Lately, Mr T and I have been going through some extreme measures to meet other couples with kids who are similar in age to Baby A. I'm not sure whether to describe these measures as genius, or just plain ridiculous. Here's what we've done so far, in no particular order, and with no exaggeration whatsoever.
We joined our building's Facebook page, the one we used to ignore, that contains the words "Babies and Toddlers" in the title. We practically troll that site. One mother mentioned she was ordering a swimming tyre for her daughter, who was just two months older than Baby A. We immediately messaged to let her know we'd be interested in ordering it as well - despite the fact that we had never taken our daughter swimming yet, completely unaware that swimming diapers exist and babies are allowed in swimming pools. When the tyre arrived, we proceeded to invite ourselves over to the poor woman's apartment just to pick up the item and drop off the Dh70 required. We ended up staying for coffee and helping Baby A make a delightful new friend.
At a recent potluck dinner for friends, where Mr T and I only knew a handful of people, he pulled me to a corner and did some whispering - very uncharacteristic of my upfront husband. "Did you notice the two pregnant women? Did you see them, over there? Excellent - go make friends with them. When they give birth, they'll want to be friends with us because they'll think we know what we're doing - trust me." I now have two new numbers on my mobile phone.
Just this past weekend, we were having breakfast in the homey cafe in our building, when who should sit a few tables behind us but a young couple with a baby girl who seemed not much younger than Baby A. "Do you see what I see?" I said to Mr T out of the side of my mouth. He nodded and nonchalantly nudged Baby A's high chair so it had a better view of the baby girl behind her. Baby A squealed in delight and called out to her fellow tiny human - exactly what we had expected her to do. Pretending it was all a coincidence, we made our way over to the couple trying to have a quiet breakfast, introduced ourselves, determined that their daughter will be older than ours in just two weeks, and demanded their numbers, their names, their address and their free hours, in the interest of planning play dates.
No one with children is safe from our determination. Mr T and I can no longer, in good faith, subject our social, active daughter to what - to her - must seem like a boring dinner with childless friends who can't help but ignore her as they engage in adult conversation.
Instead, we are trying as much as we can to see more of our friends with kids - to ask them where's the best place to buy those soft, leather shoes for babies taking their first steps, to hear about the most trusted paediatrician in town, and to moan to them when it seems that one more sleepless night will be the death of us.
It's only fair to Baby A that we make an effort to provide her, and ourselves, with a variety of playmates. If not for her pleasure, then at least for our sanity.
Hala Khalaf is deputy Arts&Life editor at The National
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