Late Sunday afternoon I was home preparing for iftaar when the kids burst through the door from a visit to their grandmother and aunt.
''Aisha, tell mommy what Aunty N. said! Tell her!'' yelled an excited Tharaa (10).
Aisha (2) recited her response (they'd clearly been coaching her in the car), '' Aunty N. said she'll give Aisha Smarties.''
''If?'' they all asked in unison.
''If Aisha doesn't drink boobies anymore,'' she reluctantly added.
''And are you going to ask for boobies tonight?'' I asked, not getting my hopes up.
''No, no more boobies! Aisha is getting Smarties!!'' she yelled gleefully.
Now try to understand what a breakthrough that was. She has never ever been able to utter those words. It must have been like me saying, ''No, no more chocolate!'' Just downright painful.
And so it went on for the rest of the evening. With us constantly checking and rechecking if she had changed her mind.
By bedtime, which is her main boobie-time, she was still sticking to her guns. I was slowly becoming excited. Was this it? Had my era of disturbed sleep due to breastfeeding finally ended?
I lay next to her as usual. But instead of facing her to breastfeed her, I turned my back to her. She was restless. She tossed and turned, chattering to herself. I was starting to become nervous, but remained hopeful. Never before had she lain next to me at bedtime for so long without demanding to be nursed. And then, in a small voice, she whispered, ''Mommy, booby please.''
At first I pretended not to hear her. Then she repeated her request. Feigning excitement, I reminded her, '' Remember what Aunty N said? She'll give you Smarties if you stop asking for boobies. Isn't that exciting?'' (That is exciting to her, since she's never been given an entire box of Smarties - I normally ration them strictly).
But she continued to tug at my pyjama top. I started to panic. And then I added, '' Aunty N will give you Smarties and Maama will give you a pretty dress.'' What was I doing? But I was feeling desperate and she had clearly shown that she'd be more likely to respond to bribes from other people - so I got a bit carried away.
''And granny will give you pretty hair clips,'' I added, fully realising that we would have to buy said dress and hair clips and give these to Maama and Granny to give to her.
She said nothing more for about 2 minutes, but continued to toss and turn miserably. Then the tugging began once again.
I turned to her and decided to sing to her, while rubbing her back. This had always calmed Shakeel (13) and Nuha (7), so maybe it would work on her too. I sang and hummed, stroking her softly down her back and tousling her hair. She lay still for 5 minutes when suddenly and really definitively, she pronounced, ''That's enough. Now booby please.''
Again, I tried to entice her with the same offers of gifts. Then followed an exasperated sigh.
''Goodness gwacious (gracious),'' she muttered annoyedly.
''What was that?'' I asked, not sure if I'd heard correctly.
''I don't want Smarties,'' she stated. '' I don't want a pweddy dwess (pretty dress). I don't want hair clips.'' And then she added for good measure - as if to preclude me from attempting to sweeten the deal any further, ''And I don't want pom poms, I don't want a necklace and I don't want clockit (chocolate). I WANT BOOBIES!!!!!
And - that's what she got. I could no longer argue with her. I knew that I'd lose.
And few seconds after latching - as if she'd been administered a general anaesthetic per nipple - her eyes closed, her body grew limp and heavy and she was sound asleep.
So thanks Aunty N. Nice try. But I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I may have to visit a fifth-grade Aisha at school during break-time in order to give her her fix.
And, somewhere out there, her future therapist beams delightedly at the prospect of repeat business.