Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Yesterday was David's birthday, so we took the kids and headed out for a celebratory family dinner at a local place called Batonebi's. This restaurant serves Georgian food as well as western-style food (tex-mex egg rolls, burgers, etc). The place is a mini-model of the Cheesecake Factory -it's like the owners went to the U.S., ate at a Cheesecake factory while surreptitiously taking photos of the decor and menu, and came back to Georgia and recreated it on a much smaller scale.

We go to Batonebi's fairly frequently - once or twice a month on average - because it's nice to get some food that is not covered in coriander, dill, or sulguni cheese. We also go because the wait staff there adore children - as most Georgians do. They will bring our food and take Kyra and hold her so that we can eat without having to be "bothered" by the baby. The waitresses play a game Dave and I call "pass the baby" and they all take turns holding her and cooing at her and making silly faces. We think nothing of letting them hold her and play with her and they don't think twice about just plucking her out of our arms.

The culture here is so completely different when it comes to children - I'm not saying that Americans don't love kids - but in the U.S. there is a hesitancy on most people's part when it comes to touching, holding or even smiling at another person's child. People don't trust each other when it comes to their kids - most are afraid of kidnapping, not to mention other even more horrid outcomes. Not so in Georgia. Here children are celebrated and loved without suspicion or fear. It's disconcerting at first, but after a while you get used to people opening their arms to your child. You get used to the lady who cuts your son's hair giving him a kiss on the cheek when she is done. You get used to complete strangers wanting to bounce your baby on their knee and sing them a song.

When my parents came here, I had told them about the openness of the culture here regarding children, but they were still surprised the first time we went out to dinner (at a different restaurant, not Batonebi's) and the waitress scooped up Kyra the moment she started to get fussy and walked around the restaurant with her while we ate dinner. My mom kept saying "Can you see her - where did she go?" and David and I kept saying "She's fine...she's fine". Toward the end of their stay here we went to a souvenir shop and while haggling over prices one of the shop workers came over and took Kyra from me and walked around singing her a song in Russian. My mom didn't even blink. She had gotten used to it by then.

So, last night at Batonebi's we didn't even notice really when the waitress took off with Kyra. But Blaine? He showed how Americanized he still is. As soon as the waitress started to walk away Blaine looked at David and I and exclaimed "! dad! We don't share baby Kyra!"


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