Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mommy trying to make things "cool". Can she succeed?

Look at us in our breathtaking surroundings! Here I am trying to convince Atticus of how "cool" Qatar can be. "Look! A crane! When will you actually be able to see a crane up close again?"

Atticus took this nice picture of the old fort we walked around.

We have exactly three weeks until we leave Qatar on the airplane for good! Well, maybe not for good but for now. Have I finished packing up the boxes we need shipped? No. All four boys are home for a two week holiday which means I'd rather do other things than pack up all the toys and books they are currently playing with. Because of this realization that we are leaving really soon, I've started to feel a bit guilty for not seeing the "sights" here in Qatar. "Sights?" you ask. "Isn't that why every expat you know leaves the country every chance they get? So they can see some sights?" Ha! Very funny! Actually, no matter how barren a country may be or seem, there is always something to see. Always. It may not be beautiful like we want it to be, but you will remember it. And your kids will too, if you spend time looking at things with them. They might even show you a few things you wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

So yesterday I was on the internet researching where I should go today. I found this website that lists the notable "sights" to see in this country. At first I was going to go to the north of the peninsula and see some forts and old fishing villages but the friend I had invited got sick, and I didn't want to get stuck out there without any support. My husband said,"Well, if the car breaks down, plenty of nice Sudanese men will stop in their already filled cars to give you a ride." Yeah, I can imagine my kids going for that. Squeezing my four kids and myself into the backseat of some sedan with three other adult men. Fun! I guess that would be an experience of how charity really should work. Many times we see a hitcher on the side of the road and because there is not an extra seat belt in the car we don't even consider stopping. Think what you will, but I think this law abiding attitude taking precedence over true charity is sometimes just a crutch we use to not "go out of our way". It's sad. It feels as though my ways are set and to change them would be painful. But, I am optomistic, and this next year when I am comfortable in my "home" country, I will set out to break this "set in my ways" mindset. But for now, I am not at "home". I don't know the territory. Since my friend wasn't coming, I chose a closer sight, just 45 mintues away in Al Wakra. We never found the house of Sheikh Ghanim nor the Abu Manaratain Mosque. I did find the area and a whole section of it was blocked and under severe repair. So, what do you do when you're out of town and what you planned to see isn't there? This is what I do:

1. Since the kids are bummed, you drive around and say that there is another place you want them to see. You drive and drive until you see something you think they'll like. Even if they say,"I want to go home" just say, "Do you want to get out and walk around or sit in the car for another hour driving home?" They will most likely choose to get out and walk (unless your kids have video game devices or MP3 players, which mine don't.)

2. Once you're out and walking around, let them take pictures of what you're looking at. Atticus got real excited about doing that. He was real proud of his pictures. Try to find something to talk to them about. If you sound like you know something, they will like it. "This fort is made of stones and it's really old," I said to Sherman. He said,"Look it's cracking right there. Maybe it will fall!"

3. Then when you put your baby down finally because you're so tired of carrying his chubby buns because you forgot to bring his shoes, he finds all sorts of interesting things. He picks up garbage which makes the other kids happy because big beetles start crawling out from their hiding places. More pictures.

4. When you get back in the car you take them to get a snack at the closest hole in the wall store. This boosts their spirits and makes them willing to go with you again should you find something else to explore. That's why you don't break out the snacks or drinks at the first sign of disaster. Save your big guns for later to keep them going.

5. We found a mosque, not the one we initially wanted to see, but hey, it was a mosque and there was no one around. So we walked around that one. The kids took more pictures. They wanted to go inside but I explained that we weren't allowed to go in these mosques. "Why?" "Well, because the Qatari's want their mosques to be respected because they value their religion. They are holy places to them." Well, that was the answer I invented. I hope I wasn't too off. When we lived in Turkey, mosques were all open to the public. You would see kids running around inside them with no reverence and no idea where they were and why it was different than being in a mall. My kids included. We did try to explain to them that they were like churches, that they had to be quiet in them so other people could pray and meditate. I must admit that my kids weren't perfect. I was kind of happy that Qatari mosques were off limits to us. That way I wouldn't have to stress out about my kids being loud in them.

Gosh that was a long post! If you move to Qatar, don't be influenced by the opinions of 95% of other expats. Most people hate it here and can't wait to go home. When you come, join the Qatar Natural History Group. They organize some great outings and have some real interesting meetings.

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