I wonder why children in Thailand never seem to throw temper tantrums? I first noticed this on the song theaw coming back to Mae Sot from Mae La. I’ve described this mode of transport in earlier posts and it isn’t the most comfortable way to travel by a long chalk! Very often passengers share the space with sacks of produce, bundles of flowers/vegetables and boxes of various sizes, some of them quite large.
If it seems as if there will not be enough room for a group of passengers to get on, nobody ever “waits for the next one”. Instead they pile onto the back of the bus, crouch on the floor in the middle of the 2 rows of seats or hang precariously from the metal bars at the back of the truck. Children are often squashed between parents and strangers while we are bounced mercilessly at break neck speeds round corners and sent into sprawling heaps by the sudden braking that means yet another passenger is going to squeeze in.
Not once have I ever heard a child, of any age, complain, whine or cry. I watched a little girl, who was probably about 3 years old, maybe younger, sleep peacefully through all of the above on her mother’s lap. She had to be roused from sleep at journey’s end and I braced myself for the ear splitting cries of complaint. Nothing. She blinked blearily once or twice, yawned and allowed herself to be set down on unsteady legs as her mum negotiated the dismount. Brothers and sisters sit quietly together, the older one very often placing a protective arm around the younger, and they never fight!
I’ve mentioned this to my friends here and we have a few theories and observations about the whole thing. We may be wrong, but it seems to us that children, especially very young ones, are never very far from physical contact with a family member. Fathers also seem to play a prominent role in childcare. In Burmese culture the older members of the family are automatically taken care of by their offspring. You don’t have to negotiate this, it is the way things happen. No doubt grandparents have a large role to play in looking after the children too, whilst parents are working.
As I am unable to speak either Thai or Burmese (or Karen) I am left with speculation, observation and a few comments from the Burmese people I work with.
If anyone has any opinions on this topic, or more knowledge, please do comment in the box below. It is so very different to the way kids behave back home that I’m really interested to know why!
PS Please check out the previous blog post on Chinese New Year etc as I’m not sure that Facebook has notified everyone. xx