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  • Liz Totton

Friends at First Sight.



Lucie made a friend in the pool the other day—a red-headed, little spitfire of an 8 year old girl named “Zaina.” She is originally from Jordan. They bonded across the hotel pool at very first sight. Some friendships are like that, aren’t they? All you have to do is take one look at a person; you just know that you will be fast friends. Even as adults this happens, but it is not as often based on appearance. It’s based on mutual interests, kids’ friendship, shared workplace, et al. I love how children make friends though. It is so natural and easy—the way it should be for adults as well if we just let our guard down.

It gets so much harder. I realize this watching Skye struggle. She is 12. There are mostly boys in the hotel and at the pool. There is one boy, named Noah, with whom Skye will be in school, same grade. He, like Skye, is a swimmer. They both like math and science. We like his parents very much and, yet, Skye is unwilling to befriend him because he is a boy. Can boys and girls be friends when puberty is on the horizon? I think so, but I am not sure if I had many boy “friends” when I was 12. I did when I was younger and then again when I was in high school but not in middle school. Lucie’s friend also had a 12 year old brother, but Skye didn’t seem interested in trying to be his friend either.


So the day before yesterday, both girls were invited to go a water park here in Abu Dhabi. It’s called Yas Water World and it is seriously cool. Think Great Wolf Lodge + Six Flags x2.  This VERY new family that my kids made friends with at the pool invited them there. I went up to meet the parents, and they were lovely people. We agreed that it was a great idea. It seemed like a nice way to end the summer and ride out the last few days of summer vacation boredom because, sometimes, it gets boring in a hotel with your sister as a your only playmate.

The mother asked me to come over early in the morning to make plans. I did. The plan was that she was going to bring all the kids over to the park for the day, and she would spend the day working in a café nearby leaving the 5 kids at the water park. Seriously folks, would you have agreed to this? In America, this would be unheard of! I barely know this woman! I could not pronounce her name until I practiced it numerous times after our morning planning session! But I can tell you that she was a caring mother, a very intelligent person and she seemed beyond trustworthy.

Well, it’s not unheard of here. Everyone is new here, and everyone is very outgoing as a result. It is not uncommon for someone you don’t know in the hotel to offer to watch your kids at the pool if you have to go somewhere. I had yet to take anyone up on this until yesterday. I let them go. I consequently worried all day long, but they had the time of their lives!

In the U.S., I would not have done this because it’s not safe, or is it? The media constantly reminds you that your children are not safe in public places there. I keep wondering if I was over protective in the states, or am I acting irresponsibly here? It is really safe here though. It is the safest place that I have ever seen. You can leave your wallet on a table all day at the water park, play all day never returning to your stuff and find it right where you left it! Can you believe it? I wish I were not so amazed by this. Why should our children not be safe in public places? Why should we have to safeguard every possession?

Anyway, going back to friendship. It’s not hard to make friends in a place like this. You never have to look over your shoulder. There are no ulterior motives that I can see. There are probably a lot of things here that I just do not know to worry about. But here, in this hotel with this unique community of people (many who live here long term), we are very safe. It is so nice to see my girls make friends and go to exciting places in their new home. I am also excited to let my guard down a little and let them try new things without me hovering over them all the time. Olympia was safe, our wonderful cul-de-sac and Centennial community felt beyond safe, but this a kind of safe that I have never felt anywhere, ever. I have wonderful friends in Olympia, and I hope to make easy natural friends here as well. I have two as of today, and I feel very blessed!! Later friends! TGIT! Tomorrow, we have to get rolling on school supplies. We start Sunday!! Will blog about uniforms next week! Tie-tying is my lesson of the weekend, ironing uniforms as well.

I hope your school year is off to a fantastic start! Please send me updates.

#YasIsland #AbuDhabi #UAE #NewFriends #YasWaterWorld

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