Every hour of the day, day of the week, and week of the month we are together. It has been eight months and while this could drive some families apart, I see it tightening our relationship. I wouldn’t trade my time with these three adventurers for anything in the world even though we have driven each other crazy at times.
Since there is a lot of “hangin’ out time” while waiting for an airplane or a bus or relaxing on the beach, it allows for a mixture of conversations. These have ranged from the more kid-friendly topics like Minecraft or poop to more mature issues such as politics or geography. We have discussed weighty matters like the genocide in Rwanda, the atrocities of the Jews during WW II, the coup in Zimbabwe or the income disparities around the world.
I am not sure how much they remember but do know that some stays in their sponge-like minds. Awhile back I overheard Colin explaining to Grandma over Skype about how President Mugabe of Zimbabwe was ousted by the military and replaced by his recently-fired Vice President. I can confidently say that he knows more about Zimbabwe’s bloodless coup than most adults back home.
Colin often jokes how the Brits or Spaniards must not be good at war because at one time those two monarchies controlled much of South America and Africa. However, they lost control when nations fought back and won their independence from the monarchies. The kids now understand why most of South America speaks Spanish but why Brazil speaks Portuguese. It’s so cool.
They also see how our lifestyle in Pleasanton does not represent the rest of the world. Any chance to increase their financial or economic acumen, I take it. We have talked about how Zimbabwe is ranked as the 2nd poorest country in the world with Malawi ranked as the 8th poorest. (Data from IMF analyzed by Global Finance Magazine).
While hanging out at a tea plantation in Malawi we learned that the minimum wage is 962 Malawian Kwacha per day or $1.33 USD. That is correct, $1.33. Per. Day. That means very little to a nine or eleven year old until it is put into perspective. It was a good opening to talk about what people in the United States earn. I shared that the minimum wage is $10.50 per hour in California equivalent to $84 a day. I could tell Colin was calculating things in his head and retorted, “Grandpa doesn’t pay us enough.”
My dad was a contractor for most of his career so as a kid I remember going to the jobsite and making money picking up nails or two-by-fours. He was great at getting us involved and learning about work. I loved it since I could earn a few dollars to buy a candy bar or some gum at the local store.
Long since retired and having a Honey-Do list a mile long, he sometimes hires the boys to give them that same experience — he pays them of course. I have always thought he paid really well when I see how much money they come home with but apparently they will be re-negotiating a more favorable employment contract in the future.
Knowing Colin, there is a good chance he will be looking for a lawyer to file a lawsuit against Grandpa who is likely in violation of the Federal Minimum Wage & Hour or Child Employment laws. Sorry Dad but you better seek counsel.