First Trip to the K.S.A.: Chapter XI - Back in Saudi Arabia
Keith had a hard time adjusting, though, not only because of jet lag, but probably because of the confusion about everywhere we had been. That first night we put him in his room, but in about 3 hours, he woke up crying and wouldn’t go back to sleep. After trying everything we could think of, we finally put him in bed with us, and after a couple of hours of playing, he went back to sleep. The next night the same thing happened, so he slept with us again. Every night after that he was awake some during the night, but to keep him out of the habit of sleeping with us, I went into his room, and laid on the half bed until he went back to sleep. That seemed to work just fine.
He seemed to be lost during the day, though. He followed me around the house like a little dog and got very upset if he couldn’t find me again when he strayed into another room. The poor little thing hardly knew whether he was coming or going then. I even had to stay in the room with him while he went to sleep for his daytime naps, and his blanket was really his chum. One morning about time for his nap, I was sitting in the living room, and he went to his crib, pulled his blanket out, drug it into the living room, sat down at my feet, played for awhile, then laid down on his blanket and went to sleep.
To the other extreme, his appetite was tremendous. I had tried Junior Foods, which he didn’t go for, and food from the table which he liked pretty well. I had also tried letting him feed himself, which was very messy, but he really got a big kick out of it. He didn’t get much in his mouth, though, just every place else.
Oran went back to work right away, but I did a lot of resting up from the trip and tried to bet back in the swing of things, as well as take care of Keith. Also, we had quite a few friends drop by to welcome us back. So far, our social activities had been none, outside of the movie one night each. We weren’t able to leave Keith with a sitter for awhile, but still would go out to friends houses and take him with us. The young couple from Michigan, Desda & Bill Hale, wanted to have us over for dinner, but Bill & Oran’s shift work didn’t coincide, so we had to postpone that for about two weeks. Their new MG Convertible car arrived a couple of days after we returned, and I had already been for a little spin in it. That was a real treat, as not too many people had personal cars there in those days.
They had already started working on our house. We were having new linoleum put on the bathroom and kitchen floor and on the cabinet tops. We had decided not to repaint our house. However, the bathroom had to be done since we couldn’t get the right color of linoleum for it. To solve the bedroom problem, Oran and I would move our things into the smaller back bedroom, which was yellow and the color we wanted for the front one, and move the babies into the front bedroom, which was pink. It didn’t seem like there was a day that went by that the house wasn’t being worked on in some way.
I had made the trip home just fine, although nearly 7 months pregnant. My mother had really been worried about that. She thought if I wasn’t having twins, the due date would be earlier, but I saw the doctor right away, and he thought I was doing very nicely, there would be just one baby, and the due date was correct. I felt wonderful, as well, so I tried to get her not to worry. Of course, I was not saying that I couldn’t have trouble, but as far as my condition showed, that would be just as nice a birth as Keith’s.
I was doing most of my own housework then, because I hadn’t been able to hire and keep a houseboy for very long at a time. All of them either were there because a family had hired them or worked for the company and would work for you part time on their days off only. The company wasn’t processing our permanent houseboy while we were home, like we thought they were, so we were afraid he probably wouldn’t arrive until after I had the baby.
Oran was really good about taking care of Keith and doing things with him when he was off. He called him his little man and said he was about the grandest thing on earth. He stole everyone’s heart away with his big blue eyes, his distinct eyelashes and brows, his golden hair and a smile that would melt a heart of stone. Keith seemed to know about what time Oran got home from work and they would really have a good time playing together on the living room floor.
Since he was walking then, Oran would put on their matching blue, brief, swim suits (Oran’s was bought in Beirut, Lebanon, and showed more than it really should have), and take him to the beach, carrying his little sand bucket. We had purchased a movie camera by then, so he got a lot of movies of Keith walking through the sand and in the water’s edge, where the small waves washed over his feet. There were several Arab workers on the beach, raking up the seaweed. They were handing Keith shells and things, and he would hand it back to them. It seemed a fun game for all of them. Oran got movies of that, with the clear, blue water of the Persian Gulf, as well as the sand fences, picnic tables, permanent brick grills, and the theater, located a short distance down the beach in the background.
About the 18th of August, our household shipment, sent from the States arrived, so we were busy all week unpacking, examining and putting everything in its proper place. A few thing were missing -- the waste basket to match our clothes hamper, a number of small kitchen items that were in it, a part of one of our living room lamps, the darts for the dart board set, some wrapping paper and a carving set. Everything else came through and in fine shape, so we couldn’t complain. All the food we sent arrived just fine, too, and we made a really big hit with our friends serving them something different. We had sampled each item and found them very good.
The big item shipped, a washing machine, was installed and worked beautifully. Oran acted like he had a new toy to play with, and was as proud of, and treated it about like he did the new car while we were home. We were both really tickled to see our stuff arrive safe and sound. We had been going in a run trying to get the house repainted and fixed up before the new baby got there in October. We had already been asked for the key to our footlocker, too, so it would probably arrive in two or three weeks.
The Howdy Doody Plastic Wading Pool was getting a work out, too. We had put Keith out in it twice already, once with a little girl and boy about his age, who also lived in our apartment building. From then on, he would spend most of his, and our time, in the back yard of our apartment, N 1 E-1, playing in that pool. He was growing from a baby into a beautiful, delightful, enjoyable young boy. He seemed to change and develop every day. He still didn’t say much besides, MaMa, Da-Da, Bye-Bye, and baby, but he jabbered constantly and tried to imitate every sound we made.
He was never still a minute and had to investigate everything, and climb up on anything he could. He loved music and expressed himself much more than when we were home in the States. He would stamp his feet, twist his shoulders, and wave his hands. It was really a sight to see when he was really carried away. He still ate like a horse, but didn’t drink too much milk since he was completely off the bottle. I hoped he would later on.
I was growing, too, waiting for the new baby’s arrival. I sat out in the back yard a lot, too, very pregnant, watching Keith play in the pool with the hose and a lawn chair, or trying to hit a golf ball with one of Oran’s clubs. We were on the corner of Persian Boulevard and Jasmine Lane. There was just a palm frond woven fence between us and the streets, so we could see all the cars and red Aramco trucks, and the regular scheduled bus in camp going by on their daily business. Desda would drive over occasionally in her new little MG Convertible to visit awhile.
The Wilson's houseboy, Ciaitano F. Britto.
Fortunately, our houseboy that we had ordered through the company arrived after all, about the 1st of September. He came from the Goeh province of India. I had asked for just a houseboy and not a combined cook, as well, as I still wanted to do my own. He turned out to be a wonderful surprise, young (about 21), clean-cut, quiet, pleasant, very helpful, and very good at his job, although he spoke little English. His name was Ciaitano F. Britto, but he wanted us to call him Britto. We did, but later the kids changed that to Bitto, so that’s what we called him. He didn’t seem to mind, and really loved the kids, as they did him.
We had paid his passage to Arabia and the company gave him and all houseboys a place to live in Rahimah, the camp outside Ras Tanura for all employees, except senior staff. We paid his salary ($50 a month, plus extra for food, etc.). He came to our apartment every day from about 7a.m. to 1 p.m., then went back to his camp until evening from about 5p.m. to 7p.m. We altered that sometimes to baby sit with the kids or help with a dinner party, or special event. He was a Godsend for us about then, as he had about a month to get familiar with our apartment, Keith, the cleaning routine, and our camps in Arabia before the baby arrived.
While sitting in the back yard so much, I had time to really look around and see things that had never registered on me before. It probably also dawned on me that with two children, we could use a large yard then, so I decided to try to have it altered. Having the end apartment, the entire yard on one side of it was blocked off from our small yard with a woven or latticed palm frond fence. Jasmine hedge had been planted on the main street (Persian Boulevard) to match the other hedges all up and down that street the entire length of Nejma. Our small back yard was the latticed palm frond branches with ugly, tall, tamarisk bushes lining the back, but I thought it would look much better, especially on such a prominent corner if the Jasmine hedge matched all the way around.
So I went to the Gardening Department and asked for the necessary changes, that the fence that separated the two yards be removed, plus grass planted in the side yard instead of just dirt, and the one thorn tree planted there replaced with a more attractive tree the children couldn’t hurt themselves on. I also requested a Camilla Bush be planted at my back door. To my surprise, this was all approved, and the work was done. Best of all, it was free, and a pleasant way to spend the last month of my pregnancy.