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Entries in parenting (20)

Tuesday
Oct302018

Halloween. Meh. I mean... YAY! :D

I think holidays bother me because they have to do with high expectations. While I strive to be hopeful in life, the darkest part of my nature tends to remind me that people who have high expectations suffer the most crushing manner of disappointment. I have to be intentional about wanting specific outcomes but also remain open to the idea that things will be alright (maybe even great!!) if they turn out differently than planned.

Holidays test me hard in that respect. 

Now that we've dispensed with my attempt at depth on much less sleep than is remotely adequate, let me tell you about the real reason Halloween sucks.

I have two children. Between school, friends and extracurriculars, we have had to put together six different costumes. Wednesday Addams, the Weird Girl from the Scream, 70s Flower Girl, Pele, Crazy Hippie, and some character from some television show I don't even know about.

I will not sit here and bitch about how this was not a thing when I was their age. But.

This was not a thing when I was their age. You dressed up and got candy. Thee were no theme parties. No, there was a theme. It was "AREN'T I CUTE, GIVE ME CANDY."

The younger one let me know last week that my Amazon cart was full of stuff he needed for his costumes.

Costumes.

PLURAL.

Let's stop a second for my peeps that were born in the seventies.

Can you all even imagine going to K Mart or Pic N Save (!) with your moms and your mom tells you to watch the cart while she goes and talks to your neighbor who she sees everyday. She's gone for, like, thirty minutes because Adam Walsh hasn't been kidnapped yet, and when she comes back and you have $150 worth of accessories for your Halloween costumes (PLURAL) in the cart. At this point, she can't even find the "I Can't Beleive It's Not Butter!" anymore so she can't see the recipe on the side  and now cannot buy what she needs to make whatever cancerous treat she's going to send to school with you tomorrow. 

Then you say, "Mama, would you buy me that stuff when you get a chance?"

I don't want to divulge too much about my family secrets, but I will tell you that if I had done that our story would likely have made into the first season of Snapped.

I just told the boy that I would give him $25 and he could buy eighty two costumes for all I cared. 

The older one was chill about the ruling because she never spends money and probably because she has a small fortune that would rival a LDC in her sock drawer. The younger one was... upset... because he does things like send Andrew Jacksons to his friends so they can buy the same video games (apps?) he has on his iPad. 

I feel like in those moments when this boy is upset, I just have to remind him (and myself) that holidays aren't about having the perfect costumes (or decorations). Holidays are about that opportunity to fall deeply into creating an important shared history with our friends, family and communities.  I get why my son is upset. I do. But I have to be strong for him because shared values between children and their parents require a commitment to consistency and thoughtful intention. He'll be okay.

(Okay. I have to disclose something. I actually don't get why he's upset. Just put your grandparent money in your sock drawer, son, and you won't have these issues).

 

Saturday
Apr092016

Soccer Mom Stories, Ep.1 #SoccerMomStories

A photo posted by Faiqa Khan (@nativefaiqa) on Mar 7, 2014 at 8:40pm PST

"Good game, even though you LOST.
I heard a seven (eight?) year old sneer that at another child on the fields today.
I want you to know that this is not okay. And not because some children's feelings were hurt. That happens and should happen. Resilience and all that.
The statement was not okay because the thing that prompts a child to say something like that to someone is a full blown tragedy. It means that this sneering child has become so accustomed to seeing the world as a win-lose proposition that winning a game is not enough for them. It's an escalation on their part to feel something. Our world is teaching some of our children to live in the constant state of either being evaluated or evaluating others to the extent that it has disabled them from connecting compassionately on a human level. 
My son lost a soccer game today, but that other child has lost so much more than that already. 
Monday
Jun022014

The Boy Chases Monsters

Nuha’s friend’s mom texted me and asked  if Nuha could see Maleficient with them this past Saturday. I didn’t respond right away. I wasn’t worried about the appropriateness of the movie. It was because of Yusuf. He couldn’t go. First, because Maleficient is too scary. Second? Because sending someone to the movies with Yusuf would be the equivalent of placing a severed horse head in their bed in the middle of the night. 

I end up saying yes to the movie, so I soften the blow on Saturday morning by making an impromptu announcement that I will be taking Yusuf to Mud Island Park. It’s a scale model thing of the Mississippi River that the Army Corps of Engineers built in some year I can’t remember. Once we get there, we decide to walk from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. I think that’s about a mile. Maybe two? 

This will be the most I have moved in several days. I’m battling things. Health things. My joints are messed up. My muscles are all spasming and being uncooperative in every way. The doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with me. When I get home from work, it’s all I can do to help Tariq feed, bathe and put the children to bed. 

You have no idea how hard that last sentence was for me to type out. You might not have even noticed the part that was hard for me. 

I … help Tariq with the kids…” This feels wrong to me. He should help me with the kids. As in, I’m supposed to be in charge of taking care of the kids. That’s my job. Not because I'm a woman, but because I am Faiqa. But. I just can’t be in charge of it right now, and I’m ashamed of this. I don’t know why my body isn’t cooperating, the doctor doesn’t know why, my family doesn’t know why and I have been angry, sad and lonely because of it.

In fact, when I announced the Mud Island excursion, Tariq cocked his head to the left and telepathically sent a message, “Are you sure?” 

I think I said, “His sister got to go to a movie! He should get to go to Mud Island.” Which was weird because he didn’t actually ask the question and it made me look like I was talking to myself.

Once we’re there, though, we have fun! We make boats out of leaves, and every fifteen minutes or so, Yusuf places his leaf in a miniature lake. “Time to get another one,” he tells me, “that one is done.” As he walks away from the old leaf, he calls over his shoulder, “Thanks, Leaf, for letting us use you as a boat.” 

I mean…WHAAAT? I didn’t teach him that. Whoever taught him that is a beautiful person. Maybe nobody taught him that. Maybe that’s who we all really are when we’re allowed to be who we are. 

We’ve made it as far as the border of Louisiana on this scale model thing and a downpour of rain surprises us. We run to one of the many shade trees that line mini-Old Man River, and wait out the squall.  The tree mists us and I look at my sweet boy. I realize that I’m really looking at him, right now. Not as a job, not as something that I haven’t been very good at, but as a human. What I see and feel in that moment is indescribable. It is joy, hope, love, longing… all of those things that I’ve been trying to feel for a while, but I just couldn’t quite touch.

The storm is a short one, but it’s not the last rain of the day. We concede a bit past northern Louisiana. Not bad, we almost made it. On the way out, he says in a serious voice, “I had fun, Mama. Thank you.” I’m struck again by this child’s casual relationship with gratitude. I should be more like this boy who thanks leaves for being boats and Mama for taking him out. 

On the way out of the park, I hold up my phone and we take a selfie shot together. The rain has washed away my make up and frizzed my hair, and I look a hot mess in every photo. I look at them, though, and I have a revelation. I will always be beautiful to this boy the way my mother will always be beautiful to me.

There's also a good chance that, despite the fact that I don’t feel like I’m measuring up, he will count himself lucky to be loved by me. Maybe every flaw of ours is forgiven by the ones who truly love us when we decide to try being a good person. In this moment, I forgive myself for needing help, and, also, for being mad at myself about that in the first place.  

Even now, I don’t know why those words, “I had fun” inspired me to shake off the fog. Stated so simply, with such seriousness, they seem benign, but, it's unmistakably true, I was changed. My son changed my mind about me on that rainy Saturday afternoon. Deep in the pit of who I am, I know that everything is going to be fine now.

Several months ago, I started singing “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon to Yusuf at his bedtime. There’s this one line, “The monster’s gone / He’s on the run / And your Daddy’s here…” John Lennon was a genius for many reasons, and one of them is that he wrote that perfect lullaby for his son. Funny thing about John Lennon, though, he may have chased his son’s monsters away, but I think my son chases mine.

Thursday
Apr102014

Explaining Date Night

Date night is this Saturday. I don't know about your household, but we're terrible about being consistent with date night. I'd like to say that this is because we just love our children SO much that we can't bear to be away from them, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that once the weekend starts -- I don't feel like getting out of my pajamas before Monday morning. 

This Saturday, though, we are doing this date night!! It is going to be FUN! I will change out of my pajamas!!

Unless... is there somewhere we can go that encourages the wearing of pajamas? I would like to go to that place.

I spent most of last week in Connecticut and Tariq is in Vegas (for *work*, people) this week. We haven't really seen each other. So, the siren call of a weekend in pajamas will have to be ignored. 

I informed the children just now that Ms. M, their favorite babysitter, will be watching them on Saturday because we are going out.

"Why?"

"What do you mean why? So we can spend time together."

"No, but what are you going to do?"

"Go to dinner, I guess."

"Well, why?"

All the why questions, by the way, are from Nuha. My elementary Montessori training has resigned me to the fact that I'm going to get asked this question ad nauseum. So, usually, I just pretend not to hear her about three whys in. Suddenly, Yusuf chimes in,"You can eat dinner at home. Why do you have to go somewhere? Home food is more healthy anyway -- outside food is junk food."

Oh, my evil genius -- using my own logic against me. You are a brilliant boy. You're mine, after all.

"Well," I say with as a sarcastic smirk that always precedes some hyperbolic statement that's meant to have the children forget all the questions and laugh at their mom, "so we can get all romantical and stuff and stare in each others eyes and say, 'I love you' and then Daddy will say, 'No, I love YOU" and then we'll stare in each others eyes more and just tell each other we love each other over and over again."

My daughter rolls her eyes.

Yusuf, on the other hand, does not laugh. He looks at me very seriously.

"That's inappropriate. You're going to do all that stuff around other people. That's supposed to be private."

Maybe I should send him to Vegas.

Otherwise, I might have a mullah on my hands in a few years. "I am a very appropriate Spiderman." Photo by L. Anderson

Saturday
Mar162013

Helping

My music is a time machine.

Put the earbuds in.

Turn up the volume.

The world of this moment disintegrates into the infiniteness of the universe. Time goes faster. I’m thrust into the future. I’m me, but maybe more… maybe less. It paints reality with a subjective brush — dark colors or light… it depends on the fuel in the machine today. The notes. The rhythm. The words.

Today, the time machine is set to high speed and forward. Time machines are especially convenient in this way. Propelling you past the moments you couldn't care less for… towards being “done” and past the wisdoms that imply journeys are esteemed over destinations. Case in point, I’m scrubbing the children’s bathroom.

The agenda today was to clean my own bathroom. Uno. One bathroom. Not two.

I was scrubbing the shower and the children were impressed by my fervent commitment to clean. A moment of inspiration hit them and they announced their intentions to clean their bathroom, too, because they wanted to “help.” I smiled to let them know that they are sweet and good and kind to think of their mother. Then, I went back to scrubbing as the music that is now a little older than I feel comfortable with did the task of making time move faster.

And then there was screaming. “My AIIII-YZZZ!!”

I paused my time machine and turned around to find my dear daughter grabbing a hand towel to wipe her eyes down. “MAIIII AIIIYYYYYZZZZZ!!!”

People who are good in emergencies know one thing that people who are not good in emergencies do not know. 

You must keep calm. 

No matter how much despair promises to crash upon you, for God’s sake, keep calm. I’m good at emergencies. My daughter is not. And before we discuss the thirty year age difference, know that I have always been good at emergencies. Even when I was seven. My theory is that every human being needs to express a certain amount of drama in a lifetime. I express mine in little doses all day and my daughter who is an extremely calm person in her every day life expresses them when she gets soap in her eyes.  

 “Am I going to go bliiiind? OWWWW!!”

“Of course not, it’s just soap. Hold still.”

“Do I have to go to the hospital?!!”

“No. Hold still, I have to rinse your eye.”

“BE CAREFUL.”

“I haven’t raised you so far without being careful… now… hold… still… and STOP touching your eyes.”

“I think I need a doctor!!”

“You do not need a doctor. You need to hold still and stop touching your eye.”

And through all this, the three year old is yelling in the background like some sort of narcissist, “Mama, you have to come see the baffroom, I cleaned it so well, we’re helpers.”

So, we take care of the soap in her eyes and when she is moderately calm, I ask her exactly what kind of soap caused her to eyes to burn. Between you and me, I’m worried about the fact that she used the crazy scrub free bathroom cleaner spray that probably has some chemical in it that would, in fact, cause blindness or, even worse, result in a trip to the emergency room that would require me to change out of my bleach stained yoga pants that are reserved for bathroom cleanings. To my surprise, she takes me to the kitchen and hands me dish soap.

My first thought is to pat myself on the back for getting that free and clear brand that doesn’t have anything but plain old soap in it. 

My second thought is, “Oh, shit.”

As a dishwashing expert I know this: dish soap means a lot of bubbles. Mounds of bubbles. Dish soap is made for washing dishes as the name cleverly implies. It is not particularly suited to cleaning bathrooms. Speaking of small doses of daily drama, I feel the drama queen within me practicing vocal exercises like an opera diva in a green room. Then, I remember. 

“We’re going to help.” 

They are good, sweet and kind to help their mama. 

I park the girl on the couch with a washcloth over her eye because she insists that her eye still hurts which I know is absolutely untrue. The boy takes me to the bathroom which, my friends, is not clean. Like, at all. It's a mess of dirt and bubbles and reminds me of this party I went to in Cancun back in 1993 where they sprayed foam from the ceilings or something crazy like that. It’s a beautiful shower stall streaked with soapy residue. It’s a floor smattered with water, dust, toilet paper and bubbles. It’s a rug with… is that…what the hell… toothpaste?

A mass of light brown curls fall over his eyes, and he looks up glowing, “See?! Clean! Just like you do.”

I want to tell them both that this isn’t clean. I want to say, "Never, ever do this ever again!"

I feel the strong urge to let them know that they didn’t help me, but instead have created work for me. No, more importantly, they stole the hour I planned on using to finish a book before they’re dad got home. I want to. So very bad.

I don’t.

Because I’ve been here.

I’ve wanted to help someone and made a mess of things. I’ve been all good intentions with toothpaste on the rug and dirt and soap and toilet paper smushed on the floor. I'm not sure what that metaphor is about, but the answer may well still be in Cancun. Today, my children get a pass. One day, I will prepare them better. One day, I’ll teach them how to clean a bathroom. I’ll explain that intention isn’t enough.

Not today. Because while it isn’t enough, intention is necessary. The hope of us all lies in good intentions and in this damned bathroom with dish soap streaked on its stalls and toothpaste smeared on the ceramic tiles, and this mess isn’t just a symbol of all of my children’s love and good intentions — it’s a symbol of all of our good intentions. Yours. Mine. Today, my inner drama queen will have to wait for the moment she steps on a lego or a matchbox car (because that’s clearly evil). Today,  she will bask in intention and process.

No matter how terribly wrong the result.