21:45 Thursday 30th August 2018

One of those days.

When I was asked to come here, I collected a load of old TV shows, music, ebooks and software projects, so I'd always have something to do - or be entertained. Part of my philosophy of life is: I refuse to be bored. Another part is: The world is full of fascinating stuff.

Now, Wessam is the learning disabled son of Jamal, my friend and host. And Jamal has employed Rana, a female therapist, to look after him. But it's part of arab culture that when you employ a woman like this, her husband and any offspring come along too. So there's Ibrahim that bullying 3-year old boy, and Anas, the husband, web developer, and completely functionless third wheel.

And he didn't bring anything to keep him active or entertained. Presumably because he's an idiot. So he's bored out of his skull with nothing to do. He's also a judgemental, interfering arsehole, or "devout muslim" if you prefer. And he's taken a dislike to the other children, seemingly on the grounds that they cry too loud when his son hits them. And he's decided the whole family (ages 1 and upwards) are alcoholics, on the grounds that, well, see above.

So, this moring, big stand up blazing argument. Lasted at least an hour, and every english-speaking person who heard it has given me a different, mutually exclusive description of it.

So alhough I'm pretty sure I know what it was <i>really</i> about, everyone's got a different version of the excuses.

Then, to get away from the bad feeling and help everyone calm down, Jamal takes his four daughters to the swimming pool - and invites me along. The pool is in a hotel/resort that promisses relaxation, and Jamal has hurt his back, so my alloted task is to watch the children paddle in the pool, while he gets a professional massage.

So once again, it's my job to watch the kids like a slightly paranoid hawk, making sure none of them drown themselves. Or each other. In spite of their oblivious incomprehension of risk, and determination to invite death by inhalation of water. And their refusal to do anything I say unless I shout it several times, sometimes grab them bodily to drag them out of harm's way - and occasionally slap them when they start hitting me. After which they cry and wail and screech for half an hour at the injustice.

One girl twice jumps into water twice as deep as she is high, and does the crying routine when I pull her out. I strap them into floatation devices, and they swim around happily for a good 90 minutes, only occasionally fighting or pretending to drown and laughing at me.

Then one decides she needs the bathroom. And can't go in the pool. And of course the toilets are on a different floor of the hotel. So I suppose I could take one to the little girls room, leaving the other three to possibly suffocate in chlorinated H2O. But not really. So I get them out of the pool, so they can make a group trip in the elevator and their swimming costumes, to the absurdly plush toilets.

Except one flatly refuses to get out. And I lift her from the water. Cue weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, and dire threats that she'll tell her father what I've done.

After a complex half hour in the bathroom, which they mostly spend arguing in the dark about which combination of switches turns on the lights for ten seconds at a time, they refuse to return to the pool. Instead, it's time to find father, and get Kapitano in the deepest of deep trouble for spoiling their fun.

Father, as usual, gently explains that he doesn't want them to die, and they instantly accept it.

In the car home, there are only a few grouchy arguments about how I'm holding the youngest to let her doze off, wrong.

Then as we arrive, outside the house...is a police car.

It seems that Anas had gone for a walk in the day, and called his mother on his mobile phone. Some locals had witnessed someone they didn't know incomprehensibly making a call, and told the police they'd spotted a terrorist. Who, having nothing better to do, had actually investigated.

The police left, and Wessam started bawling his eyes out and furiously smashing the furniture, possibly for some reason. Or not. And his sisters tried their usual strategy of bellowing into his face even louder. This has never been known to work, on any child, ever. But after five years of Wessam, their hope remains strong that one day it might.

Two hours later, he and they did it again.

I have quite a lot of experience of teaching and taking care of children. But until now, all of my students - arabic, german, spanish and others - have been educated, dedicated, mature, intelligent and sensible people. Much better than your average adult, in fact. This is possibly my first experience with normal children. The kind smart enough to realise they don't have to obey, and dim enough to disobey on principle.

I really don't like teaching children.

1 comment:

  1. Now you can proudly call yourself a teacher! You now have experience with challenging and difficult children!

    That terrorist/husband of therapist is an a$$hole! How rude and ungrateful he is towards a host family and his wife's employer! Dude is a jackass!