"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Back to Turkey for a bit…

Like most moms, I have big dreams for my daughter.  Isla is a cute kid, and I tell her all the time that she’s beautiful, but what I really try to focus on is what’s in her little heart.  I would like for her to actually worry about developing a true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy character before she reaches adulthood!

For the most part its not too hard, however the other day I had someone ask me “Do you ever just look at Isla and think, my child is GORGEOUS?”  And I responded “Yes, but I am her mom.”  To which my friend responded “No, its not just you, she’s gorgeous.”

Cue Mama’s big swelled head, like I had anything to do with how cute Isla is.

But then the other day I was out walking with a friend who hadn’t seen Isla in a while who told me “Wow, she is really cute now.  She is so much cuter than she was before.”  And then for emphasis she repeated herself “She is really cute now.  She is so much cuter than she was before.”

Cue the deflation of Mama’s big swelled head.  Its not that hard to keep the focus off of Isla’s looks and on her character and education when I have friends around to keep me humble.

I have come to the conclusions though, that if we are ever to help her achieve noble character, and not have the biggest head this side of the Atlantic, we must do everything that is within our power to limit her time in Turkey!

It all started our first day in Kadikoy.  We had just left the island in the middle of the busy intersection, and we were making our way down the street when a street vendor tried to get our attention.  We smiled at him and kept on our way, but after he realized that we were not stopping, the man CHASED US DOWN and upon catching up with us gave Isla a huge pretzel like pastry, grinned at her and pinched her cheek before returning to his cart.  Bewildered, Nick and I just kind of looked at one another and shrugged.

Upon meeting with our new friends that night, they warned us that the Turks really like blonde children, and not to worry if Isla attracted a lot of attention.  Now I have been a blonde living in a mostly dark hair country before, so I smiled and thanked them and smugly thought that I was prepared for her to generate attention and I already knew what they were talking about.

What an idiot I was.

I have never seen a people so aggressive around a small blonde child as the Turks were.  Usually it is just the old ladies who talk to Isla, but here it was everyone.  And almost all gentlemen past a certain age took great liberties with my young lady.  They would pinch her cheek – HARD.  Rub her blonde little head – HARD.  Like to the point where she resembled a human-bobble head.  The old men also had no problem just picking her right up!

Thankfully Isla is an attention hog and LOVED it!  I can imagine a more sensitive blondie would have had a hard time there.

Of course we also had the usual couples who want to take pictures with Isla, and also have her take pictures with their small children.  I think that’s just common in foreign countries… I don’t know.  I have observed that in non-Anglo/Germanic countries and their derivatives (that includes the US of A) that people are much sweeter to and more interested in kids in general.  I think its because everyone in the USA has kids!

Here are some random street people who took pictures with Isla and worked to entertain her with a bunny.


All of that is pretty interesting, especially the super aggressive old men, but I probably would not have done a whole blog post as a monument to my adorable daughter had it not been for something that happened at one of the museums that made my JAW DROP!

I am museum nut and we had a lot of time in Istanbul and there are a lot of museums.  I always try to go to one or two in place of just the big stuff.  We stopped at one in Istanbul… I can’t even remember which one, and Isla was being wild.  She was tired of the back pack and just wanted to run free.  The trouble with Turkish museums is that there are no ropes or display cases protecting the precious antiquities.  So we were having a hard time corralling our busy little 2 year old who wanted to grab and touch everything.

I don’t have a picture of her being naughty because I was too busy trying to corral her, but imagine Isla trying to CLIMB ON THESE ANCIENT SARCOPHOGUS!


And I noticed a security guard watching us intently… and I assumed we were about to be thrown outta there!

Instead he just walked up to us and encouraged Isla to climb on whatever she wanted!  And then he proceeded to show her around all of the ancient artifacts and he let her touch anything she wanted.


I kid you not.  There is no telling how many ancient icons and tombs and ruins she defaced!  That security guard would have let her do anything she wanted!  You can tell she is delighted with the attention.

Anyway parents of blondes – if you’re moving to Turkey, lock up your daughters, or they may never be the same!


  1. Love this! We too experience the intense fascination with our blonde haired children everywhere we go in the Middle East. I have had shop keepers try to hold Graham when he was 12 weeks old and walk off with him. One of the first words I had to learn here was the Arabic word for "finished" to tell people to leave my kids alone. At first they both loved it and then went through a phase where Peyton would tell me that the black blobs were coming to get her. Now, she will tell them to "please don't touch my hair." They also always want to take pictures of them and when I tell them "no" they don't listen until I take out my camera and tell them that they can take a picture of the kids if I can take their picture which always results in them running off. It is ridiculous! I used to be sweet about it but after 18 months of living in the Middle East I am no longer so nice. They LOVE kids and mean well but I hate the fascination with touching their hair or trying to give them candy because they are crying or trying to walk off with them. So...totally relate to this post!

  2. You sound like me with the Russian babuskas - at first their constant commenting on Isla's clothes was cute, now it drives me crazy - especially since I found out their obsession goes beyond winter and there's a summer dress code too! In general though, I like that people are so sweet to her when we travel because there is such a huge up-side, but it really makes both Nick and I nervous when they give her candy. Its usually hard candy and not appropriate for a toddler, and I hate having to pull it away from her and offend them - but I am her mommy and I have to watch out for her!


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