Little Big People


Six years old and she has the world all figured out.  Wait, Mia would correct me-six and a HALF.  And in some ways, she is spot on-her innocent and uncomplicated thoughts could be used to solve global problems and questions about mankind’s complex nature.  The other day, we were walking home from school and a military convoy pulled up and a Senegalese soldier hopped out to do a road check and he happened to have a machine gun slung over his shoulder.  Well, Mia was shocked and indignant as to why there was a man walking around with a big gun.  She told me, “Mum, I don’t like guns at all.  I think he should go and throw it out and then he can’t hurt people.”  I totally agree.

Mia also clearly ponders about other issues here in Senegal, I can practically see her little brain questioning situation after situation in her own simple, yet smart, six-year old way.  Last week, she asked why there are so many children here who live on the streets.  I responded that their mummies and daddies couldn’t take care of them or they didn’t have any families of their own.  She then wanted to know why mummies and daddies have children when they can’t take care of them.  Sometimes I struggle for the right answer, that’s for sure.  I tried to tell her that even big people sometimes make mistakes and want to take care of their families but just aren’t able to.  She keeps asking more thought-provoking questions, though, and sometimes, it’s hard for me not to appear jaded or stumped as to what to say.   So, I just roll with it and let her continue chatting and answer as best as I can.

However, my daughter does have the negotiating part of a conversation down pat.  In fact, one of her favorite ways to begin a sentence these days is “Mum, how about you do this….”, or “Okay, so I have a great idea….”.  More times than not, I think to myself, “Wow, this child is ALREADY a diplomat.”  Gentle pushing is her forté.  Her ideas and solutions are so persuasive and effective, they could be used at the UN.  Often, the recipient has no idea that they have caved in to her demands.

My four-year-old, Zoë, is not as suave or sleek as Mia.  It’s not just the age difference, it’s who they are.  Zoë has always been more sensitive and much less savvy than her big sis, Mia.  Zoë doesn’t see steps two and three before step one, she just rolls with her heart.  Mia, in a very sweet way, is a calculated and clever thinker, particularly if she has something in mind that she would like.  It would be different if she were 25, but at 6 years old, it’s a bit cheeky, but it’s still cute.  Z, on the other hand, is full of wonder, chatter, and questions, but in a very innocent and blissfully unknowing way.  She just wants to know things like why roses are pink.  She is curious and engaging as well, but in a much more unintended fashion.

Even Remi, my inquisitive, precocious 19-month-old is speaking in sentences and practically on her way to solving global issues.  She can roll out a whole spew of baby chatter with a few solid, key words thrown in there very convincingly.  It all sounds very real and surprisingly incredibly grown-up.  Adorable and scary.

Part of me is so curious to see what my children will end up doing as adults and how they will be as big people.  Then again, most of me just wants them to stay little forever so I can protect them from the complicated, crazy world in which we live.  When I tell Mia that I am just going to have to freeze her at six years old, I get a resounding and horrified “Noooooooooo!!!” as an answer from my sassy little girl.  So, big sigh, age seven (going on 22), here we come……..


One response »

  1. good to find another expat mom, with similar struggling issues.. when we think we’ve figured things out (about the kiddos!), and filmy believe we’re doing the right thing, I find myself heading down (again!). Great to know that my 3 yr old daughter (going on 13!) is not “the only one”…. Cheers! R.

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