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#148 Their Expat Brats

May 1, 2012

Submitted by Mrs. Expat

Our thirty- to forty-something EAW embarks on a posting abroad with his or her young family, placating anxious grandparents back in the first world.

It’s worth extracting little Luke and Emily from their modern comforts and amenities. They’ll have a unique opportunity to experience diverse cultures and customs, and gain a real appreciation of poverty by living right there on its doorstep!

What fantastic, well-rounded and humble world citizens they’ll grow up to be, having lived in an environment where they will be excited about a glass of clean water rather than some syrup-flavoured slop from Starbucks and where they will don the local attire rather than obsessing over the latest Disney or Nike gear.

The children will run around happily with the kids from the village. They’ll use a ball of twine for soccer and won’t even know the difference. They will explore the outdoors; their creative, free spirits soaking in nature and local innovation borne out of necessity rather than spending hours with square eyes and shaking wrist in front of a 42-inch TV playing Wii….

This little fantasy is short-lived, however, as EAW children will essentially remain first world brats. After the first few weeks of exploring the family’s new environs, our happy EAW family weekends become endless. There is no bowling alley to hang out in, no shopping mall to buy junk food and plastic crap, no rigorous sports schedule to follow, and no nearby movie theatre showing the latest 3D Hollywood blockbuster. The children are really, actually missing out, and our EAW begins to harbor feelings of worry and guilt. Not to mention he or she wants to strangle the children who require constant attention because there is “nothing to do.”

Not to worry. Soon our EAW will attend an international conference in a modern city, a “Hub” if you will, returning with a bulging suitcase full of guilt items:  a Wii, an Xbox Kinect with a myriad of games, an iPod for the six-year old, an iPad for the eight-year old, and for those really long holiday plane rides, a Nintendo DSi and a Sony PSP.

When these break, the EAW will try out the nearest local department store, grabbing all four available boxes of Legos in case they run out and are never restocked. Never mind that they cost three times as much as they do back home.

Bored with Legos? Not a problem — there are expat brats birthday parties to attend! Quantities of expensive crappy toys will be gifted by one overly rich family to another. And when these are thrown aside by the expat children, they can be left out for the local kids down the road.  Those kids can get hours of fun out of discarded Barbie dolls — a win-win for everyone, and good way to teach charity values!

When our expat brats are tired of playing with all their new toys, it’s time for the housekeeper to get them cleared up and put them away in the cupboard, alongside the drawers containing all the neatly ironed t-shirts and dresses that are changed and tossed on the floor with abandon five times a day.

Meanwhile our expat mums carp on to each other about how tough it is keeping the children entertained in this godforsaken outpost and question whether the nanny is taking care of the baby properly whilst pouring themselves another gin and tonic on the balcony.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2012 5:52 am

    I met someone a few weeks ago who complained about the local supermarket because they refused to let her two small children use their bathroom even though she was there every day and they *knew* she had two small children. So she had the youngest squat in the parking area to answer nature’s call. I’m sure that show’d em!

  2. Karen D permalink
    May 1, 2012 7:15 am

    When my son was small I remember noticing that the expat kids around us either turned out to be fascinating people or total brats. In each of three countries I told my housekeeper that if he started turning into a brat she would be fired. Instead, each raised him like her own in the hours she was in charge. I backed her up and my son grew into a fantastic young man.

    • Paul McIver permalink
      May 1, 2012 9:23 am

      Hey it’s not the housekeepers job to raise your kid, it’s yours. You people that leave the raising of your children to others make me sick.

      • May 7, 2012 8:59 am

        Oh so I guess that translates to sending them to day care and then not having time to spend with them after you collect them because you have to cook dinner and do the cleaning? I stay in development because it buys me time with my child that I would not otherwise have as a single mother in my home country. Of course, maybe you actually mean that mothers should not work.

  3. oversear permalink
    May 1, 2012 10:24 am

    I can’t believe that you have travelled round the world threatening your ‘housekeepers’ with the sack if YOUR child turned into a brat. What a horrible thing to do. Colonialism at its worst.

  4. Juan dela Cruz permalink
    May 1, 2012 3:42 pm

    Have done the EAW scene as a single, as married with no children, and married with one young child and by far the latter is the most difficult. It’s one thing to expose yourself to the “challenges” of living in destitute areas with poor sanitation, nutrition, education, etc. It’s quite another to put your children in the same situation. In that case, your children’s safety must come before all other considerations.

  5. ozcazza permalink
    May 2, 2012 5:44 am

    oh no. what children learn from housekeepers is worth a million of me. it takes a village to raise a child.

  6. May 3, 2012 7:54 am

    Yeah sorry but who among the ‘you make me sick’ brigade are women who have to do the majority of childrearing, raising a family, and maintaining a household? I grew up with amazing women who helped to raise me alongside my mother, grandmother and aunts in India…I then moved to New Zealand and was raised by an exhausted mother who had to work and look after my sister and I and manage our house. Not all children who grow up with maids are brats, the women who have worked with our family are my second mothers and they are part of our family, and I also am now a fledgling ‘EAW’ myself and am moving to Thailand to work for a program that supports migrant women employed as domestic workers who are in difficult situations (because many are, and I know that it is rare for women employed as domestic workers to receive fair treatment but it does happen). It does take a village to raise a child, and I wouldn’t be doing development work if I hadn’t lived with amazing women from rural India as a child…I would have been far more likely to grow up a middle class brat without them in my life!

  7. May 3, 2012 1:41 pm

    The best and most often ovelooked thing about being an EAW brat (a teenage brat) in a LDC country is the awesome access to “legal-if-you’v-got-the-cash” everything! (even breaking the law)
    Nothing like a long weekend of pub crawling till dawn at age 16 (with mum’s NGO’s driver by the way), smoking beautiful spliffs with wonderful people in strange places; over the counter rhino tranq’s and laughing gas (all at 1/4 of the price in the USA!) to come home to the ‘domestic manager’ who could whip up all number of tasty munchies and laugh with (at) the bollocks’ed bosses kids.
    It really prepared us for adulthood all in all.

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