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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

HAVE YOUR SAY

Cut gaijin-gawking children some slack — it's how they learn

Re: "Parents, please keep your kids away from me at feeding time" by Christy Bridgeman (Hotline to Nagatacho, May 22):

I don't square with this writer's rub; inquisitive children are amusing too, especially when trying to understand something. And the questions they ask!

You needn't be foreign to have them stare. I can appreciate sensitivity to being looked at — at being the odd man out among a nation of millions — but please have greater sensibility regarding children.

Next time, smile or wave, or to return the pressure, hunch down and peer over the table back at them — I bet many will love it.

Kids look at the new and strange; it's how they learn. Once I had a job where I had them staring at me all the time: in their homes, while installing satellite equipment, drilling, cutting, assembling, running cable. Not too interesting — unless you are a child.

We are all conscious that stares can be unwelcome and irritating, but from children I accept them; it is their way. How else can they learn? The key is to show interest back, without seeming creepy — which can be hard today, in a perverse world, with easily offended or suspicious (prudent?) parents.

Being of a significantly greater age alone seems to give one an air of authority in kids' eyes, so I imagine the mystique of an older gaijin is even more impressive.

Foreigners will be interesting to most children because they see things in different, illuminating ways. I suggest foreigners take that power and use it to leave a good influence and impression on such children — maybe the same can work on grownups!

There is perhaps a simpler explanation, however, for the child's gawking at a gaijin: Maybe they just think she is pretty.

J. BRADLEY BULSTERBAUM
Colorado

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