Thursday, September 8

i'd never fit in in saudi arabia

I just had one of the most exasperating 10 minutes that I've maybe ever experienced.

We have some new neighbors from Saudi Arabia, and I walked into our family room today to find their four kids standing at our sliding glass door. They beckoned me over, so I opened the door. Turns out they just wanted to say hi. The 13-year-old spoke a teensy bit of English, and we chit chatted as best we could.

But then they suddenly walked in and made themselves at home. The little boy grabbed a toy and took off down the hall, the next youngest girl sat on the couch with her plate and food and kept eating, and the older girls picked up Addy and smothered (like seriously smothered) her in kisses, causing her to have a class A freak out session. While I comforted Addy, the older girls sat on the couch and took turns trying to take Addy from me, and kissing her on the face when she kept crying. Meanwhile younger girl finished her lunch, and with a running start threw the plate and spoon out the back door. Makes sense, right?

I finally gestured to them that Addy was tired and I should go put her down, so could they leave? Addy truly was tired and we'd already exhausted the oldest girl's 5-word English vocabulary. They stayed on the couch, so I stayed put too. One of the girls walked to the front where I was hoping she was going to get the younger kids, but no--she just came back with a paper towel.

So... I kept telling them she was tired and that it was time for them to go. To leave. To say good-bye. I was racking my brain for different ways to ask them to go, realizing my pointing and shooing wasn't getting the job done. I even started saying out loud in English, "I just don't know how I'm going to get you out of my house. You're going to stay forever, aren't you?" No response.

I finally walked out the back door, signaling for them to come out too. They didn't take the bait, but one of the older girls did frantically point to the wrap on her head and point to my bare head. I told her I don't wear a cover, but I could see how concerned that made her. But not concerned enough to leave.

Finally, I walked back in to the front and grabbed the little boy by the hand. I pulled him towards the back door (with Addy frantically clinging to me in my other arm), and finally got through to the rest of them that it was time to go. The little boy wriggled out of my hand and ran to the front again. The sisters didn't seem fazed, so I went and got his hand again. I pulled him outside this time, and one of the sisters followed and held him. The other older girl started putting on her shoes too, but the younger girl thought it was a big game. I couldn't get her out. The sisters said a few things in their language, but the girl just kept running around the room, diving onto the couch, running to me and kissing Addy, and then running away before I could grab her. I finally lucked out and grabbed her by the wrist and wrangled her outside.

They didn't seem to think I had been offensive (I was worried they'd think I was nutso for dragging some stranger's kids around), and they waved goodbye like this had been a totally normal interaction. I shut the door, flipped the door lock, and turned to go. But lest I think it was over, the younger girl opened the door again (how?!) and ran back in. After dragging her out for the final time, I locked the door AND put the bar in it and gratefully watched them walk away, leaving just the plate and spoon behind.

I love the diverse cultures in our neighborhood, I really do. But today taught me that as a psycho boundary-obsessed American, I'd never fit in in Saudi Arabia.

29 comments:

Katie said...

Hahaha! Love that you posted the picture with this post. Evidence

Brittany said...

I love that you blogged about that! I could totally feel your frustration with what you wrote.

For your sake, I hope they don't come back. But if they do, I look forward to reading Part II of "I'd never fit in in Saudi Arabia."

Kellie said...

how do you always have the best stories? I can't believe you let them last that long in your house! I would've have been wrangling a bit faster probably. haha.

Alyson said...

Hahahaha!!! Just when I start missing all of the diversity from Chelsea, you post this. SO classic. I am literally dying right now. I LOVE the fun neighbor kid experiences!!!

Alicia said...

Oh my goodness!!! I would have totally dragged them out too. Where are their parents?!? Jon and Kara get major freaked out every time our veiled (teenage) neighbor girls try to pick them up and hug them.

Charity Brown said...

Oh geeeeeeeeez! Hahahahaha. Next time you'll just have to talk through the glass. Or draw pictures since they can't understand you.... :) Dry erase markers work on glass. :)

the meyersons said...

Well I just wet my pants.

Kadi said...

Stop it! I am having a panic attack right now. I would have died...amazing. This kills me. I can't believe they just made themselves at home at some strangers house...and you had to physically remove them. How uncomfortable!!! I'm so sorry. Though, I can understand...you have made your home very inviting and comfortable. I miss you guys so much!

melissa said...

DUDE. I would die. Thanks for sharing and making me realize that non-existent neighbors are preferable to neighbor kids that get all up in your bidness. You handled it well, my friend.

Rachel said...

Wow...I don't know what I would have done. Seriously, hilarious, but I am not sure this is a Saudi Arabian thing. We had two sets of friends that lived by us in Chelsea and we usually visited them. One couple came once to bring food after I had Lydia, and they never brought their kids. The other family the father was always out in the back with his son and kept close tabs. Good luck with your new neighbors!

Alicia said...

Wow and wow.

If I were you, I'd get rid of that plate and spoon, just in case they come lookin' for 'em...

Sometimes I think you're just plain lucky, what with these kinds of adventures!

Liz Smith said...

oh...my....gosh. well, i think you handled it quite well. i don't think i would have been so kind. i laughed when i read the part about the kid being concerned your head wasn't wrapped. oh my. but i agree with rachel, it prolly has nothing to do with culture and all to do with indifferent (ie, bad) parenting. keep those locks on! lol.

Lindy said...

I have been laughing out loud through that entire post. What in the world??? If I ever do visit Saudi Arabia now I know it's ok to just go gallavanting into strangers' houses and kiss their babies. I'm glad I learned that important tidbit.

Katie said...

Oh my gosh, that is pretty unbelievable. I don't know what I would do. I guess probably try to drag them out eventually. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to watch that go down!

Traci M said...

I agree this isn't a Saudi Arabia thing. I've heard of plenty of American kids doing the exact same thing! Well, except for the lack of communication thing...

Jackie said...

Okay, okay... so I was saying it was a Saudi Arabian thing in jest. But let's just say I'd never fit in at THEIR house--they'd think I was an over-protective weirdo! Who doesn't even throw her trash out the door!

The Fox Family said...

wow! This is crazy! I would have flipped! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall watching you try to drag these children out of your own home. bizarre! And poor Addy..she was probably so scared!

L. Bryce said...

I think that some other cultures don't place such importance on personal space like your home. They will just come on in and live there.

none said...

I can't write in Arabic here so you'll have to make do with my poor phonetic translations. I hope these help during your next encounter.

I've been vomiting. - indo ke'
Outside! - fi ael khaerig
Hurry up! - bisor'ae

(The ae is like "a" in "can")

And remember, you never, ever want to say "odkholl" (come in).

Good luck!

Tripp Fenderson said...

Well that's weird. My name showed up as "none" in my comment above.

Lindy said...

I just read that outloud to Ryan, and I was laughing so hard I could literally barely get through it. I am still sobbing tears of laughter. I only wish I could have seen it.

Anitra said...

Tripp actually has a whole handbook of arabic phrases... you're welcome to borrow it ;)

Michal Thompson said...

awesome. Now you can try super hard to avoid them at all costs. Great first impression! Just laugh

Mortensen Baby Farm said...

I am weak from laughing...can barely type! Jackie...seriously...that was freakin hilarious yet so sad at the same time. I felt stressed, tired and kinda hungry during the this post. Maybe because I thought they would never leave and you wouldn't be able to eat.

Oh man...my stomach hurts from laughing.

Sarah said...

What in the world?!? If only you could have snapped some pics of all the strager's-children-wrangling.

Furniss Family said...

That would have freaked me out too and made me so mad. Seriously, they are very different. Our neighbors don't even have a trash can and throw there garbage all over for the raccoons to make a mess. Then they throw there garbage, not even in a sack, in our garbage all the time! Makes us so mad. Then one of them was sitting on the road in a parking spot right in front of our house talking on the phone for 2 hours yesterday, even grabbed a rug halfway through to sit on, very strange. I took a picture too. May have to post it too. I'm sure they are nice, but they are very different, that is for sure.

Stacey said...

I'm laughing to tears and my nose is running from crying. That is a classic post!!!! Jeff and I laughed the whole way through. So grateful for my country bumpkin neighbors!! Oh my. One of those, "how did I get here?" senarios. Funny, yet not! Thanks for sharing!!

Tiffany said...

Thanks for the good laugh - too funny!

Jillyann Jiggs said...

Just had a very similar experience with our new neighbors from the Middle East. Maybe they are related or from the same area?