On his first time in Australia since he was 6 months old, there are all kinds of things Elliot is discovering, like:
- street lights. On the way home from the airport in the dark in the car, he was watching his hands and saying to himself, ‘light, dark, light, dark’. I realised he was looking at the shadows passing on his hands.
- smooth roads. Every time we take off in the car, he says, ‘wheee!’
- elevators. These have been added to escalators as great fun.
- going to sleep when it’s cold. It’s a completely different sensation, and needing to keep track of your quilt is tricky!
- cold feet. In Tanzania he’s forever taking his clothes off because he’s hot; here in Australia he wants to wear his shoes all the time! (I was so embarrassed when he chose to go to church in socks and crocs yesterday – what a stereotype of a missionary kid!)
- grandparents. We’ve stayed the last few days with my folks and it’s been so special to see his delight welcoming his Mardie home from work, and the way he baits his Pop into tickling him and wrestling with him.
- Australians don’t greet every person they pass. He did this at the shops the other day, and knew to do it in English rather than Swahili, but obviously a completely different cultural landscape that he hadn’t realised, and fair enough. Even I was having trouble not feeling rude walking past people without saying anything!
- ‘controlled chaos’. He has no category for the kind of thing that happens at an Australian Sunday school. He can do straight-laced like he does as school, or free-range play when he’s with me, but the middle ground fits neither and is disorienting.
I am discovering some other reference points of his that are different too. What I might consider ‘good’ sausages are foreign because they’re not the scary Kenyan ones we get in Tanzania (no guarantee of actual meat, but it promises a ‘cool price’!) Likewise, for him ice creams come from the ice cream bike, not from the shop! I’m sure there’ll be many more we discover over the next few weeks.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.