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Monthly Archives: September 2010

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4am: What, us? Nocturnal?

On the bright side, if Khalid didn’t wake up in the middle of the night, I might never blog. On the annoying side, it’s 4 in the morning and he’s been up since 1:30, jumping, rolling, climbing, and lavishing WWF-style affection (half-nelsons, not pandas) on his stubborn “WE ARE STAYING IN BED!” momma.

This is how it works. Joy puts Khalid to bed by eight o’clock. HF and I get to bed by around 11, realistically speaking. Khalid starts thrashing and kicking and whining by around midnight, and I wake up and pat him and he goes back to sleep. I fall asleep again and am woken abruptly an hour or so later by a 45 pounds of kisses and head-butts and elbows and knees and pinching- he likes pinching. He doesn’t do it out of malice, he does it out of love, and if I’m asleep (or not awake enough to defend myself) he goes to town with it and so in addition to being lovingly jumped on, I’m also adoringly subjected to severe irritation. I wish I was more patient in my sleep. Also, that someone made pinch-proof pajamas. I have ideas- a single head-to foot suit made out of two layers of quilted flannel. Like a giant potholder. *nodnodnodyawn*

But I’m up, Alhamdulillah, so I might as well make the most of it and do a proper update. We picked our first therapist, but we couldn’t hire him because he had an immigration ban due to having had Hep B in 1992 (immigration can be rather strict about this) so he’s going back home on Saturday, poor guy. We’re screening other therapists and need to pick at least four by… wow. I just forgot what I was doing and answered work email for forty minutes. Right. By next week. We need to have two picked immediately and all four picked asap. Hiring the fifth would be good, but should wait just to make sure we have that many parents ready to go as soon as we can provide them. Because I’m operating as close to cost as I can in the pursuit of making things affordable, we have to be very precise about scheduling. I can’t afford to hire therapists who haven’t been placed yet, so inevitably, the parents say yes, and then they wait a few weeks while I get the therapist. I wish the process was quicker, but I’m a startup and let’s see how this works, InshaAllah.

But I don’t want to talk work. I live, eat, even sleep in AutismUAE right now. The other day, when Khalid was awake all night (again) my half-asleep brain was angry at him because every time he climbed in and out of my bed, he was using up one of my employee visas! And then a few nights later, I invited him into my bed because I thought we needed a receptionist for the office. :s

But right, NO WORK!

So, I was stealing a few minutes to relax in bed this evening when Iman discovered me laying down in the dark. She climbed up next to me and said Momma, I wanna story!

So I told her to bring me a book, and I covered my eyes with my arm and hoped she would forget what she went to go get. But she came back with The Hungry Caterpillar, and instead of handing it to me, opened it up and started to read to me.

Momma wook, a strawberry!
Turnna page!
Whereza strawberry milkshake?
All gone, a butterfwy!
The End!

And then she looked at the wall and said Momma, it’s a eight o nine o cwock!
(It was six)
Momma sleep! Close eyes!
(she poked me in the eyes to make sure they were closed)
Then, she gently stroked my face and hummed, and after a few seconds, kissed me gently on the forehead.
Then she whispered night-night and slipped off the bed and tip-toed out of the room.

Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but in this case, I could happily have done both, Alhamdulillah. 🙂 I burst out laughing and Iman, realizing that something fun was happening, ran back into the room and jumped on the bed and we had a hug and a nice roll-about in bed. Khalid heard the fun and joined us, and I ended up feeling refreshed and awake and happy without even having snuck in a nap. 🙂 Children are such a blessing, SubhanAllah, and I would call it magic except that magic does not explain the thousands of mercies that Allah gives us through our offspring, their ability to make us feel alive and loved being just one of them.

I’m also amazed by how quickly Iman and Khalid pick up my behavior and speech patterns, with Iman putting me to sleep and Khalid opening up the refrigerator and parroting the “Hmm, let’s see…” that I didn’t even realize I said until both children started saying it too!

Ah, it’s 5:22 and time to pray Fajr. Maybe we’ll even go to sleep. One things we’re definitely not doing today though, is going to work. Again. But on the plus side, the other guy cancelled the meeting first, and I’m not happy that an already overdue project will be further delayed, but I am relieved that I’ll be able to get some sleep before my second meeting in the afternoon. Now if only the car hadn’t died and was being towed to the mechanic, I might be able to make it to that one too. SubhanAllah. 🙂

Letter to my boss

Hi D, R-

Am sorry to say that Khalid has been up all night for reasons known only unto him, so I will be unable to accompany HF into work today, howsoever much I was looking forward to a producitve and focused day of work that didn’t involve legos or people under the age of 23.



Once upon a time there was a little engine who thought it could. And one day it decided to take on a few extra cars and take them over a big hill. It started out nice and slow and was chugging along (I think I can, I think I can!) and it slid back a few times but was still chugging away, and then one day, a powerful locomotive train appeared behind it and said ‘Hey, are you taking those cars over the hill?’ and the little engine said ‘Well, I’m trying to!’

And so the locomotive hitched itself to the little choo choo and floored the engine and the little engine suddenly found itself screaming up the hill with it’s cars practically streaming behind it, and the little engine went ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!’

And that is the story of how AutismUAE, with business license barely applied for and website not yet updated, is receiving phone calls from parents who want their therapists yesterday and finalizing the itinerary for a tour of the GCC, the first trip of which will be in just two weeks. :s

My little choo-choo is being helped along by Stepping Stones Center for Autistic Spectrum Disorders, an organisation with four offices in three countries and a wonderful director who is excited about making ABA treatment affordable for kids in the entire GCC. And Pakistan. And any other country where the parents are willing to come to Dubai once a month for case management meetings. That’s all that’s required. AutismUAE will give you a therapist, Stepping Stones will give you a program and put a psychologist in charge of your child’s case, and you check back in with us once a month to make sure that everyone- child, therapist, parents- is doing well.

And the little engine that could looked at the proposal, and the fact that it had the word ‘Global’ written on it, and then it felt the sudden urge for a warm fluffy blanket and a cup of soup and a tiny cottage somewhere to enjoy them in.

Not that I’m not excited, I’m very excited. But I am nervous, over-busy, missing deadlines, behind in my “real job,” and learning much more about time management than I ever wanted to. Case in point: When was the last time my blog was updated? If I were to create a list of ‘work’ that I enjoy, I would put my blog at the top and the real job at the bottom. AutismUAE would be second and third would be Muslim Matters, though they could easily tie for second place. It would look like this:

1. Blog
2. AutismUAE
3. Muslim Matters
4. Real Job

Compare that to the list of things that are receiving top priority, which looks like this:

1. AutismUAE
2. Real Job
3. Muslim Matters
4. Blog

Even blogging right now makes me feel guilty, because I can see the number of unread messages in my gmail tab and I know that none of them are fluff and all of them are important. But I have to stop and breathe and think. And sometimes, I even have to write. Right now, as I sit here, Iman is determinedly putting one-dirham coins into my pockets, and with each one, singing out, “Here you go Momma!” And yesterday, when we asked Khalid what he wanted for lunch, he thought about it and said ‘Big burger!’ and we asked him how many and he said “-one- uh- ten burger!” and we had a beautiful laugh, and for lunch, Khalid had many tiny burgers instead of one big one.

And Iman’s back with a 25 fil coin and one US penny, and I should probably check where my purse is and where my two and a half year old is getting loose change. And Khalid and Iman have started to have arguments, which is amazing in terms of Khalid’s development, though infuriating from a parenting perspective. Iman and Khalid can be strapped into their individual car seats, sitting in silence, and Khalid will point to Iman and say, Iman! Stop Crying!

And Iman will defensively reply Iman not crying! Iman talking!

And Khalid will insist, Iman crying! Iman stop crying!

And then Iman will escalate and yell back- Iman not crying! Iman talking!

And Khalid will say No crying! No crying!

And of course, Iman will reply Iman not crying! but by this point, she will be crying.

One day passes beautifully, chaotically, unexpectedly and predictably into another, and before I know it I have 37 unread emails and a tour of the GCC. And I haven’t even printed my business cards.

And before you think I’m in over my head or I’m complaining (yes, I’m talking to myself) I am not complaining, I do not need to be rescued, and I am not going to give up without a fight. The express train of Stepping Stones is a blessing, because once upon a time my client base was zero, and now, in a space of three weeks, it’s international. I asked Allah, I prayed and said Dear God, if AutismUAE is the right thing to do then make it easy for me, and lo and behold, I’ve skipped over the problem of too few clients and jumped right into too many. I’ve been partnered with an international service provider before I’m even a licensed business, and just last night I had a phone call from a mother who said “We’re waiting please, when will the therapist get here?”

And none of this is from me, all of this is a blessing from Allah. Opportunities have appeared out of nowhere to land neatly in my hands. Now all I have to do is say Alhamdulillah, roll up my sleeves, and get to work.

I think I can, I think I can.


The Repetition of History? God Forbid.

A short, amazing little video.