The sounds of toddlers squawking and squabbling are echoing off the walls. "Don't push me!" "Bive me dat!" and "MINE!" reverberate through my bones and make my brain ache.
Every now and then a tower of blocks comes crashing down, each piece clinking against the next until one child's masterpiece is reduced to a pile of rubble. There's a moment of silence while the head architect processes what happened, and then the screaming starts again, followed, shortly after, by the giggling of a young demolition expert.
Maisy is playing, completely neglected, on the television. Still.
Paper and bits of crayons are strewn across the living room. Pre-evolutionary caveman-esque drawings cover each scrap of paper. Several crayons have been broken in half over and over again, as if they were earthworms and expected to regenerate, and only tiny stubs remain.
I'm ignoring it all, too exhausted to even get up and turn off the television. I think I'm going crazy.
I needed a break so I assigned Sam and Rachel to make a red tower and leave me alone for 10 minutes. Writing makes me feel better so I sat down here and resolved to not write about children. Unfortunately we write about what we know and right now I know children, so this is the best I could come up with.
I tried desperately to think of something interesting to write about life in the Middle East but the best I could come up with was the topic of water. And it doesn't even count about not being a story about little kids because it involves Megan, who was brushing her teeth. Jacob caught her rinsing her toothbrush in tap water and immediately began yelling at her,
"MEGAN! You used tap water! The tap water isn't safe! You could get sick! You could DIE!"
Let me tell you something about Jacob. He's not at all melodramatic. Oh, wait. Yes, he is. Megan, on the other hand, while also a bit of a drama queen is her own class of ditz.
She answered, "But I never knew that!"
Now, rinsing your toothbrush in tapwater is about as likely to kill you as slaughtering all the pigs in Egypt is likely to keep the swine flu from making its way here. It's traveling person-to-person now so the only way to keep it away from Egypt would be to get rid of the people. And that sounds more deadly than letting the disease make its rounds. However...there is no possible way that Megan could not have known that. The Lewises have lived here for 10 months and for all of those 10 months they have brushed their teeth with bottled water. How Megan could have missed that is beyond me.
While the Lewises brush their teeth with bottled water, we brush our teeth with tap water and have for a long time. Technically the water in Maadi is potable, though it is highly chlorinated and sometimes comes out looking or smelling less than appealing. We don't drink the tap water; we used bottled water for drinking, just to be on the safe side. We do, however, use tap water for washing our fruits and vegetables, washing our dishes, and bathing, besides for rinsing our toothbrushes.
Rachel drinks the most tap water out of all of us. She thinks that the bathtub is her personal resevoir and I find myself constantly trying to convince her not to slurp it up.
We've come to accept the occasional tummy bug as both normal and expected.
This post took me the whole day to write. Andrew is home now and he verified for me that I'm not going crazy. Rachel and Sam really are more annoying than usual today. More demanding. More whiny. More noisy. More bothersome. More troublesome. More argumentative.
Oh, and Sam took the liberty of taking off his pull-up during his nap and wet the bed. So that was a lovely way to cap off a wonderful day. Dinner is on Otlob tonight. Thank goodness!