Lately I've been trying to talk to Nico and Luca about how grateful we should be for all the good things we have in our lives. One reason for this is that Thanksgiving is coming up and I'm trying to highlight the concept.
Another reason is that I'm totally sick of listening to whining. "Why did you give me socks that are inside out?", "What are these small green things I see on my chicken?", "Why do we always have to treat Luca like he's the king of the universe and I'm just a piece of dirty dirt?", "Why did I know how to count to 900 yesterday and now I can't? Why Mommy, WHHHHHHYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!"
Yes, I know that children whine, but it still drives me nuts. I suppose that all parents have their strategies for dealing with this but as far as I can see, none of them are 100 percent effective (except perhaps for those who often wind up getting tell-all books written about them by their adult children). Anyway, back to my point, which is that we are very lucky people despite the fact that we must occasionally eat foods we do not like and wear inside-out socks. When we went to Morocco last year, we saw children as young as three or four-years old, wandering through the city streets while trying to sell biscuits or packets of tissues to tourists. So now, when Nico complains, I ask him if he wants me to send him out to the nearest plaza to sell Kleenex. For some reason, he doesn't take me seriously (which is why I'm thinking it might be a good idea to order a large shipment of tissues and set the box next to the front door).
Of course there is no shortage of misery in the streets of Barcelona and when Nico was younger, he would often stop when we saw someone begging and ask me why they wanted money. This has always been a very difficult question for me to answer as there are so many possible reasons that a person in Barcelona might be asking for money. In the U.S. we also have beggars but not nearly as many and it is also usually more clear that the reason they need money is due to either substance abuse or mental health issues. In Barcelona there is some of that, but there are also a number of other varieties of people asking for money such as African refugees, street buskers, and then of course, the gypsies. This latter group has been the one that has made the biggest impression on Nico over the years. This could be due to the fact that until about a year ago, he was convinced they were pirates. On the other hand, I think another reason they perplex him is due to the fact that I've never been able to explain them to him in a way that makes much sense. I don't want to tell him anything that would give a negative impression of the people as a whole, but on the other hand, how can I explain gypsy culture to him when I don't even understand it myself?
Lately though, I've noticed that Nico no longer pays much mind to the people we pass on the streets asking for money. It's almost as though he no longer sees them and although it's put an end to the awkward questions, it makes me sad that he has gotten so used to people asking us for money, that he no longer bothers to wonder why. We are, indeed, very lucky people and although I know I'll never manage to eliminate the whining over trivial things, I still want to continue teaching my children to be grateful for all that we have. As I watch my kids become immune to the suffering that we see right in front of us, how do I accomplish this?
What do you say to your children when you see people asking for money on the streets of Barcelona? Any suggestions are welcome!