Yesterday was Aisha's second birthday.
Two hours after she woke up yesterday morning, I was praying desperately that the year ahead would not be anything like her first few waking hours as a two-year old.
She has had a head-start on her terrible two's, since she's been throwing temper tantrums for months already, but I had optimistically (and unrealistically) really hoped that they would have fizzled out by now. Instead, it seemed like her biological clock was set with extreme precision. Upon awaking she had entered into this new phase with ease, by throwing the worst tantrum she had done to date.
Nothing I did or said helped. Everything made it worse. Eventually I managed to calm her down slightly by taking her outside, where I held her on my lap while I sat on the icy cement step overlooking our little garden. I distracted her by showing her the bees pollinating the flowers, the birds in the lemon tree and various insects crawling next to us. She looked at them unimpressed, and then looked up at me, as if challenging me to come up with something better- or else.
Something (maybe maternal instinct?) made me start to stroke her back while humming to her. She lay her head on my shoulder- satisfied, calm. I didn't dare move a muscle. I tried to ignore the icy cold of the step on which I was sitting. "It's all in the mind", I told myself, as I felt a cramp starting in my coccyx region.
Eventually it became too painful and uncomfortable. I slowly reached back for the doormat, slid it toward me, lifted myself and in one smooth movement, managed to plant it under me and sit back down.
But, little missy who had obviously been silently observing my audaciousness, sat up abruptly and ordered in a low voice, "Sit on bum!" What the heck did she think I was sitting on?
She repeated, more firmly this time, "Sit on bum Mommy!" I realised she was trying to tell me sit back on the cement, but I wasn't ready to suffer that again.
I acted as if I didn't know what she meant. "I am sitting on my bum, darling. See?" I said, pointing to my slowly-defrosting posterior.
She decided to make herself clearer.
"Put bum down. Bum off mat," she ordered, tugging at me. I decided to ignore her. After all, I wasn't about to let this little two year old dicate to me- an experienced mother of four. No way- I was about to reclaim my authority.
"No Aisha, Mommy wants to sit on the mat". I said bravely.
Then in a voice, which gave me flashbacks to scenes from "The Exorcist", she growled, "Bum off mat NOOWWW!!"
I leaped off the mat. She hadn't really won, I reassured myself. I wasn't a wimp. I was just giving in because it was her birthday. Next time she wouldn't be so lucky.
Hubby phoned home a few times, feeling nothing but affection for his sweet little princess. He missed her, wished he was spending her birthday with her instead of at work. My complaints about her tantrum-on-steroids fell on deaf ears.
Although we had decided to celebrate Aisha's birthday together with Tharaa's right after the formal assessments/ exams, hubby felt that his darling's birthday could not go uncelebrated on the day as well. He would bring home a cake or two and we'd celebrate as a family during the children's study break.
Study break? Celebration? With Shakeel writing Maths, English, History and Geography and Technology within the
following two days; and Tharaa writing English, Afrikaans, History and Economic and Management Sciences within
the same period! What is this dude smoking? I asked myself incredulously.
But eventually I resigned myself to the fact that I was outnumbered. The children had been so excited about having a little party for Aisha when they came home from school and I did not want to come across as being the monster-parent.
The kids came home and I transformed from wimpy-mom-of-tantrum-throwing-Aisha, to a threatening, wooden-spoon-
wielding drill seargent. Books out, subjects prioritised and we were ready to get going with our study session before the little party.
The children were in no mood to study. They were too excited about it being Aisha's birthday. I couldn't get them to focus despite my use of threats, ultimatums and even the wooden spoon.
They were constantly singing "Happy Birthday to you" while studying. I just couldn't shut them up.
When relatives call to wish the kids, they always do so by singing the "Happy Birthday" song. She obviously did not have a clue that it was a birthday, so I think she just thought that everyone was calling to have a sing-along, which is what she did. Also, I think that she's under the impression that her name forms part of the song. She is not likely to be impressed in two weeks time when everybody substitutes her name for Tharaa's.
The little party was held- the older kids were in raptures, while two-year old Aisha watched them confused, no doubt wondering how they could be so relaxed during the exam (or was that just me?).
Hubby bought Aisha a Baby Born Birthday doll set, which she tossed aside to play with the plastic cupcake which came as part of the set.
The birthday cake was cut amidst shrieks of laughter and delight (in the exam!), with me making sure that hubby saw me intermittently checking my watch.
By the time the little party ended, the kids were too exhausted to study. I gave up. They had won. They had enjoyed themselves, laughed and sung despite it being exams (unheard of!).
This morning Aisha woke up, smiled at me sweetly and asked, "How are you Mommy?" She then sat up and hugged me.
Immediately, I melted and all was forgiven.