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3/28/09 Snapshot: Doctor's Office (aka It Takes a Village)

A few months ago, my friend "Rachid" found himself in a doctor's office in Rabat. There were plenty of other people in the waiting room, and he filled his waiting time by watching them.

One woman was there with her infant child. When the doctor summoned her, she looked at the receptionist and asked if she could leave her baby there on the seat in the waiting room. The receptionist shrugged and continued her work.

The person who had been seated next to the woman and her baby leaned over, tickled the infant, watched it goo, and smiled. After a few minutes, she turned her attention away.

At that point, someone else in the waiting room walked over to the chair where the squirming child kicked its tiny feet in the air. He played with the baby for a few minutes, then returned to his own seat.

And so it continued. Everyone in the waiting room got a few minutes of Quality Baby Time, gooing and giggling and tickling and doing whatever one does with an infant.

When her appointment was finished, the baby's mother returned to the waiting room, picked up her child, smiled at her dozen caregivers, and went on her way.

What I most love about this scene is how unthinkable it would be in America. The receptionist would never have allowed the mother to leave the child behind, for fear of assuming liability. Most mothers would never trust a room full of strangers to care for her child, fearing kidnapping or just some unspecified form of harm. And while there are certainly plenty of Americans who would play with a baby, given the opportunity, there wouldn't have been the unvocalized but clear expectation that everyone would take turns to keep the child happy and attended.

Just one more in the thousands of ways that life here and life in the US are different. :)

1 comment:

  1. I like this story, a great illustration of how people are helpful to others even strangers in Morocco. Have found myself sitting across a mother with a live-wire baby on a train and we all took turns holding the baby so she could get a drink and have a little rest. It's not surprising how content the children are there even though they have little or few toys, something Americans need to think about as they are raising their children.


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