Children in Portugal seems to live a less restricted life than their counterparts in the United States.They seem to be given wider personal spaces by their parents and society in general. They are free to walk around by themselves with little adult supervision.
Two boys estimated to be about 7 or 8. They boarded the public bus we were riding. Each carrying their backpacks, the boys took seats immediately behind ours. The boys engaged in what sounded like an intense conversation. I heard them count numbers, then called out the days of the week and months. At times, the tone of their conversation was serious before they would laugh. The boys got off the bus one stop prior to ours. Waiving to each, their small figures disappeared among office workers.
During our walk to the bullring, we heard a commotion. There were 7 boys, our guess is ages between 7 to 12. The boys came close enough to us but without encroaching into our personal space.
The boys broke into singing. They sang, “I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony....la ia la” unto,“It's a small world after all. It's a small, small world....la la la la” then, “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are” and then, “We will, we will rock you. We will, we will rock you....la la la”.
They did not know the complete lyrics in English and were astonishingly off key, but their sheer energy and enthusiasm were contagious. J.J. and I appreciated that their impromptu performance was for our benefit after realizing that the two of us were foreigners.
And finally, yesterday while riding the metro, 2 teenage girls sat facing us. We greeted them with “Ola” and asked what they were participating. Both were wearing a banner and t-shirts with “Global Energy Race”. Embarrassed to practice their English, they giggled and smiled like typical young teens. But they attempted to engage complete strangers in conversation.
It is the same in Japan where young school age children ride buses, trains and subways without fear.
Aloha -- Cathi