Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dominican Children

When I met my Dominican husband some 11 years ago, he had his 3 young sons living with him. It is traditionally the case that if the parents split up the boys go with the father and the girls with the mother. As I had never had children of my own I thought it would be quite fun to play mother for the first time in my life. For the most part it was. They were very well behaved, helped with the cooking, did the cleaning and washing up, laying and clearing the table, made the beds, and would no more dream of arguing with either of us or answering back, than flying to the moon.  We had some great days out as well
The boys in Boca Chica

Day out at the zoo - err "Do not feed the animals?"

On holiday in Barahona

But there were two problems. The first is that they believed, like many Dominicans do, in sharing. Anything that was in the house was there to be shared with those less fortunate. If someone had nothing to eat, then the food bought at the supermarket the day before by me, to last us week, would be shared with friends and neighbours. I would come home from a days diving looking forward to a glass of coca cola and the two litre bottle which was there in the morning, had gone. I would ask the children where it was:

" No fue yo," "It wasn't me," would say the first one.
"Yo no se," "I don't know," would say the second.
"Yo tampoco," "Me neither," would pipe up the third.

I would go to get a chicken out of the freezer to find it was gone. The answers were the same as above.

It wasn't only the food that was shared, so were sheets, towels, cutlery and crockery, my clothes and my shoes. I would see motoconcho drivers wearing my Armani T shirts and little Haitian boys going to school in my trainers.
Number two stepson - butter wouldn't melt

The second problem was the one of not doing something if it was too much effort, but making it look as if it was done. Number two son was, and still is - even aged 21 - the expert at this. He would wash up, but if a pan was difficult to wash, maybe it had been used for the con con (burnt rice), he would not wash it. But he wouldn't leave it to soak, he would hide it.  In the cupboard, the fridge, the oven or even the dustbin. I used to have to check every week before the dustbin man came to fish the dirty pans out.  Nowadays he leaves things to soak, but he is unable of screwing the lid back on anything - he puts the lid on the top, just doesn't bother screwing it down.  Empty bottles get left in the cupboard to save throwing them away.  Always takes the easy way out, and won't make that tiny bit more of an effort to make sure the job is complete! Drives me potty.

All grown up - but still taking the easy way out!
I have no idea if this is a Dominican trait, a child's trait or a boy's trait, but it does my head in! Any ideas how to train them?


  1. Maybe apply collar and leash plus ball and chain around ankle and starvation diet for starters!!! Trouble is that they are so 'nice' with it lol!

    1. Yes that's an idea. I should have mentioned they are still really 'nice' kids and still do all the cleaning, cooking and general running around!

  2. I gotta say those are great pics of them younger and now. It looks like you guys did a great job. The whole thing about not screwing the lid back on stuff is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves and of course something both my kids and wife do regularly. In terms of not doing that extra little thing I think is a generational thing...most of my nephews in The DR are the same way and my American raised kids are much much worse.

    1. Thanks Puyaca. Good to know it is a generational thing. I just don't understand why, when eating a packet of biscuits in the garden, they drop the paper on the floor and don't walk 10 yards to put it in the bin? They sweep the yard every day so they will now have to sweep it up tomorrow! It is the things like that that drive me crazy!

  3. Oh you are SO lucky! I was way too indulgent with my horizontal 22year old son and have paid the price. Wish I'd heard of tough love back then.
    The 41 year old daughter is a whole different story. I was on my own when she was small so she had to do her bit, bless her.

  4. My husband was on his own with the first two from when the eldest was 18 months old and as soon as the second one was born he was handed over to him while 'wife' (they don't marry much here, just live together) went off with someone with more money. Found another 'wife' and had son number 3 and then she ran off with Spaniard and eventually came back and took son, so we have 2 with us now. Yes I know lucky in that they help so much, but I just wish had a bit of nous and could see when things need doing, but maybe I ask too much?!

  5. Must be a boy thing! I have a 24 year old at home who needs constant reminders to do things. He might also walk over something on the floor, but won´t bother to pick it up! He gets upset if we remind him to do stuff, but if we don't nothing will be done, so we have to treat him as if he was 14 instead of 24!
    Goodness I would be mad if my kids gave my stuff away!!

    1. Glad to hear is a boy thing! I think men just have a piece of their brain missing! Or maybe it develops as they get much older. Oh dear re giving stuff away, I am used to it now, but it still drives me mad! But that is Dominican generosity for you.