Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Children's Toys

I wrote several blogs during my three weeks in the north but was unable to post them due to slow internet here's one for now.

The concept of ‘babyproofing’ that we have in the states seems to be a foreign concept in the northern areas of Pakistan. Toddlers and babies in the villages I was visiting must have surely developed a vendetta against me, as I was constantly taking away fun things like sickles, axes, scissors, knives, and small metal things they were about to swallow. Even sitting in someone living room I could not feel at ease, as every ten minutes it seemed like a baby was crawling around with scissors, sticking her fingers in a socket, or pulling on a cord which would lead to something crashing down on their heads.

You might think I am being paranoid and that kids here can play with such things while avoiding incident, but I’ve seen a two year old with at least 2nd degree burns from playing with a hot iron and I watched his eight month old cousin fall headfirst off the top of a freezer. People here do their ironing on the floor so it extremely easy for a child to get ahold of a plugged in iron.

Part of the problem might be a lack of safe things to play with. Whereas in the US we have an abundance of toys and playthings to keep babies busy, here children do not have such things. They play with kitchen appliances and whatever happens to be on the floor. If there is a doll or teddy bear in the house this is surely thought of as a decoration piece and not something to be messed up by the baby.

Not only was I constantly worried about the children, but I was afraid for myself as well. Why? Because there is a rumor going around these parts that wearing diapers causes bad eyesight, so in order to protect their eyesight babies and un-potty trained toddlers are NOT wearing any sort of diaper. I suggested that they use cloth washable diapers instead of the suspected brand Pampers, but in two weeks nobody seemed ready to try my suggestion. Usually I’m quite keen to play with and hold babies, but when they could go any time without protection….no thanks!

Here it’s common for mothers to leave their children with various friends and relatives during the day. My hypothesis is that because most women do not work and spend their time at home tending to the fields, they enjoy having some excitement around like a small child. Once I went with eighteen women, a baby and toddler to town and all the women were fighting over who got to hold the kids.

I’m thinking that if Duarte and I raise our children in Pakistan I will live in a constant state of paranoia when visiting friends’ homes. Surely we won’t leave the kids with anyone else unless they keep things like sickles and axes where children can’t reach them!

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