Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Traditions, Boxes and Me

I blog in my head most of the day. It’s a constant narrative voice describing or explaining bits of life; mine or others. However, when the babes are finally napping and i have a few moments alone i suddenly feel exhausted, the voice in my head is less then a whisper and my eyes are barely half open. But i so badly want that voice to live in this cyber world that i will push right through this sleepiness and demand that the words in my head spill out onto this screen.
So, I’ve been thinking and observing alot about this place and some of the ways of life here and whether i like them or not i just find it completely amazing how we have all found ways to go about life here on earth. All over the world people have managed to build little communities, raise families, eat, sleep, laugh, cry, play and fight. We all do it differently and some with more success than others but we all have ideas of how these simple things in life should be done.
Here, just around the corner from our apartment in Punta Paitila is a little park. It’s a quaint park right on the water, one that most people all over the city know about and come to when they can. But, on any given afternoon beginning about 5 o’clock when the sun isn’t beating down on the unshaded playground, children from the neighborhood come to play with either a mama or a nanny or both. I’d say there are more nannies than mamas by a good portion. And this is one phenomenon that fascinates me and saddens me a bit. Here in Panama, it is quite normal and any other way is quite unnatural, for children to be raised by nannies. Whether or not the mother works outside of the home she has a nanny for her children and often one nanny per child. You can tell them apart from the mamas at the parks, on the sidewalks, at the ballet studios and the music classes by the way they interact with the children, not to mention their nurse-like uniforms and the mismatched color of their skin with that of the child’s.
This whole idea that someone else raises your children is so foreign to me. Usually, the nanny lives at the house in a tiny room shared with the maid without hot water or air conditioning. The whole maid thing is strange to me, too but i am taking advantage of that luxury and trying to enjoy it. Which i do, but i don’t really like someone in my space all the time. I’m from the United States. Land of space where we all yearn for and take up as much space as we want. We are space hoarders and we really like our space. We want space so badly and if we don’t get it or it doesn’t feel, look or smell right we go to therapy and try to air out more space inside to make the space outside more tolerable. I don’t think people here know about therapy. Which is sad because things are either shared or buried and i think most things are buried here. There is so much that isn’t ok to feel, let alone talk about in this culture and i am not even going to pretend that i know the half of it. I do know, at least i observe, that there are many boxes here that are the same shape and size of everyone else’s in your allotted class and it is best if you fit and stay nicely in your box so as not to surprise or offend anyone. I’m not sure what people make of me because i don’t really fit that well in the box that they had set aside for me. I’m white and foreign so i most likely belong to the upper classes but my hair is rarely done, hands unmanicured, outfit mismatched and i smile at doormen and say hello to the “help”. Hmmmm. Oh, and i venture out with two babies ALONE. My nanny must be sick. How do i manage? Even the nannies at the park as me why i don’t have a nanny. I say that i don’t want one and i enjoy taking care of my children and they get very confused.
I know, that is long-winded and might not even make sense but isn’t this blogging thing like free therapy? I’m not attempting an essay here, just taking off the top and letting some steam out.
Ok. more to come. babes need me…………….

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