Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad Luck? No Worries Just Rub Your Vagina!

Hehe.  I bet this title grabbed your attention!  You see, according to some, rubbing your vagina apparently really is an antidote to bad luck... But more on that in a minute.  Let me explain how I came about discovering this important piece of life advice.

The other night after we'd finished dinner Ky was running around outside like a crazed lunatic.  Running around for Ky is not so unusual but running around like a crazed lunatic is out of character.  Although extremely energetic, Ky is usually quite controlled in his behaviour.  Unlike the other children around here, he doesn't run around willy-nilly, he runs with a destination in mind (for example, to the irresistible mound of dirt in the carpark behind our apartment).  He runs with a purpose (for example, to get a few minutes pretend driving in the complex' golf buggy, before someone drives it away).  He runs with agility (for example, up the stairs of the playground, down the slide, under the bushes in the garden, up and through the hole in the fence of the mini soccer field, out the gate at the other end of the soccer field, straight through another shrubby bush, and over to the high back fence of the complex where he yells for me to lift him up to be able to watch the tractor plowing the fields next door).  But on this occasion he was just running.  Running in circles.  Running from pole to pole.  Running from one person to another.  Running to and throwing himself against the fence of the soccer field.  And running over to a vacant park bench... where he promptly tripped and fell head first, hard, onto the bench.  The thump was so loud I was certain he'd broken his little head.  Several people sprinted over to him and he had barely touched the ground before at least 4 pairs of hands were picking him up and holding him and checking him all over.  My hands were among them.  I held him to me afraid to look at his face (it was his forehead that connected with the bench) while everyone else around me, with faces full of fear and empathised agony looked on, patted Ky, patted me, and offered advice.  I managed a quick look at my angel's little face and saw a lump already the size of an egg right above his eyebrow.  My instinct was to find ice and I quickly took Ky to the ice machine in the cafeteria.  A couple of people helped with the ice while Ky screamed and screamed at being touched.  A couple of other ladies busily chewed up pieces of bread and started sticking them on his head.  This concept of sticking salivary lumps of bread onto bumps and bruises was not a surprise to me because since I've been living in Turkey, it has been suggested so many times by so many people and although I don't put much faith in it's effectiveness, I've learned that it's much easier to just allow these people to help in their way.  Finally, I'd had enough of all the good-intentioned assistance and took Ky inside so I could cuddle and kiss and do what mother's do best with their babies' 'owies', in private.

Fortunately it didn't take long for Ky to calm down and stop crying.  I think it was all the fussing and touching of his head that upset him more than the injury itself.  He's never been a baby to cry easily over any kind of bump or scrape or bruise - he's tough like his baba.

As the night wore on, several concerned neighbours stopped by to check on Ky and offer more advice.  Every single one of them proclaimed that Ky obviously had the evil eye* on him and that's why he'd hurt himself.  One young man instructed us to pin a couple of evil eye beads (boncuk) onto him straight away.  These little talismans are so common in Turkey that it's actually not normal to see a baby without one pinned to their sleeve at all times to ward off the evil eye.  So this advice did not surprise me.  It was the next couple of suggestions we received that really caught me off guard.  One woman insisted that we were to take Ky's clothes off, turn them inside out and hang them above the toilet, as a sure way to get rid of the evil eye.  Strange?  Yes, but not as strange as the next piece of advice we received.  And this brings us back to the title of this post.  Apparently, when you've exhausted all other efforts of warding off the evil eye and your child continues to experience misfortune, you should, while praying for the health of your child, rub your hand on your vagina then rub that same hand on your face, three times!  According to the woman who suggested this... ahem interesting method of getting rid of that dreaded evil eye, it worked like a charm for her daughter who'd previously been quite accident prone...

Of course I took up the advice... yeah right!!

It's a couple of days after the accident.  After repeatedly checking on him throughout the night, Ky woke up this morning without any sign of concussion and only a scrape across his forehead.  The chewed up, saliva-soaked bread, the prayers and the evil eye beads must have worked.

Hopefully, he doesn't suffer anymore accidents in the near future because the only vagina rubbing activity I'm interested in involves my husband and does not involve saying prayers and rubbing my face.

* From Wikipedia, who've put it more succinctly than I could, "the evil eye is a look that is superstitiously believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike." The concept is completely enmeshed within the Turkish culture. It is a very real belief for village people and internationally travelled modern city people alike.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good Times and Tears

We've just returned from spending a wonderful 4 days in Ankara visiting Ky's grandparents.  The weather outside was miserable and cold but the weather in our hearts was lovely and warm.  Kaya so loves playing with his Dede (grandfather) and Babanne (grandmother).  The first word he said when he woke up each morning was "Dede!!!" and the newest word added to his vocabulary (which he practiced saying over and over and over ... and over) was "Baba-NEE".  Each morning before the sun had barely spread its golden fingertips across the horizon, Ky had woken his grandparents with his incessant "De-DE Baba-NEE De-DE Baba-NEE!"  Each day started with a Dede-Baby walk around the neighbourhood while Mummy and Baba got to sleep in for an extra hour or so and Babanne prepared breakfast.  Kaya inevitably came home with muddy boots and frozen fingers, a tired smile and lots of babbling about his adventures.  The rest of the day was taken up with lots of good old Turkish home-cooking, visits to and from relatives, Kaya's investigation of every cupboard and box he could find, and some Mummy and Baba date time.  All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable mini-holiday.  But holidays inevitably have to end and with this one, the smile left Ky's face as soon as we started loading ourselves and our bags into the car.  Sitting on Dede's shoulders, Ky watched quietly as we gathered near the door to put our shoes on.  He said not a word when we carried our bags to the car and loaded them neatly inside.  He didn't even make a sound as Baba hopped into the driver's seat and started the car.  But as soon as I put my hands around him to lift him into his car seat he started screaming!  He grabbed Dede around the neck and refused to let go.  Whenever I touched him he would scream louder.  After lots of soft words and several gentle attempts to take Ky from Dede we finally managed to get him to let go.  He didn't stop crying though.  And when I put him into his seat he arched his back and refused to sit.  Meanwhile Dede couldn't handle it anymore and with tears rolling down his cheeks, he snuck away and went back inside.  Baba, also a little teary-eyed, was not much help either.  Ky wanted his Dede.  He did not want to leave.  After several more minutes of cuddles, rubs on the back and soft murmuring, I finally got Ky into his seat and we were able to drive away.  I felt so sad for little Ky having to leave his beloved Dede behind and was wondering how long it would take for him to calm down when suddenly the crying had stopped and Ky was happily demanding "mama! mama! mama!"  Mama is the Turkish baby word for food.  And just like that our little one had recovered from his loss and was back to his normal hungry self again.  Phew!

The relationship between Ky and his grandfather is truly beautiful.  Unfortunately neither Murat nor I enjoyed relationships like this with any of our grandparents so we really love watching these two together.  What's going to happen when we finally move to Australia?  How are we going to nurture Ky's special relationship with his Dede from so far away?  Maybe we can encourage Dede to retire in Australia ....