#148 Their Expat Brats
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.