My kids aren’t rude…

My kids aren’t rude…

It’s hard being in a different culture that has its own “norms” for greeting each other. However, it gets more complicated when the social norms are different for non-locals. The kids are often overwhelmed with people calling out to them to come and “greet them”, kids touching them, adults grabbing at them, young and old asking for them to “share” give them what they have.

I gave a scenario to one of the locals that I have known for a long time. I asked him if a Ugandan child would just go to a stranger that was calling out to them. Or if was the norm for someone to pass by another person and start touching them and picking them up. He said no and chuckled, understanding what I was getting at.

When my kids shy away and stay quiet not saying anything, it’s assumed they fear and I quote “black people”. The adults ask why my kids are rude, they even grabbed my kids’ arms, picked them up all in an attempt to get their attention or a response. I have had kids ask, grab and even lick my kids’ candy. I think the part that really bothers me is it’s because they are different.

If this was the cultural norm, I would still be bothered but it would be something that I could understand and teach my kids more about. However, not EVERYONE acts this way.

I had someone yesterday compare us to Albinos which I am not offended but that is way off base. Just because of skin tone. In response to my kid not wanting to say hello, they asked, “What do they fear blacks?” My response was no, they just don’t like rude people getting in their face. They actually don’t judge who they like based on how they look, but on how they are treated. I said they have a very kind aunt who is “black”. That of course got a whole new confusing look, of which other ignorant questions pursued. It was like I was in a time warp going back to the 30’s.

Uganda has come a ways with some things, but there are so many things that they are just fooled about. Interracial marriage is assumed that it must be about money, which in Uganda is also a common misconception about “white foreigners” buying brides. Sure it happens that someone might marry for money, but it is not limited to color. The question was posed, about who my kids can marry, I simply said they can marry for love. It was a simple answer, but really I want to instill in my kids to marry someone who they love, who loves God, who loves others before themselves, who is respectful and trustworthy to name a few.

My kids do know they are different, but usually it doesn’t matter to them unless it matters to the other person. For instance, at school Jacob has an international classroom, kids from, Uganda, England, Australia, America, Canada, Iceland and other African countries. He plays with them all, he struggles with sharing with all, he has his favorites, and he doesn’t point out differences, but similarities in interests.

It comes down to exposure and education, when you are exposed to things that are different and then open your mind to learn about them. After that then make your judgment, but don’t judge an entire culture or group of people based on that one person.

My son told me yesterday as we were leaving, “I don’t like that guy” (he used his name). I asked why, he said “Because he is always taking my stuff.” I just chuckled and said, I bet that makes you mad, just try and be nice, even when others aren’t. To be honest, this kid is book smart, but lacks truth and is easily deceived by what he sees on television. All we can do is try and teach him truth and help him see something different than what he has experienced in the past.

It is such a world problem we have when it comes to preconceived misconceptions. I am just telling my story from just the other day, and unfortunately it happens more than I like. However, when people are willing to open their minds and hearts and look past what they see on the outside and look into the heart of people amazing things can happen. Our world would be a better place if we would all put away our judgements and educate ourselves in the beautiful differences that God has made us to be.

I read a book just the other day “Nobody likes me” by Roy and Doris Nichols. It’s a great story about how a bunny named Rusty is a bit different and gets made fun of. He runs away to find someone just like him, he finds that no one is just like him on the outside. He meets the Elephant who explains that we look different because God made each of us special, but he made us all the same on the inside. We all want others to like us and we all need friends.

I am so thankful that we have found friends, for ourselves and our kids. We have similarities and differences. The book goes on to say that we need to feel special and loved. Rusty the rabbit says he doesn’t feel special when he is teased, and the wise elephant says you are special whether you are teased or not. Rusty realizes he misses home and that he will give them another chance, his friends missed him and when he told them that he didn’t want to be teased they listened.

So in life not everyone is going to “get it” but it is important that we teach ourselves, our kids, and others around us that God loves us and we should love one another. All that to say, my kids can be rude but not always on purpose.

Love someone today, BECAUSE they are different!