August 31, 2011

Keiki - kids

Keiki is probably one of the most used words in Hawaiian that we didn't know before we came. I'm sure you knew the same ones we did: aloha, lei, lū'au, lanai, hula.  Those don't necessarily come up in everyday conversation, but keiki I'm pretty sure I hear everyday. "How many keiki do you have?" "Which ones are your keiki?" "What are your keiki doing over there by the wall?" (PS I am super excited that I figured out how to put the macron (line over the "u") by using HTML code!)

Our keiki have allowed us to meet more people through playgrounds, playgroups, etc. It's a nice ice-breaker and a lot less weird hanging out at the playground than if we didn't have kids. Also, it's been a joy watching Luke grow in his social skills. He already has a few steady friends at the playground, and now willingly introduces himself to new faces with "What's your name?" :)

The funny thing about transplanting into another culture is how people treat other people's kids. Many parents were much more hands-off in our old neighborhood, letting kids try things on their own. Here we've met more "helicopter parents," and are surprised to find that more people are willing to correct other children's behavior. Which, in some ways is good, like when RaeRae is running toward the stairs and someone grabs her. And, in some ways bad, when our kids are the ones running with sticks and getting reprimanded. I even overheard a mom say to her son at the park "don't run." Not "don't run with scissors" or "don't run over the babies." I honestly believe the park is where they should be running. But that's me.

And the other thing is the food. I'm used to people being so careful with allergies and germs and whatnot, but here our kids are constantly being fed by other people. The other day I see RaeRae with a Cheeto and start to freak out since I'm assuming she's eating something off the ground. Turns out another friendly mom had given her the super cheesy, nuclear orange snack.

Keiki are pretty accepted here, and our kids, being so close in age, attract a lot of attention. And our giant double stroller isn't exactly subtle. Usually they like the attention, RaeRae smiling and waving, and Luke sharing how old he is and where we're going.

Except for guys with facial hair. They absolutely terrify RaeRae. Most guys are cool, and back off to give her space. The other day, as we were getting into the elevator, one such hairy dude scared her. I picked her up to calm her and was trying to explain her fear to the guys, so I didn't notice the hairier (and creepier) one bend down and blow a huge raspberry (not the fruit) on her arm! Needless to say, she didn't like that, and proceeded to scream. Don't worry, most people do not go around touching our kids, but thought you'd appreciate the extreme example.

Overall, Hawaii is a place where keiki are appreciated and loved, and allowed to grow up at a slower pace. Except the whole private school thing. There is a big rush to get into the "right" preschool so they can get into the "right" elementary school so they can end up at fancy schools like Punahou. (That's where President Obama went). But that's a story for another day.