Monday, January 11, 2010

Amharic Yenta Sisterhood

Yenta - Yiddish - Meddler, gossiper, meddlesome, busybody, nuisance. Mostly Judaic and female. (from the Urban Dictionary)

Back to this Ethiopian Party, there was a group of about six mature Eth women and they wanted to meet all the adopted children and their parents. Out of respect, and believing we may learn some important cultural things, we parents complied.

Two of the women stroked and stroked and stroked the hair on Marin's and Emmy's head.
Yenta (frown on her face): Who does this hair?
Colleen: I have it done professionally about every second month and I do the daily routine.
Yenta (still frowning): Hmmmmmm.........this is not a good job.
Colleen: What do you mean?
Yenta (now smug): It is not how I would do it.
Yenta (asking another Yenta): What do you think of this hair?
Other Yenta (shakes head and clucks tongue): Such a shame because her hair could be so beautiful if the mother did it correctly.

Holy Cow! I really wish Seinfeld were still airing because I would submit this script! Anyone who knows Colleen knows she spends way way way too much time and money on our girls hair. I didn't know whether to laugh my butt off at the ridiculousness or cry for Colleen because I knew it must be killing her to hear this nonsense.

So the next day, Colleen was on the phone comparing notes with the other adoptive mothers.

One mother was scolded for picking her daughter up to hold her too often (remember these are orphans who often suffer abandonment anxieties).
Yentas: What are you doing? You should not hold her so much. You will ruin that child. Let her cry. Let her learn to do by herself. She does not need you hovering over her all the time. You are a smother mother. Go relax somewhere, drink your wine, and nothing will happen to your child.

Another mother was lectured because her daughter was not particularly eager to return to Ethiopia for a homeland visit.
Mother: Well, my daughter was very hungry in Ethiopia and she was worked very hard. Her memories of Eth are not that pleasant.
Yentas: She is playing you. African children are very clever. Do not believe her. Somebody was whispering in her ear before she came here. She was coached what to say and what not to say. You must get to the bottom of these lies or you are not a good mother. You come see us in a few months and tell us what you have learned. If you have learned nothing, then we will figure this out for you.

So, fair warning to all you adoptive parents, if you encounter the Amharic Yenta Sisterhood, make sure you have taken your self- esteem supplements beforehand. And before you take even one work of their advice, post on your adoption yahoo group or chatroom to make sure you get the reall skinny from other adoptive parents. Good luck to all.

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