As many of you know from this post http://campbellclanblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/comforts-of-home.html, our circumstances surrounding Benaiah's circumcision were not ideal. The hospital refused to circumcise him after birth, so we sought out a private doctor to do it. From the beginning, we (especially Ross) did not feel it was done well. As time as passed, we have continued to have concerns. Yesterday, I took Benaiah in to see a second doctor. He confirmed our fears, it wasn't done well. I asked what we should do and he suggested bringing Benaiah in at 6 or 7 years old to have it redone. Do you have a son who is 7 or used to be 7? Or do you know a 7 year old kid? I could not imagine it. I asked if there was any advantage to waiting and he said there was not, that he could fix it now if I wanted. Yes, I wanted. So, my sweet baby boy underwent yet another circumcision yesterday. The doctor was super and Benaiah is perfect. He came home and slept 5.5 hours and woke up his usual happy self. Having said all that, this event immersed me in some new Turkish cultural customs, which I felt would be interesting blog reading.
My friend and I arrived in the clinic yesterday (we both have baby boys). On the front wall behind the receptionist were hundreds of cards and photos. This clinic is only for circumcisions. You've seen the hospital delivery wards where there are photos of newborns and thank you cards to the staff. These cards were from families of boys who had been circumcised. That was my first hint that this is a BIG deal here. There was also a large flat screen tv in the waiting room. Knowing that most circumcisions here are performed when boys are in grade school (in line with the fact that Ishmael was older when Abraham was given the command), I assumed it was placed there to perhaps keep their minds off of the procedure to come moments later. My friend informed me that the tv was there so that the extended family accompanying them would be able to watch the procedure from the waiting room, so as not to crowd the doctor during his work. You know in America, it is just sort of done. The newborn is wheeled out and returned to his mama sleeping. Here it is a sort of coming out for the boy. The boy becomes a man. And all the extended family come to see it.
After Benaiah was anesthetized (though I did natural childbirth the first 4 times, I was quite thankful for anesthetic for my son!), the attendant turned on a tv screen for him. On the screen came one of these punch-kick-knock down animated-but-looked-like-real-guys computer games. Usually the boy is older, so he actually gets to play this game while he is being circumcised. Benaiah wasn't quite ready to manipulate the controls, so he just watched. And watched he did. He didn't take his eyes off of it. I kept telling myself, "It's really not the rock star kickboxing the judo guy on the Arctic terrain he is interested in...it's the color and movement." Right, that's it. So as I dutifully held Benaiah's little legs, I had a choice of what to watch...kickboxing/punching/World Wresting Federation moves on the tv, Benaiah's enthralled face, or the doctor cutting my son. I sort of moved from interesting sight to interesting sight. At the end, the doctor told me in Turkish that my son was perfect and he could now win a "Peepee Beauty Contest." He really told me that. Then he asked me Benaiah's favorite professional Turkish soccer team. I answered "Beshiktash" because that is the only one whose name I could remember. He then taped a black and white ribbon to my son's "peepee" in honor of the team's colors. He really did. Am I immersed in culture this week, or what? As we left, we had the two babies side by side on the waiting room couch and the doctor called them Bush and Obama (see photo above).
The fun isn't quite over. After we got the girls in bed, Benaiah woke up and I fed him and comforted him. Then I decided it would be a perfect time to visit my neighbor. She comes over almost every evening to kidnap either Benaiah or Eva to come to her house. They go over for awhile (Eva usually eating chocolate and drinking tea before bed) and she brings them back home later. I thought to myself, "Well, this would be a good night to go see her. I can talk about Benaiah's big day with a few Turkish words I've learned today." So, I went over and she was having tea with the neighbor on the first floor and was happy to see me. I told her it had been a hard day and what we had done. Immediately, I looked up and standing over me was Ayla, her husband, her son, her daughter, the neighbor, and the neighbor's daughter...all eagerly anticipating their chance to see Benaiah's 'procedure.' I thought, "Ok, this is different." So considering this is the norm here, I showed them. They oooohed and aaaahhhed and clapped for him. They told him he was a 'man' now. They wanted to know every detail about the entire thing. The boy (about 10 years old) told me all about his circumcision. The mom told me all about her son's circumcision again. We all talked about Benaiah's circumcisions. Again. It is a BIG deal here. Then Ayla ran upstairs to get her son's special costume that he wore for his circumcision. In Turkey, the boy is dressed in a special costume (that reminds me of a parade's Grand Marshall gear). A huge party is thrown for his big day of circumcision with all the family and friends bringing gifts to him and coming to visit him. She then put the costume on Benaiah and insisted that we bring him to show Ross. Ross is the dad, Benaiah is the son, this is a big deal for Ross, she said. So Ross, amid his time-intensive school accreditation work on the computer, broke away for the very special photo you see above. I think his expression sort of says, "Make this quick, Sara." I think Benaiah's expression sort of says, "Why am I wearing this big hat?" And so as a result of it all, Benaiah is 'just right' now and we've had one more day in this interesting country.