Living Between Their Childhood and Mine
I posted a picture of Rory with her new bike a few weeks ago, and my friend Erin responded, “Where’s her new helmet?” I didn’t have a good answer-they do have a few in the stores, but we just hadn’t felt the need to buy them even though we all had them back in Iowa. It got me thinking about how differently we live here-like we’ve gone back in time.
When I started looking at all the differences I laughed out loud-in many ways we are living like we did the 1970’s, back before wrapping everyone in bubble wrap in the name of safety became a thing. Seatbelts are technically required but rarely used, trucks drive around with beds full of people, kids are playing outside in the streets with their friends. It’s not always the safest, but there is the standard argument that we survived the same kind of environment ourselves as children, and I feel like taking a step back is not a bad thing for any of us. Kids here are tougher and more independent; they don’t cry when they fall down or tell on each other, and I have to say I’m a little envious of that.
Family is a priority here. I have yet to see Mexican parents ignoring their children while they stare at their phones. Sunday is family day and the beaches are crowded with picnicking families. Los Abuelos (Grandparents) and other extended family are close by and involved on a daily basis. Children are respectful, well behaved and quiet. I’m told this is because if they aren’t a Mexican Mama will beat them for embarrassing her but I have yet to see anyone smack a child in public. When they’re on their own kids are allowed to run free a lot, riding their bikes and playing in the streets, older children minding the little ones. Does this sound familiar?
Children are also watched over by everyone and crime against children is much lower. There are no lock down drills, there is no worry of shooters in the schools. In many ways my kids are safer living here than they were in the United States.
There are differences that are just fun, like the cars. I’m glad I learned to drive a stick shift because that’s what most of them are-you pay more if you need to rent an automatic. VW bugs still roam the streets because they were manufactured in Mexico until the mid 1990’s, adding to the retro feel. When we first arrived the kids couldn’t figure out how to roll down the car windows in the taxis because they had never seen the kind that aren’t electric.
We have inadvertently brought our kids to a place that reminds me of my own childhood-less safety paraphernalia but more freedom. I find myself satisfied with the compromises we are making. Yes, they might break an arm, but they also might become expert tree climbers and better problem solvers. Yes, we might find the same kind of things back in the states, but it was just a happy accident that we found them here.
Despite the novelty, it’s not all sunshine and bellbottom pants (kidding, nobody wears those.) The crazy behavior of people on motorcycles is worth a whole post of its own. I don’t see car seats used past babyhood, certainly no boosters, which in Iowa were required until age 9 last I knew. Internet is slow, non-existent in some places. Smoking in public is still acceptable here while in Iowa it was banned indoors and out.
It’s also still 2015. Wifi is everywhere, everyone has a cell phone, ipads are being used in the schools. My kids love their ipods and we watch Netflix. The texting app Whatsapp will get you a response faster than anything except going in person. The internet is a huge part of life now, and our ability to work online allows us to have this digital nomad life, so I’m glad for that. Medical care is also just as good as it is in the states, and much cheaper, making it an improvement in my mind.
Living in Mexico doesn’t just show our kids another culture, it gives them a glimpse into their parents’ past while still having the best of today available to them. I can’t think of a better way to grow up, walking this line between their childhood and mine.