Parenting in Dubai!
Are you a parent in Dubai? You might relate to this. Masala!’s Digital Editor Mahwash Ajaz lists the pain and pleasure of being a mom in Dubai
The glitzy cars, big schools, rubber-coated iPads and the funky crocs are what the world sees when they look at Dubai kids. When I go back home, my relatives look at me as if I'm slightly crazy (which, to be fair, is a partially valid assessment) when I lug in boxes of organic juice for my minions. I take their water with me too. What if the local water upsets their tummy and then they get diarrhoea and then I have to sit in hospitals with intravenous drips with my little one screaming?? If you're a parent, you know this slippery slope. If you aren't - well, you can stand there and snicker at people's decisions to have children. I swear, sometimes I want to know what makes people procreate. Wait. Don't answer that.
This is what being a parent in Dubai means. Your kids are designer kids even if you've tried hard to avoid letting them fall into the easy trap of comfort and consumerism. But they still have their specific organic juices and their unique needs that all need to be "handled with care". No manual but tons of instructions!
Each day is a film. It's one thing to struggle through morning traffic, laundry lists of dos and don’ts from schools regarding packed lunches and various events - Pink Day, Orange Day, Alien Day….who can keep track, honestly! I feel I need an app for this (I should get this patented ASAP).
While the average school day is like a manic rush from start to finish, non-school days are no better. On a holiday, my kids like to think that the living room is a small swimming pool of toys and chips. Oh take them out of the house, you say? Where, pray tell! All activities are booked weeks in advance. How do I find parking in places where I do find a booking? Swimming? Drive another 40 minutes for a 30-minute class. Face painting? My four-year-old won't sit still for that long and the nine-year-old has outgrown Spongebob Squarepants drawn on his face. Summer school? Only in July. It's all free in August (I'm shuddering as I type this and glance at the calendar as the countdown to August is barely a few weeks away). I jealously stare at cars heading towards the airport and empty houses around my neighbourhood. Everyone has gone back home or to a cooler climate. Not us. We're sitting watching mercury steadily rise above 35 degrees. I can still tolerate the winter. There's the beach and Global Village and Miracle Garden. But the summers? Oh God.
At a social event in Pakistan, a few months earlier, an aunt thought it was a great idea to comment, 'Oh hey you have two boys, try for another girl?' I looked at her as if she was suggesting for me to try and invent the cure for cancer. Have another girl? HAVE another girl? What is that supposed to mean? I have two boys, aged 9 and 4. And together, they make me wish I had 24 more hours to a day just to make sure I get everything sorted. This, despite being one of the most organized people you'll meet! Have another girl!? What do these people think this is? The 1920s where our naanis and daadis would have 10+ kids because they got married at 13 and kept producing babies like it was a hobby. It's no hobby anymore, I can tell you that. With education becoming far more complicated than it ever was, prices of schools and 'extra-curricular' activities rising exponentially, even a two-people income only manages to bring everything together. Barely.
If you’re an expat who barely has any help from extended family, you’re pretty much on your own. Parenting back in the ‘20s was plain ol’ parenting. But being an expat mum of two young boys in Dubai in 2019 is a ballgame no one warned you about. And if you’re in the city for the entirety of the summer with no summer school, activities you won’t get in to, parks that will be emanating heat during the entire day and cartoons that are on repeat morning to night – all you can do, really, is rant.