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10 Fibs We Were Told as Arab Children

Growing up, our parents always made sure we behaved and we did the right thing. And when didn’t behave, they would usually resort to the fear factor. Of course, they  used to do it out of the goodness of their hearts and as a form of discipline, but us Arab children, after hearing their scary fibs, would sleep terrified! It is safe to say, that all parents, including our loving Arab parents, lie to their children, it’s one unavoidable step in parenting. Check out these 10 hilarious exaggerated fibs many of us were told as children:

  1. Don’t drop sugar or salt or you will have to pick it up with your eyelashes on judgement day/ (لا توقعي سكر او ملح عالارض لاحسن يوم القيامة تشيلي اللي وقعتي برموش عيونك): This blatant lie was told to us so we can ‘learn’ organization and avoid clumsiness.
  2.  Abu Kees/اذا ما بتنام رح يجيك ابو كيس: The terrorizing man of our childhood. To some he is known as Abu Leil or Abu Rijl Maslookha. This story was told to children who refuse to sleep. “If you don’t sleep, the old man will come take you and throw you in his bag!”… Not a child was left awake.
  3. If you don’t finish your food, it will chase you on the day of judgement/ اذا ما بتوكلي اللقمة رح تلحقك يوم القيامة  Another version of this would be, “If you don’t finish this food, the devil (shaytan) will come eat it!” After hearing that, no child would dare to leave a crumb on their plate.
  4. If any food falls to the floor you must kiss it or blow on it because the devil licked it/ انفخ عل اكل الي بوقع وانفخ عليه لأنو الشيطان لحسوا: The Arab version of the 3-second rule
  5. Here sun, take from the donkey and give me the tooth of a deer/  خذي يا شمس من الحمار واعطيني سن الغزال: This one is a distorted version of the Western idea of the Tooth Fairy. You have to throw away the tooth that fell, and wish for a deer’s tooth in its place. But do you really want a deer’s tooth?!
  6. If you keep biting your nails, they will grow out of your stomach/ اذا بتضل اتعض اظافرك رح يكبرو من بطنك: Sometimes this was effective, other times parents resorted to hot peppers. Ouch!
  7. If you misbehave, they’ll take you to Mr. Owl, or call the monster (il 3aw)/اذا بتعاقب بنجيب البوما ولا بنادي العو :For those rampant children who won’t sit still, this lie was told to get them to behave. Everyone is scared of the 3aw!
  8. If you swallow gum, a gum tree will grow in your tummy/اذا بتبلع المسكة رح تكبر شجرة مسكة بمعدتكم: Or if you swallow watermelon seeds, a watermelon will grow in your stomach. This is an effective way to convince children not to swallow gum, although it would have been much easier for them to simply tell us it will give you a tummy ache.
  9. If you go outside, the jinn will get you/لو طلعتي بيشلك الجني: Some children didn’t understand that there are certain times to play outside. So, especially after sunset, this lie is told to scare the children from going outside.
  10. The bird brings the baby: We buy them from the store/العصفورة بتجيب البيبي ولا بنشتريه من المعرض: As Arab children, we don’t get the story of the birds and the bees. No, we got several varying versions of how babies came to be. Either they were bought from the store or the bird came and dropped it off outside.

The irony is that although many of us Arab children who grew up listening to these exaggerated and sometimes terrifying fibs, find ourselves, now as parents, unconsciously using these fibs on our children.

Which fibs, if any, did your parent used to tell you? Let us know and don’t forget to leave us a smile 🙂 !

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Israa Elkhatib

I was born in Palestine but raised with the fireflies in Georgia. My teenage years were spent being the Muslim nerd who was known as the bookworm of the school. That followed me back to Palestine, to develop into being the girl with the big vocabulary. I spent most of my high-school days cursing Newton for not eating that apple. My English Literature Bachelor's degree was only obtained because I'm a nerd for literature and my minor in Translation pretty much pays the bills, thank you Birzeit University.Creative writing is my passion and reading is my escape from reality into a world where everything is the way you imagine it to be.

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