The other day I was sitting in a combi waiting for it to fill and then head out to my small town. As I waited I watched as this little girl helped her mother. She is probably about 2 years old and her mother is in her twenties. They are always here. The mother has popcorn, ice cream, and snack carts lined up against the old slightly graffiti covered adobe wall and she occasionally stands up and extends into the combi advertising peanuts, ice cream, crackers, cookies and other items she has for sale. In her line up there is also a stroller for the toddler when she takes naps. This particular day was not really any different from the others, except that I noticed the baby doll the little girl was carrying was almost identical to one that I had around her age. I don’t really have any memory of this doll except the stories I’ve been told and the pictures I’ve seen. His name was Michael, after my cousin, and I carried him everywhere. I threw-up on him once on a road trip with my grandparents. That might have been the end of Michael, if I remember the story correctly.
So here I am in the combi watching this little girl and her doll, thinking, ‘Oh just like me at that age with my doll.’ Then this man sitting in the combi called the girl over and handed her a piece of trash and told her to put it in the bin. Here I thought, ‘Oh, just like me.’ I have been told that I was a very busy and helpful 2-year-old after my younger brother Sean was born, running to fetch things to assist my mom. Then in an instant my moment ended and reality came crashing in. This was nothing like my childhood. I did not spend my days with my mother sitting on the street selling snacks day in and day out making a living. I did not take naps in a stroller on the side of the road with a dirt covered Michael. And I wasn’t taking empty wrappers from strangers to put in the trash.
As a Peace Corps Volunteer it is very easy to simply not see the reality that is around you. It is just easier to live and participate in the world around you if you do not see all of your reality.