I have this idea that if we lived in Australia, Elliot and I would visit the park or the library, go to Mainly Music groups, and he would do craft activities at Sunday School or play group. Or that at least those things would be options.
They aren’t options here in Dodoma. There are a couple of playgrounds, but they’re at hotels and you generally have to pay to go to those and I haven’t yet found one which is all that safe – ironic, I know. Likewise, the library has a children’s section, but when I took Elliot there he was the only child in the library and we got in trouble because he was making too much noise. He’d said, ‘Mama, come and look,’ at a pretty normal volume.
I’m not complaining – we might not have a zoo to visit but Elliot’s already been on more safaris than most Aussies could hope to go on in a lifetime. There are different opportunities and different rhythms.
We go for lots of walks. We discover new places, talk to new people, try not to freak them out as I allow Elliot to get dirty with his rough and tumble. There are experiences on these walks that normal Aussie kids probably don’t get — learning about fire and avoiding the cauldron of boiling oil, for instance!
And we have a craft day on Wednesdays and a science day on Fridays. I have this impression that he’d be having more of those kind of opportunities if he were in Australia, where society is more set up for stimulating young ones’ creativity. Maybe that’s naive; I actually have no experience of what it’s like to be a mum in Australia. It’s this third culture we live in: neither typically Australian nor typically Tanzanian, influenced by an idea of the former and the reality of the latter. So we do craft on Wednesdays and science on Fridays. It’s nothing flash, but it’s different from both his peers in Tanzania and how I imagine we’d do things if we were in Australia.
So with thanks to Play School for its low tech ideas, and the wonderful friends and supporters who send us things like paint and glue, pipe cleaners and construction paper, on Mondays over the next few months I’ll post some pics of this part of our ‘in between’ kind of lives.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.