Ya haram!


Miriam has crazy hair after her particularly sweaty head went for a ride in a particularly windy car.

My new goal in life is to go one day here in Amman without hearing "ya haram!" directed at me regarding the care of my daughter. "Ya haram" is kind of like "you shouldn't do that!" or "what a pity" in English, though of course, that doesn't capture the meaning perfectly. The
family-centered culture of Arabia that is so endearing to me also means that once you have children, they are fair game as far as advice goes.

So far, I've been ya-haram-ed (usually in a friendly, chiding way, but for an American used to hands-off-my-personal-life America, it's a bit of a shock) for the following things:

1. Not letting Miriam eat chocolate (she's 9 months old). This is strangely the most common complaint I get. When we're out in the city, everywhere I turn, strangers and street vendors are offering my baby chocolate. They can't believe it when I tell them she doesn't eat it yet.

2. Not dressing Miriam warmly enough. Now that she's old enough to express herself to some degree, I usually trust her to let me know if she's uncomfortable due to cold or any other reason. But the Jordanians really like to bundle up their kids, and by not doing likewise, I earn their censure.

3. Miriam is too warm. I got this one from a candy shop owner today. We had just walked into his air-conditioned shop from the oppressive outdoor heat. He insisted on holding Miriam, and when he felt her skin, he immediately told me that she was too warm. I was crestfallen, because I had taken special care before leaving the house to dress Miriam in such a way that would not earn a ya haram. I put some light cotton pants on her so that her legs wouldn't be exposed to the sun. It backfired. Sigh.

4. Not buying Miriam a walker. I just don't want to, ok?

5. Miriam not wearing shoes. We finally remedied this one and bought her some 1.5 JD Korean sandals for when she's walking around outside with our assistance.

6. Not keeping Miriam's head covered at all times in the sun. I do my best on this one, I really do, but sometimes she's able to snatch her sunhat off her head when I'm not looking.

7. Not having Miriam's ears pierced. I can't believe how many people assume she's a boy around here, or at least ask tentatively for confirmation that she is, indeed, a girl, but someone finally tipped me off that it's because it's common in Jordan to pierce baby girls' ears. I'm not especially opposed to doing it, but I don't think Jeremy would like it.

I understand that most people mean no harm with their ya harams, but I'm really having trouble keeping up with all the unsolicited advice!

At this rate, it's going to be a close race for Miriam's first word, based on number of occurences. Which will it be: ya haram or ma sha'allah?
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