Throwing all the balls up into the air and trying to catch them whilst blindfolded and riding a unicycle is a pretty good way to describe the challenge that I face in having to juggle and balance my expectations as a Westerner against the Middle Eastern culture I live in.
I think like a Westerner and accordingly there are certain things where I’m unwilling to compromise on the standards and expectations that I have. The well being of my daughter is one of those areas where I take a firm line that my expectation as a Westerner must be met. I’m not suggesting for one minute that Jordanians don’t love their children dearly as they certainly do. I just think that there has been a level of education and awareness in the western world that aids in increasing a child’s well being.
Restraining children in cars is one of those areas. I cringe when I see a car driving down the highway with a baby being held in the front passenger seat and a toddler standing up and leaning through the gap between the two front seats.
Case in point. Even though it’s not a great photo you can see a baby being held on the mothers lap in the front seat and a toddler standing up and leaning through the gap between the two front seats.
I don’t believe for one minute that any parent would deliberately put their child in harms way, but knowing what I do about the risk of death and injury to unrestrained passengers especially children I insist that Alia is put into a car seat when we are going anywhere in the car.
The time has come for us to need to buy a new car seat for Alia as the infant one is nearly too small for her. It’s so hard for Atef to understand why we need to spend the equivalent of nearly half his monthly wage on an item that is not deemed necessary or appreciated by Jordanians.
Unfortunately that’s where lots of the balancing has to come in. Many of the things that I consider necessary such as the car seat are extremely expensive in comparison to the average Jordanian monthly wage, and even then a car seat here in Jordan may cost the same as a car seat in Australia, but they are by no means to the same quality standard. So whilst I’m having to balance Atef’s concerns about how expensive things are that are not typically part of the Jordanian lifestyle, I’m also incredibly frustrated that we have to spend that amount of money on a substandard product that isn’t worth half what we will pay with every likelihood that it will break within the year.