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Category Archives: Parenting

Are you my daughter-in-law?

Screenshot 2017-01-18 10.59.05

A young woman with Down’s Syndrome (who has been baking for a long ole time already) gets rejected from too many bakery jobs. So she opens her own bakery.

This video made me cry for so many reasons. I’m scared of what my son’s future will hold. I know that him being rejected over and over and over again is not a possibility, it’s a given because he has autism.

We’ve been taking the rejections for him and until now they’ve always been from schools. Who rejects a child from a KG or a Hifz program? Lots of people, apparently. It’s a given because he has autism.

A time will come when we can no longer protect him from rejection. Already he struggles with school and with friends. Soon he will struggle with employment and – this hurts my heart most – loneliness.

My son will want to get married. He’s barely 11, but he’s already told my husband and I as much. And why shouldn’t he? He’s kind, he adores babies, he’s super-intelligent, and would make an affectionate, doting husband and father. A time will come when he will work the courage up to ask some sweet young girl to spend her life with him- and he will be rejected because he has autism.

Not because he will be too mean, or too uneducated, or too poor, or too ugly, or too anything at all- even if he is financially supported and gainfully employed, and surrounded by a family and safety net that any young married couple would be grateful to have, no- he will be rejected because he has autism.

I would like to believe that somewhere out there, there is a little girl currently growing up into the woman who will be my son’s partner, protector, and friend. I want to believe that she’s the bubbly, confident, and to-hell-with-the-rest-of-yall type when it comes to what’s cool and what’s not. She can see the system well enough to buck it and marry a young man who has so much going for him even though the whole system may be against him.

Wherever you are sweetheart, may Allah introduce us soon.

Kids Ask: What’s the point of Jummah?

A few minutes before Jummah today, my son came and sat down next to me in a grumpy huff. “Momma, I just don’t understand…”

He furrowed his lil brow angrily and said, “What’s the point of Jummah!”

I told him I had the answer. But first, we needed candy…

First Come, First Served; Rubina!

What is your schedule like? I have a 7 month old now, any suggestions on how to be a calm parent, how to give the right tarbiyat, how to incline them towards Islam and the spicy Desi food. – Rubina
AssalamuAlaikum Rubina. ūüôā ¬†Children are weird, sticky, lovely, quirky, fascinating miniatures of ourselves- doubly as complicated and while being only half as sensible. ¬†I don’t think I can cover the whole gamut of good Islamic parenting for three¬†reasons-
  1. I don’t know the whole gamut of good Islamic parenting.
  2. Seven month olds are still struggling with object permanence, maybe it’s a little early for tarbiyya ūüėČ
  3. I have a good recipe for Nihari.

But I can talk about patience and staying calm.  So here I goes.

On no soul…

The ayah in the Qur’an that everyone refers to when they’re about to have a nervous breakdown- about how Allah never burdens a soul with more than they may bear? It includes children.

I know right. Seriously.

No matter how many times they throw up on your keyboard, break your phone, rub jelly onto your Eid clothes or pee on Dado’s silk carpet, it is within your capability to maintain sunnah-like calm. ¬†So say this to yourself: I can do this. I can follow the Sunnah. I can teach my children with love. ¬†I can even discipline¬†them with love in my eyes even if there’s disappointment on my face. And when I mess up, I’m going to apologize to them with love and show them what a mature Muslim does when they make a mistake.

Cast yourself as the leader, not the victim:

Compare: & contrast

  1. Everything was so much easier before I had kids- I could wake up for Fajr, I even prayed tahajjud sometimes. I read more Qur’an, I attended more lectures. ¬†I was in better shape. My butt was perkier. They’ve made my life so hard, and I know motherhood isn’t easy but sometimes I really wish I could be left alone sometimes. ¬†Nutshell: Children ruined your life.
  2. SubhanAllah- I know I’m struggling right now and boy does my butt look flabby, but InshaAllah once the baby starts sleeping through the night I’m going to start easing back into Ibadah. Maybe bebeface and I can start learning some Qur’an together. ¬†Nutshell: Children are part of your life.

There’s a difference between Nutshell 1 and Nutshell 2- even though the story is the same, it’s how you perceive your role. ¬†Are you an unwilling victim of procreation? Or are you going to be a Muslim Momma Warrior? A messy, damp, tired, wild-eyed Ummi on a Mission to do the best you can with what you have and thank Allah for what you don’t?

Your words affect your thoughts as much as your thoughts affect your words. The mental story you tell yourself about being a young mother determines how it all plays out.

The Pro-Tip: No-No-Prompt

One of the best tools any parent can have in their behavior modification belt is the simple rule of No-No-Prompt. ¬†Let’s say, for example, you tell your 1 year old not to bang his cup on the floor.

You make sure you have his attention and you say, “Gimme the cup please!’

He stares at your blankly. He has such chubby cheeks.

You repeat yourself in the same tone- firm, straightforward. Not sing-songy, not scary, not begging, you just say it. “Gimme the cup please!”

When he ignores you the second time with the glint in his eye that says he just wants to see which cracks first- you or the cup- that’s the second No. ¬†You told him once, No response. You told him twice, no response. ¬†Now here comes the prompt. The third time around, you just say, Gimme the cup. Then, you take the cup and say thanks! and put the cup out of his reach.

He might fuss and wiggle and whine and cry until he blows snot bubbles, so you have two options. You can take the short way or the long way, depending on what your goal for that teaching moment is.

The short way is to maintain consistency, to distract him away from the cup because you don’t want him to have it for whatever reason. He’s not thirsty, he’s just experimenting with the limits of your patience and the durability of BPA-free plastic. You said no cup, so no cup. Do not cave. Do not give him the cup. Life will go on.

The long way might be a case where he might want a drink and you’re ok with him having the cup, you’re just not ok with him banging it. ¬†So when he calms down, you can give him the cup again and if he bangs again- lather, rinse, repeat. Use no-no-prompt to teach that drinking is ok but banging is not. It will take more than few tries. It may even take days, but if you succeed in being consistent, he will learn that if he bangs he’ll lose the cup.

Remember, no kid ever died of crying. And no parent can teach a child that does not listen. Babies get off easy because they look like their faces are made of buttercream, but they’re cheeky and smart. ¬†Cheeky babies that get away with snatching toys, hitting, and screaming to get what they want inevitably grow up into cheeky toddlers that snatch toys, hit others, and scream to get what they want.

There is no magical age at which your children will suddenly start behaving properly, so you have to¬†set the standard for compliance without fear, yelling, or hitting from early on simply through being consistent in your requests (No-No-Prompt) and not caving to crying when you’re following through.

And now, Not Your Nano’s¬†Nihari:

Find some big ole beef cubes and trim the fat off (a kilo?)

Sautee’ them in the bottom of a pressure cooker with half a cup of oil and half a pack of Shan Nihari Masala. You can use a whole pack if you plan to serve dinner with a fire extinguisher.

Once the beef is brown and the oil in the pan begins to separate from the spicy, meaty, juiciness- pour in a litre and a half of boiling hot water.

Then, close the pressure cooker and try not to blow up the kitchen for around 30 mins.

Still, without blowing up your kitchen, open the pan and find a piece of beef to poke. It should be soft but not breaking into pieces. If it’s already too soft, you can actually take the beef out and put it to the side while we finish up the sauce so it doesn’t disintegrate further.

Do you have friend onions? Well you need them. Take a whole cup and throw them into your blender with just enough water to make a paste. This is not cheating, this is food science. Put this paste into your Nihari. It is yummy.

Now, to your bubbling pot of spicy brown broth- add the juice of a whole lemon, salt to taste and a handful of chopped coriander. If you’re happy with the taste, thicken it with some flour- dissolve 1/2 cup flour in a cup of cold water separately. Mix well because nobody likes lumpy Nihari.

Ok, so you should now have a hot, salty, sour, beefy pot of beefy goodness. And here’s what your Nano doesn’t know:

Serve it on french fries. Take a huge heaping scoop of Nihari, pour it over fries and garnish with yogurt, chaat masala, fried onions, fresh coriander and lemon juice. It is amazing.

And when you do, send me a picture so we can post it on twitter and see if Nihari fries go viral. ūüėČ

I’m thinking of an animo…

Our lil family has a favorite ¬†game, and the way it’s won is by preserving momma’s sanity with three children and no volume control. ¬†We stick to animals to keep it simple, and a turn always starts with the phrase “I’m thinking of an animal,” followed by three clues.

We play the guessing game during long drives and boring waits, and I am working to slowly introduce concepts like animal families (Is it a primate? A reptile?) and habitats- does it live on land? Underwater? Underground?

Khalid, almost inevitably- is thinking of a dinosaur of some sort. ¬†This is useful- because that’s how we introduced the concept of extinction. ¬†¬†Now, some kids know five or six dinosaurs. ¬†Khalid, on the other hand, knows almost all of them. ¬†Really. ¬†MashaAllah- all of them. ¬†He has memorized almost three encyclopaedias of dinosaurs, so when he’s thinking of an animal with four legs, a tail, and a long neck- he’s not thinking of a giraffe. ¬†He’s thinking of a dipolodocus. ¬†Or a mamenchisaurus. ¬†Or an argentinosaurus. ¬†Or a camarosaurus, which is also known as a morosaurus. ¬†I believe there are HUNDREDS of -sauruses that serve no current purpose other than to confuse and bewilder anyone trying to guess Khalid’s animal. ¬†Such is the universe.

He takes pity on us, and tells us the first letter of the dinosaur’s name when we’ve gotten stumped. ¬†Then, he tells us the second. ¬†Then the third. ¬†Sometimes he will spell out the whole name and I will be no more clued in to what dinosaur he’s talking about- just because he can spell it doesn’t mean I can say it, or know what the heck it looks like. ¬†Case in point: Do you know what this dinosaur is called?

ParasaurolophusIt’s a parasaurolophus. I spent almost twenty minutes once, wracking my brain and trying to figure this dinosaur out before asking Khalid to finally spell it for me, and even then- I still didn’t know what he was talking about.

Iman’s MO for the guessing game is adorable. ¬†She doesn’t pick animals that are difficult, or get upset when her animal is discovered. ¬†For the most part she isn’t even picking animals, she’s actually picking people.

Iman is acutely aware of who hasn’t had a turn in a while, and when she successfully guesses an animal and gets her turn, she will tailor her choice of animal to the person that she feels needs one. ¬†She will direct her clues right to the person she has in mind. ¬†For HF, she will usually be thinking of a shark. ¬†For Khalid, she will be thinking of a dinosaur. ¬†For me, she will be thinking of a lion or giraffe, and for Musfira- she is always, ALWAYS thinking of a cat. ¬†Why? Because Musfira is always thinking of a cat too.

Musfira’s ability to participate in the guessing game has been increasing step by adorable step. ¬†In the beginning, she was struggling with the concept, and would just repeat the last clue that she heard. If Iman said, “I’m thinking of an animal with two legs,” then Musfira would ask, “Is it two legs?”

When she realized that we were looking for answers instead of echoes, she started guessing as well.

Iman: “Musfira, I’m thinking of an animal with four legs, with brown spots, that says moo.”

LightningMcQueen

Moo?

Musfira: “Izzit the sun?”

Momma: “No dear, the sun is not an animal. ¬†We’re only thinking about animals.”

Musfira: “Oh, ok! Izzit Lighting McKeen!”

Musfira had an epiphany one day, and she correctly guessed the lion that Iman was directing towards me.  That was her first chance for a real turn, and she started out pretty good:

“I’m thinking of a animo-”

(“Okay.”)

“It has four legs…”

(“Very good.”)

“Anna tail…”

(“Alright.”)

“And, it’s a cat!”

Musfira grins expectantly, anticipating all the exciting questions we should now be asking her. Iman raises an eyebrow and says, “Musfira, are you thinking of a cat?”

“Guj-job Iman!” Musfira cheers, “Your turn!”

We’ve played this game hundreds of times since, ¬†and Musfira’s ability to sort and label is getting better, and so her turns are getting more interesting. However, they have yet to move beyond cat.

Once Musfira said to me, “Momma, I’m thinking of a animo. It has four legs, two ears, and iss bigger than a cat.”

“How interesting!” I said, excited that Musfira could finally be breaking free from her cat-only streak. “Is it a dog?”

“Nope!”

“Is it a cow?”

“Nope!”

“Does it eat grass?”

“Nope.”

I tried a few angles and eventually I gave up.

“Alright Musfira, you were thinking of an animal with four legs and two ears that was bigger than a cat. ¬†What was it?”

Musfira beamed. “A bigger cat.”

We have since thought of smaller cats, as well as a pink cat, specifically Musfira’s long-time crib companion, Meow-Meow.The only time we’ve ever thought of anything¬†other¬†¬†than cat was on the way home from the Dubai Mall after we had surprised the children with a trip to see the dinosaur fossil being exhibited there. It was a diplodocus. ¬†Khalid knew this within seconds of seeing it, even before he was within range of the exhibit information. ¬†He looked at the fossil- suspended from the ceiling in all its fossilized awesomeness- and he smiled and said, “It’s a North-American dipolodocus.”

We oohed and aahed, marvelled at the hugeness of its legs and the tinyness of it’s really tiny head. ¬†Later, there was ice-cream, and on the way home Musfira suddenly announced, “I’m thinking of an animo!”

Iman interrupted, “It’s a cat.”

Musfira snarked back. “I didn’t finish my clues.” She has learned this phrase verbatim from Khalid and Iman and their tendency to start guessing before the clues are even given.

“I’m thinking of an animo, ” Musfira continued, “It has four legs, a long… long… long…. neck. And, a tiny, small head.”

“Is it a diplodocus?” Khalid piped up excitedly from the back of the van.

“Nope!”

I felt I should translate. “Musfira, Khalid is asking if it’s a dinosaur.”

“Nope!”

Iman tried again, “Musfira are you sure it’s not Meow-Meow?”

“Nope!”

“Is your animal pink?” Iman pushed.

“Yes!” Musfira said.

A few seconds of silence passed. ¬†“Musfira,” I said slowly, “Are you thinking of… a pink dinosaur?”

“Hooray Momma! You did it!”

Trex

Four legs, lives in desert. Gives milk. Rraawr.

The game has only gotten better and more interesting since Musfira has started participating actively. ¬†HF was playing with her at bath-time the other day, and as he pulled her pajamas off he said, “Musfira, I’m thinking of an animal with four legs, a long neck, and it lives in the desert.”

“Oh! Izzit a chicken?”

“Musfira,” HF said, “This animal gives milk!”

(Musfira- who has a bovine milk allergy- has been raised on camel milk.)

“Izzit a milk?”

“Milk is not an animal dear.”

“Izzit a tannasaurus!”

And so, the awesomeness continues. Alhamdulillah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heartachingly Sweet

Iman: Momma, your hands are shaking!

Me: Yes, they do that sometimes dear.

Iman: I’ll stop it for you!

:holds my hand:

That’s my girl.

Countdown to Catastrophe!

If you hate Barney (you know you do) and you wish there were intelligent, adorable, totally halal, and well-written cartoons for children that also happened to be ISLAMIC!!! (talk about unrealistic expectations, hunh?) then I have bad news for you:

There are only five days left for the Misri Bunch kickstarter campaign to find Season 2 of their Names of Allah series.

Misri BunchThe Misri bunch is:

  • a sweet balance of cute & entertaining
  • not an insult to your child’s intelligence
  • the simple presentation of complex concepts that children learn and remember easily

If your kids haven’t seen this, they’re missing out.

And if season 2 doesn’t happen, we’re all missing out.

All of season1 is on You Tube, and well worth the watch. Season 2 needs funding for development, so please, please, PLEASE donate to their kickstarter and give a gift to all Muslim kids with internet access.  Maybe even yours.

JazakAllahuKheiran ūüôā


Hey, good news for a change!

Alhamdulillah!!! ¬†I’m going to be publishing my first book!

Given the last ten or so years of my blogging history, you’ll be surprised to hear it isn’t actually full of mortal wounds, kids stories, and personal reflections. ¬†It’s actually a children’s book, and I’m very excited.

The reason why I’m so excited is that the story is part of My Legacy. Yes, I’ve made it a proper noun for emphasis. ¬†For more information, see the new My Legacy tab on the top of the page. ¬†The way I see it, if I am not around to have important conversations with my children later, that doesn’t mean that I can’t script them now. ¬†So I’ve started writing stories for children, specifically, mine. And yours might enjoy them too.

I want to have at least one published story for Khalid, Iman, and Musfira. ¬†Iman’s has been accepted. ¬†Khalid’s was rejected, but the very kind publishers said they’d give it another look-over to see if reviewing it one more time will make it seaworthy. ¬†Musfira’s has been imagined but not yet completed, but hey, well begun is half done!

I’ve asked the publisher if they can actually illustrate the books to look like my kids, because if I’m not there, I want the kids to be able to see themselves still talking to me. ¬†I know, it’s kind of sappy- maybe even melodramatic, but when I think about passing away, the thing that tears at my heart most is not being away from my husband (sorry HF), it’s actually the thought of my children looking for their mother and not being able to find her. ¬†Of Iman seeking a cuddle and finding my empty room. ¬†Of Musfira crying for me and being hurt and confused why I’m not coming for her. ¬†Of Khalid panicking because I’ve disappeared and he can’t understand where I’ve gone.

If you think that’s bad (gee, look who’s crying again) the absolutely, positively worst thing I can think of is my children finding out that I’ve “gone back to Allah,” and then resenting Allah for having stolen their mother. ¬†My worst case scenario is my death pushing my children away from Islam, because as sad as I am to face leaving them in this life, that’s still nothing compared to the thought of any of my children turning away from Allah. ¬†So the stories serve a dual purpose, InshaAllah- of creating memories for my children in case I’m not there to make them, and of teaching my children about Allah in a way that reminds them of me positively (happy stories) versus negative (Allah took momma away).

But, back to being cheerful- Alhamdulillah! ¬†My first story has been accepted and I’m very excited. ¬†I’m fairly sure that if I hadn’t been Not-Dying-Yet, I wouldn’t have had the urgency to overcome my fear of submitting anything to a publisher. ¬†I would be too scared of being rejected to even try. ¬†But I did it, and they said yes. ¬†And now I’m going to do a little happy dance.

I’ll let you know when it’s published, InshaAllah. ¬†In the mean time, check out Greenbird Books, they have lots of really adorable Islamic stories for kids. ¬†And soon, InshaAllah, they’ll have mine too. ūüôā

Ma-Ma?

IMG_1638So Khalid still doesn’t talk. At all. He doesn’t even say Mama. I mean, he does say things like akichigaa and gagin-gagin and mamamamamamaaaaaaa, but nothing with meaning and context.

I’m not worried about his development, just impatient to be able to communicate with him. All of the recommendations about helping ease sibling rivalry and smoothly introducing a new baby to your toddler involve communicating with your child and getting them to help you care for the baby. Multiple mothers, including all you lovely people in my comment box (I apologize for not being able to reply most of the time) recommend the same thing- let your toddler help and the problem will resolve itself.

I completely agree, but ‘please bring me the powder’ is about as meaningful to Khalid as akichigaa is to me. We’re not speaking the same language, and I know he gets frustrated trying to communicate what he wants. I end up handing him everything on the dining table only to find out he wants something from the window-sill behind it.

So how do you involve a non-verbal toddler in caring for a newborn? As it is right now, Khalid probably thinks his sister’s name is Gently. He approaches her, raises his hand, and is greeted with “Khalid jaan, gently. Gently… no whacking! Pat her gently, gently!” I wouldn’t be surprised if it was his first word, heh.

Ah well, Iman is doing well Alhamdulillah, and seems happy and amused at things in general when she’s awake. Alhamdulillah that newborns spend so much time sleeping, it gives me time to lavish some attention on Khalid when I’m not running after him and trying to put the house back together in his wake.

Gots to go, both kids are asleep and their mother needs a shower.

Over & Out,
Abez & Tribe