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Monthly Archives: December 2010

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Busy few days…

Sorry everyone, I know I’ve been AWOL. Both kids are sick, Khalid has been up at night last two nights in a row, and he’s coughing and snotty and fevery in the day. Last night he coughed himself awake around 11 and was awake until Fajr. Iman is getting over her ‘fezer’ and has stopped telling people she’s ‘not good.’ She’s still snotty, but she seems to be over the worst of it.

HF is doing well, his chronic nosebleed has subsided and he went to work today without the risk of redecorating the office walls with red polka dots. (in case he sneezed, God Forbid!)

It’s 11:30 at night, I’m behind in my work (as usual) and am starting to get a but sniffly myself, but Alhamdulillah should be fine. I’ll try to update properly soon and respond to the comments in the last post too. Gtg, Khalid is fussing in his sleep again.

Also, I hadn’t planned on making this such a long post!

Alhamdulillah, HF had surgery today to fix the wildly deviated septum and outrageously deviant sinuses in his nose, and everything went according to plan. And lots of this went according to a totally different plan.

HF had planned to check in to the hospital at 6 am. I had planned to accompany him, so at 5:30, we carried Khalid, sleeping, into Iman’s room where it was planned that he should sleep so that if he woke up, he wouldn’t be alone and afraid.

We had not planned for him to wake up when we moved him though, nor had we planned to give Iman a fever the same night, so that when Khalid woke up and panicked in the dark, Iman woke up and started bawling- burning hot and shaking. Cindy hadn’t planned on waking up at 5:30 to give Iman more fever-reducer and soothe her to bed while I tried to calm Khalid down and get him back to sleep, but then, things don’t always go according to plan.

HF hadn’t planned on going to the hospital without me, but with both kids crying by 5:45, he had to.

I had planned on putting Khalid back to sleep, but Khalid had plans involving lemonade and cereal, which he whispered to me in the dark as HF drove off. So there was a change of plans, and Khalid settled for apple juice and some cereal in a tupperware while I quickly dressed him so we could take the second car and join HF.

I had planned to get there and surprise HF in his room. Surprise, HF wasn’t in his room. So Khalid and I waited for HF to come back from Fajr prayer. HF hadn’t planned on being welcomed by a completely awake little boy who was supposedly back home sleeping, but Alhamdulillah, Khalid ran and greeted HF and both grandparents at the door with hugs and much rattling of cereal in its plastic box as he jumped excitedly up and down.

I took Khalid out of the room before HF was prepped or had a canula inserted, so that he wouldn’t freak out. It was bad enough when the male nurse took HF’s blood pressure, Khalid first yelled at him, then pinched him, then attempted to kick him, and when that failed, he tearfully pointed a finger at the nice man (Mark) and yelled “Time Out Mark! Time Out!”

I invited Khalid to come and walk with me, as compared to ‘Hey kid, let’s go home’ so that he would come peacefully and without screaming through the OPD. That went according to plan until we got as far as the car and Khalid realized we were driving home again. “No Mama! No home! No!” *kickkickkickkick* He cried all the way home.

When we reached home and I quietly unlocked the door, I hadn’t planned to see Iman sitting at the dining table, but there she was, still in her pajamas and looking flushed and wilted and definitely miserable. Neither she nor Cindy had been back to sleep. I asked Iman how she was feeling. She said “Not good.” I asked her if she still had a fever.

“Yes, a fezer,” she nodded sadly. “In my head. Iss ow.”

Khalid was passed to Joy for the beginning of his morning ABA program. Iman and I went to wash her face, change her clothes, give her some more medicine, and just generally to try to help her feel better. We selected the red overalls that Khalid out-grew at the age of 18 months which flap loosely around Iman at 2 and 3/4 years. We paired them with a white shirt dotted with tiny red flowers. And by request, Iman’s pink tiara. Then, socks and sneakers and by then the medicine was kicking in, so Iman and Cindy went for their morning walk to the park with Iman’s eyes red and puffy and her Hello Kitty tiara pink and sparkly in the early morning sun.

I had planned to take a power-nap, then wake up and cook some food to take to HF’s hospital room for him as well as his parents, since the City Hospital is nice, but hospital food is still hospital food. However, I had not planned on spending so much time with the kids before they left for the park, so by 9:00, I realized that I would have to change my plans. No nap. Just cooking. I made chicken pilau, some hot-as-heck chutney, a thermos of karak chai, and set it all up with a bottle of water, some disposable glasses, HF’s clothes, his pillow, a box of orange juice, and some packing and logistics help from Cindy, who by 10:30, was back from the park.

I had planned to be there when HF came out of recovery, but I hadn’t planned on fighting a last-minute battle with Iman, who flatly refused to let me take the pink paper balloon with her hand print and a red heart on it that she had made especially for Baba. She made it, so it was hers. Since it was hers, it wasn’t right for me to take it away from her. Naturally. And since it was a balloon (albeit one made out of a paper plate, some yarn, and two sheets of construction paper) she insisted that it go ‘up inna sky,’ and nearly cried from the frustration of having her ‘balloon’ dangle very non-buoyantly from the end of its yarn leash. Joy bribed her with the opportunity to make another pink balloon, and to even wield the much-coveted glue-stick. Iman conceded and I rushed out the door with her balloon as well as Khalid’s- his was personally lettered and signed and it reads love you baba, khalid, in a gorgeous child-like scrawl that only children are really good at.

HF made it to the room before I did, and was laying there with his nose swaddled in bloody gauze and medical tape, too out of it to stay awake for more than a few words at a time. I had planned to bring the kids later, but I messaged Joy and Cindy and let them know there was a change of plans, no kids. I had planned to stay awake until HF woke, but then I was so exhausted that I fell asleep sitting in his wheelchair and leaning against the foot of his bed where he slept and (often) choked, groaned, woke up slightly, and then fell back asleep again. Apparently It’s hard to breath with your nose taped closed and your mouth raw from intubation.

Alhamdulillah, HF finally regained consistent consciousness around one in the afternoon. So we all hung out- his parents, and eventually his sister and niece as well- and ate chicken pilau and cookies and poked gentle fun at his nose job, asked him whether he couldn’t have gotten his chin done, and whether or not next time around he could get a six-pack installed. He was able to eat by around three or four o’clock and Alhamdulillah, the next few hours were just spent sitting in his hospital room and munching and chatting.

I came home after praying Maghrib and found Khalid sobbing on the sofa because Cindy had just closed the front door, which he had just opened for the Nth time waiting for me. Joy had told Khalid that Momma was on the way, so Khalid had planned to stand there with the front door open until I arrived.

Iman was warm, but not burning hot. Both kids had already eaten dinner, and I had a quick bite while the kids watched Meet the Sight Words. By 7:30, Khalid and I were in bed, reading his favorite Eric Carle books and commenting on certain deficiencies in the plot. Khalid does not understand that ‘In the Hungry Little Caterpillar,’ the egg that we see on the first page hatches and -pop!- out comes a very tiny and very hungry caterpillar whose quest for food (as well as meaning in a meaningless world) we then follow for the rest of the book.

The caterpillar makes some poor food choices, which culminate in some binge-eating, which he then repents of and makes absolution for by eating (instead of a smorgasboard) ‘one nice green leaf, and then he felt much better.’ In Khalid’s mind though, that nice green leaf is where the egg was on page one, so when he sees the caterpillar sitting on the leaf, he always asks “Oh, whereza egg? Where izit” And then we go back to the first page and I try to explain that the caterpillar was actually inside of the egg, and when he came out -pop!- then the egg was gone. Khalid has either never fully understood this, or never believed it. So today, when he asked where the egg was, I told him I didn’t know. So he told me. “Iss cook egg. Oh, caterpillar cook iss egg.”

And I hadn’t planned on writing all of that in this same blog, but it was so adorable that I didn’t want to forget about it. :) It’s been a long, long day, and I had planned to be asleep by now, but I had an unplanned power-nap just before Maghrib on the couch in HF’s hospital room. That might be why my brain is awake even though I’ve been up (apart from two short snoozes) for nearly 18 hours. It’s been a good day though, a busy and unexpected but good day Alhamdulillah. And Allah is the best of planners. :)

Apples versus oranges, lady.

The Ikea in Festival Center (Dubai) has a lovely little play area for kids, and Alhamdulillah, Khalid is able to play inside by himself as long as there is someone on the other side of the glass watching in case of the unexpected bathroom emergency or melt-down. Alhamdulillah, neither happen very often.

It’s a neat little place, with a slide and a large ball room and some tables and chairs with paper and crayons. The only bit of poor planning in there is a water cooler at toddler level with bright, easy to pull levers and only the tiny, standard drip-tray underneath- sorely inadequate for the number of kids who come, play, pull, and cause the occasional puddle. I don’t know whether the other children are less interested in water or more compliant with the attendants, but the water cooler isn’t so big an issue that they’ve had to move it or anything. But then, there’s Khalid.

One of Khalid’s latest fascinations is with pouring. He’s been in to pouring for a few months now, and it began with us losing five or six full pumps of liquid hand-soap in one week. Khalid would open the lid and pour the soap down the drain, then he would fill the container with water and pour that down the drain too. We lost a few economy-sized bottles of baby shampoo that way. Sometimes he would find water bottles and pour those down the drain as well, and then transfer the water from one container to the other, just to watch it pour. Needless to say, we no longer own or use liquid hand-soap. Bar soap is safer because it lacks a certain… flow.

So Khalid likes liquid, he likes watching it pour, he likes filling and emptying things, and he likes the water cooler at Ikea. Apparently he likes filling (but not drinking or pouring) glasses of water and lining them on up the shelf nearby, and apparently, the lady on duty last Tuesday had gotten a little annoyed. When I came to pick Khalid up, I saw him filling himself a glass of water, and I told the attendant that she might want to move him away from the cooler, since I was on the other side of the gate and couldn’t come in. She turned around, and from where she stood, over ten feet away, called out in a sing-songy voice, “Baby! I told you, don’t touch the water cooler!”

“His name is Khalid. He’s not going to respond to baby.”

“Okay, Khalid! Come here!” she sang out again.

Khalid, who heard his name and probably my voice as well, turned and ran excitedly towards me, knowing it was time to come home. When he reached the gate, the lady had to remove his numbered vest (that’s how they keep track of the kids) and retrieve his shoes and backpack. In the middle of this, she decided to kneel down, point her finger in Khalid’s face, and scold him.

“If mommy tells me you have been a bad boy I will not let you back in here.”

I waited to see what Khalid would do. No reaction. He was too excited about coming out. But then she said it again, more loudly and in his face, “You have to be a good boy! Otherwise I will not let you come back!”

That got Khalid’s attention. Khalid looked at her, saw the finger in his face, and pinched her. Hard. She stood up, rubbed her stomach where he had pinched her, and handed me Khalid’s shoes and backpack. As I signed Khalid out, she asked, “Ma’am, is this your only child?”

I thought she was asking if Khalid was my only child in the play area, so I said yes.

“Oh,” she nodded. “No wonder he is so spoiled.”

I think if this had been last year, and I had been more raw and less experienced, then I would have been seething. If this had been two years ago, I would have been in tears. But this was 2010, and I’ve been an ‘autism mom’ for long enough so that I don’t see peoples’ ignorance as insensitivity, or their criticism of Khalid’s behavior as a scathing judgment of my parenting skills or the lack thereof. As it is, I was warily amused. And, I felt a sorry for her. Khalid does pinch really hard.

“He’s not spoiled actually, he’s autistic. You know autism?”

She looked blank. And then looked at Khalid.

“He didn’t understand what you were saying.”

And then she looked really, really embarrassed.

“But, but he looks so normal. He looks ok!”

“Most children with autism look completely normal.”

Khalid was holding my hand now, and as he bounced in place, his dog tags- engraved with his name, nationality, contact info, and AUTISM in capital letters- jingled a happy tune.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know…”

“It’s ok,” I said. And really, it was.

I think the next time I go down I’ll say hi and strike up a conversation. She could use some pointers on addressing children directly and in an authoritative tone of voice. All kids, even the autistic ones and especially the normal ones, can tell who means business just by the tone of voice used. And it’s not about intimidating the kids into good behavior, but if your ‘don’t do that’ voice can be mistaken for a brief rendition of ‘twinkle twinkle little star,’ then there’s a good chance that you’re not getting much compliance out of any of them.

The Warmest Fuzzies Ever :)

Very typical of a person with autism, Khalid is much better able to understand written and visual instructions than he is spoken instructions, and so when it comes to difficult transition times, we use written instruction to help Khalid prepare for what’s coming up. Usually, his written schedule for the evening looks like this:

1. Dinner
2. Bath Time
3. Read Stories with Baba
4. Sleep with Baba

Today, our evening schedule was a little different, because HF had to go pick up some friends who were only in town for two more days and without transportation. Because Baba was unavailable for bed-time, and Joy would be putting Khalid to bed (Yes, she’s back!) the written schedule said only this:

1. Video
2. Sleep

So Khalid found a pen and made some corrections.

With ‘bAbA’. SubhanAllah. :)

*rimshot*

One of HF’s coworkers came over for lunch today, and as per tradition, Iman decided that the new person in the house must absolutely be her new best friend forever in the entire world. So she climbed in his lap, fawned over him told him everything that she knew about everything, which is something she does to newly introduced people all the time. Iman doesn’t require any warm-up time for new people. In fact, the newer the person the better- she’ll adore them all the more.

So, as Uncle BFF was getting his own son ready to go by helping him with his socks, Iman decided that was the perfect time to plop down into his lap (between his busy hands) and poke him in the nose. And then she poked herself in the nose and initiated the following conversation. And I quote:

Iman: I bonked my nose! I got it an ow!

Uncle BFF: Oh, you bonked your nose? Did it hurt?

Iman: Iss pain-fo. I go to the doctor.

Uncle BFF: You took your nose to the doctor? What did the doctor say?

Iman: No more monkeys jumping on the bed.

End quote.

Kill all Kafirs, 72 Virgins in Paradise

While an agnostic Jewish author doesn’t fit in the same category as Abu Huraira, this video shared by one of the MM writers is definitely worth watching.  Lesley Hazelton has an appreciation and understanding of the Qur’an that, I am sad to say, many Muslims don’t even have.  She talks about her attempt  to ‘really, properly read the Qur’an in research for an upcoming book, and the hubris of allotting herself three weeks for a task that ended up taking her three months. May Allah guide her.

Definitely worth watching, and addresses two major myths about the Qur’an- permission to kill all kafirs and 72 virgins in Paradise.

Lessons from Abu Huraira’s fingers :)

May Allah be pleased with Abu Huraira, he was an amazing man and I love his kuniya.  Abu Huraira means father of the kitten-you see, he used to have a pet kitten. :)  And I know I just updated yesterday, and I wouldn’t want to overwhelm my *vast* readership with such excesses as *daily* posting, but I found this gem in my email while cleaning out my inbox just now, and I want to put it somewhere where I will see it again.  So here it is- Lessons from Abu Huraira’s fingers. :)

“I, ya Rasulullah!” Such were the words of the great Companion, Abu Hurayrah (radhiAllahu anhu) in acceptance of the request of his beloved, when he asked, “Who among you will accept of me the following words and adopt and execute their meaning or teach someone to adopt them and act according to them?”

Then, as Abu Hurayrah recalls; “So he held my hand and counted five things according to my five fingers as follows.” Upon pondering over this sentence, one can rightfully assume that this act of the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) of teaching Abu Hurayrah in such a personal manner – one by one, on the fingers of his hand – was a significant step in the effort to keep these words etched in his heart. In fact, it was a method of aiding him in fulfilling the responsibility to which he agreed to moments earlier.

So, what were these teachings that numbered the fingers of Abu Hurayrah’s hand?

عن أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ رضي الله عنه ، قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ :
( مَنْ يَأْخُذُ عَنِّي هَؤُلاَءِ الكَلِمَاتِ فَيَعْمَلُ بِهِنَّ أَوْ يُعَلِّمُ مَنْ يَعْمَلُ بِهِنَّ ؟ فَقَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ : فَقُلْتُ : أَنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ !
فَأَخَذَ بِيَدِي فَعَدَّ خَمْسًا وَقَالَ :
اتَّقِ الْمَحَارِمَ تَكُنْ أَعْبَدَ النَّاسِ ، وَارْضَ بِمَا قَسَمَ اللَّهُ لَكَ تَكُنْ أَغْنَى النَّاسِ ، وَأَحْسِنْ إِلَى جَارِكَ تَكُنْ مُؤْمِنًا ، وَأَحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ تَكُنْ مُسْلِمًا ، وَلاَ تُكْثِرِ الضَّحِكَ ، فَإِنَّ كَثْرَةَ الضَّحِكِ تُمِيتُ القَلْبَ ) .
رواه أحمد والترمذي والطبراني في الأوسط

Keep away from prohibited things and you will be the best of worshippers.
Be content with what Allah has given you, and you will be the richest of people.
Be good to your neighbor and you will be a true believer.
Love for other people what you love for yourself and you will be a (perfect) Muslim.
Do not laugh too much, for excessive laughter deadens the heart.

(Recorded by Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi)

The rest of the article is here, and a great read for anyone in need of a refresher of some fundamental standards of Muslim character. :)  And really, who doesn’t?

Momma’s Dinner Salad

  • One sliced tomato
  • One cucumber, but only half should be put into the salad because Iman will have walked away with the other half
  • One scrambled egg that Khalid didn’t want for breakfast
  • A handful of sunflower seeds, because they’re healthy or something like that
  • A handful of spicy roasted corn, because it’s tasty though definitely not healthy
  • Three sliced mushrooms, which neither of the children are interested in
  • Way too much full-fat ranch dressing
  • A huge dollop of yogurt
  • Oh, and some lettuce.  Somewhere.

Salad is healthy, right?  *nodnodnod*

Because sometimes, you really need a hamster…

(I am in bed falling asleep for a much-needed power nap when Iman lets herself in and stands at the head of my bed.)

Iman:  Momma, I get it a wabbit?

Me: (trying to talk and not wake up at the same time) A rabbit?  Honey, you don’t need to get a rabbit.

Iman: I get it a ham-sto?

Me: We’re not getting you a hamster.

Iman: Momma, I need  it a ham-sto.

Me: Ok, go get a hamster.

She leaves the room and I start falling back asleep.  I am vaguely aware of Iman returning, putting something next to my chin, and then patting me.  And when I wake up half an hour later, I’m cuddling this:

It’s Harry the Happy Hamster.  Lil Grey’s kids left him here once upon a time, and he’s been an important member of Iman’s ridiculously diverse collection of stuffed toys ever since.

It was a nice nap.  Alhamdulillah. :)

And now that the cat’s out of the bag…

Phew! I can finally blog about what’s been on my mind!

Ok, what’s up with the Nuchal Translucency screening? And why did my doctor ask me if I wanted one? I asked her what it was for, and she said that measuring the Nuchal fold in a developing fetus could help determine whether or not your baby has a chromosomal abnormality.

*awkward silence*

And then what?

Well, if it’s positive, you can get further testing done to determine whether your baby has Down’s Syndrome.

And then?

Well, then about 90% of fetuses with Down’s Syndrome are aborted.

You know, they’re working on a prenatal screening for autism. So that potentially, individuals who have autistic traits can be identified before they’re born.

I wonder how high the abortion rate would be, and I think of how amazing, how silly, how sweet, how challenging and fulfilling it is to have Khalid as my son, and how awful it is that parents should choose to kill their children out of… what, fear? Laziness? A murderous need for the neurotypical? An overpowering revulsion to special children? If both of my children were normal then perhaps someone who supported prenatal screening (and subsequent abortion) could tell me to get off my high horse and that I shouldn’t judge a man until I’ve walked a mile in his moccasins, etcetera etcetera. But I don’t have a horse and I know for a fact that Allah does not test anyone more than they can bear. I’ve walked a few miles in special needs moccasins, thank you very much, and I think parents who kill their children out of fear should have their moccasins removed and thrown at them.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.  The Qur’an, Surah Al-Isra, 31

Is fear of poverty the same thing as whatever it is people are fearing when they abort babies with Down’s Syndrome?  I’m not sure what exactly it is they’re afraid of- fear that their child will be made fun of?  So let’s screen for babies with really big ears.  Fear that their child won’t be able to hold a job?  Let’s screen for incompetency too then.  Oh, and blindness!  Don’t forget blindness!  Maybe it’s fear that their child will never lead a ‘normal’ life?  Well, I don’t know if they can develop a prenatal test for turning into an alcoholic or drug addict or someone with bipolar disorder, and I think humanity has yet to apply a standard for what a ‘normal’ life is, but let’s run with this, shall we?

Let’s develop a prenatal test to screen for any and all conditions that cause children to face challenges throughout their lives while causing their parents to sweat blood and bleed tears to provide medical care, education, and adequate opportunities for their children in a world that doesn’t give a hoot.

And then, let’s abort the entire human race.

Because every child is hard work.  Every child costs money.  Every child is in danger of ‘not leading a normal life’ and no child, no matter how thick their Nuchal fold is or how low their amniotic testosterone rate is, comes with a guarantee for an easy upbringing, a bright future, and a normal life.  Being normal isn’t a guarantee of all things bright and beautiful  any more than being ‘abnormal’ means a life-sentence of misery, toil, and complete unhappiness for the entire family + the affected child.

In all of this, I don’t feel sorry for the aborted children as much as I do the parents who chose to abort them.  The children got a one-way ticket to Paradise.  They were made for Jannah.  It’s the parents who have cheated themselves out of the most rewarding journey they could possibly have embarked on, the greatest test of their patience and the greatest blossoming of love they could feel for another human being.  On a side note, they’ll have some questions to answer in the next life.  But in this life even, they have cheated themselves.

You’ll never know how amazing it is to stand on top of the mountain unless you’ve climbed all the way to the top.

I told the doctor no thank you, I have one special needs child and I can have another one.  She nodded at me and smiled.

“Good,” she said.  “I have a special needs child too.  And I would not have it any other way.”

Me neither.  AllahuAkbar.