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Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Vacations are a time when we go somewhere else, but, for some reason, we still try to replicate our ‘regular’ life as much as possible (for our kids).  We wear the same clothes, use the same things, we try to do things around the same time ;), and we always keep the same rules/expectations.

One of the things I’ve always taught my kids is to say “Hello” “Goodbye” “Have a nice day” “Good morning” “Thank you”, etc etc… You get the idea.  We say these things to everyone.  And I really mean everyone.

It started before they were even one.  I was leaving the grocery store with my two kids in tow when “Mac”, out of nowhere, said “Bye” to the check out woman.  She snapped out of her daze and got the biggest smile on her face.  On the walk out I said, “Mac, say bye bye.”  And he did.  To every single check out clerk.  It was like a parade of frowns turned upside down.  And a light bulb went off…

I can smile at strangers all I want.  I can make small talk and ask them how they’re doing.  And I can wish them well and tell them to have a nice day.  I do all these things.  I started wearing hijab when I was 13.  That’s (in case you’re counting) 17 years of practicing these niceties.  I have to.  When I wear a scarf, I know what I’m representing.

But this was different.  It’s like, people looked at me in a way they never had before.  It’s one thing to be ‘nice’.  Yes, Muslims can be nice.  But when people see things in my children, it’s another level.  I’m not just nice.  I value it.  I teach it to my children.  We prioritize it.  And not just niceness.  Goodness.  Call it manners, call it being polite, its all essentially one thing:  I’m teaching them about goodness… graciousness.

So the question is, should my two years have to bear this burden?

Why am I talking about this all of a sudden?  Yesterday we were walking into the lobby of our hotel.  As we stepped into the elevator a bell hop followed us inside.  True to form Mac said “Hello man!” with a big smile on his face.  They both proceeded to dance impromptu as we started to lift up.  The bell hop turned to me and said, “You know, we usually never see kids like this here.”  I said, “What do you mean?”  “Well, we usually don’t see kids happy.”  Confused, I said, “Oh, are they usually unhappy when they come here?!”  (Seeing as how we were in Niagra Falls in the middle of all these theme parks and kid oriented attractions I found that hard to believe).  “No,” he said, “But you just don’t normally see kids so openly happy.  You can see it on their face, they are so friendly.”

Of course, for about an hour I was on cloud nine.  I have to confess that I gave myself a big old pat on the back!  But then I started thinking about it… My kids weren’t like everyone else’s and part of that was b/c I felt like they couldn’t be.  When we’re out, I always prompt my kids to saying goodbye, or to say thank you.  I always force them to interact… in elevators, leaving stores, even walking to our table in a restaurant… I know why I’m doing this.  It’s because of what I am representing.. and what they are too…

…but should my kids have to bear this burden?  I dunno…  Just some ramblings in my head…

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Life with two two-year olds is not always horrible.  No, not always.  There are moments of pure joy in between mountains of head aches.

Unfortunately, I can’t really remember those “moments” right now so let’s get to the head ache at hand:  hitting.

My kids hit when they’re mad.  And sometimes just for kicks.  It’s frequent, as in every second the kids are awake.

Usually, we follow the following procedure:  hit, followed by ‘saying sorry’.  Sorry entails patting or rubbing the injured area “gently, geeently, GENTLY!” (or it’s another opportunity to give another smack), giving a kissie, and then saying “I’m sorry”.

Recently (after repeatedly having to deal with the ‘victim’s’ excessive anger and refusal to forgive), we’ve added another element:  forgiveness (original, isn’t it?).  When the offending party verbally says “sorry” the victim says “I forgive you” and then we do a great big round of huggies and ‘I love you’s’.  This has really helped them move on, and go back to being loving.  The only time forgiveness is not granted is usually when the hit or bite actually caused severe pain, in which case the ‘victim’ usually shouts “No, no ‘I forgive you!'”, and that’s ok too.

Even though we repeat this process at least a billion and a half time a day, I thought we were getting a pretty good handle on the whole hitting thing.  They usually jumped to say sorry as soon as I gave them ‘the look’.  I also caught them, a few times, saying sorry on their own.

So today I decided to do a little experiment with my number one offender – “Mac”.  I could tell, out of the corner of my eye, that he was getting agitated by having to share a toy and a meltdown was about to take place.  I could feel him looking at me out of the corner of my eye.  Even if I closed my eyes I could still make out his hand raised, looking directly at me now to see if I would react… and then – BAM.  Silence.  More looking at me.  And then – BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM… Just as many as he could get away with.  Needless to say, he didn’t pass my test of being able to control his anger and saying sorry on his own. 😦

Oh well.. there’s always room to grow.  I guess I should just be happy that our new hitting “protocol” is working right now, and that it effectively calms both of them down…

** BTW, our “book club” is up and running!  Check it out on the right —->

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Recently I decided that I wanted to take the Islamic Studies “stuff” I’m teaching my kids and ‘kick it up a notch’.  This is what we’ve been working on the last couple weeks…

We started a few weeks ago with the question “Allah kahan hain?” (Where is Allah).  To which the kids now reply, “Upar!” (Up), and point up.

This lesson took all of about… 15 seconds to teach.  So now what?  I realized that my kids are really able to pick up a lot of “stuff” but I find myself trying to think of more “stuff” to teach them.

It’s different when it comes to teaching them surahs or different du’aa.  Teaching that is pretty straightforward.  I’m thinking more about the aqeedah “stuff”.  What to believe.  How to think about things.

Unfortunately, since I didn’t have my handy dandy Islamic Studies Curriculum_18-36_months handy 😉 I had to improvise.  It didn’t occur to me to talk to them about all the things Allah made, so instead I started going through my own random tangents.  Here’s how it went ..

Mama: What’s this? (*points to a Masjid*)

Mac and Cheese:  Masjid.

Mama:  What do you do in a Masjid?

Mac and Cheese:  Akbar (aka Salah)

Mama:  Who goes to the Masjid?

Mac and Cheese:  Mssmlss (aka Muslims)

………………………………..

I’m beginning to wonder, what else can we talk about?

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My twins are almost 26 months.  I constantly debate whether or not I should start potty training them but I have to admit, I’m kind of dragging my feet on this one.  I tried to start training my daughter around 17 months, but after numerous accidents I decided I just ‘didn’t feel like it’ just yet.

My kids show a lot of signs of readiness… I think.  But I just don’t really feel like doing it, to be honest.  I know everyone says life is easier after you potty train your kids, but with two, I dunno if I’m convinced.  I kind of like leaving the house knowing that I probably won’t need to change a diaper or deal with anything until I get home.  The thought of having to find a restroom when I’m out, let alone get one child to do their business there… and what am I doing with that other kid btw?  The whole thing just kind of stresses me out… *sigh*….

So in an attempt to either make me feel better, or make me feel guilty, I ask:

  1. When did you potty train your son/daughter?
  2. How long did it take?
  3. ….and if you have a little time on your hands…. HOW did you train them?

Jazakhallahu khairan in advanced!

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Once  upon a time there lived a little girl in a land called Ohio.  Everyday the little girl woke up, brushed her teeth, got dressed (while listening to “We didn’t start the fire” by Billy Joel), and went downstairs for breakfast.  While waiting for her royal coach to arrive (aka the big yellow school bus), the little girl quietly ate her Captain Crunch (with NO berries) while listening to her father walking around the house, reciting Qur’an, hands crossed behind his back as he played with a tasbeeh.

As she dashed out the door (in her imitation keds, and ‘pegged’ pants) the little girl noticed other little girls also walking towards the royal coach.  Some had brown skin, some had skin as fair as snow, some had brown eyes, and some had blue eyes.  But the little girl thought about only one thing:  they are all the same and I am different from them.

The end.

When I was growing up, we didn’t really have a lot of other Pakistanis or Indians around us, let alone other Muslims.  I grew up being very uncertain about who I was.  There was only one certainty:  I was Muslim, and they weren’t.  There existed this divide – not me against them – but rather, me.. and them.  We were separate… apart.

As an adult, I don’t quite feel the same way anymore.  Of course I’m still Muslim, but it’s ok now to be ‘American’… to officially call myself an American, to feel American.  Once upon a time, saying you were American was almost like saying you weren’t Muslim.  But times have changed.  People (and by people I really mean the Muslim community) have started to accept that calling yourself American is ok.  You CAN be a Muslim American, or an american muslim, or whatever.

Now, what about our kids?

Recently I went to a small gathering with other Muslim families.  One brother gave a talk about public perceptions of Muslims.  The really interesting twist was when he started asking the kids questions about what ‘Americans’ thought of us, Muslims.  The kids (they were SO cute btw) were, very timidly, saying that they didn’t think that Americans really like Muslims.  More interesting?  When he asked whether they (the kids) liked Americans, most said “Sometimes”, or, “It depends.”

A few of us moms began talking about this issue, and what we wanted to instill in our own kids.  To me, I really want my kids to identify themselves as “American”.  For so long we have equated being ‘American’ with being ‘Non-Muslim’.  But I want them to feel American, to own it, to have rights over it, and to expect rights from it.

I think, perhaps, for many of our parents generation, if some outrageous injustice were to happen against Muslims, or even to anyone else, they wouldn’t speak out.  I think they didn’t feel like they could, like they didn’t have the right to.  I know this passivity also took place with other first generation immigrant groups.  But many of us now are born American.  And we DO feel entitled to speak up.  We own that right just like any other person on our street, whether brown skin or white, etc etc

So the question I’m posing to all of you…. What about our home-schooled, islamic schooled kids?  Is there any sense of importance placed on being ‘American’?  Is this even something you value and want to instill in them?  And if you’re like me, and you want them to have that sense of entitlement that comes from feeling American, how do you instill that in them?

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When I was a kid, every Saturday my mom would drop my sister and I off in the children’s section of the public library and go shopping nearby.  My earliest memory of this happening was when I was six, which means my sister was no more than seven.

Fast forward 20 years (give or take!)…Now I get a daily lecture EVERY time I leave my house.  “Be careful when you’re driving and don’t make anyone angry otherwise road rage will happen.” (This is much more humorous in Urdu I assure you).  “Make sure you don’t talk on your phone when you’re filling the gas, or an explosion can happen.”  “Don’t stop somewhere and leave the kids in the car, even for one second, because this is when they do the kidnapping.”

What happened to the carefree days of my youth?  Are things really more dangerous now or is it just that WE’RE different?  Actually, there is evidence to show that we’re much safer now than we were 20-30 years ago (when the lead paint discovery was just making headlines and no one had ever even heard of being “BPA free”).  I tend to be from the Michael Moore school of thought that says that the media is on a mission to play into our fears.  And we’re buying into it.  But at what price?  If my mother had never left us alone on those Saturday afternoons, I never would have begun the love of affair I have with books, even to this day.  So what are my kids missing out on?

There is a link I’ve included in my “Giving props to other good links” section:  Free Range Kids.  To some, the woman behind this movement is a genius.  To others, she’s a loon.  I’m not sure what to think yet, but she definitely has me thinking.  I mean, I agree that parents are kind of cuckoo for cocoa puffs these days.  But does that mean that I would ever really *gasp* leave my kids alone in the park?  Or let them hang out in the mall by themselves?  (Not my two years, but maybe a 12 year old?)  I’m not sure.

… but I can’t help remembering being nine and going with my ten year old sister, alone, to play in the park… Hmmm…. what do you all think?

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When I reflect on my childhood there are certain things that stand out…trips we’d taken to New York, Michigan, Pakistan…school spelling bees and recitals…  But amid these one time events there were also the recurring traditions:  pizza at Pepe and Luigi’s (which my mother, an educated woman mind you, constantly referred to as Loogi Doogi)…The amazing salad bar and free ‘make your own sundaes’ at Ponderosa Steak House (until the one day the waitress told my mother she and I couldn’t ‘share’)…

As our kids are getting older and we find time disappearing faster then ever, my husband and I have started to think about what our own family traditions will be.  Recently we’ve started having ‘brunch’ together on Sundays and since I have nothing else insightful or intelligent to post, here are some pics!

Location #1:  Hungry’s Bistro.  We sit outside which I’ve discovered make me much less self-conscious about the kids making noise or coloring on the table…or spilling 🙂

Locations #2:  Denny’s.  Now, if you’re like me, I was thinking, greeeat.  This is going to be real fun and nutritious!  Keep scrolling…

Although the kids only got one crayon (less to fuss over in my book), the booklet they got to color was better then the single page they get at Hungry’s.  It actually kept them interested much longer while we waited for our food…

Shockingly, they were able to get eggs, whole wheat pancakes, some hash browns, and fruit…the best part?  Unlike the Ponderosa of my childhood, Denny’s had no problem with kids and mama sharing, and all three of us got to eat for about 7 bucks.  Another great thing?  This is Texas, not the Ohio of my youth, so the portion you see here is about a third of the total…nobody can mess with Texas!

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