One of the things I like about living in Bosnia is the way in which life seems that much, um, closer. There is no hiding from the fact that sometimes life isn't very nice. From the Roma kids begging at traffic lights, to the amputees sitting outside of the supermarket in subzero temperatures, to the very visible levels of poverty there is plenty of evidence that life can be very very hard.
Adam is curious about all of this. He regularly asks questions along the lines of why is that boy is begging? why does that man not have a leg? why are people cutting down the trees in the park? why can't that boy buy a new toy scooter? why doesn't that girl have a Daddy? Why does that dog not have a home? We discuss all his questions and I try to explain in language that he understands that not everyone is as lucky as we are, sometimes these not very nice things do happen. He does think about all these conversations and I'm often surprised when a few days later he returns to the topic to talk about it a bit more. I try to be open and honest about everything and have been amazed by his ability to process what we are talking about. He is genuinely interested in what is going on around him and has a young child's natural curiosity to take on board all these different things.
Having watched all this, I have been following with a degree of interest the furore surrounding the appointment of a disabled presenter for the BBC's childrens channel, CBeebies. Some adults have complained that she gives their children nightmares and are preventing their children from watching the channel when she is presenting (see more here about this story). As you might imagine, a whole lot of people have had something to say about this. On the whole people support the presenter and rightly add that children need to be exposed to difference in order to counter future prejudice and discrimination. But I would add that further to that, children are interested in the world and to ban them from seeing something that makes that world a more diverse, and therefore interesting, place seems to me to be a real shame.