Thursday, 19 April 2012

Finding the silver lining

Aisha (2) has a viral infection - which is making her even grumpier than usual.

She has a fever, a slight phlegmy cough, congested nose - and yesterday had diarrhoea while Mo and I were in the middle of our scheduled parent-teacher meeting with Nuha (7)'s teacher. Needless to say, within seconds we had swept Aisha out of the classroom mid-meeting with promises to keep in touch with the teacher - the odour of slightly sour poo trailing behind us (Thank goodness that was all that was trailing behind us).

We changed her nappy with her standing next to the car on the pavement in front of the school.

At the doctor's surgery she was uncharacteristically charming. (Okay, to be fair, she is really sweet and funny when she's in a good mood). She smiled at the doctor, obeyed instructions to open and say 'aaah' and breathed deeply when told to do so. I couldn't believe she was the same child who'd been ordering me about the whole day.

Ordering me about is what she does lately. Impatiently. Grumpily. But for a while now, I'd stopped yielding to her demands. This means more tantrums. Long exhausting tantrums which continue until she is hoarse. I remember Nuha being like this as a toddler. I keep wondering if that is the reason for her raspy voice. Aisha, too is developing a husky voice, which I swear is a result of her constant shrieking which continues until her voice is gone.

Every morning she orders me to take off my rather ugly spectacles, with a disgusted, '' 'Pecs off mommy! 'pecs off now!''
Her other irritant is my tendency to tuck my hair in the back of my pyjama top to keep it out of my way. ''Hair out!'' she'll order.
Since I used to comply (or even pre-empt and then address her annoyances before she raised them), she had become quite accustomed to getting her way.

Recently she has added to her list of demands. Yesterday, as I was getting ready to pray, she insisted that I take off my prayer clothes. She didn't want me to pray, as it would take my attention off from her.

Later she cried when I slipped on my warm fluffy winter gown, insisting that I put on other clothes (which she regarded as being prettier). This applies to any other clothes which she regards as being unattractive.

Half glasses of milk I pour her are shoved back at me with an instruction to replace it with ''Big milk'' (meaning a full glass, which I know she will never finish). The same applies to half slices of bread, half of apples etc etc.

This morning, after realising that I had taken off my spectacles to placate her, she insisted that I take out my contact lenses too. At which point, I just walked away laughing - the child had clearly lost her mind.

She had awoken before the other kids left for school (which never happens). To prevent her from crying after them I told her we could accompany Mo when he dropped them off - he could then bring us back home before dashing off to work. She refused the offer, insisting that she wanted to stay home and wave goodbye from the porch. They had just backed out of the driveway when (as I'd expected she would) she started to scream. I locked the gate out front (to ensure her safety)and came inside - leaving her to torment the neighbourhood the way she does me.

I sat down (watching her) with a cup of tea trying to salvage the remaining shreds of my rapidly dwindling sanity. I nibbled on a peanut butter and fig jam sandwich (fig jam for the much needed, stress-beating soothing sweetness). She cried, made demands and screamed. I sat staring at her numbly.

And then she stopped.

Exhausted she waddled over to me, climbed onto my lap and lifted my top. Boobies save the day, once again. Still latched she looked up at me - and smiled. I melted - just a bit.  I was still furious at her for having had such an impact on me. She smiled again. Broadly - nipple still in mouth.

I melted. Completely.

Feelings of love, protectiveness and sadness wash over me. I wish I could make her happy. I wish I knew what to do to to prevent her from feeling the frustration and unhappiness she so obviously experiences during her tirades. I wish I could strike the balance - making her happy without spoiling her. I wish I knew which battles to pick so that we don't spend the entire day at war.

Though I must admit, having her so grumpy these days has made her happy moments so much sweeter. I appreciate and savour every little smile, joke or giggle which I'd ordinarily just take for granted. And I'm grateful that although she is going through a difficult time right now, she is healthy (Alhamdulillah!!!) and generally a really clever, happy girl with a remarkable sense of humour.

I love and appreciate the complicated little girl that she is.

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