6 Things my Kids learned in Lebanon
Before I left Canada to go to visit my family in Lebanon, I was contemplating the time. How long do I go? I need to go long enough to justify the plane tickets but short enough that I can come back and put Joe in activities and classes. I was worried that spending summer in Lebanon would deprive him of learning new things. I was going to register him in Gymnastics, Swimming, Soccer, and Skating. He was going to be busy all summer. At the same time, I was thinking how staying there longer would help improve his Arabic. He would get to know his grandparents and it would give Abe time to clean the house by finishing the basement and emptying the clutter. Another thing we were thinking about is traveling with the kids for long periods of time. We have always been dreaming of traveling and now seems to be the time to take that step. So going away for 3 months looked like good practice to see how the kids are going to react. To see how difficult it will be to keep them away from home for long stretches.
There is 7 hours difference between Lebanon and Canada. This made Jetlag a concern. We arrived at 11:00 AM which was perfect timing to fix the kids sleep. I let the kids nap twice during the day. Each nap was an hour. Then I woke them up and we played and had fun until it was bedtime usually around 7:00 PM. When it was time for bed we brushed our teeth, read a story and said our goodnights. I put them in bed, gave them kisses and left the room. For the first couple of days, they woke up again around 1:00 AM. It was expected and it was perfect timing to talk to Abe then they went back to bed till the morning. On the 3rd day, they started sleeping full nights. Now Joe doesn't nap anymore but Bill still gets 2 naps a day an hour each. They both sleep at 7:00 PM and wake up at 7:00 AM. This is all thanks to sleep training.
The first couple of weeks were full of experiences. I was so happy and excited. They were seeing things and learning things they would have never learned in Canada:
Joe picked his first fruit off the tree. He went with my mom to pick cherries. Bill was more interested in eating those cherries than picking them. Due to the extensive rain that fell this year, fruits had lots of warms in them. So the cherries Joe picked and Bill wanted to eat were not edible.
Also, it was a shock that peaches can have warms in them as well. I spent the first week checking for warms in my fruits and finding a lot of it.
Joe also went with my dad to pick green almonds from the trees. It seems like it wasn't his favorite activity. He kept telling grandpa that what they picked was enough. I remember when I was a child and my father would take me to pick almonds I would sit under the tree pick the ones I can reach while sitting, eat them and move to the next. I was not much help. I think this is where Joe got that from.
Bill was in love with the fruits there. He was eating about 4-5 pieces of fruits which meant he was pooping about 4 times a day. Fruits there taste much better for sure.
To be fair they could have picked fruit from trees in Canada but you have to go to specific farms and you have to pay for it. In the villages of Lebanon, it is just a free and natural thing to do.
Watering the flowers:
Joe watered the flowers with grandma and it sorta became their thing. The house there has a lot of flowers. They take the water hose and move from flower to the other. The weather is so hot there that they do this every second day.
My dad is very patient and playful with the kids. Once, he came to me asking me to prepare my camera. He was so excited that he was walking and giggling on his own. He tells Joe to walk with him so they can reach the farther flowers. As Joe was walking my father turns it into a water fight. They were running away and spraying each other. To this day my dad dances and sings to Joe: " I got you, I got you".
These small things showed Joe that even grown-ups can be playful. He spent his time there joking and teasing grandpa. The relationship was evolving in an intersting and eye opening way. I took a step back and enjoyed watching my parents form thier own connection with the kids.
The Kids got to ride horses and camels for the first time:
My mom made it her mission to take Joe to ride on a horse because he had mentioned it once. So it also became a thing. On the opposite side of the Qaraoun Lake, there are horses and camels you can ride. The only thing is every time we went I would forget to bring Joe's Cowboy hat. He had this dream that he will ride a horse with his cowboy and say;" Yiiiiihaaaaaaa". Eventually, I started leaving the hat in the car in case we see a horse. I am glad to report that this dream was fulfilled. To be Honest, I really believed both kids are going to be scared to ride but they weren't at all. It was a very nice surprise.
Phillip, Evette, and Evan:
These are my father's cats. Well, to be honest, they are the wild cats that my father feeds once a day. They are fed only once for 2 reasons.
- So that they always stay near our house.
- When they get hungry they will hunt and eat all the snakes, mice or scorpions in the area.
They got to play with the cats and Bill got to a point where he would hold him from his tail and lift. It was amazing that these cats still liked Bill and hung around him. I would like to emphasize that they are wild cats so naturally, they don't let anyone touch them.
The kids also got to see the cats hunting. Cats tend to bring their prey to show to their owners. So when they caught a snake or a mouse they brought it over to our door to show it off. They kept playing with it until they eventually exhausted it and ate it. It was definitely interesting to see.
Going to the market:
Every Wednesday the market opens. This was something Joe did with his grandparents alone. Once a week, Joe got in the car and went shopping for the house. The first time they went they came back with tow bunnies. These were Joe's first pets. He named them Rita (the back) and Ehab (the grey). Every week they went Joe came back with candy or a toy. My dad would tell me how Joe would take my dad to what he wanted. He would look at him and say:" I have to have this". My dad would always say if you have then we have to get it. By the third time, I started to give Joe money and explain to him that if he wants something he has to pay for it. The money was never enough for what he wanted. It was symbolic in order for him to gain confidence in his interactions. My parents would let Joe "pay" and would secretly pay for him.
Life in the village is very different than life is in the suburbs of Canada. I don't want my kids to live in a bubble. I want them to see how life is for others. Life there is extremely different and they were able to live with it and learn from it. Joe understood the concept of electricity. It was cutting off there 2 hours a day, Which meant no internet, no tv, and no lights. You should hear his excitement when the electricity was back. The internet was limited so was his usage.
It was a great visit. The kids enjoyed it and so did I. There were things I wish the kids didn't get to learn and see but It was worth it. Kids are sponges and they learn from anything and anywhere. I still want to put Joe in a lot of activities but I feel like this summer was not a total waste.