It’s funny how we sometimes can’t stand certain things yet in the end it’s that very thing that makes us love them. This is exactly what happened to me. I had bad experiences with kids and it got to a point that I couldn’t stand kids anymore but it only took that one kid to make me see them in a whole new light and now I can say that I can’t stand kids no more (no more being the keyword).
When Ha told me she had a child, I had all kinds of weird thoughts. I’ve never had children of my own so my perception of them has always been rather third handed. The last memory I had of kids was that of a horrible plane experience. Each of my three flights from Edmonton to Siem Reap, Cambodia had annoying, screaming kids on board who would not quit yelling for one minute. As if being cramped within a small space, with limited legroom for 10 hour was not bad enough, I also had to listen to nonstop screaming that started before takeoff and didn’t stop until I got off the plane. Long flights tire you down a lot, but having someone scream without a break while you’re at it takes it to a whole new level by giving you a headache from hell.
After this type of experience with kids, I really didn’t feel like coming in further contact with children, no matter how presumably well behaved they were believed to be. That’s why I couldn’t grasp the concept of Ha loving her child. My first thought when she told me that she had a daughter was – “Why don’t you just get rid of it somehow and be done with her? She’ll be no burden to you no more…” I thought she’d be happy if someone wanted to rid her of that kid… I thought she’d grab at the first opportunity to be done with the girl and move on with her life without the annoyance of a spoiled, screaming kid.
Yet she kept mentioning how much her daughter meant to her and how she couldn’t imagine life without her so I just silently wondered what the heck was wrong with her and politely nodded to each of her daughter-full heart pours.
We were at the Royal Independence Gardens admiring the shriek of mesmerising Fruit Bats when Ha told me it was time for her to go home to check out on her daughter and insisted that I go with her. She wanted me to meet the little girl and said she would pay for the Tuk Tuk so long as I come. I was not impressed with the idea, but she had spent whole night with me and went with me to see the bats (aka she went where I wanted her to go) so I somewhat felt obliged to return the favour and go where she would like me to go.
It was a beautiful day but there would be no way for me to use it to initiate my Angkor Archaeological Park exploration adventure and since I had nothing more exciting lined up for today, I agreed I would accompany Ha to her uncle’s place where she was staying and meet her daughter. I really enjoyed Ha’s company and wanted her to spend more of the day with me, but for that she needed to go home to change clothes and do whatever other things she needed to do so it only made sense that I would go with her.
We flagged down a Tuk Tuk, the driver saw me which meant he tried to overcharge us for the ride but Ha put him in place and we headed towards the north east corner of Siem Reap, to an area far away from where any foreigners ever go. The houses there looked the way most Cambodian houses do – thatched barns on stilts made exclusively of wooden planks. This is what most Cambodians live in and so did Ha’s uncle and his wife who accommodated Ha during her stay in Siem Reap.
The house had a little storage room attached to itself at the front end, it was only big enough to have one bed also made of bare wooden planks inside and that’s where Ha and her daughter were staying. Roof was covered with random, irregularly shaped pieces of metal, wood and thatch, with many holes that let water in when it was raining. Since there was nowhere to hide inside of that room and since it was rainy season, the two ladies must have been getting rained on on regular basis. From a westerner’s point of view, it looked like something I wouldn’t even throw a dog to live in and here it was used as the only way by a 23 year old girl and her 4 year old daughter. But the worst part was, that they had to pay (unreasonably high) monthly rent for it.
From what Ha explained to me, her uncle wanted to actually help her out and wouldn’t mind leaving her in the room for free, but his wife (Who is Cambodian – typical) was against and decided to cash on a desperate couple that didn’t have many options and had to take whatever was offered to them. Way to make a bank on other people’s misfortune.
This was how Ha and her daughter lived. No wonder she was so excited to accept my invitation to sleep with me in an air conditioned room, on a soft bed with blankets and with shower with clean water. Coming from a dog house that looked like slaves storage facility, anything would be an upgrade.
But let’s get back to kids and how I couldn’t stand them. After I had met with Ha’s daughter, my hatred for kids was gone. I started to understand what she meant when she said that she loved her daughter and could not imagine her life without her. I started to understand where the beauty of small children lies. My perception of children was wrong, but was I in for a surprise! If at some time I couldn’t stand kids, then after meeting Ha’s daughter this feeling was in me no more.
More photos of this little girl in the 4 Year Old Daughter Photo Gallery.