Saturday, May 30, 2009


I'm weaning the boy. Or maybe he's weaned. It's hard to say.

The last time I nursed him, it was less than stellar. There was a lot of squirming and twisting and teeth-scraping and pulling a bit of "If you bite me one more time you're going to bed with no milk." The last time BE saw me nursing LE, he said, "You know, it is starting to look a little weird," and I said, "Yeah, but his face when he's nursing looks exactly the same as it did when he was a month old. He doesn't know it's weird to be 2½ and still nursing."

I was toying with the idea of weaning him, but not too seriously. I kept putting it off, thinking I'd like to have him still nursing for one more long-haul flight to the States which I hope will be happening in the next month. I'm kind of putting off finishing potty training him too until after the trip (he's 100% poop trained but not at all pee trained), but this weaning thing is making me re-think the potty training thing.

Here's what happened. I've been sick for almost 5 months, with something like a bad cold or a mild flu. It just will.not.go.away. I hate it. I hate being sick. I get sick maybe twice a year normally, so I'm not handling it well. I've been to the doctor once, about 6 weeks ago. She said it was a sinus infection and gave me antibiotics which did nothing. I was mildly sick until the pills finished and just got sick again. Plus my ear has been ringing this whole time, but she didn't seem to think that was important. Stupid cheap hospital.

So last Wednesday, after developing a nasty dry cough and having both sides of my nose completely closed and some white shit on my throat we went to an expensive hospital. That doctor also said sinus infection, and prescribed some serious, hardcore super-mega-ultra-multi-spectrum antibiotics that can't be taken while breastfeeding. I gave up. I don't want to be sick anymore. LE's only nursing once or twice a day. It's time to kill whatever I have, and I figured even if the doctor was wrong about the sinus infection, the monster antibiotics are bound to kill every disease I harbor, plus a few future ones.

Instead, the antibiotics just make me feel nauseated and dizzy on top of everything else. On day four of the antibiotics the yellow green snot is gone, but the cough is still there and I'm still pretty congested. The ear is still ringing. I'm supposed to be moving house which is really fun when I have to sit every 10 minutes because it feels like the ground is shifting under my feet. Stupid expensive hospital.

Have I mentioned how much I fucking hate dealing with Turkish doctors? I think I have.

I thought LE would really freak out about getting weaned. He pretty much only nurses to go to sleep, plus he has a little milk snack after school but he's usually very insistent about having milk when he thinks of milk. I wasn't sure if I could make him sleep without the milk (he has always sacked out on the breast) or convince him that he doesn't need it.

So I've resorted to lying. I'm so ashamed, but I didn't think he'd get it about the antibiotics. When he asks for milk, I tell him it's all gone. "All gone" is a concept he can handle.

And you know what? He's totally handling it. Unless there's some deep emotional scarring he can't express, he seems fine. Milk is all gone? Okay, then can I have some candy? No candy? Okay, then I would like to climb the shelf to those bleach bottles if you don't mind. It's a world of 'no' in this house. When bedtime rolled around on Wednesday night I gave him some milk in his sippy cup and read him some stories and we had a nice long cuddle and he got into bed and I sang him a song then read my book next to him until he fell right to sleep. Same thing Thursday and Friday night. Can it really have been this easy?

I think he knows I'm kind of sad about the milk. He keeps lifting his shirt to expose his nipples saying, "Mama, milk?" so I pretend to drink his milk. BE is scandalized. LE also gives milk to his doll and his stuffed monkey he sleeps with.

I thought weaning would be hard and require lots of tantrums and long discussions about being a big boy. Instead, "all gone" seems to suffice. LE isn't sad. He isn't devastated or traumatized or bereft or forlorn or anxious or feeling abandoned.

Me, on the other hand...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Songs in English

I've had a few responses sharing my amusement at old headscarf ladies rocking out to dirty songs in the supermarket, and it reminded me of this commercial someone sent me a few years back.

Apologies to my readers outside the Turkish firewall for the complicated KTunnel link, but YouTube is still banned here. So is geocities and a few others. I'm so glad they're protecting my morality here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Mealtime Chat

LE and I are eating dinner and BE is washing his hands again.

LE: Poon!
Me: Yes, that's your spoon.
LE: Shoop!
Me: Yeah, you're having soup for dinner.
LE: Bwead! (He still speaks in exclamations)
Me: Uh-huh. There's bread in your soup.
LE: Juice?
Me: Oops, I forgot your juice. Hey, BE. Will you bring LE's sippy cup? It's probably in the living room.
LE: Apple juice?
BE: I can't find it.
Me: Look in the washing machine.
BE: (Looks in the washing machine) I found it!
LE: Juice! Wash! Baba.

The washing machine is a very good place for juice.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ufak Lothario

In LE's class at baby school, there are 6 boys and one girl. I feel sorry for the teachers. Anyway, out of all the boys, this girl has taken a shine to LE. According to her mother, she constantly annoys him by kissing him, pinching his cheeks, and petting his hair. Apparently she talks about him a great deal at home too.

Our little Ladykiller. We're kind of proud.

The other night, BE and I were talking about LE's girlfriend (he's taken to singing her name absently while he races around destroying things and bumping his head). I suddenly wondered what LE does when she showers him with her attentions. Does he run away? Reciprocate? Just sit there and take it? All of these are possible.

Then it occurred to me that whatever he does, it means LE has this whole social life we know nothing about.

It begins.

Some Things I Will Miss If I Ever Manage to Leave Turkey

At times, there are some things I find really nice about living here.

1) Fast food restaurants like McDonalds and KFC deliver. For free.

2) Bakkals (corner markets) also deliver for free. This means that, in some cases, you can have beer and cigarettes brought to your door at one o'clock in the morning. Not that that's come up for me lately, but I like having options.

3) LE's preschool has a ball pool.

4) Though people might annoy you with unsolicited advice about how to care for your child, they rarely get annoyed and give you dirty looks if he's acting up in a public place.

5) Whether you need help or not, people always offer to help you.

6) Service in restaurants is usually outstanding. You'll have like 12 guys in charge of your table, and they're all polite. They are able to convincingly behave as though nothing gives them greater pleasure than serving you. I'm afraid to tell them if something is wrong for fear they'll cry.

7) If restaurant workers aren't very busy, they'll be happy to take your kid away and play with him or show him the kitchen, even if you don't ask. Once LE was playing alone in a restaurant playroom (more and more restaurants have these), and some bored busboys joined him. At one point I looked in and two guys were fiddling with the TV trying to get cartoons, while two others were sitting on one end of a seesaw with LE on the other, all of them giggling and squealing.

8) Cheap pomegranates and mandarin oranges.

9) The food people bring you when they come back from visiting the village.

10) The availability of pirated movies and software. It's harder to find pirated music on the street than it used to be, and the movies and software are mostly in shops now.

11) Sometimes it's annoying to have to find a guy who knows a guy to get anything done, but sometimes it's so much easier. And cheaper.

12) Walking around with no destination or sitting somewhere and doing nothing but drink tea for a long time is not frowned upon here.

13) Prescription drugs are damn cheap here, unless they're American imports.

14) The wildly incongruous foreign music blasting in supermarkets. I do love to see covered women shuffling their bags of beans around to "Sex Bomb" or "Motherfucking P.I.M.P."

15) Daily garbage collection. In most buildings, the kapıcı comes around every evening to take your trash. In our building he doesn't even have to knock on the door-- we just leave the trash in this little room in the hall where the water/electric meters are. This became especially wonderful when diapers entered our life.

16) After they know you, you can borrow money from the bakkal and they'll just add it to your tab.

17) Okay, it's trite but I'll admit it. The tea. Not just the tea itself but the whole culture around tea. The always-open offer of tea. The need for tea-related moments. After sitting in traffic for an hour to visit someone you'd rather not spend your Saturday afternoon visiting, tea cures what ails you. I got used to the tea really fast. On my first visa run to Greece after I'd been here three months, I was very disappointed the sweet old teyze (or whatever they're called in Greek) who ran the hostel didn't offer me tea after the six-hour bus trip. Sometimes it's annoying, like when you HAVE to drink tea for some reason when in fact you'd rather leave, but on the whole, if people are all going to make a really big fuss over something, tea is a fine thing to fuss about.

18) It's also trite to like the ezan (call to prayer) but I do, sometimes. Ezan gives you a rough reminder of what time it is. It starts far away and echoes towards you and away again, as each mosque supposedly times it to the minute on the lunar clock. If you live in a concrete jungle like I do, the conflicting ezans echoing off the buildings make really interesting harmonics. I still think they could stand to turn it down a little though. We get the idea.

19) The way LE comes home from baby school smelling like he's been in a whorehouse. He reeks of at least 5 strong perfumes, plus the kolonya they douse him with at the end of the day. This is because any passing woman at the school scoops up whatever kid is nearest and showers him or her with kisses. Teachers, cleaners, administrators, all of them are quite free with their affection. Even the security guard and the gardeners get in on the action. I hated all this grabbing and kissing when LE was small, I know, but now it makes me kind of glad to know he gets almost as much cuddling at school as he does at home, from people who don't have tofear lawsuits or ugly accusations.

20) These cookies:
Cookie outside, orange gel in the middle with chocolate sprinkles. Nice.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


LE is learning how to count. We're all amazed. Okay, I know he doesn't really know what the numbers mean, but he's really into saying them, in both languages, with vehement preferences for one or the other language at any given moment.

Along with learning how to count has been the instatement of the Most Annoying Parental Trick in the World, the one-two-three approach to discipline. It's annoying because when you see other parents doing it, you think, "You damn idiot. Just yank the spoiled brat out of whatever he's doing and be done with it, quit annoying the rest of us."

But when the kid needs to be yanked out of somewhere gross, or forced to do something like rinse his hands, or things have be snatched from him about 40,000 times a day, and each of these times results in a fit and a sulk and making friends but still being oversensitive for the next two hours, you think about trying something else. Also at some point I got sick of wrenching my back every time LE had to be bodily removed from somewhere or something and he objected to this.

I was surprised how fast he caught on the one-two-three punishment. You think when someone can't talk they don't get much either, but sometimes they do. I explained it to LE once, that I would count to three and if he didn't cut it out he would be forced against his will to do so and Mommy would be mad. After the second time he got it. The one-two-three punishment is about 90% effective and there's a lot less screaming around here.

Yesterday at the produce market LE decided to do a silent sprawled-on-the-floor protest because I wouldn't let him rearrange the gum or get candy and by then he was already eating an apple he had stolen. It would have been a noisy protest but he had an audience and was feeling shy. The guys in his audience thought it was funny he was lying on the floor like that. I had my hands full of stuff and decided to try the one-two-three thing before dragging him out of there. I went, "One... two..." and the guy behind the counter went, "Tree four seven eight..." and LE went "Üç... altı... yedi..."

So that just totally didn't work at all.