Children’s Day in Thailand is kind of like a day without hierarchy. Kids don’t have to sweep up leaves or pick up after their elders, but get to run wild and reckless, being celebrated for being that precious age of anything is possible. At my 122’s site this past Saturday, I helped her run a booth in her town’s celebration. She had a large map from a different project that sort of fell through and a group of seventh (I think?) grade girls that wouldn’t commit to a youth group, but would make the effort to hang out with her occasionally and help with things. They labeled the map in the previous week and made up an activity that kids will pick a country from a can, find it on the map, and then color it in. There were a few games after that, but you don’t want to read the explanation. There are pictures instead.
Sarah and I were really happy to see the older girls helping the young bucks and really take leadership roles in running things. We’re hoping this helps build their confidence in their ability to give back to their community. They got a little ballsy inviting themselves over to Sarah’s to play the guitar-like instrument given we were both a little tired from waking up early for the event. They told us they were going to make us som dtam too (papaya salad, known for being very spicy and some interesting additions like raw fish). I’m not really a fan of the dish and we had broken the new Tesco Lotus ‘Market’ (almost like a real grocery store!) cherry the previous day and had plans for spaghetti, cheese, and wine that evening. They made a different kind for us and it ended up being the BEST som dtam I’ve eaten in Thailand. The girls were afraid it wouldn’t be good, Sarah and I were raving about it. We’re farangs, we’re weird. Like little elves, they cleaned up afterwards too. I asked Sarah if she could imagine a group of seventh graders helping you with a project, inviting themselves to your house after, making you lunch, doing the dishes, and then doing a jigsaw puzzle. You can tell she’s been here a year longer to me, the idea of that being out of the ordinary didn’t even occur to her at first. I look forward when that day arrives for me.