Toilet training, school, road trips and everything else…


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,