Babywearing* in Beirut
Recently in the pharmacy the woman behind the counter made the following comment:
Oh you’re carrying your boy like the Africans do. It’s easier like that?
It’s easier like that. She’s right. But she’s wrong about the other things.
First, the baby is a girl. It’s a GIRRRL?! she would have said if I had corrected her, which I didn’t as it’s a mistake that’s been made one time too many (make that 100 times too many!). In Lebanon, it doesn’t matter how your baby looks or dresses, or even how much hair she has, if her ears are not pierced, she must be a boy.
Second, Africans usually carry their babies on their backs, not on their fronts as I was doing. But how was she to know as sadly most of the African women in Lebanon don’t have their children with them and wear maids uniforms instead of their babies.
After more than a year of ‘wearing’ my baby around Beirut, the pharmacist’s remark didn’t surprise me but it reminded me of another one a few months ago which did and made me laugh out loud. It was the start of summer and almost too warm already to carry the baby so close in my Moby Wrap. I was hot and bothered, crossing the road through standstill traffic, when a young man lent out of his open car window and called out to me:
I like your t-shirt!
His comment cut through the exhaust fumes like a breath of fresh air- finally someone who appreciates babywearing, albeit in a fashion-obsessed Beiruti way!
*From Babywearing International: “Babywearing” simply means holding or carrying a baby or young child using a cloth baby carrier. Holding babies is natural and universal; baby carriers make it easier and more comfortable, allowing parents and caregivers to hold or carry their children while attending to the daily tasks of living.