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Do Talk to Strangers

A single mum with a curious kid makes for quite the interesting dynamic when the doorbell rings. But when all is said (and said and said and said) and done, Asmaa Abdallah finds that silence is golden....

My son is in the habit of starting a conversation with anyone who dares ring our doorbell . Once he hears the bell, he careens towards the door and ambushes the person standing outside before they get the chance to say anything. The delivery guy, the electricity bill collector, or whoever, must then answer questions like: What did you bring? Do you want money? What are you wearing? Do you know that I peed in the toilet today? Do you know that Nazli cried at the hadana today? Do you know that Reham got me an aeroblane for my birthday?

This continues up until the guy has completed his mission, and sometimes even afterwards. He might have already reached the floor beneath us, but my son will still be manically calling out, “Where are you going ya 3ammu? Will you go home to brush your teeth and go to bed?”

And like any good mother, I do not let my son do things alone; I join in the conversation as well. Indeed, I encourage the conversation by prolonging the time spent looking for change so that he can finish his questions, or by telling off a delivery guy for not being impressed enough upon hearing my son’s toilet training achievements. Or even by reminding Son of something that happened that he forgot to tell said victim of the day.

Now, this is not about me wanting to offer my son an alternative outlet to his incessant chattering capabilities, and thus offer myself a respite from having to entertain his every waking minute – although the baffled, reluctant delivery guys surely seem to suspect this. I am merely being a good mother by teaching Dear Son to open up to the world and engage with whomever crosses his way/our doorstep – as long as it is under my supervision.  It is good for his conversation skills, and for his social skills and for just about all other skills in his life. That’s why it’s imperative that I set an example by doing the same. 

In fact, I set the example so well that I sometimes do it even when Son is not there to watch and learn – so as not to be hypocrite. Like when the handyman was hanging some picture frames and then I decided to ask him whether he liked my new rugs? Or what colour he thinks I should repaint the living room?

This also has nothing to do with the fact that I live alone and on most days my interactions with the adult world end at 4PM when I pick up Son from daycare, and with all of the world when he finally sleeps at 9PM, after which a silence descends upon my apartment. Unless I actively pick up my phone and start, one by one, chasing down my friends who are off leading their own lives without being tied home alone with a sleeping toddler. And when they do answer, all I have to say is: do you know that Son peed in the toilet today? And that Nazli cried at hadana?

No way. I love living alone. Love the silence. And peeing with the door open. And the silence. And singing out loud without anyone thinking me mad. And deciding what to eat, wear and where to go, all on my own. And did I mention the silence? I love it.

I love to watch Bassem Youssef all by myself. And laugh and cry all by myself. And get furious about everything that is happening in Egypt all by myself. To take pictures of myself. To cook by myself and eat by myself and sleep by myself. And then wake up the next day and do it all over again, all by myself.

Not that this will ever happen, but if I ever get sick of myself enough to crave some adult company, then coincidentally, that is also about the time the fridge is empty and I need to order some home delivery...


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