It’s the beginning again


My Dear Sons,

The beginning of change is always tough.

It is the beginning of a new chapter again, Alhamdulilah. I am excited about the possibilities that lie ahead as we all head off to school every morning. Perhaps in a year you will have picked up some Arabic inshaAllah. Perhaps, in a year, inshaAllah, we will see you, Z, being less scared and inhibited as a result of your current environment. Perhaps, in a year, T, we will see you being more aware of natural consequences and actually learning to put some consideration into your actions. Perhaps, A, within in a year we will hear some Arabic words come from your mouth. Ameen.
While these are all my wishes and thoughts as I wake you up early every morning to go to a school that is not Montessori (which is always my preferred choice), every day, at school, where I also started teaching English at the same time as you started attending there, my expectations come to a halt and I am reminded that the above are all MY wishes and, as much as I would love to see them come true, it might be that Allah, All-Knowing, has a different direction for you, my children. Perhaps the environment in which I have you in at the moment is not suited to your personalities, especially you, Z, as you stand one side every morning as the rest of the school participate in the morning assembly physical exercises and scream out some Arabic chants in response to the teachers. As I was standing close to you in assembly one morning (you seldom move two steps from my side), wishing that you would just do something as simple as raising your arms or moving two steps to the right or SOMETHING, I came to a simple realisation, but it was like an awakening moment: I was like that at school too – so inhibited and self-conscious. I think you are actually less so than I was. I think you just need to find security in your environment before you loosen up. Sometimes the time on adult watches goes faster than children’s time. You just need time to adjust, in your own time, your slow time, your gradual time, not in adult time. It’s not always easy to remember this when I’m trying to teach a class while, Z, you’re hanging onto my dress and, T, (oh, T) you’re busy demanding my attention, “Mommy, open this. Mommy, pick me up, pick me up”. I must say, I struggle to keep frustration at bay at this point. I must remember, work and Mommy are foreign combinations to you kids, as I have never really worked since you were born, Z.
Alhamdulillah, A has adjusted very well at the nursery. The first few days, A, you would cry as soon as you saw the nursery lady, I was then able to pick you up and carry you with me, Alhamdulillah. I don’t know when or how it’s changed, but, Alhamdulilah, you have no issues being at the nursery and it was a quick transition, Alhamdulilah. T, you are also supposed to be at the nursery, as you are still too small to start KG, but you outright refuse, instead following me around everywhere. Z, you have made a few appearances in your KG2 classroom, and when it becomes too long or too overwhelming for you, you start crying. Eventually, you too end up hanging onto my dress. I know it’s very different to Montessori (what you’re used to) and there aren’t often things to keep you engaged in the classroom.
I have committed to giving this new endeavour a chance. We will see which way it goes inshaAllah. Z, one morning you told me, “Mommy said I must give it a chance and so I gave it a chance and now I don’t want to go to school anymore”. I told you that we will give it a longer chance (it’s been less than 2 weeks so far). I am prepared for whichever way it goes, as Allah has planned, Alhamdulillah. We will just give it a chance and walk the way we are steered. Alhamdulillah, despite the odds, it has been nice meeting new people, as opposed to being cooped up in the apartment.
It’s almost Eid again. And all 3 of you are sick. Alhamdulilah, Z, you were only sick for about one day, yesterday. You then passed it on to T. Now T is very feverish and not well, as well as A, but he seems to be coming round, Alhamdulilah.
T, yesterday, while I was out buying ice-cream with Z, you were screaming and crying for me so much that you ended up vomiting. When I came back you told me, “Mommy, I swallowed out all my food.”🙂 Lol. I just felt that that needed to be a recorded quote to remember.
Z, yesterday, you also said something I thought I must record. At school, for Eid, the kids received a small bag with some nice things and two notes of money. As sick as you were, Z, you were very taken with your little gift. When we got home, you slept with the one note in your hand and kept asking me when we can go to the shop. You said, in all seriousness, “This money (the one in your hand) is for me, the other one is for Daddy and if someone gives me more money, I will give that to Mommy.”🙂
You also asked why you got a gift. I replied that it’s almost Eid so the teachers gave the children gifts. You then said that you would also like to give your teachers gifts.
Yesterday, in an attempt to get T (and you, Z) more comfortable at the nursery, I spend most of the day there with you as the school had planned Eid activities for the kids for most of the day, so I had very little teaching to do. MashaAllah, T, I saw how nicely you interacted with the other kids, sharing your lunch and encouraging them to pick up after themselves, as you sang the song, “Pick up the toys, put them away…” while picking up the colour pencils that a little toddler kept throwing out onto the floor.
MashaAllah, may that innocent and precious nature of yours, Z and T, always be nurtured. May Allah, Most Loving, help me to protect it. Ameen.
Z, I think these are the starting days of you beginning to read, Alhamdulilah. You are constantly trying to identify the beginning sounds of words, often getting it right, Alhamdulillah, like, the sound ‘c’ is for car, etc.
A, you are still trying to crawl properly. Sometimes you pull yourself up while leaning on whatever you can get hold of, causing us to think that you will start walking before you crawl properly. InshaAllah.
May Allah, Most Compassionate, guide my actions as I guide you through life, and may all experiences ultimately add positively to your individual personalities. Ameen.
With all my love,
Mommy

Toilet training, school, road trips and everything else…


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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,
Mommy

Ramadaan


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.”

And I respond, “You have to keep your eyes closed longer.”
A, you’ve just fallen asleep in my arms.
Now I’m just waiting for Z to doze off before I head to the bathroom.

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?”

MashaAllah.

May Allah (Swt) protect and strengthen your bond. Ameen.

With all my love,
Mommy

PS. Z you did end up taking a nap, Alhamdulillah.

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It’s Tough


My Dear Sons,

It’s tough. Parenting is tough.
I’m sitting here now, waiting for you, Z, to fall asleep. It’s taking forever, but I can see that your eyes are nearly closing. It’s been nearly closing for a while now. I don’t know what it is that you’re fighting. I’ve been trying to make nap time an uncompromising part of the day. Everyday, around 11:00, after having spent real time playing with you and your brother, T.
T has already been in Dreamland for the last fifteen minutes or so, after insisting that he wants to sleep in my arms. Of course, you also want to sleep in my arms. And then, of course, there’s A as well, who seems to be the least demanding many times.
You’re finally in Dreamland now, Z. Alhamdulillah. A big Alhamdulillah. Only a few minutes out of sync with T. So, inshaAllah, you’ll wake around the same time and not end up waking each other.
I don’t always know where to draw the line, especially with you, Z. It seems you have always been needing more of my attention, but, since our move to Oman, you are even more clingy, emotionally and physically. You seem to have this constant need to touch me – it’s very hot in Oman – especially when you must sleep. You’ll put you legs on me, your arms, sometimes your body parts land in awkward places and I have to tell you to please respect my personal space and that there are certain parts of my body that I do not like you to touch. You never seem to really hear me or your needs are just so big that you can’t process what I’m saying.
At night, the whole situation is at its worst. It’s tough.
T, you follow everything Z does. You even pretend to be scared, saying “I’m scared”, when your brother says it.
Yesterday, at the supermarket, a more experienced mother noticed how demanding you and your brother can be, as both of you were insisting that I pick you up. Z, you had just had a small fall. I think you were taking too long to walk through the automatic opening, plastic ‘gates’ type thing and they closed on you as you wanted to walk pass. You had been a bit scared to go pass, getting confused between when they opened and closed, I think. You fell, and gave a big cry. I picked you up and comforted you. After a while, T too wanted to be picked up. You were okay now so I told you that I would put you down and pick T up. You didn’t insist. I picked T up for a bit and then put him down. Later,  T, you again wanted me to pick you up. I don’t know why exactly. The older, Egyptian mother was telling you no, in Arabic, and trying to playfully distract you. She was saying, “problem, problem”, telling me that your and your brother’s demanding dependence  is a problem. You were not pleased with her at this point, though you are fairly fond of her. Both you, T, and Z expressed your upset with her as she was trying to distract you from wanting my attention. It didn’t take long, T, before I picked you up again. She then pointed to me, saying that the problem lies with me. This left me baffled.
It’s tough.
You are so scared of so many things, Z. You worry –  like stress – about so many things too, like when we go out. You’re so so worried that someone might take T, or that he might run away. You hold his hand so tightly, almost battling him because he wants to be free. You then beg me to keep his hand. You also worry frantically, when we are in the supermarket too long, that they will lock us inside because they will be closing soon. Later, after chatting with your Dad, I discovered that you had concluded that we will be locked inside the supermarket because I had said, “Come, we have to hurry up now because they want to close the supermarket now “. How I have to watch my words all the time. It’s tough.
At the same time though, you pleasantly surprise me at how you do sometimes – I don’t know what the distinguishing factor is – overcome your fears. I then applaud you for how brave you are, mashaAllah. You did end up going through those automatic doors again, Alhamdulillah. And you have been brave about quite a few things in Oman, Alhamdulillah.
I try to always be empathetic and understanding with all three of you. But, these days, sometimes I have to grit my teeth out of frustration, annoyance and exhaustion, as I pick you up yet again. Often, I have to silently scream and roll my eyes when you’re not looking as, in that moment, I cannot believe the extent of fear and neediness you have. Sometimes I have to desperately count till ten as I accept your hot leg on me, Z and T. Sometimes I have to restrain, with everything in me, from not screaming at the top of my lungs, having a tantrum myself and setting the whole situation on fire as you, T, and you, Z, once again, communicate your needs to me in different ways. Your needs. Your valid, rightful needs. But it’s tough. And, time and time again, I do have my own tantrums. I shout. I make big eyes. I complain about how unfair this cycle is. Sometimes I remember to say salawat and a dua.
……
About thirty minutes into nap time, T, you come walking into my room as I’m breastfeeding A. Z soon follows, crying. Everyone wants to be in my arms, on my lap, on my whole body!! It’s FLIPPIN TOUGH!!!!
I ended up with A on the breast, Z on my legs, a very unhappy T next to me. Z, you woke up twice before sleeping again. Whenever you sleep, you wake up distraught and the only thing that seems to help you is lying in my arms. Now, T is following suit, with his extra bit of strong-willedness. Body and all on me. The sweat! T is nearly asleep again. Alhamdulillah. After a LOUD awake. T, you really struggle to be quiet, but sometimes you’re just on purpose. I had to swallow a big groan and cover up my frown of annoyance again.
…….
Nope, T, you didn’t nap again. Z, you woke up soon, probably due to T’s screams. A, you slept. Alhamdulilah.
It’s tough, but I understand. It’s nothing unusual or abnormal. I just need more patience. May Allah (Swt) give me the patience and forbearance, and the guidance to raise you in a balanced, healthy way. Ameen.
With all my love,
Mommy

So many questions


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.

When Mommy?
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.

SubhanaAllah.
May Allah (Swt) guide me and you towards a clear understanding of His miracles. Ameen.

With all my love,
Mommy

A compilation of beneficial Ramadhaan links.


Raising Rayyaan

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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-

http://amuslimchildisborn.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/ramadan-activity-book-for-kids.html?m=1

🕋 49 ways to get children involved in Ramadhaan-

http://modestmunchies.com/49-ways-to-get-kids-involved-in-ramadan/

🕋 30 days of good deeds for a Ramadhaan jar-

http://intheplayroom.co.uk/2015/06/09/30-days-of-good-deeds-for-a-ramadan-jar/

🕋 Ramadhaan colouring pages

http://intheplayroom.co.uk/2015/07/01/ramadan-colouring-pages/

🕋 30 day Ramadhaan activity. An…

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Our move to Oman


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.

But-
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,
Mommy

And we get to relive them through their eyes.  Thank you, God, for the innocence of a child.: