Understanding Brazil: The Kids
By Ricky Skelton
June 5, 2007
One more cultural difference that I have found difficult to get used to in Brazil is the behaviour of the kids that I have come across. Im talking more of the awkward 13-16 age bracket than any others. That age when kids start to develop an attitude and believe that their parents dont understand them, perhaps stop talking to them, or maybe even stop talking at all. When they start to hide inside their hoods and caps and go out with their friends to hang around the streets as theyre too young to go to bars, but they want to prove to you and their friends that theyre grown up by challenging someone older. Reacting is impossible because that is when they act like a little shoal of piranhas. What I dont understand is - what happened to them in Brazil? I mentally prepare myself for trouble as I approach them, blocking up the pavement. Here we go, Ill have to barge somebody out of the way and carry on walking very fast, ignoring what they shout after me. As I walk up, one girl gently pulls her male friend out of the way, he looks around briefly and moves and I sail straight through, wondering what happened. I lived near schools and colleges in downtown São Paulo, with kids milling around the area, fighting, running, laughing, flirting. Nobody got in my way, nobody said a word to me. And they never have. Sometimes I even get completely ignored. This isnt right! Having grown up in the kind of place where kids I didnt know would abuse me, jostle me, even throw bottles at me for no reason at all (and to be fair, I wasnt too much better with my friends when I was a kid), I find it very strange to walk past a group on the streets of Brazilian cities. I feel like the beautiful girl who walks past a building site and nobody whistles at her. I want to stop, turn around and ask them whats wrong with me. Why dont you give me any hassle?
Perhaps with Brazilian families still being closer knit, in general, than those at home, it means that the children get brought up with closer relationships to adults, maybe even counting each other as friends! Maybe in Brazilian culture, adults dont look down on the kids so much, and dont treat them as... kids. The two groups seem to have more respect for each other, and it comes across as such to my gringo eyes. It isnt only on the streets, it can be in shops and supermarkets, cinemas and shopping centres, any public place really. You dont get the temper tantrums from younger kids, and the acting like idiots from the older ones. Perhaps its because Brazilian kids arent spoiled as much as ours, with exceptions everywhere obviously, but Im quite sure they behave far better in general. Perhaps somebody might want to correct me, especially as there is more chance of getting mugged at knife-point by Rio street kids in Copacabana, but I prefer to put that down to economic necessity rather than a cultural pattern. Because you know what Ive found strangest of all? There are actually children in Brazil (and Bolivia and Argentina too) that Ive LIKED. Weird.
A comment to the author...
Careful when using the term "piranhas"!
When Brazilian teens use this term, they are not comparing the way these fish bite or attack.... its actually used to refer to a girl who is promiscuous!!!
Just a little Brazilian culture...
You can visit Rickys blog at http://redmist-redmist.blogspot.com/
Previous articles by Ricky:
Brazil v Argentina: Buying Beer
Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes
Around Brazil: São Luis
Teaching English in Brazil
Around Brazil: Lençois Maranhenses
Understanding Brazil: The National Anthem
Around Brazil: Barreirinhas
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara to Barreirinhas
Understanding Brazil: Shopping Centres
Around Brazil: Jericoacoara
Around Brazil: Chapada da Diamantina/Lençois
Brazil vs. Argentina: Statues of Christ
Around Brazil: Salvador
Brazil vs. Argentina: The Buses
Around Brazil: Morro de São Paulo (& Itabuna)
Understanding Brazil: The Workmen
Around Brazil: Praça Pateo do Colegio
Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil - The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo - always a bad thing?