Eric: Family hierarchy

July 3, 2010

Since I am living in a family with 4 host-brothers, I thought it would be interesting to write about how the family works. I don’t think what I saw only applies to Moroccan family, but I only have one older brother myself, so I wouldn’t really know.

The dad is at the shop the entire day, and comes home around 10 pm. The mom is a housewife as far as I can tell, and is pretty conservative. She wears a headscarf whenever there are people not in the family in the house. There are a couple of times when I saw her without the headscarf, and she always hastily put it on when she realized I can see her or my roommate can see her.

My 4 brothers, age 17, 14, 11, and 5 (and a half according to the kid) respectively, form this really intricate web of relationships. The oldest brother is usually in charge when the parents aren’t home, or when mom’s home but is too busy. His younger brothers listen to what he says (most of the time), even though arguing isn’t infrequent. From what I can tell, he goes to some form of post-secondary institution, but I have no idea what he studies. Morocco’s education consists of 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of lower secondary school, and another 2 years of higher secondary school (hence why the oldest brother is 17 but is getting higher education). From what I and my roommate can tell, their summer break is at least 3 months, and starts in late-June.

The youngest child goes to kindergarten in the day (not in the summer), comes home and has all the free time in the world to do whatever he wants (when he gets his way). He’s not a spoiled child, though, as for multiple times each day, he would cry when he doesn’t get his way, and ends up still not getting his way. His older brothers aren’t the kind that give in easily, and mom isn’t always on his side. He does try very hard to play whatever everyone else is playing, even when he doesn’t know how. He smiles most of the time, speaks better Arabic than I do, and plays with me when he feels like it (with 3 brothers, me, and my roommate, he gets a lot of choices for a 5 years old).

The two middle children are in the most interesting position. The 12-year old is very smart, speaks some English (even better than the 14-year old I think), and is doing well at school. He showed us a certificate today that says he is number 1 in terms of grades in his class of 34 (I think they have multiple classes within a grade). He is also the one who does things that mom does. He is usually the one that brings the food from the kitchen to the table when mom’s cooking, and the one that cleans up the table after everyone’s done. He is also the one mom calls on most often for help when all 4 brothers are in the house. The 14-year old helps dad with his shop in the day. He sometimes fights with the oldest brother, and sometimes teams with the oldest brother to tease the 12-year old, who stands alone in that battle as the 5-year old can’t do much. In addition to this, the 12-year old fights a lot with the 5-year old (physically), and usually ends up being the one to blame when the 5-year old can’t win and cries. It’s definitely an interesting experience living with them, as I am usually the one that’s watching all the things happen and don’t do anything. I mean I can’t really, since I don’t even speak the language. But I am getting better at picking up words they are speaking, which is probably a sign of improving. Arabic isn’t getting any easier, and I have another quiz tomorrow. Hopefully I would be able to do well.


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