1. ‘I love the warm water, and we can swim in the sea soooo much!’ Although we lived at the coast in South Africa, the cold Benguela current meant that the sea temperature was always a fresh 12°C-14°C, unlike Samui’s balmy 28°C.
2. ‘I can buy a new DVD every Friday night with my pocket money!’... and the tooth fairy money, and money from Nan and Gran. DVDs in South Africa cost approximately ten times the price than they do here – ok, let’s not start the debate about pirated copies and what’s right and wrong, that is another issue altogether.
3. ‘We can have mojitos at Lucky’s on the market on Thursday nights.’ Now before you call in child services, Lucky makes her an alcohol-free version of our favourite minty cocktail, referred to as a ‘mocktail’. Who knows what her teacher thinks of us as parents when she casually mentions in class that she had three mojitos last night.
4. ‘When we go shopiiiiiing, I can bargain!’ Yes, she now says ‘shopping’ like a Thai, has learnt to haggle like a seasoned Asian shopper, and in her best Pidgin English asks, ‘Best price?’, getting the item for just over half the original amount each time. She has the body language down to pat too; always overly polite, wais hello, smiles and never gets hit up, walks away if the price is too high and the negotiating is not going her way. Many times I have seen a store owner hurrying after her, accepting the last price she offered. It is amusing to watch, and I have learnt a few tricks from her.
5. ‘I don’t have to wear shoes all the time.’ When we first moved here, and I registered Madison at the International school of Samui, I enquired about the uniform and footwear required. The uniform is lovely, made of cotton, designed for the climate, but looks very proper and school-like. The principal looked at me strangely when I asked him what the regulatory shoes were. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked. ‘They can wear flip-flops or any shoes; they only leave them outside anyway!’ Silly me.
As a 7-year old, I have to try keep the cheekiness in check. Kids this age start to push the boundaries, of what they can and can’t say to mom. In South Africa, she started with ‘Whatever’ accompanied by an eye roll, when I said something to her, that she didn’t agree with. (Thanks to watching Hannah Montana on TV) I soon put a stop to that, but now she thinks she is clever, and has found out the Thai word for whatever. Now I get ‘araigadai’ which worked, until I found out the meaning!
Moving to a new country has its challenges. These might be different for children than adults. They have their own problems and difficulties to deal with, like starting a new school, learning new customs, and making new friends. As a new adult expat, it is easy to forget that they might also be stressed by the situation, and things that may seem small or insignificant to us, may be a big issue for a 7-year old. I hope that Madison has grown from the experience, and I will try to see things in a new light, from her young eyes.
© Rosanne Turner