(Pattaya, Childhood, Fun, Foreigners)
If I resist googling children and psychology, if I just write my thoughts, then I think I can answer. Sort of.
When I look back at my own childhood I think by the age of seven the major patterns for my later development were set, so from birth to seven things were happening.
A friend here in Pattaya told me a little girl he adopted didn’t speak for four days after witnessing a particularly frightening road accident. I notice when I go to the Isaan that all the kids I know up there are helpful but fairly serious. One girl I know is sweet but she is overweight and doesn’t dance anymore. A teenage boy is also overweight and told me last time he doesn’t live at home but in a resort in the village.
There must be something that happens to Thai children, pretty similar to what maybe happens to all children, which changes them and makes them into the types we farangs (westerners) meet in the Pattaya bars, in L. K. Metro, and in Walking Street. I’m talking about the fun people or the dismissive people who underneath it all are struggling with monsters – like huge debt or their own young families without fathers, without sustenance. Even the Soi Buakhao motorbike taxi drivers seem resentful and curt with us foreigners.
When does it all start? Are Thais more traumatised in general than other races of people? Is a deep feeling of resentment to superficial holiday-makers a reaction to a severe childhood? Do these Thais in difficulty really hate us and just want our money? Why do I feel we farangs are not really respected or liked?
As you can see – many questions and few answers. I think the answers will come along as I watch one-and-a-half-year-old Alice, my adopted granddaughter, grow up, but I probably already have some answers. Given there are huge traumas out there (I saw a young woman sleeping on a hot road with red marks by her head while another held an umbrella open above her to stop the unfriendly sun from burning), I think Thai children get serious very fast. Alice is frightened of balloons being let off near her (to swish their air out chaotically); she is put on a motorbike without a helmet; her mother doesn’t work; her company is mainly very young adults but however young the company may be, does Alice already sense mortality?
It’s not that Thai children are any different from others. It’s maybe that the risks are greater for physical and psychological damage.
Does any of this make any sense? I’m just not sure, but what I do know is that where I live, Pattaya, is alive with fake fun and huge social dilemma. This article is by no means researched and it would be pointless for me to list all those incidents that make an impact on us, how each of us reacts differently, how the human heart copes and doesn’t. All the answers are there in the literature of the world as well as in other studies. I just have this feeling that under the water are monsters making their presences felt.