One of the things that the kids really notice here is that people discipline their kids by hitting them. The first we became aware of it was when we had the landlords over for a drink and Mrs. Blackette asked us in front of the kids if we beat them. We were shocked but laughed it off and said something silly like, "...only when they deserve it".
The next time we saw evidence of this fact, it wasn't so simple. The kids and I took the bus to a new beach and the bus let us out at the main road and we needed to walk down the side road. We all got out of the bus and as the conductor and I worked out my change, the kids looked down the road we were taking. They saw a women and her two sons (looked to be 12 and 13), she had a stick and was beating one of the boys over the head. They tugged at me to hurry up and as the bus drove away and I tried to make sense of what they were saying, I looked to see the women throwing the stick away. The kids said that at first they thought they were all kids playing but then they realized it was more brutal than that and they saw it was their mom. As we walked past them on this narrow road, they all walked single file. She placed the boy she had not beaten in front and then herself and then the beaten boy behind her. The kids mentioned how angry her faced looked and she held the boy behind her close but we managed to catch his eye. He was crying and looked embarrassed, his one eye swollen. The kids and I did alot of talking as we walked to the beach. They were very disturbed by this.
Last night the kids were playing out front with the two youngest neighbor kids, Dana and DJ. Amelia asked DJ if he liked going to school(they just moved here from St. Vincent) and he said, "Yes, my teacher doesn't beat me". The kids asked him to repeat himself because they weren't sure they heard right. I was up on the balcony and I knew what he said. Amelia said, "Our teachers in Canada don't beat you at all". Alex said, "In Canada it is against the law to hit children. If an adult hits a kid they could go to jail". DJ and Dana looked happy with that answer.
As the four of them played I couldn't help but wonder, how often on this trip Alex and Amelia were going to realize how fortunate they are to live in Canada.