Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

The Real Reasons

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Yesterday I had a strange day. It was a very full day where I took my daughter to maybe 5 or 6 different places all over Cairo for different things and even though I did each with a purpose,  l kinda felt that for some of them, there was another real reason I ended up there. Like one different from what I had intended. But much more important.

Take the doctor’s office. She had a slight cough so we thought we would check it out. Her regular doctor wasn’t around so we went to one we use as a backup. I ended up having to wait about 30-40 minutes. During that time, a few other kids came in. Two brothers were playing on an iPad and another kid went nuts trying to take it from them or play with them. I thought this was normal, but then his mom explained the kid had speech delays and doctors had told her to avoid screens as much as possible. Some was unavoidable of course, but after a few minutes she asked her son to leave the iPad completely. The mom of the other kids tried to help by putting away the iPad altogether. The boy’s mom tried to take out another toy of her son’s she’d played with him earlier (but he had thrown it and it wasn’t working properly). I felt bad for everyone. The mom of the kid with speech delay started to get really desperate.

I put my hand in my pocket to get something and felt something that I think helped save the day. I had a few balloons in there. I often have balloons in my pockets and bags, usually to use to keep my daughter busy at airports and doctor’s offices and as an opportunity to socialize with other kids. Yesterday, my daughter didn’t need it. But these kids did. I blew one and threw it to the mom, who played a bit with my daughter, attracting the attention of the two boys who had been on the iPad. I took out another balloon. Pretty soon the kid who had been having a tantrum over the iPad joined in on the fun and I blew one more balloon. My daughter almost got knocked over playing balloons with 3 boys, but thankfully nothing happened. Our turn to see the doctor came and we took one of the balloons and left the other kids playing in the reception area. Whew. (note: a friend once told me in the US balloons aren’t allowed into hospitals coz of latex allergies; no one ever mentioned this here).

My other “mission” came earlier. I was at my cousin’s kid’s birthday party (this family hadn’t been living in Egypt for long so my girl only used to see them once a year or so; she loved em but it was a big crowd). My girl isn’t too good with playing with large numbers of strangers, particularly boys and particularly since she knew some of the adults in the event but barely remembered the kids at all. Until another of my cousins came. She has a girl my girl’s age, one older and a newborn. She was dropping off her older girls so she could take her newborn with her to the doctor. She had misunderstood that we the parents weren’t invited to the party. She saw me and I could see the relief in her eyes. Her kids are quite shy and I don’t think she had ever left them alone without a close family member before. Without her having to ask I told her I would take care of them until she came back. I am so glad I was there because I could tell the girls were also relieved (this cousin is v close to me and my girl and her girls know each other relaticely like well and they are used to being left with me). Apart from helping my cousin out (and making life easier on the party organizers by not having to worry about the girls), my own daughter had a better time and I had a better glimpse of what it might be like to have to care for 3 kids under the age of 7. I am happy to do it for a few hours a week, and I truly respect anyone who does it every day, and I always always thought kindergarten teachers must be complete angels. And as another mom reminded me, it’s a blessing none of the girls was naughty or out of control. That would have been much harder to handle.

So…it was a good day…in a different way than I was expecting. I kind of feel like I have become more selfish since I became a mom. Like motherhood drained me so much that I instinctively make a point to take care of my own self. I know the sense of selfishness is socially-induced and that I am not generally selfish, but still, more selfish than I used to be before i was a mom. So yesterday I had an extra special day enjoying giving. I feel blessed.

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