We have noticed a strange phenomenon in our nearly six weeks in L'viv. We have witnessed small children, unrestrained and alone, romping around in the back seats of moving cars (with drivers of questionable quality). Carter has played in nice, new playgrounds, but also many more that are large sandy areas with ample amounts of broken glass, jagged bricks, and cigarette butts. We have also seen countless parents breathing smoke from their cigarettes on their children. To be fair, you can see these things in the US as well (although at least the first one is illegal).
However, we are never approached by strangers and scolded for our bad parenting. Except here. We are regularly approached by women of a particular age and reprimanded for one of two things: 1) Carter sucks his thumb; or 2) Carter is not wearing a hat. While we should be criticized for a touque-less Carter in freezing weather, what about when it is 70? This happens often to us and to Carter's friend Thomas. Many believe that children must be dressed warmly in layers, cannot have open windows nearby (even on the sweltering tram) for fear that a breeze will induce a fatal infection, and by all means, children must wear a hat. As a warm-blooded kid, Carter really has no interest in wearing a hat. Our coldest days thus far have been in the 50s, and he has worn his summer hat on a couple of these occasions. But looking around, one would think we were in Siberia during winter (having been in Siberia in the winter, we know what cold really is!). We have already seen many kids looking like Randy in "A Christmas Story" ("I can't put my arms down!") and it is not even cold yet! We have illustrated the variation in attire on the left and right. To the left, you see Carter in a long-sleeved shirt, appropriately dressed for a nice, cool, sunny fall day. Over his left shoulder, you see another child dressed for winter. This same child is enhanced on the right - note the multiple layers and hat pulled down over his ears.
This past Sunday at the park, a woman was struggling to get a little boy's pants, long underwear, and underwear down in time for him to pee on a tree. She was not fast enough, and he hit her arm. On another occasion, an older woman left a child younger than Carter on a swing without any restraint in front all by herself and walked over to a bench and sat down. Now, Carter has only had one real injury here thus far, and that was falling off that very swing while closely supervised (there is a sharp metal bar on the ground just below the swing). He was fine, other than scraping his chin and being quite scared, but this little girl could not even have been two. After she was done swinging, her caretaker let her down and she played near us. After a couple of minutes, the old lady came over in a tizzy. The girl's jacket had come unzipped - over her shirt and cardigan - and she had to fix it before the poor child froze to death (in 60 degree weather). As the weather gets colder, we will have to convince Carter to wear a hat, or suffer the wrath of all Ukrainian grandmothers.