Good afternoon, everyone!
The weekend was full of excitement. And, as you can see from the topic – it had a great variation of themes.
My lovely wife and I decide we’re going to Starbucks to hang out and just let the kids run around and disrupt every possible patron at the coffee shop (it’s one of those tricks we love to play when we are feeling particularly rebellious).
Actually, the girls are quite well behaved (depending on the time of day, hunger levels, the moon and stars positioning, etc.).
After what we felt was just a quick 5 minute “get dressed, get moving” idea, 45 minutes later we walked out the door (after the drama of our 6 year old obsessed with making the right decision on wearing her Frozen slipons or her neon orange trainers and the 18 month old deciding to jump on board and refuse to wear any shoes at all).
We arrive at Starbucks happily seated and enjoying the well deserved coffee. Girls are maintaining their composure and all is right with the world. Until an argument over the green straw starts. The green straw in question was the one that belonged to me. Not my wife, but the one that belonged to only Baba. They both wanted it. Fight ensues, wife decides that she all of the sudden needs to find a bathroom. People start looking. Now they aren’t yelling, just being a little ‘active’. I’m pulling one by the arm, the other I’m firmly discussing the reason we need to give a little slack to the baby. A woman comes up (and in Arabic – I wont divulge nationality), “where is their mother! This is a womans job”. As I grab the little one and muzzle her, I say, as politely as possible “Shukran. But I’m their dad and I can handle it” (in Arabic). She walks away saying “Haram!”. Now, ‘haram’ has many understandings but most times it centers around being ‘not right’. My wife, didn’t witness this part (otherwise, I don’t know what fight would have erupted at that time) but she did however witness my obvious grin when she comes back and takes a pic of me holding the little one’s arm and trying to enjoy my chocolate mocha (check out twitter and facebook for that one). I didn’t tell her the story on this (although I’m sure she will see it now) because I know her and I know it will start a conversation lasting an hour on what I should have said, smacked her, or whatever.
But, the point was, why is it the comment was even made? She couldn’t have been more than middle 30’s and she had to have small children. Were they with the maid? Did she ever see a father having to deal with kids? Well ofcourse she did. I’ve seen expatriate dads herding their kids around the mall like sheep and all alone. Do I assume it was because I was Arabic? Why am I less capable of handling the kids? Why would it be considered ‘haram’? I like hanging out with my kids. Even when there is tantrums and 45 minute negotiations about shoes. And, even when they are fighting about a green straw. The fact is, they make me laugh. The ways they act as siblings is like nothing I have ever seen. They can fight constantly and smack each other and then 2 seconds later, the oldest is taking the youngest by the hand to ‘go on a trip’ walking through the centre court of the mall and the youngest stops to hug her older sister.
My girls make me happy. They make me crazy. But my situation was certainly not ‘haram’ and their mother (while escaped strategically at the moment to the toilet) was involved. But this is not a woman’s job – it’s a parent’s job.
We have children and make that choice. It’s our job to care for them. Equality is vital and my girls see that there is great equality between their mother and I (although I do wish for that few hours escape every day that she gets to talk to real adults at work). When they grow up, being able to have balanced time and being raised by both parents is the most important thing. The fact that I’m around more, just means that I get to be the one that gets my nails painted while holding the bottle for the littlest who still, to this day, refuses to hold her own bottle unless absolutely necessary (see pic). This also means that I get to be the first to hear about their day, see them run to me with happiness at the end of school or nursery, throw the ball in the house (when mom is not there), jump on the furniture (when mom is not there) and basically destroy the house (and I definitely hear about it when the wife gets home). But you know, if that is “haram” in someone’s eyes, that is their opinion. In my eyes, it’s me being a parent.
When we start to look at this world that is continually becoming more and more globalized, we can embrace the incredible differences that oftentimes contradict tradition. This is how we move on and evolve.
To that woman at Starbucks – sorry for you. But, I’m the kind of dad that is walking around with pink and purple fingernail polish today and I’m proud of it.