Growing up Arab means so many things. It means large family gatherings every seasonal holiday, it means sloppy kisses from aunties who will rip up your body to bring it down, it means too many delicious platters and not enough stomach space to keep it down, but it’s one hell of a disrespect if you don’t shove it down your throat because your aunt didn’t spend the last three days in the kitchen for you to not eat. But, more importantly being Arab means the infamous Arab parents, who are more often than not strict parents. I mean if you have Arab parents who’re not strict – how does it feel to be god’s favourites? Because, when it comes to being strict, Arab parents definitely hold the shebsheb and play the remix.
Here, are 9 things you’ll definitely understand if you grew up with strict Arab parents:
ONE: deleting 100 chats before your phone gets checked
The moment when your mum asks to check your phone, and all the explicit content flashes before your eyes; like the chats with Kareem, Amira’s nudes and photos from the gathering supposedly at Mariam’s house but you actually were with Ahmed in the club. So, you take one deep breath and your fingers slide like a thousand times deleting chats, photos and god knows what else that could incriminate you or in better words have you grounded for at least a week.
TWO: The shebsheb
Mama’s shebsheb, shahata, or whatever name you called it in your household is definitely a token in every Arab house, and one hell of a feared weapon. It could be thrown at you, to which you can easily duck it, or you could be trapped into a corner, where an escape is highly unlikely and a couple of red marks on your skin are guaranteed.
THREE: spontaneous plans are a no-go
Last-minute plans in an Arab house, is like walking into a death trap which you have set for yourself. If you want to go out you better plan at least a week in advance, or swallow your tongue and stay in your room studying for your chemistry test because you’re absolutely not asking your dad to go out tomorrow night, especially because he knows you have a shit tonne of homework and he’s tired!
FOUR: the hand gestures/death stare
If your parents pull out their hands and do this hand gesture when you’re out or when guests are over, well, it’s the equivalent of having a gun pointed at your head. So, you better replay everything you’ve done and said that evening and write up one hell of an apology or you’ll certainly end up with one hell of an ass-whooping- if you’re lucky only metaphorically. And, the same goes for the death stare.
FIVE: dating is an extreme sport
Dating as an Arab teen means coming up with code names to save up their contacts, having long calls at nights but your voice is so hushed because you don’t want to wake up your parents. Dates are “hangouts at your friend’s house” and well she’s always got your back if your parents call. And, if your mum says she’ll drive you, you start calculating 101 ways to get out of it, or a place where she can drop you off, and a friend to act as if you’re going out together.
SIX: if you’re a girl there is a dress code
Booty shorts are a no-no, t-shirts which show your cleavage have a special place in hell and crop tops are definitely not open for discussion. Thank god for baggy hoodies because there is one hell of a tank top under them.
SEVEN: the interrogation before every outing
“Who are you going with?” “Where are they from?” “Where do their parents work?” “Where do they live?”. Basically, having your friends’ CV would be handy because “I don’t know” is never a plausible, let alone good enough of an answer to your parents.
EIGHT: your parents are blocked from all your social media accounts
Once you find out your mum was creating an instagram account you either blocked her, or gave your account a deep cleanse- but she’s surely blocked off your story. Also, all other family members are blocked off because we really aren’t interested in an aunt asking any more unwanted questions.
NINE: when you’re out and you realize you have 25+ missed calls……
Personally, I have always struggled with this because my phone is always on silent, and then you check it and there are 27 missed calls and your entire life flashes before your eyes. Because, you know once you call them back your ears are about to be deep-fried in screams. Then you’ll be grounded for 1074439 years and fed 2ol2as everyday and you’ll never see the sun again.
God, can we all bond over this shared trauma?