My Dear Sons,
The beginning of change is always tough.
My Dear Sons,
The beginning of change is always tough.
My Dear Sons,
Ramadan came and went, Alhamdulilah, and so did Eid, a very quiet and unusual Eid. Your Dad and I tried to make it exciting nonetheless, but Eid is not the same away from home and, especially, away from family. So, it was just very different.
Z, you and T had fun putting sweets in plastic cups as Eid gifts for the kids in the building. T, you and Z loved your doctor’s kit Eid gifts that Dad bought you. It was a simple, quiet Eid but, inshaAllah, I hope it was meaningful and memorable to you boys. And I hope you learnt the subtle lessons of generosity and gratefulness. Ameen.
We’ve been taking many drives to nearby towns in Oman, Alhamdulillah. It’s been really nice. We all love the long drives. Sometimes it does get a bit out of control in the car – the drives are between 90 minutes to three hours long, depending on where we go. One day, without any pre-planning and very limited packing, we just kept driving. We saw three towns in 2 days, Alhamdulilah. From Ibri we went to Buraimi to Sohar to Muscat. Lovely, Alhamdulillah. We stayed over in Muscat at a hotel right on the beach and all three of you enjoyed the warm beach water and the silky Omani sands. It was short but it was nice and memorable.
On that visit, in the hotel restaurant, T, as to be expected, had to test the waters in his quest to affirm his presence, independence, influence…
There were big wooden animals in the restaurant in display of its African theme. Perhaps I used the wrong words in telling you, T, to NOT touch the giraffe. But, you just had to succumb to that urge. So you touched the giraffe in that split second that I was not looking. The giraffe fell and broke his nose. I panicked – that’s going to cost a heck of a lot! Alhamdulillah. It didn’t. The kind lady at the restaurant assured us that the giraffe was already broken before you pushed him to the floor. Alhamdulillah. Shoo! Alhamdulillah! Thank goodness for your cuteness, and charm too, that I’m sure plays a role in getting you out of trouble so many times.
T, your independence and big personality comes in many forms. After a tiring and frustrating day of unsuccessful toilet training, initiated by me, I decided to put off the idea for a little longer, until I was ready for potty training. A week later though, you woke up very resolute and announced: “I don’t wear nappy. I’m big boy.” And, very determined, to my horrified and still sleeping head, you simply began taking off your nappy. I was too tired and just let you be, knowing all too well that battles with you can be like knocking my sleepy head against a wall again and again. So, I just breathed in and let you be as you went to the toilet all by yourself and placed your two-and-a-half-year-old bum on the toilet in my en-suit bathroom. No one else was awake. What a strong personality you have, mashaAllah. And so it went. It went very well for a while, you initiated going to the toilet, taking off your pants all by yourself. And then many accidents. And then we remembered, “Pull-ups!” And that’s the end of the many successful trips to the toilet. At the beginning, we had to really try hard to convince you that pull-ups are not nappies and that big boys wear them. I remember the silent look of relief on your face when you let the pee go and then realised your pants is not wet. Lol. Initially, you only peed in the pull-up, but number twos were done in the toilet. But now… Eish. No reservations. But it’s okay. We’re taking it in our stride and learning to, and trying to, relax when our expectations aren’t met. Alhamdulillah.
Until a few days ago, the structure and routine had, once again, gone out the window here. Late nights, late mornings, your bedroom is a deserted place, lonely and forlorn, as every night, Z, you and your brother, T, bring your blankets and pillows and camp out on the floor in Dad’s and my room. We don’t necessarily love the arrangement but we let it be. Every night.
In about a week’s time, we all head off to school, inshaAllah. Dad’s holiday ends and he goes back to work. Z, you will be starting school (KG 2) and I will inshaAllah be teaching at the same school, while your brothers, T and A, play in the nursery at the school, inshaAllah. We will just give this arrangement a trial run and see if it works for us as a family inshaAllah, considering the dynamics and transitions involved. We’ve made istikhara about this, Z, and, Alhamdulillah, you were very happy about Allah’s direction. May Allah, All Knowing, continue to guide us. Ameen. So, bedtime is back to 19:00. Ameen!
I’m still trying to figure things out regarding whether conventional school is the best thing for you, Z, and for your brothers. I love the idea of homeschooling and I’ve gotten so used to and fond of the Montessori schooling that you had in Cape Town, Alhamadulilah. I’m still trying to figure out whether I should really be working again or still be staying home and dedicating all my time and energy to the family until you boys are older. To my surprise, Arab women that I’ve come across so far tend to think that, in order to be the best version of herself, a woman should not dedicate all her time to her family. She should work, be independent, be a businesswoman and so on. I’m finding learning about different cultures, people and perspectives to be interesting and delightful and am hoping to get back to my study/survey on ‘The Secrets of Raising Well-Balanced Muslim Children’. Ameen. May Allah always guide me to make the right decisions. Ameen. Travelling and living among people of different cultures and languages really opens up one’s mind and ideas. I hope that you boys will fully benefit and learn from this experience, and may it strengthen you in character and personality. Ameen.
A, you are now about eight months old, eating well, loving water, Alhamdulilah, and still getting the hang of crawling. At the moment you move very fast by sliding forward with your tummy on the floor.Your personality definitely is developing, and you make it known, as you scream to be heard and demand that we look at and acknowledge your presence. You were always a loud baby, but it seems your loudness has increased in a more demanding way. Fair enough. You had been given the least amount of attention before. You are entitled.
T, still as boisterous and strong-willed as ever, you are slowly learning about negotiation as you play and learn to share with your Daada. Everything in the world still belongs to the one and only you though, even gifts that Daada received before you were born. I don’t know when the change happened, but you seem to be more attached to me and somewhat demanding more attention, like, insisting that I look at and “make better” the many sores you get throughout the day, while still insisting that you’re a “big boy”. Maybe with every age comes the need for a particular kind of attention. And, of course, I MUST look at you when you talk to me. I’ve come to see and appreciate another part of your personality, mashaAllah. I’ve read that strong-willed kids are not just strong in their ‘stubbornness’, but strong in their emotions and sensitivity too, feeling strongly, giving selflessly and wearing their hearts on their sleeves. And I have found that with you. When you mean it, your “sorry” is really heartfelt. You’re already teaching generosity and empathy at a small age. mashaAllah.
Z, your Dad and I are enjoying watching how your confidence is developing, mashaAllah. I’m not sure if it is since/because you know that you will be attending school again or whether it is a mix of different things. Or maybe you’re just becoming a bigger boy before our eyes, yet, I sometimes feel like we’ve missed the actual transition. I am grateful for this change though, Alhamdulilah. The other day, after reassurance from your Dad, you so proudly came to me, announcing that you had gone in the elevator by yourself, pressed the buttons yourself and, “I wasn’t scared. I just talked to Allah.”🙂 MashaAllah. May you always talk to Allah, The All-Hearing. Ameen.
I know it’s tough being the big brother sometimes, sometimes you’re forced to be selfless, you’re only four and a half years old, but, mashaAllah, you’re doing a great job. The other day, after T, once again, grabbed something that you had, your response to your Dad was: “It’s okay. That’s what big brothers do” or something like that, as you just let T, once again, have his way. I love silently observing and/or hearing how your and T’s relationship is forming mashaAllah – like bickering friends who can’t do without each other. You’re trying hard to manage your emotions. You definitely have your difficult moments, as is to be expected, but, Alhamdulilah, I’m truly grateful for the way that you respond to most situations.
May Allah continue to guide us all along this path and may we all continue to learn lessons from each other. Ameen.
With all my love,
My Dear Sons
It’s nice and quiet in the apartment now, Alhamdulilah. T, you are asleep. Z, you’re still coming to my room, trying to either avoid a nap or to get me to sit with you. You keep coming to me saying, “My eyes closed. I took a nap.”
MashaAllah, yesterday all of you slept at the same time. In your room, on your beds. Alhamdulillah. There’s a routine in place now, Alhamdulillah, and I can feel more structure and less stress, and more cooperation. Alhamdulillah.
You even sleep in your own beds for most of the night and, while bedtime is sometimes more chaotic and stressful than other times, it’s okay, Alhamdulillah.
May Allah (Swt) continue to guide me and your Daddy, and to help you fall asleep peacefully at night. Ameen.
Ramadan started yesterday. Alhamdulillah, we’ve been busy getting excited for the blessed month. I think I’ve been more excited than you though. I’m trying to let you experience the joy of this miraculous month, especially you, Z, as you are older and at an age of better understanding. But your excitement is mediocre most of the time, or pretty short-lived. I’ve still got activities planned for you throughout the month though, Alhamdulillah. InshaAllah you will enjoy doing them.
Yesterday, after putting your hand in the Ramadan Acts of Kindness jar, you took out a piece of paper that read, “Make Dad a glass of lemonade”. You were very excited and ready to do this and quickly began squeezing out lemons that I cut up and placed on the table for you and T. It becomes challenging to get things done smoothly with T in the equation. I have to find a different way. Alhamdulillah, the lemonade was made. You were very proud and excited for your Dad to have it when he breaks his fast. We have to see after nap time what act of kindness is in store for today inshaAllah.
A, you’re still practicing getting the hang of crawling. You’ll be 6 months soon and munching your first banana, inshaAllah.
T, just when I think joyful, pleasant playful days between you and your brother, Z are near, you go and slap him hard and bite into whatever flesh you can gnaw into. Sometimes, when we try to correct you, T, you respond with an angry, “I don’t listen to you!” or you scream “I don’t want to!” Sometimes I need to bite my tongue to stop myself from laughing at the things that come out of your mouth. You’re really like a little man. So cute, mashaAllah. May your feisty, strong-willed nature prevail and help you in your teenage and adult years. Ameen.
Z, you have learned to stand up for yourself quite a bit, Alhamdulillah. You now fight back, most of the time. Sometimes you just couldn’t care, or it’s just not worth the effort.
Still, it’s not easy to watch or mediate. But, this is training grounds for time to come inshaAllah.
Despite the fighting, you have a loving relationship, mashaAllah. When you are sad, Z, for any reason other than T, T would sweetly ask you, “What’s wrong?”
And if you are out of sight for a minute, T’s only concern is, “Where is Daada?”
May Allah (Swt) protect and strengthen your bond. Ameen.
With all my love,
PS. Z you did end up taking a nap, Alhamdulillah.
My Dear Sons,
My Dear Sons,
Z, you have been asking me a lot about Jannah lately. Nearly the whole morning today consisted of questions and talk concerning Allah (Swt) and Jannah. Sometimes I wish I could instantly press the record button when you ask the questions you ask. I’ve tried to record what I can remember of our conversations…
This morning, you asked me:
Mommy, where is Salallahu alayhi wasalm?
In Jannah, with Biscuit Naani.
Then you asked me:
Mommy, where is Jannah?
High up in the sky.
Will we take an aeroplane to get there?
No, special, magical angels will come fetch us.
It could be a long time from now. You might be a very big boy already. Big, like Daddy.
You began packing a bag full of all the things you’d like to take with to Jannah, despite me trying to explain to you, again and again, that it won’t be anytime soon (inshaAllah).
Mommy, can Allah count? (as you took out your Monopoly money that you got in the aeroplane)
Yes, Allah can count.
I’m going to give Allah my money in Jannah.
Mommy, do I have to bath in Jannah? (again)
Only if you want to. In Jannah, you can do whatever you want to. Whatever makes you happy.
Somewhere in between, I overheard you telling T something about going to Jannah:
T: I’m scared
Z: Are you scared for Jannah?
Z: Don’t be scared, Allah will look after us. Allah will take care of us.
Mommy, why does Allah make people die?
Everything belongs to Allah. We are all Allah’s children. You are my child, but me, you, Mama, Papa, all of us, are Allah’s children. Allah put us here to see how we will be with each other, if we will be kind to each other and so on. And then, Allah will call us back.
Will Mommy shout at me in Jannah?
No, my angel. Everyone only talks nicely in Jannah.
May Allah (Swt) guide me and you towards a clear understanding of His miracles. Ameen.
With all my love,
With Ramadhaan just a few weeks away I have been trying to plan the activities for all 30 days before hand to try and save as much time as possible.
The last thing you want to do during the blessed month is run out of ideas to keep the kids occupied or involved, which will result in lost time looking onling for ideas, when you could be spending your time on much more rewarding things.
So i thought i would compile a list of beneficial links to Ramadhaan activities ranging from healthy date pops to ramadhaan site words and masjid collages, to help other mothers who wish to use their time wisely.
🕋 Preschool Ramdaan activity book-
🕋 49 ways to get children involved in Ramadhaan-
🕋 30 days of good deeds for a Ramadhaan jar-
🕋 Ramadhaan colouring pages
🕋 30 day Ramadhaan activity. An…
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My Dear Sons,
Z, you are nearly 4 and a half. T, you are nearly 2 and a half, and, A, you are already 5 months and 6 days old. How quickly you’ve grown! MashaAllah. A lot of your time is spent practicing rolling over (and getting your left arm out). You seem eager to start crawling soon, inshaAllah. When you’re not gearing up to crawl, you’re busy staring at me lovingly, mashaAllah. Your gaze seems to be permanently fixed on my face!
So much has happened.
We are now in Oman. All of us – Mommy, Daddy, Z, T and A. We have been in Oman for just over two weeks now. Daddy first left for Oman alone about a month and a half earlier. He then came back home to fetch us, Alhamdulillah. In the meantime, we were staying with Mama and Papa where you, Z, and you, T, spent many fun days playing with your cousins, running around the house, on the grass, playing pretend games in the Wendy house and in the house that Papa is building. T, you would help Papa build by passing on bricks to him. He was quite impressed with you. And, Z, you were so fascinated by the whole building business that you too started keeping yourself busy building with the bricks, and saying that you want to be a builder like Papa.
T, both you and your brother had many fun days at Mama’s house, Alhamdulillah. Your nights, however, were restless and sometimes consisted of teary eyes and screams, especially you, Z. I wasn’t sure if you were missing your Daddy or if something else was disturbing your sleep. I never know the depths of your thoughts and just how much goes on in your head. You’d mentioned to Mama that you cry in the night because you’re missing Daddy, and nearly everyday you’d ask to speak to your Daddy. Once or twice, after a video call with Daddy, you sadly said, “I can see Daddy, but I can’t touch Daddy”.
Now we are finally with Daddy, Alhamdulillah, but, Z, your and your brother’s sleep are still disturbed, causing everyone else’s sleep to also be disturbed. It’s been a tough few days in Oman, especially as bedtime nears, frustration and impatience heightens and calm is so far away. In the morning, we wake with two extra bodies in our bed that somehow found their feet to our bed in the midst of the night, and I, for one, do not feel rested. My understanding and empathy has been thinning and has been replaced with impatience, annoyance and commands.
in retrospect, finally, as I recollect my thoughts and reflect on the last few months of changes, transitions and instability in your little lives and in your tiny view of the world, Z and T, MashaAllah, you have managed okay, and continue to embrace all the changes so well. I am grateful.
After reading up and reflecting on children and transition, there are so many things I neglected to consider in this big transition. As I reflect now, I am so grateful, Z, for how you and your brother have adapted to all the changes you have experienced recently.
On the plane, Alhamdulillah, both of you were cooperative and listened as well as could be expected. Z, you asked sooooooo many questions after each other. “Mommy, why is that light on? Mommy, why is that curtain closed? Mommy, why is there no TV on this plane?” and wouldn’t stop talking. As exciting as it was for everyone, the world must have been so much for your eyes to take in. Towards the end of the journey, it was difficult for me to calmly and patiently explain (and re-explain) all the answers to your questions. T, you became very clingy as the world also must have been so overwhelming for you all of a sudden. It sure is no child’s play travelling with kids! Shoo! But, Alhamdulillah, with Daddy as the captain, we worked together as a team.
Another thing that I am really grateful for, Alhamdulillah, is that we have really nice neighbours in Oman, Alhamdulillah, and both of you, Z and T, have befriended them quickly and easily. Maybe you’ll learn some Arabic from them, inshaAllah.
So far, we’ve been to a few places in this little town, like, the very quiet and nearly empty amusement park, where a huge ride is switched on for just one person. Z, you went on the train rides. The rides were quite long and you had had enough of it soon so, on the third ride, the man in charge of the switches stopped it for you, the only person on the ride. Quite a funny park. T, you went on one ride and then you were a bit scared. Z seemed to be quite delighted that he was braver than you in this regard.
Aside from lots of shopping, we’ve also visited the pet store down the road. There were mainly just birds and cats there. Z, you were particularly fascinated with the animals and felt quite comfortable being there. You even introduced yourself and your brother to the animals and had a chat with the cats. I was very happy to see your interaction. You didn’t want to leave. We promised to return, inshaAllah.
Z, T still copies everything you do. Everything. Alhamdulillah, most of the time you just go on with your thing, not phased about it at all. Sometimes, though, especially when T seems to sabotage your things and your space, your frustration, that you must have been building up for some time, looks like it wants to explode. You’re now starting to fight back, pushing, hitting and biting your brother. Shoo! My nerves! Your Dad says it’s completely normal and that it gets more brutal as you grow. He just sits back and enjoys the fight. I try to intervene very minimally, allowing both you and your brother the opportunity to develop the skills to sort things out on your own before it becomes physical, but shoo! I’d much rather prefer to not be there. I’m trying to help you talk through conflicts. It’s not always easy as the teacher obviously has to be completely calm, neutral and emotionally balanced at that exact moment that conflict arises, otherwise, obviously, the lesson is in vain. I battle with this emotional balance. InshaAllah, we’ll get there.
Aside from the transition of Cape Town to Oman, there have been quite a few changes happening before then. For one, one of your Dad’s dearest aunt’s passed away. You and T really loved her, Z. Everyone did. She passed very suddenly, not having been sick or anything like that. Your Dad and I explained death and Jannah to you. T is still too small to understand. You had a lot of questions but accepted it quite well and seemed to understand the gist.
Once again, I neglected to remember how a child’s brain works, as I did not again consciously bring up the topic of your great aunt’s passing. But I should have. I should have checked in with you again what your thoughts were about the happening and what questions you still had and what explanations you wanted repeated. I should have brought it up with you again and then again later on and then again… But I didn’t. I’m glad though that you brought it up on your own, Alhamdulillah, and so randomly, as you often are. One night, as I was struggling to get you and your brother to bed in Oman, you asked me, out of the blue, “Why did Allah take Biscuit Naani, Mommy?” I quickly got my thoughts and words together, and, once again, explained to you that everything belongs to Allah. Allah wanted Biscuit Naani back. Biscuit Naani is in Jannah. Jannah is a beautiful place with all things nice, like chocolates and sweets. As many as you want. Jannah is a place where there is only happiness and you never have to do anything that you don’t like. If you don’t feel like brushing your teeth or bathing, you don’t have to. That is Jannah. That is where Biscuit Naani is.
That night wasn’t the end of it. Another night, you asked me if Biscuit Naani can see us. I later recalled that you were probably linking this to the fact that she was blind. We talked about Biscuit Naani a bit that night. I asked you what you remember about her. You remembered the biscuits of course. You remembered that she would ride horse with you on her feet, like Mama, you said.
Alhamdulillah, in retrospect, Z, you and T are doing just fine in Oman. Whatever few hurdles, fears, clinginess there are is completely normal and I should have expected it and been more prepared for it. Alhamdulillah.
May Allah (SWT) be with all three of you always as you move through the world. May Allah ease the journey and help you adapt to the changes in your life now and the changes in years to come, inshaAllah. May it all serve as a means for you to remember that nothing is ever-lasting in this life and nothing belongs to you eternally. Everything is temporary and will come to an end, except your Rabb and your relationship with Him. May you always remember. Ameen.
With all my love,
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