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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Monday, July 07, 2008  
    Earlier on this evening we had some visitors over.
    We were sitting out on the balcony when a kid (all of one year and three months old) climbed onto one of the plastic outdoor chairs and sat down.
    His mother “predicted’’ that he was going to fall off (“you’re going to fall off’’, a regular Nostradamus - nobody saw that coming) but didn’t stop him or take him off the chair.
    Lo and behold, not long afterwards he fell off the chair and hit his head on the floor.
    Surprise, surprise.
    The poor kid was crying for a few minutes (understandably) so I deployed the secret weapon that Lebanese use to appease kids who’ve had a fall.
    Namely “punishing’’ the ground by hitting it (or stomping on it in this case) to distract the child.
    It worked – he stopped crying and looked on but would resume crying when I stopped so I did a lot of stomping (“naughty ground, bad ground, don’t do it again, take that’’ etc).
    I’ve used it before to similar effect and I’m surprised that parents don’t seem to use it much these days.
    I really would recommend it.
    I’m curious to know whether it would work for other kids too or if it’s only Arab kids who have such a desire for vengeance.

    His sister had a better time.
    She insisted on sweeping the floor over and over again with a sweeper.
    I suggested to her parents that she use the vacuum cleaner instead (more efficient) and told them that I hoped that she maintained such habits when she got older.

    At least these kids didn’t reach my office unlike a serious security breach that occurred the last time we had children over, about two weeks ago, when two kids, visiting with their mother and aunties, got into my office and held me ‘’hostage’’ for over half an hour making me show them pictures and videos of dinosaurs online*.
    But they were cute kids and I miss them.
    Are there really dinosaurs in Canada?
    The boy hostage-taker said that there were dinosaurs in Canada after I told him that they were extinct.
    Which got me worried – I thought that he was going to up the stakes and demand a dinosaur shipped in from Canada.
    I suspect that this kid is a bit naïve and gullible.
    Apart from the dinosaurs in Canada, he fell for the oldest trick in the book.
    When Lebanese adults are trying to get a kid to eat, drink or do anything else they don’t want to do they use a form of reverse psychology: “he/she doesn’t know how to eat/drink/ talk/whatever’’ and the kid is supposed to fall for this and say “yes I do’’ and proceed to do it.
    But to my knowledge, it’s never actually worked – I’ve been trying it for years on kids and jokingly on adults but its never actually worked.
    This boy’s sister was thirsty so I got her a drink and I got him a drink too, he said that he didn’t want a drink, I said “you don’t know how to drink’’, he said “yes I do’’ and drank it.

    *I can just imagine some terrorist who’s hijacked a plane screaming “we demand dinosaurs or we will start killing the passengers’’ to the control tower in the quaint old days when terrorists actually had demands.

    I’m considering setting up an office-in-exile for when I’m trying to avoid visitors (maybe in my bedroom).
    I like my office but it’s in a very vulnerable location – it’s in the (unused for that purpose) entrée of my apartment and is thus landlocked.
    I can escape into the ‘’hinterland’’ to my bedroom (on the mountain side) but am exposed to an attack from the ‘’heartland’’, the contiguous salons (on the coast side) or, at the very least, a "naval blockade'' (when there are visitors over and I want to remain incommunicado I’m sometimes cooped up in here for hours).
    There’s a kitchen on this side but it’s used as a laundry and a pantry.
    I can access the other kitchen by going through the front door of this apartment and opening the front door of the other apartment but that’s still pretty precarious.
    I can also escape using that door.

    And even when I’m not in my office, I still consider it a security zone, a DMZ, a no man’s land between the salons and my bedroom.
    My Pillars of Hercules.
    Ne pas ultra!
    Quite necessary when you consider that I’ve even had security breaches as far away as my bedroom.
    Sometimes kids will try and follow me into the section where the bedrooms are and I’ve had to lock the door that leads to the bedrooms.
    But more effective than a lock and key was when a mother once told her little daughter not to follow me into there because I was being sent into the ‘’mice room’’ as a punishment.
    Apparently kids here are told that if they misbehave they will be put into a room full of mice.
    It sounds cruel but it certainly works for me – she didn’t go anywhere near this side and, as she was leaving later on, she pleaded with my mother that I be released from captivity in the mice room.

    1:00 am

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