Sunday, October 14, 2001

In front of my house is where the neighborhood kids gather at night. I guess since we don't have street lighting in our neighborhood and I have a motion light, that makes my place the hotspot. I sometimes get calls from parents telling me to send their kids home when it gets late. Like tonight I got a call from Ashot's mother telling me that he has to do his homework and to please send him home. So I went out to find Ashot sitting in front of my house talking with his friends, eating a pomegranate. I told him that his Mom wants him to come home. He thanked me and went running off. The kids range in age of 2 to 16 years old. It's not uncommon for a mob of over 20 kids to gather in the summer. Sometimes it gets a little loud out there, but I've never seen things get out of hand. They all know me and call me by my first name. The little ones are the cutest and always ask me how I'm doing? Hide and Seek, Tag, Statue/Free (same as Red-light/Green-light) and War seams to be their favorite games. I remember when I was a kid we use to play the same games all the time, but when it got dark, we had to come in and make sure the front door was locked. Well I guess that rule does not apply here. On non-school nights these kids stay out until midnight or even later. I mean this last summer I don't think they slept at all. I would sometimes come home at 2 or 3 a.m. and find some of the older kids still up and talking. One thing I can say with confidence is that we don't have the same predators Western countries have. When my very protective cousin, wife and 7 year old son came for a visit this summer, they very quickly got use to the idea of letting him join the other kids without a worry in the world. I guess life here is different in that way. So tonight after sending Ashot home, I decided to walk down to Arthur's store to get some munchies. I walked in the store and this little boy of probably 3 years old looks up at me with amazement and says "Aran neh", meaning "it's Ara". I said hello to him and pat him on the head. As I'm waiting my turn, he stares at me with his big brown eyes watching every move I make. I take a piece of gum off the counter and give it to him. He smiles and runs to his mother. While leaning up against her hip and still staring at me, he says in a soft, secretive voice, "keedes, Aran neh". She smiles and the lady working behind the counter comments on how important I am to the children here. I ask him his name and he does not seam to know what to say, so his mother answers "Aram", like your name, only with an "m". They finish their purchase and Aram and his Mom walk out with Aram tightly clinching the gum I gave him.

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