Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Warm orange juice, or back to the originally planned topic.

The other day, we were taking a small walk down to the shops, with my toddler riding on husband’s shoulders.

Suddenly, she announced:

-My nose is dirty again. It is because I have been wearing a short-sleeve top!

Oh-Oh!… - I thought- Busted.

-Come with me to Baku, sweetie,- I said to her- and I will teach you some other clever stuff like that.

My circumstances, dare I say, are complicated when it comes to health issues, because unfortunately for me, my husband was trained as a doctor. That alone places him in a I-know-better-than-all-of-you position which, having met a few of his fellow graduates, I suspect was included in the curriculum at their university.

But even without that extra complication, raising an Azeri-British child is challenging enough. Because our understanding of what is good for her health is completely different. What husband often forgets to appreciate is that I could be a lot worse: I could be like my mother. Or even worse, I could be like that mad Soviet girl I wrote about.

Perhaps, because I managed to (actively and successfully) avoid any interaction with kids in my single life back home, I was pretty much a clean sheet when I finally decided to cross over to the breeders' side. In poured Gina Ford and The Baby Whisperer, English midwives and the NCT groups. And a lot of dusty old Soviet habits quickly got erased and replaced.

I was still pregnant, when my husband told my mother they had something important to discuss. He had his serious face on.
- Right,- said husband, - There is something you must promise me now, mother in law of mine. My child will NOT be drinking warm orange juice.
- OK, yes…warm orange juice- my mother nodded in agreement- Of course, of course.

-So, she asked me later, when he said “no warm juice”…he meant room temperature, right?
-Net, mama- I said- He means straight out of the fridge.

My first trip back home with the child was when she was about 15 months old.
It was the end of March and the sun was out. Having been starved of sunshine for months before then, I eagerly rushed to a local park and suddenly realized, with horror, that absolutely everyone around is watching us with intensive curiosity.
My mother explained it was the fact that our child was wearing a light jacket and no hat.

We were clearly foreign. Local moms stared in disbelief, their own children barely recognizable underneath thick layers, scarves and woolen hats. They had so much on, they bounced softly off the ground when they fell over. Which of course, happened a lot considering they could not use their limbs properly.

And all my relatives thought I was mad, because:

• My 15 months old baby was off to bed at 7 and not 10pm
• She did not drink sweet tea
• Her apple juice did not have to be warm, but had to be diluted.
• I did not care if she sat in a skvoznyak area. ( Not convinced a proper English translation exists. I guess, the most obvious is a draft. But there is nowhere near as much scary power, or dramatic consequences attached to that word for it to be taken as a good interpretation.)

But yet, occasionally, a sleepy scary Azeri mummy inside me wakes up when she sees something that her intuition tells her is just wrong, and when that happens, even the joint powers of Gina Ford, NCT groups and husband’s medical background can not convince her otherwise.

That English mother in the local GP clinic, who kept picking up a biscuit her toddler was throwing on the carpet, and shoving it back in his mouth….
Or a baby massage teacher in a local village hall, (having taken a nappy off her own baby to show us the technique) who sat there chatting, while her baby polished the dirty floors up with her naked bottom… And I don’t care if there is a medical explanation that it is totally safe. It is just weird. Those floors are filthy.
Or my own child not wearing enough warm clothes when it really is cold outside.

I have a feeling that they just jump from one extreme to another in this country. They obsessively clean everything, but then a new research comes out claiming it is too clean in your house so your child might end up with asthma later in life. So they go straight to sucking the biscuits off the floor. Nothing in between. Or well, perhaps I am just being a scary Azeri mother again.

PS Those kids look like teenagers, but meant to be about 15 months old. Can't really draw children.


  1. I am struggling with pretty much the same issues in the U.S. My husband has the same views as yours, and I have got ex-Soviet parents on both sides weighing in occasionally with their own beliefs. Luckily (in this case), none of the parents live close enough to drive us nuts with their fears on a daily basis :-)

  2. Apparently, Azeri's have the same deep seated fear of svaznyak as the Armenians (deep down I am convinced Azeris' and Armenians have a lot more in common than they would like ;-) ). It is cause for daily discussions in my office. It is one of those things I am not even close to understanding. I say a good dose of fresh air is healthy!

  3. My understanding is that it is a very common "phobia" among many nations including Germans and Portuguese. In Chinese medicine the "wind" is considered to be a major cause of various illnesses.

  4. am i one of hubby's 'know it all' friends?

  5. My in-laws laughed at my routine of sterylizing milk bottles, and said I would stop being so henlike if I had a few extra little ones to keep me busy. Here, in Houston, I heard a converation of my 2 neighbours - both mothers of 3 about the idiotic law of not allowing to leave small children sleeping in locked cars while they go to pick up the older ones at school. While we were engaged in a conversation, 15-month old toddler of one of them was sitting in a ditch full of rain water playing with dead beatles. And that was at the end of October