Sunday, 30 October 2011

Stop teasing your sisters!

It sometimes seems to me that my family is like a microcosm of the school playground. I often notice the playground dynamics at play within our family (changing alliances, loyalties, betrayal,competitiveness, bullying etc).

It is however the issue of teasing that has been driving me nuts recently. Teasing happens according to the family pecking order. Shakeel(12) teases Tharaa (9), who in turn teases Nuhaa(6), who then proceeds to tease the crap out of Aisha (23 months).

Last week Nuhaa came home bursting with excitement. "Mommy, I'm so happy!" she gushed. "We're going on our first excursion. Who can guess where to?" she asked Shakeel and Tharaa. Without waiting for them to answer, she burst out enthusiastically, "We're going to the planetwarium!!!"

Uh oh. I noticed the expressions of cruel delight on the faces of the older two. "You're going where?" asked Shakeel waiting eagerly for her to repeat her blunder. Sensing that she was being set up, she bravely tried to rescue herself from being the butt of a joke, and ventured another guess. "We're going to the planequarium". Poor thing. Their howls of laughter continued until Shakeel noticed how much fun Tharaa was having at his little sister's expense, which then
caused his protective instinct to kick in.

"What are you laughing at?" he redirected his attack. "Do you remember when Mommy and Daddy were talking about us all moving to Dubai- you cried that you did not want to move to another planet. You said that you were afraid to travel on a rocket!"

I called him aside and reminded him about an embarrassing boo-boo he had made about a year ago. He had been playing a wrestling game on his Playstation and was
really enjoying kicking his opponent's butt, when my husband joined him. "Wow, you're doing well," his dad said. "What is the name you chose for your player?"
Shakeel replied, " Daddy, the awesome thing is I didn't even have to choose a
name for him- he already had a cool name- it's Default".

Thankfully Shakeel was humbled into stopping his incessant teasing- let's see how long this respite lasts.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Whether boobies or titties- its time to wean

I realised about two months ago that I would have to start weaning Aisha soon. Let me tell you- the very idea terrifies me. Offering her the boob has turned out to be the only thing that can stop a tantrum before it starts (sometimes, not always).

Initially the idea saddened me. We have developed such a strong and loving bond and I truly am afraid that weaning her will change that.

But I realise that the time has come to man up. In fact I realised this when she stopped referring to my breasts as 'boobies' and started calling them 'titties' (obviously thanks to one of her older siblings). To me the two words have completely different connotations. The way I see it, the reference to 'boobies' is cute and still carries a sense of innocence, whereas 'titties' are found in X-rated movies- (or so I've heard).

About two months ago we were at a prayer meeting we usually attend on Sunday evenings as a family. If I were to provide a profile of the average member of this group, I'd say 45-60 years old, predominantly male and very conservative. Close to the end of the meeting we reached the time for silent prayer in which we each did our silent personal supplications. So there I sat, eyes closed, focused in prayer, appealing for forgiveness, protection and the blessings of peace and light in the family, when a shrill voice echoed through the room, "Titty mommy! Mommy want titty peez! Titty, titty, titty! Nooowww!!" Though not known for my agility or speed, I managed to get her out of there faster than the speed of light. We spent the remaining time in the freezing cold, with me preferring to face the risk of pneumonia.

But I have since been delaying weaning her for obvious reasons, i.e. it is such a difficult process where the child is so dependent on the breast for comfort, and has no alternative source of comfort (like a bottle or pacifier). But I'll also miss breastfeeding because of the pivotal role I now play in her life. I am the only one who can provide her with that comfort and absolute pleasure. As far as boobs go, let's just say no one would mistake me for Pamela Anderson- very much the contrary in fact. So I must say that I have really been enjoying this new experience of having someone's eyes light up when they see my boobs. Never before have my breasts been appreciated this much- by anyone. I have now experienced the feeling which our well-endowed sisters often complain about- the feeling of having someone look at you and appreciate you only for your boobs. The only difference is, I don't mind in the least. Disgustingly, I have actually enjoyed being objectified.

But whatever the reasons I've been prolonging the experience (whether valid or warped), sadly the time has come for it to end. I'll have to figure out a way to make the experience as painless as possible- for both of us.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Gardening for stress relief

Along with spending quiet time at the ocean, for me nothing beats gardening as a form of stress relief. It allows me connect with the earth in a way which feels almost spiritual. I love the feeling of my hands in the cool moist soil, while the smell of soil and grass transports me to a very special time in my childhood.

Although I love growing flowers, it is wonderful to be able to grow things which can be eaten. My garden, though small, has a tiny vegetable and herb patch. At the end of September I planted some parsley, celery, origanum, thyme, mint and spinach seedlings and snapped the following pics about a week after planting these.

Now, a month later the little seedlings have grown so much and the little patch appears so much more dense and lush (although also a bit unruly- I need to spend some time weeding).

I've been constantly snipping at the origanum, thyme and mint for use in chicken and meat marinades and sauces. But I realise that I'm not finding much use for my celery and parsley. I should probably have put more thought into what I planted by choosing herbs I actually use (as opposed to just grabbing anything that looked familiar in the Builders Warehouse nursery).

Here are some pics of the other plants in my little garden

I love this fake rock pond built by hubby. Can you tell that the small rock on the left is fake too?

Aisha also took pics of her favourite flowers using her toy phone

Monday, 24 October 2011

Sports Day and not invited

Tomorrow is Sports day for the older two kids. Shakeel (12) made me promise not to come and watch him. He takes things like this more seriously than Tharaa (9) does. She couldn't care whether I'll be there or not- Sports Day is pretty much just a day off from school. I can't help but envy her devil-may-care attitude.

Shakeel is participating in the shot put, long jump and 100m sprint. He's been stressing about it for a few days now, so I suggested that he jump on my Orbitrek elliptical trainer, since the parks around here aren't really suitable for children. (Instead they seem to be frequented by junkies and drunks- I'm just assuming but why else would grown men lie around sleeping on the grass in a children's playground all day?).

Tharaa is participating  in the same events, though she hasn't shown any  inclination nor felt the need to train at home. I love that she is so relaxed about it- she is so unlike her mother. 

Admittedly, Shakeel's over-the-top need to succeed makes my job easier when it comes to formal assessments and tests. Most of the time I don't have to nag him too much to study (although he does have his moments). Tharaa, on the other hand is more consistent with her who-gives-a crap attitude, which I regard with a mixture of envy and frustration (depending on the situation).

About tomorrow, I didn't forget to give them the whole speech that "its not about winning, just do your best and have fun". To Tharaa this speech was a waste of my breath, since it is most likely what she had been planning to do anyway. Shakeel just made me promise for the twenty-fifth time that I would not set foot near the field.

I must admit that I am a bit disappointed at him not wanting me there tomorrow- it probably speaks volumes about our relationship. On the upside though, I was not looking forward to spending a whole day carrying around my clingy 23 month old at the field. Although now I'm probably just trying to make myself feel better and a bit less rejected.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Kicking butt and its benefits for a healthy self-esteem

Sadly, it seems as if my three older kids have inherited my worst quality- i.e. low self esteem. Okay, I suppose its not so much inherited as it is learned. Although I try to hide it from them and to project an image of confidence,  it's really not that easy to hide your true self from those closest to you.

So in our attempt to address this, we enrolled them in karate classes. They've been doing it for about three months now and although each lesson is preceded by one of them experiencing an attack of nerves, they seem to enjoy it once they get there. This morning Nuhaa (6) was particularly nervous, which is really strange since she ended her last lesson bubbling over with excitement. Argh, once again it's a case of like mother, like daughter. Which is why I am not giving them the option of quitting this (the way I was allowed to do as a child). Or at least, we'll give it a bit more time, since the benefits of martial arts are said to address precisely this problem of self-doubt and lack of confidence.

To make me feel like less of an ogre, I googled the benefits of karate to give me some assurance that I was doing the right thing by exercising my parental right of veto over their freedom of choice. I was sufficiently comforted.

I learned that martial arts can help one to overcome mental obstacles  (like self-doubt and lack of confidence). This is done by building a mental awareness of your mind/body connection, i.o.w, how to use one's mental ability to achieve physical goals.

Martial arts also builds self-esteem, as one's physical abilities and strength are enhanced. It provides a sense of accomplishment. One develops the confidence that one would be able to defend oneself if necessary. General physical coordination is also enhanced, which carries over into other sporting activities as well.

Children with good self esteem are said to do well in school and to be less likely to get involved in self-destructive behaviour, like taking drugs.

It makes sense that the physical benefits would affect self-esteem, as one's body image very often affects one's self-image. (Yes, I confess-  I watch Dr Phil... religiously).
Thus, it has been decided- I shall henceforth ignore the tears, the begging and the promises of "just this one time, Mommy- I'll go next week"- in order to save them from becoming me.

Oops, forgot to introduce my other kids

Yes, my 23 month old tantrum-throwing diva takes so much attention and energy, that the other three are often left to fend for themselves (bad mother!!).

Some family debate has gone into whether real or fake names should used (to protect the not-so-innocent). Given that their behaviour (and hence my posts) will not always be flattering, we decided to fake it. The process of choosing their fake names was an exciting exercise for them, given that they're always complaining how crappy their real names are. So, in the end, we chose names which closely resembled the real crappy ones.

So...introducing my son Shakeel (12); and my daughters Tharaa (9), Nuhaa (6) and Aisha (23 months).

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Introducing myself, the stay-at- home mom

I opted to stay at home with my baby (who is now 23 months old) and have thus undertaken all the horrors that come with having made this choice. I refer here not only to my last-born, who is capable of throwing an hour-long tantrum without breaking a sweat,but to the duty I dread, namely housework.

Since staying home, I have learned things about myself and have found a new hero in my life. I have learned that not only am I no domestic goddess- I actually am a really appalling housekeeper. No matter how hard I try, the place just always looks as if a hurricane has swept through it.

Which brings me to my new hero- the woman who comes in once a week to clean. I watch her with a mixture of admiration and envy- how does she make it look so easy?Tasks I take a full day to accomplish, she breezes through effortlessly within the space of an hour (and that includes her leisurely cup of tea in between). Which adds to my already-overwhelming feelings of inadequacy.

And then there's the main activity which takes up most of the time during my day- managing and appeasing the baby. Up until a few months ago, she was the sweetest, most delightful little thing. Then she discovered something that would turn my life upside down- free will. Which in itself is not the problem- the problem would be the tantrums she throws to ensure that she gets her way. But I don't have the strength to go into that now- just thinking about it starts my heart palpitations. Oh, I think I hear her waking up. Is it normal that that scares me a little?

No more first post

I set up this blog a few weeks ago, but have been postponing entering my first post- partly because I wanted to wait until I had something interesting to say, and partly because I was just too exhausted after my long day of cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, feeding, dealing with tantrums and playing psychologist, referee, tutor etc to my four kids, etc etc etc.

I realised that I would not wait until I had something interesting to say because that is not what this blog is about. I want to use the blog to record my memories; capture moments of our daily family lives. While blogging about nappy rash and sibling rivalry might not seem interesting or particularly exciting to me right now, aren't the little moments and seemingly insignificant family banter what its all about? These little moments are exactly what I shall hang onto, yearn for and try to recapture once my children are older and move on to various stages of their own lives- toward independence.

So instead of looking upon all my daily family interactions and occurences as mundane, I shall use this blog to capture, appreciate and savour them.