Monday, August 06, 2007

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.


Ammar456 said...

children freak me out! :P I really can't tell what they're thinking when they just stare at me... I can't communicate!

Um Naief said...

my dear, my dear, my dear... i applaud you for this post.

i see this all the time. but... now i laugh, not at you, but for myself in that i feel happy that i'm an "outsider" pretty much and do say something. yeah... i do let the husband handle things that get a little serious.. the meanness and hitting, biting, kicking and such, but i DO tell my nephew to be nice... and i'll take his hand and tell him what to do.

you bit about the housemaids huvering like flies... so well put!!! that is EXACTLY how it is. i don't quite understand it really, but the same happens at my in-laws. when the relatives come, all the housemaids come and they do the same thing.

the family wants me to allow them to hover over the baby, but i can't stand it.

i can't imagine how it must be in finally saying something only to have to take it back and aplogize later... but i'll tell ya, i did the same w/ the demon SIL. i did it to make things all peacy rosey for ramadan. i can't stand her but i'll bite my tongue and play nice.... to make good.

won't you be happy to be back in the states working on your economics degree and having that peace w/ you??!!!!! :)

Gardens of Sand said...

I actually got embarrassed for this rant and thought about deleting it. I never got around to doing that and now the comments are making me think about keeping it up. I think I will.

Ammar: hehhe typical make reaction! I love kids, hey you know they can't tell when you are uncomfortable, they sense that and guess what? It get's even more uncomfortable after that.

Um Naief: Such drama, I swear, why do ppl have kids if they want no part of raising them? Yes I had to eat some humble pie and apologize. She kinda milked it for all its worth though. You know, I don't even think she got what I am saying, nothing sank in.

Um Naief said...

usually nothing sinks in w/ women like this. my SIL, the one i can't stand, well... her son is a total heathen. he went over to my in-laws the other day and tried his best to tear up all the toys while his mother sat there and said nothing.

i can't imagine what ramadan will be like, but she's giving birth right before then, so hopefully she won't come. i know it's bad to say that, but really... it causes so much stress.

i enjoyed the honesty of your post. really, it's nice to see that other ppl feel the same way and it's not just me.

SoulSearch said...

I totally agree with you. Your aunts are the only culprits to blame. And many other Bahraini mothers who prefer to throw the load of parenting on to their BD40-a-month housemaid. Why not? She's getting paid to do my work, right? Well, most of our cousins prefer the housemaids, and that happens all over Bahrain. There are deeper reasons for that as well, such as a woman's urgent need to leave the household and go look for a job to pay the bills with her husband who can barely support the family.
What is expected of a woman if she gets 45 days maternity leave, and has to leave the child in the care of a maid? I'm a working mother too. I've tried my best to keep my children as far away from a housekeeper as possible. I'm probably one of the lucky people who gets family support, but that doesn't come easy either.
The point I'm trying to make here is that we can blame the moms for being lazy bums, but we should also blame our capitalist-driven society that cares only about profits, profits and more profits rather than focusing on their human resources!
Thanks for this post, I agree with you completely, and believe me I'm glad you gave H a piece of your mind ;)
Take care,

Gardens of Sand said...

Um Naief: Girl all I can say after hearing the stories is GOOD LUCK!!! You must be so excited for your upcoming trip. Inshallah everything will go smooth. Get a good connection k? It was gr8 meeting up.

SS: What can I say? your comment is spot on. Well done!!