by Dave McBride
It was Bilbo Baggins who said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Outside the doors of the Now Jade all-inclusive resort, kids may be swept off to an ancient ruin, or to a water park for tubing, or to animal and bird preserves. Inside the doors of the resort, kids can swim with other kids in the pools or with turtles and rays in the blue-green Caribbean.
Kids who join the resort’s Explorer’s Club are afforded opportunities to build sand castles, camp out and even learn acrobatics on a bungee apparatus. Young Explorers have plenty of time for adventure even into the dinner hours while mom and dad are sharing some revitalizing alone time.
Parents may remember a visit to Mayan Mexico as a child’s introduction to the wider world. Let your kids know that living nearby are Yucateco Mayan children who are descendants of the people who built the pyramids and who would find things equally strange and interesting on your street back home. They see coatis and howler and spider monkeys as often as you see raccoons and squirrels. Instead of listening to the calls of birds like robins and crows, they hear the songs of painted buntings and toucans and motmots.
According to sociologists, Mayan children have traditionally engaged in less imaginary play than children in the US and Europe. Instead, their play mimicked the adult work they would be expected to do. They pretended to build, or weave, or cook, or wash clothes. Mayan kids learned useful abilities through play. And they were included in productive work in their communities as early as age 3 or 4. Additionally, more often than in the US, kids here would not be expected to play predominantly with other kids their own age. They were almost always in the company of older children and adults, and they acquired a growing self-worth observing and emulating grown-up behavior. By the age of 15, Mayan children would have been expected to be independent.
But change is coming to the Mayan family. Members of the Mayan community living west of Puerto Morelos acknowledge that their older village children are now moving to the town, where money can be made in tourism jobs and where they are not immune to digital technology. Increasingly, children from Mayan families are found with their faces focused on their phones. Smart phones and computers are among the factors fundamentally changing the traditional Mayan way of life.
Veteran Newsman Dave McBride is an award-winning news radio reporter, anchor and program director and creator of fan-favorite Dave’s Raves. Dave has received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Writing for Radio/Large Market and the 2010 and 2011 Murrow for continuing news coverage. He was awarded the New York Festivals World Gold Medal for Best Writing for Radio. In his first year in Florida he received the Florida AP award for Best Long Light Feature in both first and second place. Dave is currently based in South Florida.