice if you could bottle it up and send it to the states ") marina

andalucy said...

What a fun post! I've heard that about Brazilians. I didn't feel like that was true of Venezuela, did you? The Venezuelans didn't even notice kids because they were too busy wondering how their hair looked. ;-)

nikko said...

I that's wonderful -- to have a whole society devoted to children!

CC said...

Maybe children are loved and adored where you are but that's not the case everywhere in Brazil.

I remember reading shocking stories of how orphaned children forced to live on the streets of Rio De Janeiro are treated and how Police officers would routinely shoot them like stray dogs.

Yeah. What a great country. They really love children.

One Article Of Many Regarding Brazilian Street Children.

Hmmm, in America we may not have Children's Day but then we also don't shoot our homeless kids.

Gabriela said...

Elastic Waistband "lady": Sorry for looking for the good in the places that I live. I guess I should just blog about all the crap I see.

And I am talking about Rio, because that's where I live. Have you been here? Do you know what it's like here? Hmmmmm.

And, unfortunately, sometimes horrible crimes are committed against kids in the US too.

Wouldn't you agree?

Jason from London said...

I would have to say I agree with everything you have said and think it is great. I am an Australian living in London with my Brazilian wife, and now that we are here it is great to find things so easy.

I notice one of the comments was about parking. In london most shopping centres and car parks have priority parking for cars carrying kids under 4. These spaces are usually near the door and have decent space between, so you can actually get the door open and get the child out. Unfortunately there are so many inconsiderate people in London the spaces are often filled by people who don't need them.