I will cross-post this in the "parenting" forum because the question is rather broad:
In a couple of weeks we are taking DS on his first trip to Africa to visit his grandfather (my dad). We will stay 2 weeks at my dad's house, with his current wife and 2 teenage children whom none of us have ever met. We will be in a semi-rural area with a large town reachable by public transport.
DS is very excited about the whole thing, but I have a few worries:
- He is very habitudinarian (word?). Very much into his routines, not adventurous with food, shy with strangers. He will of course be dunked into an entirely different world. I have tried to familiarise him with some things, telling him about the food he will find, showing him may pictures, looking up the exact places we will be on google maps, etc. What else can I do to ease the culture shock?
- I know there will be a constant stream of visitors friends & relatives of my father to come and see us. I know we will be expected to spend a lot of time on the veranda drinking tea and making polite conversation. I know children are expected to be respectful, polite and answer questions etc. My DS is very lively, cheeky, not always respectful. He will often play shy, hiding behind me and refusing to speak. He may make akward comments about African people he is not used to seeing (recently he commented a picture of my dad saying that he looked like a coconut. I know he is innocent in his meanings but could very easily be offensive). How can I explain what behaviour is expected of him, and how can I "enforce" it without being repressive or disrespectful towards him?
- DS is a hygiene freak. I know my dad's house will be OK, but I also know that the general area is likely to be very dirty and rubbishy with respect to our neat-and-tidy little town. My DS is the one who refused to enter a barn to see the sweet new-born calves on a school trip, because he didn't want to get his shoes dirty. I am worried he may be grossed out by some things and I want him to have serene and happy stay also because it will be so short.
- I am really worried about public transport, which is very dangerous (over-crowded, overspeeding buses, under-maintained overspeeding collective taxis - you get the idea). But that is the only way to get to see some fun stuff, like wild animal sanctuary, museum, snake park, even just a swimming pool. Otherwise we will be stuck in Dad's compound for the duration of the stay.
OK, maybe I am obsessing more that necessary, I just so much want this to go well for everyone, DS & his grandfather have never seen each other, and a long time will pass before it can happen again...
Advice, suggestions, encouragement please!