Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A random thing I miss about Syria

There is one thing (among others) that I miss about Syria. I wish, sometimes, that when in public I could just pass off my baby to a stranger for a moment or two, like you can in the Middle East. People there are always happy to help out with a little one, whether it be handing them into a service van or helping a mother balance an armload of groceries with a small child. Here in America, it's just not done, at all. We're far too paranoid that someone will run off with or somehow harm our baby if we let them hold her.

In Damascus, I saw a mother pass her toddler through the window of a service van to the man sitting in the passenger seat, a total stranger. Her husband was the driver of the service, apparently, and it was his turn to babysit. But in the meantime, the child was content to sit with the unknown man, and the father was content to let him. I've also seen young children (but not very young) put in a taxi by themselves, the parent giving the fare ahead of time to the driver and telling him where to drop the children off. Once, when we traveled by bus to Aleppo, the bus stopped at a rest area for a few minutes. In the women's restroom, one mother handed her baby to another woman to hold while she used the facilities. I would never dare do such a thing here (though I have often wished I could) for fear that the stranger would kidnap my child. Heck, I'm even afraid to turn away from my baby for a moment when changing her diaper in a public restroom.

I can hardly count the number of times I've wished I could avail myself of a stranger's help, even for just a moment. There are some things that just can't be accomplished with a babe-in-arms when in public, and since I'm not able to hand Miriam off, those things usually just remain undone.