Dubai Expat Kids

After reading Life with Baby Kicks’ blog post about kids growing up in Dubai, I thought I will share my own musings raising my children especially my son who is now 9 years old. Cole makes me laugh, cringe and most of the time amuse of his antics and comments. Of course, I can’t help but compare my kids’ life from my own childhood growing up in the Philippines. 

I remember that my siblings spent our afternoons playing piko, patintero, chinese garter, rainbow rock, syato. Fancy dining happened only during special occasions and Christmas is a much awaited occasion because I can finally buy Yan Yan.

Dubai expat kidsLife was very simple back then. And these kids are very lucky to be living at this time and in this place.

And how would you know that you have a Dubai Expat kid?

* He knows Sir Chief but not Benigno Aquino.

* Catechism class is now part of family’s weekend routine.

* Seeing dogs and cats are rare occurences and kids get so amazed whenever they see one. Haven’t they heard of askal and pusakal?

* They don’t get excited going to the beach. UAE residents are lucky that everyone is just a few minutes away from white beaches and blue waters of the Arabian Gulf. When I was kid, it’s always considered out-of-town and excursion. Lol

* Mom: Son, we’re going on vacation
Cole: Where?
Mom: Italy
Cole: Again?!?!?
Mom: 😳😳😳

Cole in Rome_Fotor

* Eating tempura, ramen, pizza and pasta is regular thing for them. I haven’t even ate some of them until I was in college!!!

* Have you tried asking your kid to count in Tagalog? You might be surprised that they can count in Spanish because of Dora but won’t be able to count until 10 in Filipino, and he is already 7 years old!!!! Que horror!

* Don’t even mention the Lupang Hinirang! (Side note: when my son’s class was required to learn their national anthem, we practiced day and night. He asked what do you mean by “Lupa ng araw ng Luwalhati’t pagsinta?” Ahhhh, Ehhhh, Uuhmmm. Until finally I gave him mommy’s word of wisdom: “When you forget the lyrics, just be confident and say any word in Tagalog. Your classmates and teacher won’t understand anyway.” Sa dagat at bundok sa ilog at may isdang sumisigaw….  I know, I’m smart.

* Although he can understand the language, once you start talking non-stop to him in Tagalog he will complain that he didn’t understand and you’ll end up repeating your litany in English.

* When he was 3 years old, we drive through a squatter’s area and he asked why their house is ‘dirty’.

* And he used to say that he enjoys riding jeepney and calls it Prado.

* “Mall again!?! I don’t want to go shopping”

* He can’t keep his eyes away from beggars whenever we’re in the Philippines. It’s very rare you’ll see one in Dubai.

* And he will say punos (trees), kotses (cars) and pataks (drops). Because you add S in plural forms, right?

* You wonder why his best friend in school is not a Filipino. They’re supposed to start a Filipino mafia!

* And as a parent, you dread the summer not because of heat but you have to find an activity for the kids before they pull their hair out of boredom.

Kids living in UAE may be somewhat entitled but I don’t think they are spoiled (not everyone, anyways). You can’t help but have a certain expectation of things when you see luxury, glitter and gold. It might not be our lifestyle but seeing Lamborghini, Ferrari, Chanel, Burj Khalifa, and Burj Al Arab everyday become kind of normal. Imagine growing up in this kind of environment.

If there is one thing that make Dubai kids different is their exposure of other cultures. The mix of nationalities makes them more tolerant and respectful of others. They treat everyone as equal. No color, no accent, no discrimination. A very good thing indeed.

Can you add more on this list?

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14 comments

    • wavatar
      Filipina Expat says:

      We speak Tagalog at home and so I thought they are fluent. But no! I was so confused when he said “Ang daming pataks mommy noh?”. I had to asked him what he meant by pataks and with his eyes rolling as if to say ‘Duh!?!’, he said raindrops. LOL

  1. Keri (Baby Globetrotters) says:

    oh I love your examples! We don’t have the same language barriers but I know my daughter is tricking me that she knows many words in Arabic and Tagalog (from our nanny) and is just making them up – but who am I to know, silly monolingual mum…

  2. Bilna Sandeep says:

    At times I keep wondering about my lil boy too..hes almost 3 now..he understands our mother tongue..and speaks a little bit of it…haven’t yet taught him English..as that would come automatically as he starts school here..but I can see..he is already exposed to all nationalities, all color and creed and he sees them all equally..and these days he even tries to strike a conversation with them (non verbal of course) You are right, they become a very tolerant people when they grow up because of the exposure they get in here..

    the only disadvantage being they do not get to enjoy the abundant love of Grand parents and other relatives everyday..they don’t get to be part of all the cultural festivals and stuffs back home…but I try my best to teach him and go home during festivities ….

    • wavatar
      Filipina Expat says:

      Very true about grandparents. My son cries everytime my mom needs to go back to Philippines. How I wish their house is just a stone’s throw away.

  3. Ginger and Scotch says:

    Yes, our kids are very entitled here. My husband and I comment on that all the time and struggle with how to keep them grounded and not spoiled. A constant challenge – especially around Christmas time.

    • wavatar
      Filipina Expat says:

      Oh! Just last year, my husband and I agree that we will not give our kids any toy unless there is an occasion. It’s really hard specially when there is a toy sale and they just want a 20 dhs toy. As a mom, it’s hard to say no. I think I’m the one who needs a training.

  4. Harkee says:

    “can count in Spanish because of Dora!” ha ha, love it!! My son can count, sing songs and name colours in Arabic but can only say “water” and “naked” (from all the times I chased him around the house trying to get clothes on him!) in my home tongue! lol!

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