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,