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Wednesday, September 28, 2005 

Bring Your Children to Greece

Yesterday, I phoned a doctor's office to get an appointment for my son for his yearly checkup. I hadn't been to this particular doctor in almost two years, so when the receptionist asked me for my son's name I didn't get further than "Thomas" when she started asking me how he was, what grade is he in now, and why hasn't she seen him for so long. I thought for sure, she had him confused with someone else so I continued with his last name and the spelling. I didn't get further than the third letter when she said "I KNOW who he is...the little Canadian darling!" I was flabbergasted. ONLY in Greece does this happen. In Canada, the receptionist would have politely and efficiently taken the details and told me the date of the appointment. But in Greece, when it comes to kids, they become enthusiastic and I was once again reminded of why I still live here. Greeks can definitely teach us a thing or two about kids. I will always love them for their openness, sincerity and never-ending affection for children. It's something that I will never take for granted.

No longer do I pull my son away from the extended arms reaching out to hug him as I used to do in the beginning. While vacationing in Milos, I rarely saw my son the whole time because the Greek guests at the hotel became obsessed with him...indulging his every whim, feeding him, letting him sleep on them while we talked, and even spending hours with him in the water and building sand castles on the beach. I'd honestly never seen anything quite like it in my life. Total strangers treating my son as if he were their own.

My first reaction to all this attention now is one of gratitude instead of paranoia. It's the way it ought to be. If any of my readers have children, I highly recommend bringing them to Greece, you won't regret it. All kids should experience the feeling of being a source of enjoyment to everyone surrounding them rather than 'tolerated'. As a mother, it's so reassuring to know that it's just not me who is concerned about his safety. Greeks...male and female alike...within a 3 block radius know the comings and goings of my son and report them to me in the bakery, the corner store and in my building.

Forget the "Live Your Myth in Greece" tourism campaign. It should be "Bring Your Children to Greece" campaign.

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That sounds very inviting. But it also reminds me that I am not Greek. Children and I have tepid relationsip.

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Well it is cool but it does have some drawbacks (from the view of the child). Imagine you and your friends do something you shouldn't. Well your absolutely screwed because the information makes it home back to your parents quicker than the speed of light. It absolutely amazes me that in a city of 10 million people, there's always someone who knows someone who knows someone you know!

Haha EllasDevil! But that works for adults here too, I think. Everyone knows the business of everyone else. I find it amusing.

It is great to hear that children are so well-tended and looked out after here. I remember before I moved here, a girl I worked with (a staunch Christian Republican, no less) berated me for moving to Greece, saying that my husband should move here. Her reason was "what if you have children? how can you raise them in another country? how can you be a good mother and have your children grow up in Greece?"

I told her, quite simply, that if we lived in America I would never want to have children, because it is too dangerous, too cruel to raise a child in the U.S. wasteland. Boy, she didn't like that, and stopped talking to me entirely afterwards. No skin off MY back!

This post actually makes me feel better, I have an 8 year old niece, and her parents have some worries bringing her here. Their main reasons I think are international conflict, in general (ie. Iraq) and just dealing with a child on a European vacation. I worry too, more because of traffic in Athens and such things. I guess she'll be ok, though. Now, if I could just get them here!

Ellas, I understand your point of view. My son shares it. LOL But when you become a father, you will remember this post and realize, as usual, that I was right. hahahaha

Mel, I heard the same thing when I moved to Greece (except not the Christian part...we're basically all heathens in Canada) and I was worried. But of all the things I bitch about in my blog, Greeks with kids will never be one of them. The traffic thing is another problem but if your niece ever does step in harm's way, there'll probably be a dozen Greeks ready to prevent it.

Well I feel you should sit your son down and tell him that this whole "big brother" deal gets no better when you get older. I'll give you an example.

A few months ago, both myself and my friend got stopped for traffic violations in the same week, him for not wearing a seatbelt. Me a few days later for running a red light (it was at 2:30am by the way).

So a few weeks later, I'm at his house and his mom says "so Alex, tell me what was this incident of not wearing your seatbelt?". My friend was furious his mom had managed to find out. She wouldn't reveal her sources. I found it really funny....

UNTIL...

Cue to 2 days later, I'm sat at the dining table. My dad says "so what is the story behind you being stopped by the police after running a red light in Filothei?" so of course I replied "I can swear to you I have never been pulled over by the police in Filothei" to which he repied "oh that's right, it was in Halandri".

I was BUSTED!

ellasdevil,

"A few months ago, both myself and my friend got stopped for traffic violations in the same week, him for not wearing a seatbelt. Me a few days later for running a red light (it was at 2:30am by the way)"

I'm glad your parents found out. Both these violations could have had serious consequences for you or other peoples children. That your parents found out and could express their concern for you and your friends behaviour is a good thing. As a mother here in Greece, I fear the recklessness of drivers. I dread that I will lose my son at a stop light or he will not be wearing a seatbelt in a minor accident and be damaged in any way. I rant and rail and suffer at the thought of my precious child being exposed to these possibilities especially AVOIDABLE acidents. Like not stopping at a RED LIGHT and not wearing a SEATBELT.

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