Children


Flying kites is a thing I have never really done. I don’t know how to fly a kite let alone make one. This weekend I have the opportunity to do both in a community event in Jabal Al Qala’a made possible by Adraaj Amman. So if you want participate in kite making and flying free up your Friday morning. Places are limited so do confirm your attendance.

 

Date: April 10, 2009

Day: Friday

Time:10:30 am 

Location:  Jabal Al Qala’a

Meeting point: Citadel Entrance

Cost: JD 5- 10 (you will participate in buying materials for both yourself and for a child from the Local Jabal Al Qala’a Community.

 

Contact info: Raghda Butros raghda@gmail.com 079-6637377

Confirm by: Thursday 3 pm

Note: Children welcome

 

See you all there and get read to see your creations, and those of the kids’, soar in a beautiful spring sky.

 

Last week I had the privilege of dinning with the unprivileged. In a group iftar for some 200 kids from various orphanages and centers, five toastmasters (myself included) volunteered with Action Committee and Family International to help with the kids and entertain them. We were all hosted by Al Isra’ University.

 

I must say when our club circulated emails about the event I dismissed them. I had no inclination to do this. The our club president called and we discussed it over and the conclusion was we needed to help and supervise activities for the kids and he had me slated to story tell. That pretty much sealed the deal. And off we went to the university.

 

We walked onto the football field to find kids as young as 5 and 6 years old and young adolescents that were 16 years old. They had with them their surrogate moms and dads from the centers and everyone was having a good time. We were all running around playing games, learning dabkeh, playing ball among other things.

 

We then broke fast for those fasting and had dinner for those that weren’t together. The energy in the hall was lovely. Everyone was having a good time. I was impressed with how organized, well behaved and obedient the kids were. One of the groups came from a center for juvenile delinquents and contrary to my image of how these boys behave they were a joy to be around and such fun.

 

After dinner I put on my costume, and prepared myself to tell a story. I got up on a stage, put on a mic and pranced around with different voices, different characters and a story to tell. I had such a great time, and the kids as well as the adults were all having fun. For 25 minutes I was able to put a smile on 200 kids faces.

 

It was such a feeling of euphoria, I have done this kind of thing before but usually at parties for the privileged. Parties with spoilt kids who are thirsty for pop culture not history or fairytales. That night though it was I who was privileged.  The lives of these kids are so removed from ours that we forget them. We forget that they exist, we forget that they need love, care and attention not just from individual but from society. And if there is one thing I am grateful for Ramadan for it is the remembrance of these kids. It is their inclusion into our lives. It is the spirit that we lost.

 

I am glad that I was able to recapture the lost spirit of Ramadan, even for one night. And as Ramadan comes to an end this week I would like to wish all those that partake in the month a Ramadan Kareem and a Happy Eid.   

I never realized just how demanding looking after a baby can be. This past few months have been very educational for me as I have learned to truly appreciate what it takes to look after a baby. It has been a privilege for me to spend time with baby H and be entrusted with her care.

I met Baby H months ago when she was still hanging out in mama’s belly (see Meeting Melon), and so I have gotten to know this baby since she was swimming her way into the world. Watching her grow, cry, feed, and now laugh and smile has been a wonderful journey. Babysitting baby H taught me that time means nothing, truly nothing when there is a baby around. You get so absorbed in the baby’s needs that when you do look up hours had gone by and you really aren’t interested in rushing to make up that lost time.

I also learned that when you are taking care of the baby then you are taking care of the baby. You cannot multi-task in any way … not even a phone call! Babies are in constant need of attention: you feed them, and that includes preparing the baby meal, you then burp them, they poo or pee and their diaper will soon after need changing- otherwise baby will get cranky, and after all that they take a nap. And when they wake up you play with them for a bit before you have to do it all over again. Baby H was no exception. All of this needed my full attention and so nothing else could happen.

If this is what it takes to look after a baby, then raising a child is no easy feat. It is not something one person can do alone. After this experience I truly do not understand how single parents do it. I have a new found respect for anyone raising a child single handedly. It’s hard enough looking after oneself let alone having a tiny baby or a helpless child dependent on you to fulfill its needs.

Babies and children are a lifelong commitment. You commit your time, your energy, your money, your thoughts, but most importantly your love. Seeing how baby H is cared for is a great insight to how bringing children in to the world should be. She is a loved and wanted child and will grow up with those privileges and many more. Yet as wonderful as being with baby H was, I still am sure that I am not cut out to be a mama… not for little ones at least. And unless something drastic changes in my life I stand by my choices not to wed or have babies. I am just not cut out for those kinds of commitment.

Yesterday night was I think the first time me and my little one year old nephew really started to bond. It was a fun and exciting experience where we had one on one play time. Granted it was only for 15 – 20 minutes but it was a fun time. Its hard forming a relationship with a child that lives miles away and being an aunt was an abstract concept until they arrived earlier this month. 

 

 

I have played, cajoled, cooed, and carried him this past week. But it was like carrying any child. But last night the fact that he was able to recognize me and want to be held by me was such a nice change and we had such fun.

 

Its funny my stance on kids was and still is so long as they go home. But I think that infants and babies are not my thing, regardless of how good I am at putting them to sleep or burping them. I like them when they are little children able to communicate and exchange ideas and thoughts with me. I love having conversations with kids and talking to them. It’s a very rewarding experience. So I guess I am now really looking forward to the little prince growing up a little bit more and being able to say more than ba and anda and such; coz that when the real bonding will start for me.

Today my brother and I decided to go to the museums that are situated at the King Hussein Park. We first walked in to the Royal Automobile Museum, there we spent about an hour and a half walking between polished and gleaming cars that date as far back as the 1930s. The cars present not just a simple history of automobiles but also are an insightful look at Jordanian history. Its is fascinating learning about the royal family, Jordan and cars through these machines and what they represented. The museum is well organized and is self guided with audio, visual, and video supplementary guides. I really enjoyed it.

  

We then walked to see the Children’s Museum. This was the whole point of the excursion. I was so excited about visiting this museum. I had heard only good things about the Children’s Museum. As we walked up to the counter to get our tickets we were promptly told that we were too old to go in unaccompanied. Yes we need to have a child under 13 to go in to the museum. We were also told that this was a place of learning and we need to have a child who wants to learn to enter.

  

I couldn’t believe my ears! Yes I am fully aware that it is a Children’s museum, and it is geared towards children, but to exclude adults did not make sense to me. This was the most absurd thing I have ever heard. How can you bar entry to a public place such as a museum, a museum of learning nonetheless solely based on the fact that I am too old. I was in no mood to argue or fuss today and so I just walked away from the place disappointed but if I were to give the Children’s Museum staff a piece of my mind I think I would say something along these lines: This is a public place, a museum. This is a place where education is a top priority; this should be accessible to everyone of any age, background, or gender without discrimination. Learning knows no age limit. As an adult I find it insulting that you do not think I am responsible enough to enjoy the museum. And finally adults all have inner children that should be indulged, who are you to say I have no inner child and can not appreciate and explore with wonder what you have to offer.

I guess inner children don’t count anymore and that makes my inner child very very sad. I was really excited about seeing, learning and exploring such a highly esteemed institute. It is such a shame that they are such ageists.

How many times have you come across themes like live your life to the fullest you never know when you are going to die? I know I have come across this theme in numerous forms and apparitions. I know I am a staunch believer in this concept. A friend of mine forwarded to me a video the other day. It was of Steve Jobs the founder of Apple delivering a speech at a graduation ceremony. He had a similar message; I found it very inspiring and uplifting. 
 

He spoke of connecting the dots and how you try to look forward and connect the dots but you really can’t. You need to look back to connect the dots. I thought about that and I thought about how I view life. Am I predestined to do what I am doing? Am I working towards a preordained, pre-prescribed path? I don’t think so. I think that we make our own destinies. What these destinies are though is something you can only figure out by exploring your past as much as planning your future. But even with planning you can veer off track and end up doing something spectacular. I for example am a computer scientist by formal education, however I am so far away from that and it is great. If I followed that plan, which I did for a while, I would be miserable. 

Jobs also spoke about fulfillment. He said something along the lines of live everyday like you are going to die. Death has an amazing way of waking us up. I always think of not my death but what imprint I will leave behind. I was at a meeting recently when a development colleague said something very profound. He said, and he was quoting someone else “Children are the message we send to the future we will never see.” And I agree wholeheartedly. What I want to leave behind is nothing material but positive imprints on people through the interactions I have with them. I don’t think I need to even leave a genetic imprint with a child of my own genes, because I know I can pass on what counts not through genes but through life. 

My cradle was not my choice, and perhaps even my grave will not be. But my destiny is as is my imprint in life. I choose the messages I will send out. I hope my choices are right.

For the whole speech by Steve Jobs click here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/popular-week/tag/apple/video/x3j81k_steve-jobs-ac-kal-budala-kal-alt-ya_people

This week has been a whirlwind of activity, thought and of course the mundane. And so I have decided to review this past week, as my memory permits. I will work my way back as it is the easiest way to go. 

Yesterday was the day from hell… it started with no water, I was all over the city in heels and even outside the city too and I was informed there is a dead pigeon in my house! I had back to back functions and events starting at 5 pm and I ditched one only to end my night at 2:00 am. It was fun I must say. What I loved about yesterday was visiting all the community centers and seeing great work in local communities being done. I also liked seeing my friends, the children at Ruwwad, one more time. The day was exhausting but I must say it balanced out the good, the bad and the ugly with the balance being in the good.  Wednesday I got my ego stroked at Toastmasters. I am rejoining my club, and I was invited to speak at table topics (impromptu speaking) and I loved it. It truly is a positive environment that for me is a great ego boost. But it is more than that. It is a way to connect to people, learn and grow that is social and intellectually stimulating even. I had been inactive for 8 months before deciding to return. I am glad I made the decision.  

Also on Wednesday something striking did happen… I was out at night near the third circle and a swarm of bats was flying in the air from tree to tree. It seems they are migrating somewhere and it is so amazing to see them circle and move and play at night. 

Other mundane things that happened this week include my weekly visit to Ruwwad. I was working on the computer and there were three or four boys just standing around me watching me work. They asked questions about the internet and about computers, which I answered. I then asked them if they wanted to play and each one in turn got to use the computer for a little bit. This left an imprint because they come from and under served  under privileged area and yet they knew how to use a computer. Something unheard of a few years ago. They had the wonder and excitement of playing with a new toy but not the fear of technology that I had when I first started working with computers ions ago. I think that somewhere, somehow someone had done something right for these kids. There is still a long way to go but it seems we have the first few baby steps taken. 

This week also saw culture on my part, I attended not one but two of the EU film screenings that end today. They were fun to go to seeing the world through another cultural scope was illuminating and even funny in parts. The Dutch film had its juvenile moments yet was very funny in others and well worth the time. The Swedish film was very moving and poignant, highlighting the lives of three sisters and the relationships in the microorganism that is a small town. It was well done and engaging. However I must say I was bemused by the Swedish language and how it sounds. I still smile every time I think about it.

One other thing that sticks out from this past week are traffic patterns but I will write a whole other post about that. 

My brain is still half asleep and this is as much of the week that I can remember. There is one request though I have of you my dear reader. After such a long hectic week, I would like to ask you to wish me luck. Its been a tough week and the more positive energy I can channel the better… so think it, say it or even write but if you can wish it.

Yesterday was a very busy day, it took me all over the city: north, south, east and west of it. My favorite stop yesterday was the Ruwwad organization in Jabal Al Nathif. What a heartwarming place. It is a community center that really is just that. The staff are very welcoming, the kids are so open and the whole place was buzzing with positive energy, despite the destitute location and situations of the people. Everyone I encountered had a beautiful smile. 

There was one child that sticks out in particular. He was in the office, with a children’s book, sitting on a bean bag reading. He sat there quietly fully engrossed with pages between his hands, while we discussed various orders of business. When we were done we chatted with him and after we both learned that we liked cats he brought in Termous the center’s kitten. We all played with her and took pictures. He then, with some of his friends took me on a tour of the center. Taking pride in its various facilities and showing off his art work on the walls as well as his colleagues. The Kids in the various halls were all enthusiastic to see me and we even set play dates together. 

I think the warm fuzzy feeling inside just meeting this children who are positive about life, in a place where everything was bleak, is very uplifting. Knowing that there is work like this taking place in the city, opening windows and doors that didn’t exist a few years ago is reassuring. There should be more centers, more volunteers, more hope, more color, more life. 

To Ruwaad I lift my hat up in salute. 

(I will upload some pictures soon of the visit)

Have you ever felt that you are being pulled in all directions? Everyone wants something? Someone wants attention, someone else wants your time, someone else is demanding your presence, your opinion, a hug, your camera even. Its happening at work, with the family, your friends, loved one. You end up with no time for yourself. You become emotionally, physically, and mentally drained. You end up with no time to yourself.

Situations like that arise all the time. In the past I had no problem coping with it all. I was much better at setting boundaries. I regularly turned off my phone. I retreated into my sanctuary where I had everything I needed. But my guard has been let down. My sanctuary is invaded. I have and do feel crowded and stretched thin by all the demands to my attention and the taking up of my physical space. 

I was about to declare bankruptcy. I had no more to give and it was starting to show. Something out of the ordinary happened, I met with old high school friends I had not seen in a bit over a year. I had the pleasure of spending my time with both women and their beautiful children. The kids’ ages ranged from one to five. We spent the afternoon playing, shopping, walking. It was such a joy. The kids were the focal point and they were such happy joyous kids, easy to be around. I enjoyed myself so much that I went back for more the next day. 

It was an amazing weekend of relaxation, solitude, play, love and joy. Being with old friends, with whom you share a history, is a comfort. You revert back to your old self with out thinking about it. You are given the space to be. No needs, demands of the here and now. Just going back to basics. Healing and replenishing from an old old well of history and comfort. 

The children were an unlimited bountiful, and constantly giving source of love and energy, t hat is unconditional, genuine, innocent. Let me tell you about a  situation that stuck in my mind from those past two days. I was playing with Nuha. Nuha is around 3 years old. When we were done playing I asked Nuha for a hug and she willingly and enthusiastically wrapped her arms around me. When she let go, I looked at her smiling face and said again. She smiled even more and ran away. She ran to the end of the room, only to run back and throw herself into my arms. She continued to do that over 10 times. 

With love and energy like that I cant help but feel fully recharged. Not just recharged but rich, deliriously so. This weekend I spent two days with five beautiful, loving, fun and amazing kids.  They were energetic, innocent, unconditional in their giving. You do the math J