Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Turkey isn't Europe

Call me thick, but when it happened for the third time today, I finally got it.

Let me start at the beginning. Our baby's due date was somewhere around the end of December. Once or twice, my husband had mentioned his concern that a December baby would be disadvantaged at school. Typical me, I dismissed his concerns, pointing out that I was a December baby, and it hadn't hurt me one bit. (Note to self: must work on my sensitivity to others' concerns -- turns out my husband was really worried about this.)

When Baby was indeed born in late December, my husband pointed out that he was born in 2009, just like his cousin WHO WAS NOW 10 MONTHS OLD!! How could they be expected to be in the same class at school? A valid point. But don't these differences even themselves out? Again, I dismissed the subject. And besides, did we even have a choice?

Well, it turns out we did.

Later, when I replayed the above conversation in my head, I realized my husband had been asking me whether we shouldn't register Baby's birth date as January 1, 2010, thereby buying him an extra year's time. I'd assumed he was joking.

I must be a really bad listener, because a few other people had also casually asked whether we'd be registering Baby as having been born in January. But I never clued in.

Until this week, when I was at the local social security office, taking care of something to do with the end of my maternity leave. (Don't ask -- I'm still not even sure what exactly I was doing ... just following the instructions of my employer.) After asking my son's birth date, the extremely kind and patient man (I know I was driving him crazy. But that's another story.) -- a government official -- asked whether the birth date on our son's ID was the same as the one I had just given him, i.e. had we registered a different birth date!!!!!

Only then did it sink in. Apparently it's perfectly acceptable, or at least common practice, to fudge birth dates in Turkey! I must look into whether this is actually legal and the government simply figures a few days' difference doesn't really matter, or whether this is just another example of how Turkish people, kind and always willing to help each other out, never wanting to disappoint anyone or to have to say no to someone, turn a blind eye to the law.

No comments:

Post a Comment