Today was more hanging out near the hotel and going to the shopping mall. Not a lot of interesting things happened. We went swimming in the rooftop pool again and tried to avoid annoying people with all the kids' screeching and splashing. Despite already being fairly dark, my wife got a bit of a tan (see the after photo of her tan line) and is already worrying about the limits of how dark she'll get. I keep telling her that this is how our lives will be from now on in Abu Dhabi.
We keep having the feeling that our kids running around and talking loudly and just being kids is annoying people, but the more that I look at people's reactions, the less I feel that way. Some examples of this are the way that our immigration agent just picked up Tia and started carrying her like it was the most natural thing in the world. As annoyed as she seemed with me for being on a flight that was delayed, she picked up Tia very naturally and in a very nurturing way that calmed our daughter. Another example is how when we went to look at the apartment with Tony and had two half-asleep children with us, Tony was very nurturing with both Tia and Lucas in taking them from our arms and helping to carry them. A final example is how when both my wife and I went to the club lounge a mere 50 feet from the hotel room to have a few drinks during cocktail hour while the kids were sleeping (yes, I know we're terrible parents for leaving our kids alone while they were sleeping but we did keep checking on them) we were asked a number of times why we didn't bring the kids (despite the rules being no kids from 6:00 to 9:00 pm) and asking us to please bring the kids tomorrow. You could say that this was just to be polite, but I got the feeling that they wouldn't have been asking us to break the rules unless they had really been interested in seeing our kids.
The natural follow-up questions lead me to say that no, I don't think the stereotypes of people in Arab countries are true. I honestly believe that unlike North American who are visibly annoyed with children running and playing and Japanese who are politely tolerant in children running around as they please, In the UAE, people are generally delighted to be in the company of children and are generally affectionate towards them. I've had friends who have lived in
Arab countries who have told me this about how people react to children so I was on the watch for it. However, I really do notice a different attitude towards children here. Mineko and I are so used to telling our kids to be quiet and stop annoying other people that we've forgotten that there are actually others who do genuinely enjoy other people's kids. That's one of the first cultural adjustments that we both have to make.