Wednesday, February 10, 2016

But It's Normal For Me....

My six-year old was whining.  Although previously warned that this would happen, he was upset that my husband and I were ending his game time on the computer a few minutes early.  We had planned on hanging out with some Burmese village kids that afternoon, and we wanted to get there when the kids got home from school.  This meant that my son wasn't going to get his full thirty minutes of computer time.  Our dialogue went something like this...

"Ok, it's time to be done now."
"But that's not fair.  I only got twenty minutes."
"Yes, but we said that we had to go soon, and you opted to have 20 minutes instead of nothing."
"But it's not fair!!!"
"You are right.  It's not fair.  You actually have access to computer that you get to use.  The kids we are going to see don't have anything like that.  It's not normal where we live to have a computer at all!"
"But it's normal for me!!!"

Granted, this might not have been our finest parenting hour.  We don't want to make our children feel guilty for the things that we have, but it made me realize how much we as adults are like our six-year old.  We constantly struggle with our "Have's" and other's "Have Not's".  Every time we make a purchase, we have to decide if we are going to make the mental conversion of what that would look like to most of the people living in our city.

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For instance, right now I'm craving cheese.  Cheese is very expensive where we live in Thailand.  Looking at a block of cheese at Makro (similar to Costco), the cost is about $25.  Considering that the Thai minimum wage is only $10, I remind myself that this cheese costs two and a half days wages for the average worker.

"But it's normal for me!"

I probably had cheese almost every day when I lived in the States.  It was a staple.  Now, I go weeks without it.  I miss quesadillas.  Even tortillas have been impossible to find until recently.

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But I learn to count my blessings.  Because I. Have. So. Much.  I have a roof over my head, and a real bed to sleep on.  Mosquitoes do not come into my house and feed on me while I sleep.  I have food in my fridge, and money in the bank.  I have a budget that allows for meat, fruit, and dairy products.  But that's not normal here.

I continue to wrestle with this.  What privileges do allow myself?  Do I run my A/C in the 90-100 degree weather or struggle in the heat like my neighbors?  Should I even think about going to a nice restaurant when there are others who don't have enough to eat and my meal could have fed their family for a week?

"But it's normal for me!"

A meal at the nicest restaurant here in Mae Sot would cost about the same as going to a fast food joint in America.  My house that often feels huge to me here cost me only 1/6 my mortgage did in Seattle.

All the feelings.  What do I do with this?  Oh, to be six years old again when life didn't feel so complicated.

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