5 baby sitting tips

*Breathe in* Whatever I say here and now will sound exaggerated, but it’s not. Believe me.

The past few days have been a roller coaster, but to sum things up, some family members were seriously ill, some passed away, some just delivered, and some are still in a bad state.. And in the middle of all of this, I’ve been baby sitting my cousins while people have been in and out. If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a kids person. I don’t like them, and I have no idea how to deal with them, and so having to sit with a 5 and a 7 year old, was treacherous. I mean it. Here’s what I learned.

1- Do your best not to shoot them in the head

Be VERY patient. Be shrewd and calm and composed and all the synonyms in the world. The will climb everything they can possibly climb, they will want to “watch the cars” from the balcony. They will want to use your phone, iPad, whatever technology you have to play games. They’ll ask for food, when you haven’t prepared anything, and they won’t eat when the food’s ready. They’ll nag, cry for their parents, make horrid loud noises and do everything in their hands to drive you mad. Stay calm.

2- Don’t shoot yourself either

Often too, they’ll want you to play with them. Whether it’s an awful car that doesn’t even work, or a Barbie/baby born that needs some sort of “care”, they’ll want you to be part of their make believe game. Very often, you’ll play the role of a sick person, a servant, or an equally demeaning role. Hold that gun aside and do not shoot yourself. It gets better.

3- Bathrooms

They want to shower. Now. At 2 am, they’ll just randomly out of the blue, get into the tub and ask you to shower them. They’re already half naked, so you can’t really say no. So now there’s a dilemma because they’re shy but they need help with warming the water, shampooing etc, so you have to find middle ground. You have to. Before it turns into melodrama and the neighbors think you’re slaughtering a kid in the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Speaking of bathrooms, you’ll also get called a few times during the day to do some dirtier work. You should be close by, and ready.

4- Phone calls and parents
The reason why I stressed on “keep calm” is that their parents will know everything. Every single breath you took will be reported to their parents in phone calls. They will use your phone if you’re distracted for a minute, call their parents, and complain about anything you did. Whether because you hid that lollipop because they were getting too hyper, or lowering the TV’s deafening volume, the whole family will know.

5- Questions?
You’ll  be bombarded with all types of questions when they’re bored. They will get up close and personal at a point. Why aren’t you married? Do you have a boy friend? Who are you texting? Is that a picture of your friend? How many kids do you want? Why do you lock your laptop? Why are you so fat? Where is your mother? How is so and so related to us? Tell me a story. Don’t you have anything to do? And it goes on. Try to distract them when they’re at this phase to save yourself some serious consequences. (See number 4)

Lastly, try to survive.

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The silver lining

If you’re a “Stuart Little” enthusiast like me, you’ll probably know what this is about. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not but I basically live for the silver lining. Sometimes too much that it gets out of hand.

– I’m in the middle of a funeral, and one of the things I want to say to the family of the deceased that, well, hey, at least he doesn’t have to see all this life’s miseries anymore. But of course, who says that in a funeral?

– A humongous car accident is blocking the highway, and I’m thinking “If the passengers are alive then all else doesn’t matter, but if they’re not, at least people would know to be careful next time.”

– Some world war is happening somewhere on the globe and I’m like, if the dying people are dying for a cause, then good for them, if they’re not, then good for humanity.

– I’m performing horribly in a course, well, that’s because I’m still learning and it’s okay to make mistakes. (note: I’m only like that when the course is miserably difficult)

– I’m losing my eyesight and going oh okay, glasses are not so bad after all.

Yeah… You probably get the point now.

And I can’t deny that it provokes people sometimes. I even provoke myself sometimes with the silly linings. My mom hopelessly shakes her head when I start a sentence with, “At least..”

I can’t help it.

Is it normal to be like that? Does it even have a word- this attitude- other than hopelessly optimistic. Because, honestly I don’t think the problem is in the fact that I use a yellow hat, I think the problem is that it sometimes distracts me from the main issue that needs to be handled and responded to.

Although I tend to think of myself as a very organised, logical thinker, when I start behaving like The Littles, I just turn into a sentimental, unreasonable person.

At least I wrote about it now.

One of THOSE moments

SCENE 1

Airport Lounge, 3:15 am

The people crowd around the kiosk and the screen display flashes DELAYED for the one millionth time. I sit close by and watch the people’s low anger and frustration as they complain among each other about the delay.

For some reason, time slows down when things are delayed and I yawn with exhaustion.

Till some check-in staff appear with their walkie-talkies, and the people become louder and suddenly everyone is around the kiosk, and I can’t even see the man anymore. People standing at the back are yelling that this is chaos, and that people should line up. Typically, no one’s listening to anyone and everyone wants to get their boarding pass checked. I’m still an audience to all of this, I haven’t yet moved from my seat, my eyes are barely open, but I do something that is very unexpected, even for me.

I stand, take a deep breath, and very loudly I say:

“PEOPLE. LINE UP PLEASE. WE’RE ALL GOING TO GET ON THAT PLANE SO LET’S PLEASE EXHIBIT SOME CIVILIZATION.”

I literally take each person by the arm and line them up, apologizing firmly to them, but saying that this ought to be done to make the process faster. In a few minutes, everyone was lined up, and I was right. Everyone checked in quickly. I was the last one to check in, and the officer thanked me for saving his “life”.

In another hall, people were already lined up for their passports to be checked, and this went pretty fast too. I was too tired to even be happy about what I did.

SCENE 2

The Airplane, 3:35 am

I’m walking in the airplane aisle and a tall man in front of me starts verbally fighting with an older man in front of him because he’s taking too long with placing his luggage in their compartment. The argument was heating. This time I really hesitated.
“Excuse me sirs, we’re all going to find our seats, we’re all going to be seated, a bit of patience will do no harm. I apologize on behalf of the two of you for interrupting your argument, but people behind me need to walk through too, and it’s unfair that you fight, while we wait.”

I said this, and swallowed, because I knew it might not end well. Miraculously, it didn’t. Both of them spat some words and moved towards their seat, saying nothing to me. Phew, I thought.

Needless to say, I slept through the whole flight. And upon arrival, what had happened felt kind of surreal. But it happened, and when I saw the people quietly line up to take the bus, I realized that no matter how small something is, seeing its positive effect is always nice.

Those who wish to leave.

This will not be as poetic.

I honestly don’t understand people who wish to leave Egypt and migrate to another country. To them I say, “what’s stopping you?”

Being a very whole-hearted Egyptian who loves Egypt, it is very hard for me to comprehend people who think differently.

Why do you people dislike the country? No, really. Didn’t you like Egypt during its golden days? And when you like something, don’t you stick with it through thick and thin? When a dear one needs help, do you leave them? Do you?

For once, don’t be selfish. This is a place that needs us. This is a country which has given us so much and the least we can do is return the favour. Maybe Egypt hasn’t done for YOU in specific, but it has done for your ancestors. And don’t get me wrong, this has nothing to do with politics or regimes. I’m a strong revolutionist. This has to do with me, and you, and us.

This is our future we’re messing with here. If WE don’t change, if WE don’t become better and BE the best versions of ourselves then who will? WHO will?

I speak to you, person who wishes to leave, will you be a different person in another country? Will you be more contributing to a land that isn’t yours***? For how long can you escape?

I’ve been away from Egypt all my life, it’s not nice. The constant worry, about how my family is, the fear that I’m not doing enough to make it a better place, my persistent urge to fly to the country at every happy and tragic event that happens. It really is a detaching experience.
If you wish to detach, ask yourself why.
Is it because you can’t find a job? But going to a new country guarantees the job?
Ask yourself. Will this benefit Egypt if I go? Are you going to make change? YES, YOU.

There are many reasons, you would want to leave, but just don’t make them selfish. This isn’t about you only. Think about the Egyptians who can’t find food or shelter. Do you want to see them suffer for the rest of their lives? No, the government won’t help them. They need the help of people, like you and me, and us.

Think about education. If YOUR child were to be educated in Egypt, would you feel completely satisfied? If you wouldn’t take it on your children then don’t think that others would take it on theirs. DO something about it. Don’t just leave the problem hanging there.

If your parents were ill where would you take them? Why not Egypt? Well, make Egypt a priority then! Don’t just rant about how hospitals suck here and leave. What have YOU done?

There are a gazillion ways to be a hero in Egypt. There are a million ways to establish yourself, just don’t make it about you. There’s nothing like living for someone or something.

If you don’t like something, do everything humanely possible to make it better. Just don’t leave it.

If, after reading this, you’re thinking,
“This is a naïve girl” or
“It’s not worth it” or
“What’s the use of this” or
“Hahaha what?”

Then it’s probably better that you leave.

*** If your argument is that you have no ownership/control over the land, or you no longer feel a sense of belonging, then DO something about it. When you produce and help and work and contribute, you gain belonging and control.

I’m NOT sorry.

I had finally travelled to J-town and spending the time of my life with my family, and doing my best to use all the time I’ve got doing the things I love, when something really killed my mood.
I usually check my phone at the end of the day, quickly reply to the 400- something messages from groups and people on Whatsapp, go quickly through social media and make sure everyone is responded to before I sleep.

Today a friend told me that they can barely talk to me now because I don’t reply on time let alone ask about them, and that they’re very disappointed I don’t allocate time for conversation. And honestly, people have always been telling me this.

I do understand that I must keep my friendships alive and exert more effort to stay better in touch with them.
But honestly too, when I know my vacation is only a few days, I like to set my priorities straight. So to all the people who’ve said to me things like, “why don’t you reply/why are you so careless/why do you have a phone” I say to them:

I’ve grown tired of technology. I’ve grown tired of you people blaming me over and over for neglecting technology. Yes, I don’t answer calls. Yes, I reply Whatsapp whenever I have time. I do have a life outside social media, and I’m not by any means obliged to reply on anyone’s terms. No, I’m not being hostile.
I’m setting things straight once and for all. I have a lot on my mind, I like being busy and that’s how I am. During the semester, I’m loaded but I leave Thursday nights for socializing. During breaks, I make time for my family, for reading and exploring stuff.
I make sure I’m on good terms with everyone but that doesn’t mean I give people extra rights to intrude my space.

I’m tired of having to say, “Sorry, was ….” when really I’m not sorry. Why should I? This is my phone, and my life and my schedule.

So please don’t take this personally. Please. Live and let live.

The light at the end of the tunnel.. Well, almost.

So I’ve originally created this blog for academic reasons. But now that the course is done, I kept thinking, “Well, okay. Now I have 2 blogs.” – *rubs hands together*

But seriously though. I haven’t used the other one in ages. The “writer’s block” is really stretching out this time. And not writing puts me in an awful state of mind.

I feel like I have nothing to say to the world about the world. A no-comment kind of situation. Although there’s a lot that could be said.

I’m in the middle of an interesting, witty conversation in mind, and I think, “Oh, oh I should probably write th- nah, it will probably sound dumb.”

But most of the time for me, a writer’s block feels like this:

I travel a lot. But airports make me sick. No really, I’m very emotionally strained during the part of the trip where I’m inside the airport.

So I’m waiting inside one of those haunting halls for someone to arrive. Every time I see a shadow behind those glass doors, my heart races and I think “Ah they’re here!”
But it’s not them. So I think, “Okay they might be still picking up their luggage. No problem.”
I pace back and forth, eat, drink, watch other people reunite with tears of joy.. I do everything to distract myself from the fact that I’m in an airport, their plane has landed and they’re not out yet.
I wait, anticipate, wait some more, and on and on.

Writing is that someone. I know they’re here and they’ll come out sooner or later. And when they come out, I’ll forget how long I’ve waited and embrace them with wide arms. Because no matter how much I travel, I always want to have someone waiting for me when I return.

Agesناس

Nas-ages, a compound of the word Nas (meaning people in Arabic) and ages, was our game design for this module. I must first start by saying that although I’m very proud of the final product that we have today, I see a lot of ways to improve it and make it better.

Having said that, I’m satisfied yet very willing to exert time and effort to bring the game to light for the public. We started off by examining a variety of ideas and potential goals for the game that we’re designing. Some of the most prominent thoughts were: Raising awareness for issues like, smoking, child abuse, pollution. The discussions went back and forth as to how to make these themes engaging in a game format and we realized it would be challenging to come up with ways to do so in the given time frame.

We then went back and thought of our target audience: AUC students, and thought what would be a common ground for us and our community around us? We know that AUC is very diverse- we have people from across the globe with different mentalities- but we also know that at the end of the day we all need some life skills to deal with situations and people. And from here, we came up with the idea of Nas-ages. The theme would be people and the skill we wanted to develop was people skills in common life events, or daily situations. Because too often we don’t realize how different people think and feel and this creates a communication barrier between us and them. Also we often don’t realize it.

We thought that if each person got to know how their teenage siblings see the world then maybe we could sympathize with them better. If we knew why parents acts the way they do, seeing things from their prospective, we’d probably take their advice seriously (mental note to self), and so on.

And there was an agreement among the group on the idea, and the general mood was hopeful, and enthusiastic to bring new ideas to the minds of AUCians. We were inspired by the game Baladna to create a board game but we wanted to bring a slight twist to it. I surveyed some people’s response to some of my ideas on twitter. Some articles were very interesting and useful too.

10 prototyping tips

Board game design (didn’t read all of the article word for word)

Tips & tricks (Although not all of the tips apply to educational games)

Since we wanted to use recycled material, we pulled out some random stuff from our house and from campus and started experimenting with what we could do with it. Since we didn’t want it to look like a classic board, we used one side of the chips carton draw and color a maze like track where the players could play on. Then we decided to have cards that would help the players progress through the game. And the content of the card was the most challenging. We divided it to 4:

Riddles

Draw/sketchblindly

Challenges

Situation questions

We wanted to make whatever the player was going to read engaging and at the same time useful, with caution not to include the element of memorization so that the game could be played over and over. The element of time played a prominent role in shaping the way we worked on the game. Some of the cards were related to the theme and some were off topic a little bit just for the sake of variety. The riddles had answers written upside down on the back of the card.

Still, the mechanics of the game were loose. How would a player win? What would motivate people to play? How do we create a competitive atmosphere to the game? These were tied together almost at the end of the project after we got feedback and ideas from others. After a lot of discussions and actually playing the game ourselves a few times we reached the point where we could write an instructions sheet, and confidently tell others the main aim of the game and how it’s played. This required us to label the questions as easy or difficult and accordingly make changes to the time to respond to each card etc… There was a bit of controversy whether to add the element of paper money to easy questions. That is, easy questions with correct responses would get $5 and difficult ones would get $10, but this would be unfair since players don’t get to choose their difficulty as they play.

I suppose the element of time adds to the excitement of the game and the difficulties with their rewards give people a better motive to play along. On the day the game was displayed to the people, we received feedback from many people. All of it was helpful and constructive whether positive or negative. (Although the track confused almost everyone) But overall, I sensed that it was a good experience for them.

For us, it was definitely an experience worth blogging about in detail. I personally had an incredible time designing something, that I know one day could be improved and displayed in the market. I think human touch, is something that we need to work on, given the advances in technology and the gap it has created. That’s why I think the game and its purpose serve a requirement.

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Below is the multimedia Mira and I worked on relating to the syllabus:

Multimedia Syllabus

The game was designed by Sarah, Menna, Mira, Sabba and I.