I thought parenting rules were universal: don’t let your kids don’t eat too much junk, make sure they go to bed at a reasonable time, use their manners, clean their teeth … Until I moved to Jordan.
After arriving with my four-year-old son a month ago, all my preconceptions have been thrown out the window. I’d presumed his aunts, uncles and grandparents swarming him at any given time of the day or night, catering to his every whim, had been because our previous visits were for brief holidays.
But no, that’s what happens ALL THE TIME. And that’s just the tip of the dust storm.
Here are a few of the other differences I have encountered so far …
Getting up at 6.30am is unheard of here unless you are a goat
This is problematic when a) you are an early bird, and b) there are between 10 and 20 visitors per day during the first week, some arriving at midnight. The visitors and the 30 family members then proceed to sit outside where you are trying to sleep and talk (all at the same time and at the top of their lungs).
Your child will be force fed by 30 family members and you will hear the word "strong" 1000 times each meal time
Everyone will think you are weird because you want your child to eat meals before chocolate and biscuits. They think you are cruel because you won't let him drink Pepsi or coffee. Why would I not want to give my child whatever he wants and make him happy?
Cleaning baby teeth is totally pointless
My son brushes his teeth twice a day. He has been to the dentist, and has lovely little four-year- old teeth. The children here don’t brush their teeth at all. Most of them will not visit a dentist until they have a problem. When I asked a parent about this they simply said; “These are the first teeth, it does not matter, they get new ones.” Sorry to break the news sister, I’m no dentist, but the deciduous teeth affect the second teeth. I also like to look at nice, white clean teeth, not teeth with black decay and holes in them.
Doing laundry is wasteful
I like my son to wear clean clothes that fit him. My relatives think I am being indulgent doing too much laundry. I can’t get into the habit of putting clothes on him twice. I also iron all of his clothes … I am the talk of the village!
As for that nightly bath ritual …
We have had to go down to a shower every second day here. The water shortage is incredible. Water is brought in by trucks. We get a delivery every second Monday. I am trying to adapt to this, but it is a challenge after living in Australia, even being brought up to be careful with water.
Bedtime is non-existent
One of the things that bothers me and most is bedtime. Kids just run amock until they collapse on the floor. When this happens, someone gathers them up and puts them on a mattress on the floor somewhere. They stay at their aunts, uncles and grandparents homes. They fall sleep in their clothes. No bedtime routine of bath, pyjama’s, brushing teeth, a bedtime story and winding down for the night. They just go crazy until they can’t do it anymore. They also run wild outside. Last week at 1.40am I finally screamed out my front door to “Shut up!” I may have sworn a bit too … I know it was futile because they had no idea what I was screaming in English, but the tone helped me out. I know my relatives think I am a bit twisted when I head off at 9.30pm to get my little one ready for bed. One of them asked me last week why I put pyjamas on him. I had to think about it for a minute because it is probably out of habit, but that is what we westerners do. My relative seemed to think it was just another pointless task. I suppose if I had six kids I might reconsider the pyjama thing too!