Tongan kids are incredibly creative when it comes to games and playing. They don't have playstations, barbie dolls, toy cars, etc. They have sticks, rocks, sand, leaves, string, pieces of garbage, anything they find around their houses outside which can be quite random at times. I've seen our youngest 2-year old neighbor Pa'aane playing with an old iron, dragging it around the yard by the cord. They love anything they can drag around, often times tieing strings to random objects and just running around the yard with it. Or old tea kettles, they fill them up with sand. Or an old suitcase, Pa'aane curled up inside that one day and took a nap.
One annoying habit they have is digging through our garbage if we don't burn it right away. They must be amazed at what we throw away - old containers that could be used for playing in the sand, curious wrappers with a little food still left in it that they'll try to eat. I guess it's true one man's garbage is another man's treasure. At our first homestay during training we threw away a pepcid ac mini-container, and later that day found the youngest homestay sister using it as a little coin purse. And if there's styrofom or anything like that watch out, they'll break it into a million little pieces for you to later pick up. And of course the much-loved by Tongan children video tape. If they get a hold of an old VHS tape they'll take out the long lengths of tape and string it throughout the yard in the trees, along laundry lines, along the fences, everywhere. It's like their version of TP-ing someone, but they do it to their own yards. Whenever I see one of our neighbor kids with a length of video tape I run out there like a mad-woman, take it away from the child and hurl it into the garbage pile behind a fence where they can't get to it. I've already had to dis-entangle too many video tapes in our backyard, non of the Tongans seem to mind as if it's a kind of decoration.
Tongan kids come up with some pretty funny games. Like yesterday, we looked out the window and saw three of the neighbor boys rolling a bicycle wheel back and forth. Whoever the wheel went to had to hit it with a large hunk of metal as hard as he could. And that was the object of the game, beating the wheel with chunks of old metal. And often when they're playing games they'll be shouting out "weee-naaa, weee'naaa" - winner. The youngest, Pa'aane, likes to play a game of finding old chip or cookie bags/containers, filling them with sand from the beach, and then piling as much sand as he can on our back stairs.
They're also very inventive with creating toys and things from their surroundings. The neighbor boys make little leaf whistles, leaf spinning wheels, spinning tops out of pop bottle tops, kites out of paper, and the most unique I think are the noise makers made out of a bike wheel spoke, string, a nail and a match. The nail and match are inside the tip of the bike wheel spoke tied on with string, and get pounded on pavement making a really loud noise like a gun shot. It does get annoying after they've been making the noises on our back stairs for half an hour.
And of course, like kids everywhere, Tongan kids love climbing trees. But not like in the US. They don't have little tree forts or ladders going up. They climb barefoot up the huge trees to the very tip top, or out on the branches until they're at the very end, then they dangle down and drop 10 feet below to the sand. Things that would make US mothers have heart attacks. And all Tongan boys know how to climb coconut trees, they wrap around the trunks and shimmy up and down like little monkeys. At the top they grab on with their feet and grab the coconuts with their hands throwing them down.
A little update from this week - Brett is helping out with night school now with class 6 getting them ready for the big exam next month that determines what high school they'll go to. I'm still amazed at how little the ladies at MAFF work, most Mondays when I go in there to work they're all just sitting around talking and eating. I really don't know what work my counterpart actually does. We're supposed to have meetings with all the women's groups once a month, and that's been cancelled the last two months so we'll see if it happens this month. But the good news - MAFF started harvesting their bush plot and we're getting some veggies from them. And at the internet cafe/computer center I'm still struggling to get things in order - basic things like that it's essential to keep records and to make bank deposits, sometimes I'm not sure where the money is going and supplies in the computer lab keep disappearing. And it's hard since it's a private family-owned business I can't tell them what to do, but just advise on what's best to do. But at least we have the internet cafe going, and some computer classes.