Syrians love families and children (remember?), and their kids are some of the cutest around. Here are some pictures and stories of Syrian kids from different areas of the country.
Schoolchildren in a small village in northwestern Syria, not far from the Dead City of Serjilla.
The school day was just ending as we drove through this village in our hired service on our way from Serjilla to Hama. They were minding their own business until Jeremy leaned out the front window and called "Hello!" in English. Boy, did that get their attention.
The bright blue uniforms are standard issue in Syria. The littlest kids even have small aprons that go over the uniform. Older children and teenagers wear darker blue suits with pink or blue undershirts.
Notice the blue-gray eyes of the boy in the bottom of the frame. Northern Syrians often have striking blue eyes and sometimes, even blondish hair. I've heard from several Syrians that this is a result of European Crusader blood mixing with Syrian blood way back when, but I don't believe it :).
Joseph and Mohammed from the Dead City of Al-Bara.
While we tramped on rich red soil through the olive groves and ruins of Al-Bara, these two young boys happened upon us and accompanied us for the rest of our visit. They had fun showing us an alternate route through the ruins to reach an enclosure of tombs not visible from our original location.
A "bicycle gang" hanging out in the Sha'alan neighborhood of Damascus.
This group of children was having lots of fun riding their bikes around the shopping streets of Sha'alan in central Damascus (notice that there is no supervising adult in sight).
In many ways, Syrian children have idyllic childhoods that no longer exist for American children. They can play outside without being supervised, they don't wear helmets and padding any time they play on something that has wheels, and they're often sent by themselves (at a very young age) to accomplish simple tasks for the family, such as buying lemons at the local fruit stand.
Shabaab-in-training in Sha'alan.
"Shabaab" literally means "youths" in English, but the word conveys so much more than that. A more accurate translation might be "guys" or "dudes." This isn't the greatest picture (especially of the boy in the middle), but what amused me was how these boys are dressed exactly like a lot of young Syrian men, just in miniature. The boy on the left is an especially good example of shabaab fashion.