Don’t listen to mama

School came to a close and the lazy days of summer gently crept in. Life on the compound slowed down as most residents packed their bags and made their way home for break. The British family next door did not care for life in Saudi, and so the revolving door began. Workers delivered boxes that would later be carted onto large trucks and hauled away. Teary goodbyes were uttered, children hugged and laughed until a driver came to collect them and deposit them at the airport. Staying in Saudi each summer, first in the villa and then in the apartment, had not been easy. With no furniture and at times no electricity, the relentless hot days drug on, making the arrival of Arabic school seem like a welcome visitor. Compound life had changed all of that and summer meant leisurely days at the pool, riding bikes on the deserted loop and running on the expansive grass near our home. Thoughts of the coming academic year were easily pushed aside to be addressed at another time.

 

The loop where people walked, biked and played was now abandoned and all signs of life were absent. Swimming at the pool, playing games, building large pad houses and sliding down the stairs had now commenced. When the desert sun dipped behind the compound walls and finally gave in to night, we sat at home watching the forbidden satellite t.v. Deemed inappropriate, the television channels had been disconnected upon arrival to the compound almost a year before. Boredom had now quickly set in and my oldest son was determined to solve the mystery. After asking compound technicians and looking at the cables, he spotted a tiny piece of paper lodged between the connector prongs which had disrupted the signal. This new addition to summer was a welcome relief, watching news and current events that had unfolded in the past year, cartoons and crafting programs. He was shocked to see the t.v. back on, but gave only an admonishing glance that was silently known and accepted. The t.v. was to be turned off before he appeared at the front door and even children’s shows marked G were very suspect and kept to a minimum.

 

The summer months drifted past and the children became intrigued with making pinatas and paper mache projects which would continue well into their adult life. A sort of summer camp had formed and taken shape in an accidental manner. The morning meal was served and then it was time for swimming lessons at the pool. I stood in my black abaya and scarf, baby Soos attached to my hip, calling out orders and making motions with my arms and legs until the two older boys were able to swim proficiently. We headed home at noon where happy meals were dreamed up out of favorite foods, followed by t.v. programming and art projects. It was a carefree summer where the children and I took delight in the simple things that life now afforded us.

The summer months wore down and I could no longer avoid the issue of getting my daughters into Arabic school. I called for transportation and made my way to the large girls school that stood a block behind the boys facility. I carted the girls and little ones and sat in the office filling out paper work. The feeling that we were once again somehow invisible and at the same time an anomaly, took hold. The principal was not available and the secretary had little grasp on the English language and so I decided to return the next day. I needed to make my position clear on corporal punishment and find a teacher that would be patient with my girls. I put the papers in and returned to the compound, secretly wishing that the girls could continue at American school. The children chattered about our trip to the school and about the Arab ladies that did not speak English. See See and Foof  then asked him why they could not return to the American school, after all they were American. I sat, holding my breath, dreading the inevitable response that usually followed. Their father grimaced when he heard these words and loudly pronounced as he regularly did, “Do not not not listen to mama”  and he added in you are not American”

 

165 thoughts on “Don’t listen to mama

  1. I’ve said it before but I need to say it again … Thank you so much for sharing these stories from your life with us. They hook me from the first line! I find it incredible, I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been. You’re one strong woman, Lyn. xx

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Reading this Lynz.. I feel the cold hearted shadow of your X affected every member of the family.. So controlling and little thought for any ones feelings but his own. After the boys experiences at School, and can only imagine your trepidation on the treatment of the girls..

    ( I remember my Dad although loving often could often be volatile if crossed.. As children we defied him one time by putting the TV back on when he had said it was to be turned off.. He pulled the plug socket out of the wall and ripped of the plug so bare wires were exposed..
    We had to wait till he put the plug back on again before we watched it again.. )

    Love and Hugs and huge respect to you Lynz

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  3. Lynz, unbelievable experiences living in SA as an American, not recognized as such. Luckily my sons lived abroad in Europe and Asia due to oversees work assignments and have mostly good memories of their experiences. Hopefully, there were some for you and your children about SA. 💛Elizabeth

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  4. I read through all your responses….and agree he is an idiot….and oh yes don’t forget – an ass!!! OF course the kids are American, did he forget who he married??? and to tell the kids not to listen to their mama, his arrogance, aghhh don’t get me started……your a lucky mom to have such a great group of kids who love you without question……kat

    Liked by 4 people

    • At the time I thought we were, the kids started growing upset as they got older and insisting on things that were normal! I guess survival mode. I look back and think those were happy times, my older kids tell me, no way, we were trying but always on guard and worried! The kids and I had fun in our own way!

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  5. You are incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and also your children’s. Clearly you were and still are an amazing team – thank goodness you had the inner strength to survive this.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Is being American like being a leper or something, It seems that there was a tremendous amount of disdain and hatred and prejudice on his part. Is he brainwashed or something. Unbelievable, like American is a dirty word. How he said that just shows how little respect and regard he had for you.

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  7. Another gripping post, Lynn, thank you! I missed reading them and learning more of your story while I was away. Catching up now! 🙂 Hope all is well on your side. xo

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  8. Thanks for sharing your stories Lynn. It must have been hard to sit and listen to him say things like that to your kids. But you and your kids have such a good relationship, they knew that mama’s always right!

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  9. Hahaha! Good one. Don’t listen to mama! He didn’t knew that mama means everything for her kids? And if she says you’re american then you’re american. Or if she says you’re jamaican then you’re jamaican 🙂
    Another incredible story, Lynz
    xoxo

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    • Thanks for reading derrick. People ask if I had a journal or how I remember events. No way could I have a journal that would be very scary but these events happened daily, it is just how life was each day. You are so right, insidious!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So, he never saw the children as being both American and Arabic? Why couldn’t they appreciate and respect both cultures? Ugh, I wish my son’s father would tell my son something like that. I carried him in my womb. You are just the donor dude. Yeah Lynz, this post is hitting home.

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    • Ok in Saudi and the middle east being american is your ticket, big money and respect! So, he told people outside friends and the store, any where , MY KIDS are american, foreign! My kids heard him all the time speaking in Arabic! But inside the home he said no no no. ??? who knows?

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  11. Insidious is a very appropriate description.. He makes men worldwide, look bad.. No matter the culture, the socially accepted idea of what a man is, isn’t him.. If he has “friends” I can’t imagine them to be any better.. and they certainly wouldn’t be loyal under pressure..
    I believe you when you say it gets harder to write.. But you are free to write, I believe that exercising that freedom to write him as he is, does matter.. just my two cents on that..

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Seriously did ‘he’ really think ‘he’ had full control of ‘that’ issue? Did ‘he’ seriously think the kids were solely from ‘him’ and all ‘his’ doing??? What a controlling pig-headed thing to say !

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  13. Lynn,
    As always a very provoking post- makes us think and be thankful for what we have compared to others who have so little and yet are happy. Amazed at how much your family within your family ( you and your children- The Little but not so little family of 10) all stood together and escaped together( something like the Von Trapp family escaping Nazi Austria) and also managed to have fun and music and entertainment in between. Maybe sometime your story will be made into a movie- of love, hope, inspiration and the spirit of never-give-up.
    Are you and your children still practicing their religion ? Glad you had a wonderful baby shower.
    Your babies are your assets- your nine gems- each is marvellous on his or her own.
    God bless !
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Susie! To be honest it is hard, he used religion as a huge weapon! It was hard to even hear a religious term used in the last year without becoming so angry, religion was thrown at us and then not followed. We were held to a high standard and he did not follow basic things. So, it still hurts and has left me confused and feeling like I have no direction. I think it is the same for all of us! We lived in a strict household as you might have surmised from my posts.

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