lunes, 29 de junio de 2009

Standing Firm

Last Friday, while eating tacos down the street from our house, I was reminded of a conversation Mario and I had a bit over a year ago.

The original conversation took place in Jojutla (two hours south of Mexico City), where we were spending the weekend at Mario's grandma's house. We had headed there Friday evening after Mario came back from work. It took us about 3 hours to drive from our house, and we arrived tired, hot, and hungry. Therefore, soon after opening up the house, we looked for the nearest place to grab a bite to eat before heading to bed.

I know I was muddling through my food, almost overcome with exhaustion when I noticed a number of toddlers playing on the floor between the tables. Keep in mind, we were eating at 10pm--what were these kids still doing up? They weren't just a bunch of night owls belonging to one family. They belonged to at least two different families, plus one kid who apparently lived behind the restaurant. My friend, Danyel, had commented to me about a week earlier how she noticed that kids here don't seem to have bedtimes. When she made the comment, I hadn't ever really noticed this phenomenon. Yet here was proof right in front of my eyes.

So I asked Mario, my solver of all cultural conundrums. Do most Mexican kids have bedtimes? Knowing Mario's mom, she who lays down the law, surely he and his siblings would have been in bed by 8pm when they were kids. So imagine my surprise when he didn't think it at all odd that toddlers would be playing in the middle of a restaurant at 10pm. He was a lot more shocked at the thought of them being in bed regularly at 8pm--let's not even consider 7pm (horrors!).

Oh, dear. I foresee problems.

I believe that kids should have bedtimes. The younger the kid, the earlier the bedtime. It's just healthier for everyone. The kid wakes up happier and, as a parent, I'd be much saner. Again, everyone's happy.

I had to work this over on Mario for months. Every once in awhile, I'd bring up the subject, trying to get him to see the reason in my argument. Eventually, I got him to concede that he'd support me on giving our kids an early bedtime, although his planned response was to be, "go ask your mother". Granted, this is better than nothing, but any halfway smart kid can see the flaws in that logic.

In October, Mario flew to Detroit and back. On his flight home he noticed two kids in particular--one gringo and one Mexican. He mentioned that the gringo was so well behaved, but it was just torturous to have that Mexican kid on his flight. Instead of noting that often people from my country find Mexican children to be overall better behaved than gringo kids, I saw my opportunity. (Side note: I think this has more to do with the kids' personalities, their parents, and a host of other factors, and that kids in both countries behave more or less the same.)

"Well, you know, it's probably because the gringo kid has a regular bedtime that he behaved so well. The Mexican kid probably doesn't have a regular bedtime and was therefore tired and cranky."

I now have full support for regular bedtimes for our kids.

(But why was I reminded of this conversation? Because we had taken our 5-month-old baby out to eat tacos at 9pm. Classic Jojutla.)

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