Monday, April 30, 2007

the big argument

(sorry... but this is a really long post... but worth the read, I think)

This past weekend, my MIL got a cabin for two nights at Al Bandar. She took it one night and me, the hubby and Naief took it the 2nd night. Since we usually have lunch w/ the family on Friday's and since MIL was staying in the cabin on Friday, it was decided that everyone would do lunch there. We were told to be there around 1:30 p.m. or so.... but since most everyone is always late for lunches like this, we showed up at 2 pm.

We pull up, get out and put the baby in the stroller and head to the cabin. Once there, we knock, the door opens and we go in. My SIL, who married into the family, is there w/ her son who is almost 2 yrs old. She's holding him and comes over to say hello and kisses my cheeks - as is the custom here.

Since my housemaid was told by her housemaid that her son was very sick just two days prior to this - running fever and possibly w/ chicken pocks (even tho the SIL made it very clear to her housemaid not to tell anyone in the family that her child was sick or so we were told), I, not caring if this was supposed to be a secret, immediately asked if her son was sick. I could tell she didn't like it and she went on and on that her son wasn't sick.

As I was getting Naief out of the stroller, my husband went outside to get a few things from the car and SIL followed him out to ask why I'm always asking her if her son is sick. Hubby didn't tell me this until we were sitting down to lunch, which btw, SIL, MIL, housemaid and SIL's sister all went to the pool area for a swim fest, so it was only me and the hubby and Naief at lunch.

Needless to say, when hubby told me what SIL said, it pissed me off because one, she told him thinking that he would reign me in and tell me a thing or two so as not to upset her in the future and two, it just pissed me off because she didn't have the nerve to say it to my face.... she's always going around trying to stab ppl in the back. Here's a little history about this girl/woman/demonic thing that some of you might like to know.

She has caused me problems from the very start - even before she married into the family. I suppose she made it her mission in life to make sure I didn't marry my husband or to cause me such emotional stress that I would question everything related to him, Bahrain and Arabs in general and then, because of this, me and the hubby would eventually break up or some such thing.

I can remember the first time I came to Bahrain to meet the family. She was over to the house w/ some other girl and hubby's sister, and when we came inside from being out, she started flirting so heavily w/ hubby and was wearing such revealing clothes that I started to wonder if all the girls were like this and why didn't she have any respect for the fact that we were engaged.... so when I came here to live a couple of yrs later, I was shocked to see that this same girl was marrying my husband's brother! fun fun

There is so much about this girl that I can not stand. I could probably write continuous blogs about her and the things she said and did in the beginning of my life here, and all the things she still does (it's my real life soap opera).... but.... instead, I'll get to the point. Oh... but let me say one more thing about this and then I'll get to the somewhat juicy details.

All this stuff w/ this guy Cho and the killings at Virginia Tech made me start thinking about my years in junior high and how I hated it and why, etc., etc..... so needless to say, I was feeling a lot of sadness the other day and because of that, I decided for my husband's and son's sake, I would try to turn over a new leaf and not let these type of situations cause me stress, and instead of playing all nicey nicey and letting certain ppl walk all over me, so as not to offend anyone, I decided it best to start speaking up about the things I care about.

So w/ this said.... here are the juicy details... ok, maybe you guys won't think them all that juicy, but they are to me because this is the first time, ever, to go against the family (why do I always envision the mafia when I think about this?!) and speak up or make a scene - you could say.... which is pretty much never done in the family. It's usually said or done behind the person's back, which I literally can NOT stand.... because I hate two-faced ppl.

After lunch, we head back to the cabin. I first wanted to head over to the pool area so I could speak to her face to face, but hubby said it could easily turn into a huge scene, and not wanting to embarrass my MIL, my husband and myself, I agree and decide to phone her instead. You all may be wondering why this particular situation is the one that struck a nerve... all I can say is that I think this has been building for years, and since this girl is married to my BIL, it isn't real easy to just say something. She fully believes she's a princess, but she is nothing more than one of the ugly stepsisters.... and since I'm not afraid of her, this was my opportunity to get heard and to stare the new side of my leaf in the face!

From our room, we could see them over at the baby pool. The demonic bitch, ooops, I mean thing, is sitting at one of the tables w/ her rude sister and my MIL. BIL is w/ the housemaid at the pool area tending to the child... like always.

The first call shows that she's on the other line. I wait a few minutes and call her back. I'm using hubby's phone coz I know she'll pick up.... and she does. I immediately tell her that I'm calling because hubby told me that she had an issue w/ my asking if her son was sick. Without hesitation, she starts her crap telling me that I always ask if her son is sick and why, blah, blah, blah. I raise my voice and tell her to please stop talking in order for me to tell her the reason for my call. She stops talking for probably 10 seconds... this is when I tell her that I asked if her son was sick because two days prior they had taken him to the hospital w/ a very high fever and what looked to be chicken pocks. She said that he wasn't sick and that it was one of his normal visits.

This is when I said, "then why did your housemaid tell my housemaid that he was really sick and not to tell anyone". She started screaming and said that she didn't care what her housemaid said and that her son wasn't sick. I come back w/ the fact that he looks sick and that my son is only 2 1/2 mths old, has only had one dose of his injections and that he could very easily get whatever her son had, and that it did matter to me if her son was sick because I didn't want my son getting sick. At this point, she starts talking non-stop. Going on and on about how this is her son and how I shouldn't ask this. This is when I raise my voice again and ask her to stop talking (which is a joke because she doesn't understand what it means not to talk). She screams back that she won't stop talking, so I start talking non-stop w/ my voice raised, so as to drown her out... and tell her that I asked because her son is ALWAYS sick and that everyone knows it and how she takes her son to the school sick and that I knew this and so did my other SIL, and that she never lets her son get well, and again I state that my son is a baby and that I will not have him around her child when he's sick or around any one that is sick.

At some point, she tells me that I should leave my son at home if I'm so worried about him getting sick, and I tell her that I do and have always done that, and that she should leave her son at home if he's sick. (sidebar - we are both pretty much screaming at this point and why it went to screaming w/ her is beyond me. I basically started yelling because she wouldn't shut her mouth and when she raised her voice while talking non-stop, I did the same because she wasn't going to do what she always does to me.... because this time, it was about our child.... this time I wasn't going to be polite)

I proceed to tell her that I did nothing wrong in asking if her son was sick, and that I would never stop asking because if it's not her son then it's my other SIL's child that's sick, and that both of their children are always sick (which is the truth) and I didn't want my baby to get sick. Since she continued to say whatever she was saying and not allowing me to talk, I started saying this sentence over and over again, until she got so mad that she told me that she never wanted to see me again and that's when I yelled, "that is fine w/ me".... and at this point, she hung up the phone.

At this point, I tell hubby that I want to leave. I have not been able to stand this wannabe princess/demonic thing since the very beginning but have held my tongue for the sake of the family and for my husband, but since he was fine w/ my telling her what I thought.... well.... I can't tell you the weight it took off of my shoulders. I don't care if I ever see her again. For two years now she's been doing this "I'm like your sister" crap w/ me... all the while I say ok and let her think I believe it. But see... I've never trusted her and she would never be like a sister to me. I always knew she was saying things.... but only until recently did I hear what was being said by the gossip of her housemaid to my housemaid.... they're both Sri Lankan and they talk about everyone and everything. (and w/ the things I know now.... there are some around here that need to be very careful about what they're doing because these housemaids and yard guys know every little bitty secret that's out there!!)

Once we're home, the hubby gets a call from his mom. I knew it wouldn't be long until someone called, but I figured it would be my BIL if the truth be known. Hubby said that she asked if I was okay and he laughed a little and said that I was fine. They talked a little about what took place and then hung up. Hubby saw BIL yesterday and he said nothing. I wonder what that means.

You know, in the States, it is commonplace to ask about the welfare of someone else's child when it has a direct impact on your child. My sister has events cancelled all the time, outings w/ friends rescheduled because of a child being sick. My niece is sent home from school if she has a runny nose.... being sick or having your child get sick from someone else isn't what parents want..... why is it so different here? Many don't seem to take care if their child is ill. They send them off to school to infect all the other kids and they're taken out to the malls and whatnot, when they should be home in bed. I just don't understand it... but I know this.... I will continue to ask if these kids are sick and I don't give a damn if it pisses them off. I have a right to protect my baby.

Yeah, I know there'll be a time when he gets sick, and when he starts school he'll probably get sick a lot.... I know this. But for now... I have a right not to want him around kids, even if they're related, that are sick.

This argument has done a couple of really good things. One, I don't have to pretend to like the demonic thing any more and two, everyone knows now that I'm not playing around any more, and I guess they can look at me as the rude American... because now... I will say what I think. So be it..... I guess I'm rude and an American... Lord help us.


The Moody Minstrel said...

You rude American! ;-)

That's odd that parents there would conceal their children's sickness and take them out anyway. It's quite the opposite here in Japan. If a child gets so much as a sniffle or a bump somewhere their parents (or, more commonly, their grandparents) may very well go into hysterics and rush them off to the hospital immediately.

Maybe where you are people are afraid others will think their child weak, their parenting skills poor, and/or their family cursed if news of their child's sickness gets out. Either that or they just aren't willing to let their child's condition get in the way of things. Hard to say. It's a local culture, and I don't know it.

hashim said...

Some ppl here are of the mentality that when you're sick, it's best not to stay at home. They think you'll just get worse laying on your bed.

Doesn't make sense to me.

Jane said...

I feel you pain. My oldest sister's kids are always sick too. Nearly every single time we see them my kids get sick a day or two later.

When I was eight months pregnant with my daughter we had a big family gathering. Only after did I find out that my one nephew had hand, foot, and mouth disease. I was pissed. Not only did my sister risk infecting me and my unborn baby but my cousin's newborn was there as well. My nephew even held the baby and my sister said nothing!

Some people are terribly inconsiderate and selfish. I think it is an awful thing to not only risk infecting others but to not keep your ill child home to rest and recover. It is bad parenting plain and simple. Ignorance is a shameful thing.

tooners said...

oh jane, i so agree w/ you. my younger sister's little girl gets sick a lot, but she always keeps her home from school until she's well. she tells me that most of her friends do the same. when i was in the hospital, after delivering, my husband's sister wanted to come and see me and could barely talk from illness. i flat out told her to stay home and not to come. i can remember times, long ago, when children would have lice and parents wouldn't tell the school. it was when there wasn't a medicine and you had to shave your head in order to get rid of them.... i think. i could be wrong. this stuff, parents not caring for such, really bewilders my mind. i can't imagine sending my sick child out to play or swim, and especially not to school. no wonder ppl are sick here a lot of the time.

moody, i can see japan as you say. i have to admire the grandparents for being so proactive, altho i could see how it could be a bit overwhelming and it might get on my nerves somewhat.

i was wondering about the weak thing as well. i could see that being an underlying issue that no one discusses.... you know, some ppl believe evil eyes make you sick and such. i can remember my husband's sister thinking that someone gave her husband the evil eye and that's why he was so sick. he even went to germany to get medical attention and she fully believed someone had cursed him. but honestly, w/ the food that is eaten and such, i can see why the children are sick all the time. no nutrition whatsoever. my husband's sister's child lives on potato chips and chocolate candy. he's sick most wks out of the month and usually infects the entire family, except for us because i refuse to get around him when he's sick.

hashim, i remember when i first came here and got sick and your mother told me to get out of bed because i wouldn't get well by sleeping. totally shocked me.

Leilouta said...

I guess wanting to protect your kid can make you more outgoing and less shy.
I definitely understand what you're saying. I saw the same thing happen with my mom. Asking a normal innocent question can set people off sometimes. You're doing the right thing, don't give up.

Lisa said...

Good for you! You should be able to stand up for yourself like that. Not only is it inconsiderate of her to keep that info from you and your infant, but also what does that say about her parenting skills? Does she ever care that her child may be sick and infectious? If I had a sick child my first priority would be making sure I am doing all I can so that the kid can get better.

BTW- Thanks for your comments, its encouraging to be understood.

Olivia said...

Ooh look at you giving the Americans a bad name (as if it can get any worse!).

I don't understand how they don't pay attention to their children's illnesses. Can't they think how they feel when they have the flu? Would they want to be dragged about the mall or sent to the office? No. And kids are not as strong as adults.

That whole top paragraph is such common sense it shouldn't even have needed expression.


Hashim - When you're sick you get worse by not resting. That too is supposed to be common sense and it hurts my brain to think otherwise. Boy are we westerners messed up! Omigod you western sympathiser, shame on you!


Minstrel - hehe, in Japan if you have a cold you wear a face mask to protect OTHERS. Trust the Japanese to be amazing.


Jane - my goodness, how does foot and mouth manifest in a human? Do they live in the country or something?

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Whoa! You had a phone conversation yet you were almost within touching distance?

Take it easy girl! You are a sensitive new mummy and I guess that other woman has her own sensitivities as if you, the American, is challenging her own parenting skills.

Just keep your distance from her and her child of course.

We women are like she-wolves when we want to protect our children, so just look out, everyone!

Munther said...

Yup.. this sort of thing is normal over here ton "the sickness part of things" ! 2 faced people are part of the package too :D The thing about the western world is that it's quite straight froward, everything is laid in front of you but here its not ! confusing, but if you learn to ignore it you'll be alright ;) trust me I struggled at the beginning "when I came back from the UK" but things are not as bad as they used to be ! Just ignore 'em and you'll be fine :)

And about the sickness, people don't stay at home over here unless its verrrrryyyyy serious: high fever usually 40 c or death ! Why ? I am not sure ! It's just that people here, are sooo social they like to share everything including bugs and viruses ! ;)

Regarding housemaids: I'd suggest that you don't get too friendly with them ! especially Sirilankians ! They love to gossip and if they didn't have anything to say about the household they'll make stuff up ! Remember the thing about the pedophilia outside the church thing ? I think that she made it up just to talk ! They are right chatter boxes ! We had a similar experience at our house where the Sirilankian housemaid lied about stuff and gossiped to the extent of us sending her back home !

tooners said...

munther, hashim said the same thing about the housemaid. and you are so very right about gossiping. the things this girl has said and even when i say that it isn't true, she keeps saying that it is and doesn't believe what i tell her. her husband does it as much if not more than she, and the demonic things housemaid... well, the things she's telling my housemaid... if my in-laws found out... there would be hell to pay! i don't think she realizes just how far she's gone w/ what she's saying. makes me wonder if they don't spend all of their off time sitting around telling stories about one thing or another. obviously they do.

and you are right... better to ignore the stuff, which can be difficult at times. that's why i tend to stay to myself... better that way.

lisa, to be honest, her parenting skills are very much lacking, but are in par for this part of the world. i seem to be the only one that takes care of my child personally. most have the housemaids doing everything from feeding, changing diapers, playing w/ the child... everything. things are different here and sometimes it gets to be too much.

leilouta, hmmm.. not sure that having my child has made me more outgoing or less shy, but i will say that i feel a strong need to overly protect him. and when it comes to whether or not ppl understand, i find that i don't care.

wendy, i have become a she-wolf.... and i really sorta like it!! :) not saying that i didn't have the qualities before.. but i only shared those that were closest to me! ;) hehehe

Anonymous said...


I understand your pain. I don't want my son to go to school or a birthday party ill. I am a germ freak. Really I'm not, he didn't have one cold last winter. I insist he wash his hands a lot throughout the day, plus stay away from the (sick) kids. I don't like to see my child hurting/sick. It does irk me when a mother, allows her child to go to a function ill. My Aunt, and all of our family grew up in Tennessee hill country. The sad fact was just about everyone SMOKED! I noticed my cousins getting respiratory infections almost monthly in the winter with the windows closed in the house. I lost so many in my family to emphysema. I knew even as a child in the 70's the CIGARETTES were causing it. Why do Arabs smoke so much? Don't they think it's causing their children great harm? I am thankful my generation never smoked. Back to the end of my post. You are such a loving caring Mum. You and Hashim know what is best for Naief. Good Mother Bear:)


tooners said...

amirah, you know, my mom smoked while pregnant w/ me and my siblings. i'm not sure how sick i was as a child... not very, and i'm hardly sick as an adult. i think if i smoked then i would see myself getting ill quite often. sometimes i can be a big germ freak, altho i'm not on top of it like i used to be since my focus is elsewhere at the moment. :) but i do agree w/ you and i think keeping hands clean is a big thing... but even as i say that, i used to pick up everything when i was young and i ate all kinds of weird things and never got really sick. i guess it depends on the person. as far as why arabs smoke so much... i'm not certain... but i think a lot of it is social. there are lots of what they call coffee shops here where ppl go and smoke sheisha and it's a big social gathering thing, and i think that, in turn, may trigger ppl to smoke the good ole cancer stick. my mom still smokes and i have an aunt and uncle that died of lung cancer. my mom has emphysema, uses oxygen several times a day... but still continues to smoke. my grandmother died from complications due to smoking, which i sometimes remind my mother of (to try and get her to stop) and sometimes she does quit for a while... but that cancer stick is a powerful thing.

i hope that naief got both me and the hubby's good genes in that he doesn't get sick often. i can remember when i first came here, my MIL swore that i'd be sick all the time because of the cats and continually told us to get rid of them and the funny thing is - they are sick all the time and we don't get sick! :) i've been sick one time since being in bahrain... no, i think twice... so that's pretty good for a wicked ole cat lady... wouldn't ya say! ;)

Puppy said...

WOW to your mother instincts :) and the whole situation and let me tell, you are completely reasonable.

Jane said...

Although the disease is fairly common in farm animals (hoof and mouth) it isn't unusual for children to get the human variant of hand, foot and mouth. It causes fever, some nasty sores inside the mouth and a rash with blisters. Although not considered to be terribly serious in most cases, it is contagious. Children are especially susceptible. I was so upset with my sister because had I gotten the virus so close to delivery (I was 8 months pregnant) it would have been extremely likely that I would have passed it onto my daughter. And according to the CDC "Babies born to mothers who have symptoms of enteroviral illness around the time of delivery are more likely to be infected. Most newborns infected with an enterovirus have mild illness, but, in rare cases, they may develop an overwhelming infection of many organs, including liver and heart, and die from the infection. The risk of this severe illness in newborns is higher during the first two weeks of life."
Her recklessness could have literally killed my baby. I still haven't forgiven my sister for that and she's never said she was sorry.

tooners said...

jane, i don't blame you truly. i would have been the same way, w/out a doubt. i'm glad your baby didn't catch anything. i think that would have scared me terribly. you know, i was talking to my mom this evening and she said that she thought that before 6 mths that naief can't catch any big illnesses like chicken pocks and such. do you know if this is true? he has his 2nd round of shots next month.. and i plan to ask the dr. then... but my husband hinted to the same, and in all honesty, i really don't know. i just know that i thought babies could easily get sick for the mere fact that they're babies.... but maybe i was wrong.

puppy, thank you my dear!! i really surprised myself if you must know the truth... and i feel quite proud for it :) and even found myself having to get sorta testy today w/ my SIL... so this new side of the leaf is quite nice.