It is my 4th week here in Thailand, and I am still learning so much. Sometimes, after language lessons, I will go and visit the small childcare room where 2 Thai women babysit the children of the missionaries who are studying language. I go because I love seeing the kids (3 missionary kids, and 1 little Thai boy who is the son of one of the workers), but I also go because I am fascinated by what I see in these young kids. These 3 kids are each citizens of different countries. They have all arrived in Thailand within the year, and they go to childcare 5 days a week here in Thailand. Instead of mac and cheese, they eat rice with vegetable stir-fries. They are put in the care of workers who only speak Thai and know parenting as done by Thai mothers. I love seeing the face of these 3 children covered in baby powder, as if they were just like any other child here in Thailand. Anyway, I wanted to introduce you to these 3 fun little kids. This week, I’ll tell you about the youngest…
Simba, as I like to think of him, is a little boy about 2 years old. When you ask him what sound a lion makes, he will scrunch up his face and open his mouth wide to reveal his adorable little baby teeth…all of this is done with a cute little growl soundling like “kha…”
Simba is a tough little kid. He walks (mostly runs actually) with his shoulders pulled back and his chest puffed out. He has a handsome little face, a strong and defined jaw with a cute little clef in his chin. His eyes are a mysterious grey, but his hair is so light, it’s almost white. Though he usually wears a serious expression, Simba is easy to make laugh, especially when playing peekaboo or chase.
While his father is Swiss, Simba’s mother (who is also a TCK- Japan, Singapore) is German by blood. This makes language learning a little different for this cute little lion. He learns German (both Swiss German and…uh, German German?) from his parents, but he spends a great deal of time with the child-care workers who are only able to speak Thai. Then many of the other missionaries speak to him in English as well. It is so cute hearing him use multiple languages to communicate. Simba knows the names of all his animals in German, how to say what he wants and doesn’t want in Thai (“Aw!” “Mai Aw!”), and he can understand some questions in English, but typically responds in one of his other two languages… that is, IF he responds….sometimes, he just stares at you or walks away. Simba seems to be quite content playing on his own. He loves to explore, but I think he loves watching his favorite tv show, Pingu, most of all.
Simba is, in fact, a very happy (though sometimes serious) little boy who is growing up in a very culturally diverse environment. He is a TCK, and I believe he will grow up to find value in all these cultures that he has been exposed to (assuming that he continues to be in this environment as he grows older). Where will he call home? Where will he feel most comfortable? Simba causes me to consider what the developmental differences are for young toddlers raised in differing cultures. Will being exposed to 3 different languages at the same time cause him confusion in learning language? Will he be able to learn languages more easily in the future? If he continues to grow older in Thailand, will he feel more German or Swiss or Thai or what?
I smile every time I see this little lion. I think he is blessed by the decision his parents have made to come and serve the Thai people here in Thailand. I pray that he grows up to feel the same way.