Monday, August 06, 2007

A Good Wake Up Call

I was asked about my studies during the last bloggers meeting. After explaining that I am furthering my studies in the fields of economics, someone asked me what my thesis was about. Well, to be honest, I do not have one yet, still working on it as I have yet to start my classes. I explained a little about what I want my thesis to be on and what I hope to accomplish. Bint Battuta asked me if I ever read the works of Hernando De Soto.

Hernando who, was the first question that popped into my mind. I must've said it out loud because BB said that he is a Peruvian economist and explained a little of his ideas. I googled his name as soon as I got to a pc and read more. Thanks BB for the heads up!

Well now I am good and worried. Here I am embarking on in-depth study of a field, about to become an expert in it mind you, and don't even have the slightest idea about the movers and shakes of this field. Instead of taking economics and math classes as my advisor suggested, I hopped on the first plan back to Bahrain...

You see, economics isn't my undergraduate major and I only have two introductory courses under my belt. To say my knowledge in economics is lacking is being extremely kind. To put it bluntly, I know that once classes start I will suffer. BAD. But, God willing I am determined to make it.

I think De Soto served as a good wake up call. I needed a swift kick in the behind to remind me of what I need to do to get ready for college. It doesn't mean I am not worried though. Oh well!

Intolerable Demons

I like children. A lot. I enjoy spending time with them, watching them play, hanging out with them and taking care of them. Or at least I thought so. However, I find myself quite impatient with kids since I am back in Bahrain. Suddenly, the idea of children being in the same place I am in fills me with dread. I want to back out of the plan I made, simply not show up and have the guts to say it like it is: I don't want to share any space with your kid for more than an hour. Okay, 5 minutes tops.

What is it with our kids? When have they become so intolerable? Such horrible, ill-mannered brats that one cannot stand to be in their company for more than 5 mins. Case in-point: Last week I was visiting my granny's house, a weekly habit that turns into an every other day thing during summer holidays. Usually, I don't mind going; I enjoy spending time with my aunts and granny, chatting and drinking tea, catching up. After a year away, I try to spend as much quality time with family and friends as I can to make up lost time.

The family starts arriving at about 5pm and by around 9pm everyone who usually comes is there. About 4 aunts or so, children, housekeepers (but of course dear, this is Bahrain), uncles and their wives. The children hang out together, teens and preteens walk around in the souq or meet up with friends, adults run errands and visit. Typical family scene.

Well, it was one of these days, a weekend if I remember correctly. I was hanging out, when the demon kids arrive. They are 2 brothers, 4 and 5 (before you think I am mean, read the rest and then decide). Their mum, dad, younger brother (1.75 yrs old), 2 housekeepers in tow. Soon the father leaves to run errands. It seems that what concerns the mum is enjoying the hareesa and waraq 3enab (dolmas) that she brought. Meanwhile, the littlest is walking about the living room with the two housekeepers swarming about him like flies. The 5 yr old is busy trying to dunk his arm into the tea flask milk teapot which just so happens to be right in front of me.

I swear for the next two hours I did not have a second's peace. Kids running around, loud noises, everyone talking and laughing while I am desperately trying to control my temper and get the kid to stop trying to burn his hand. His mother was sitting right next to me but she might as well have been on another planet. She did not say a word, while her son kept trying to grab hot cups of tea and make a run for it. Did I mention that he tried to dunk his arm in the tea flask??? I am pretty sure I did. She hears me reasoning with the kid and failing miserably, sees me grab a full cup of hot tea from his hand several times and does absolutely nothing except continue to stuff her face and chat.

Then the 4 year old joins in. It is horrible and it goes on for over an hour. I finally had enough and took the whole tray to the kitchen. I was sick of playing tea cop. Hoping it was over I resume chatting only to be punched in the arm and kicked by these kids. I guess it is a game they play. They thought it was hilarious. Running around like maniacs and randomly punching/kicking those sitting.

Then one of them proceeds to punch an adult and try to grab the car keys or whatever he can get his hands in between terrorizing the other kids and pushing them around. Meanwhile the other demon has taken it upon himself to punch and kick my brother (14 yrs old) all the while laughing hysterically. What was the mother doing you ask? Still stuffing her face! I swear, how many dolmas can a 5ft 0 inches woman eat? Quite a lot I assure you!!!

I had to ask my brother to change his seat (he was sitting between me and their mum) because I was getting punched and kicked. I guess after a while, my brother got tired of saying stop and pushed the kid away. Well, that was the first time I heard their mom say stop. Except she was saying it to all the other kids and not her own. "Stop yelling at my kids, stop picking on them, you never tolerate them, you are so harsh on them, they're your kin and this is how you treat them." This in turn prompts all the adults to yell at their kids for not putting up more with the demons. *SIGH*

I was at the end of my rope. I get up to leave only to find one of the demons at the door kicking my brother and throwing shoes at him. I take a deep breath, drag the kid and place him on the sofa sternly tell off all the kids. I then proceed to leave all the while holding down my temper. I then hear the lazy mum (who is otherwise a very nice lady) telling everyone how everyone (meaning me) picks on her kids blah blah blah. Well that was the end of it. Here is what happened next:

Me: So and so, if you dislike someone telling your kids off, or saying anything to them, maybe you should say something to them when they're misbehaving.
So and so: why Gardens do you see me watching them misbehave and doing nothing.
Me: Frankly yes, your sons killed me with the tea and were hitting everyone and adults too. You were just sitting and doing nothing. You kids are young that is true but you know M isn't an adult too. After putting up with your kid's beating, he finally had enough and pushed him away. All this time you said nothing. Surely you saw it happening.
So and so: Gardens, please stop this talk and respect me.
Me: So and so, please respect yourself by minding your kids.
End of conversation.

I did not hear the end of it. My mum nagged and nagged about it the whole way back. How I embarrassed her. How So and so is such a nice lady but has faults. Why can't I just put up with her? Why am I so judgemental and impatient? Why can't I just except people for what they are? (So should I pat So and so on the back for being a bad parent???) What will her husband think? How will my granny feel? All night this went on.... So and so cried a river after I left and at home too or so her husband claims. Suddenly I was Gardens the Terrible who came all the way from the US to make everyone's life miserable and disturb the peace. I know I lost my cool and butted into someone else's business, but seriously, should people just tolerate horrible kids and bad parents?

Needless to say, this being Bahrain, and me being a Bahraini chick and all, here for only a month, not wanting to embarrass my parents or ruffle family feathers and the oh so fragile peace, I had to call So and so and kiss a**. Apologize for losing my cool and pretend that she is a gr8 parent and the kids perfect. And so for the rest of my time here, I have to put up with the demons and their good for nothing but still a nice person parent if I want to see my gran.

I have never seen a more careless and lazy mum or more out of hand kids. It is certainly not the children's fault. Their parents don't discipline them and allow them to run wild. They are left in the housekeeper's charge all day while the parents work, have lunch, nap, dress up, visit, have dinner and go to bed. And of course the housekeeper isn't allowed to discipline because she is hired help...

I've seen kids that when hurt or sick prefer the maid to their own parent...who cry out for the housekeeper and want nothing to do with the parent. Quite disgusting and deplorable! It is to the point where I dread seeing my gran coz I know I have to put up with these demons and their lazy parent.

Why is our society so full of parents who don't want anything to do with parenting? Having children is a huge responsibility, one that doesn't end at birth nor one that should be transferred on to a housekeeper. How does this bode on our future? A whole generation of spoiled, undisciplined brats...Hmmmm....

Maybe I should pop a valium or 2, put on my rosy glasses and pretend there is nothing wrong with this picture. After all, very few people in Bahrain find nothing wrong with a child preferring the housekeeper to his/her parent and that undisciplined kids are just normal kids.