The Neighbourhood Kids

My neighbourhood is a mix of people, both poor and okay financially. In one section is a bunch of children around 10 years old. During weekends and school holidays they hang around the block between home and work not doing much. Sometimes they are fun and entertaining. Other times they are rude and downright offensive. Almost always when they see me they yell out my name and enthusiastically run towards me. I encounter them most often on the way to or from work. The kids often find my name hard to pronounce and on many occasions I am called ‘George’. Virtually the only English phrases I hear them say are the universal “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” and “How old are you?” The novelty for them of me as a foreigner will take a long way to wear off.

After Liam (my brother) visited Mersin the children kept asking “Aliam nerede?” (Where is Aliam?). They also ask for the photos he took of them. Even now, more than 3 months (wow, is it that long?) since Liam left, I still get the occasional question concerning his whereabouts. The kids would have little to no concept of Australia, a country so far away.

The children are undisciplined and behave erratically. One of the boys has a habit of repeatedly saying “I f**k you” towards me. On the outside I pretend to ignore or not understand. Inside, it irritates but I just have to stay calm. The other day a few alternate boys were mimicking him even though they couldn’t even pronounce the words properly, let alone understand their meaning. One time a kid threw a soccer ball at my back. I picked up the ball and threatened to throw it into the river. In a flash one of the girls had a stone in her hand ready to let it go in my direction. Several times the kids come outside work and create a racket, attempting to get my attention until they are shooed away. They are normally just bored.

Once the feelings of annoyance or happiness go away, my strongest feeling towards the children is of pity. If only they could be brought up in a disciplined matter. I doubt that has/is/will happen as their parents are likely to be either uneducated and/or working long hours and lack the knowledge or time to look after their children properly. Maybe I am judging too much into the situation and the children are only displaying the naiveté and freedom of childhood and will develop into well-mannered adults. Perhaps. After all, I was much older than 10 when my childish habits wore off.

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