Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Davey day care
I don't talk too much about the friends I've made when travelling, mostly because people are annoying and time-consuming so I try to limit human interaction as much as possible. But every so often I'll meet someone who's fun and friendly enough to spend some time with, like Eshen.
I'll get this out of the way first - Eshen's a lot younger than my friends usually are. I thought it was a bit weird when I hung out with 19-year-olds in South Korea, but Eshen's only just turned two. She's certainly the first friend I've made while travelling who was born within the life span of this blog, specifically when I was on the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia (where were you on 18 April '11?)
But we haven't let this age gap be an obstacle to our friendship, maybe because people are less judgemental about that over here. I've seen loads of really old foreign men at my hotel with really young Filipina 'friends' and they seem to be getting on just swell. The language barrier isn't any greater than it would be with a child who could barely speak any other language either, and it's about the same as it was with the adult Koreans to be honest. Eshen speaks about as much English as I do Bisaya, but it's usually easy to work out what she's talking about when she invites me to play popular games like throwing her bag across the room, pretending to eat invisible food for three hours, pretending to be shot in the head (classic), placing coins between her toes or just openly laughing at my face even when I'm not pulling a face.
Until she starts crying for no reason and I call for her mother or Auntie Jackie. I can't deal with this drama queen stuff. But I'm learning.
Spending time around anyone's family is a big deal for me, considering I haven't even seen anyone from my own family for five years. Given the choice I would have postponed meeting Jackie's family for as long as courtesy allowed (probably a lot longer), but she had her reasons for wanting to introduce me before we went abroad together, so I had get over my discomfort.
Once I crossed that line and started to meet these people it was less daunting to see them again, especially as it wasn't fair if Jackie had to make the double-jeepney trip from Tibungco to my hotel in Davao City every day. Because she isn't quite as wholly selfish as me, she puts herself to use during these home visits by doing housework and other chores that sometimes leave me with the responsibility of looking after her neice Eshen and nephew Zyq, who's slightly older so admittedly less adorable, but does have the advantage of a name that would be phenomenal for Scrabble if names were allowed (we're talking minimum 72 points with a triple word score for just three letters. I presume that's what his parents were thinking).
Children are basically another species to me, and I spend as much time laughing at Eshen's alternately adorable and ridiculous antics as being scientifically fascinated by her developing speech and reasoning abilities. It's amazing. I have a small family and none of my friends ever had children, so this is the first time I've interacted with kids since being one myself, and in Eshen's case the first time I've had to deal with the inexplicable whims and mood swings of a toddler since my youngest brother in the early 90s. There's no way he's almost 22 now, that would be completely ridiculous. These calendars are wrong.
Now I've finally found a partner I can imagine being with for a long time, right up to the point where my premature death from poor nutrition parts us, I realised I could see these kids grow up and be part of their lives, in Eshen's case being around for as long as she'll remember as Tito (Uncle) Dave, or 'Da Da Da' as she prefers. I've had worse nicknames.
It's been an experience. An informative, sometimes stressful and consistently confusing experience. It's fun to play at having a normal life for a change and I haven't killed anyone yet.