Friday, November 26, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today 3

Aiman is my baby. He is the fifth born and third son. He's nine. That big cheesy grin can take any day from hell, no matter HOW miserable, and turn it around 180 degrees! We've determined that he is made up of three parts, though we're not sure how: 4 parts me, 4 parts Mohamed and 2 parts Warner Bros. cartoon.
He makes faces that will crack you up and is quite sly about the way he can insult you. (Afterall, he IS his
mother's son.) We saw the trailer to that movie "Dinner for Schmucks" and Aiman figured out a way to call someone a schmuck without actually using the word. So if he ever walks up to you and asks with a grin, "You like cheese with the holes, don't you?" feel insulted!

Aiman is super smart, super cute, super cool and talented in art, music, and school. He and I were singing together the other day (can't remember what song) but I noticed that he picked up on the tenor harmony and belted it out while I was singing the melody. And with no musical training...hmmmmm. Aiman is the one who will stop watching t.v. and walk into the kitchen and hug me for no reason at all and just as suddenly turn around and walk back out. He is tall with legs up to his neck and wears the same size shoe as I do. Aiman is extremely funny and loud and brave with such a sensitive side that if his older brother calls him stupid he will run into his room and cry. His feelings are very easily hurt and he usually tries to think how others would feel before he says something incredibly mean. (You know and then there are times when he is a typical kid and just doesn't care HOW you feel if he calls you BUTTFACE.)

Aiman loves animals and desperately wants a pet. He and his huge begging smile are what finally won me over to allow a stray Siamese cat into the house about 2 months ago. Of course it was also his ornery antics that cost her that stay (combined with Randa's severe allergies.) Jelly, the cat, turned out to be pregnant and started to lose her patience with Aiman flipping her around in his lap and trying to pick her up under her "arms" and hold her like a baby. Then one day she came tearing into the kitchen with Samiya running after her yelling, "DON'T YOU DARE, AIMAN!" and Aiman running after them both with his mouth wide open and a piercing battle cry emitting from it. He had scratches all over his cheeks and neck and swore he was going to kill her. Samiya grabbed the cat up off the floor in an effort to protect her and Jelly scratched up her hands and arms and darted under the couch. I grabbed her by the tail and threw her into a cardboard box and started for the nearest pet shop to sell her. It was then that Samiya tearfully offered that it wasn't the cat's fault. Apparently Aiman was clowning around and picked her up and announced it was dinner time and pretended to shove the cat's head into his huge open mouth. I'd have freaked out, too. The cat was just afraid for her life. This bought her a little time until I could find a good home. (I finally did last week. Yay!)
Now he's taken to picking up stray cats off the street (there are a ton of them here in Egypt) and shoving them in the face of a 13 year old boy named Moody who lives down the street and is an Ailurophobe . It generates quite a laugh....provided he can continue to outrun Moody once he puts the cat down. That's as close as he's getting to another pet anytime soon. I've re-established my "NO ANIMALS" policy.

Aiman is amazing to me. He understands and catches things that other children his age don't. For instance, he jumped up and grabbed his shoes about 3 weeks ago and insisted it was his turn to go with me on an errand. So I brought him with me, begrudgingly....he's one of those "buy me this--I want that" kind of  kids. About 400 yards from the house he asked, "Where are you going anyway?"  I gave him my late Granny Jean's standard response to this nosy question:

"Up a hog's butt to get a ham sandwich.Wanna come along?"
He didn't even blink before saying, "We're Muslim. We don't eat ham."
Then there are things he doesn't get, like exactly how many "JUST SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE"s he should hear prior to hauling ass from Hamo before he gets pounded or why he will never be able to grow the "disco hair" that he wants since his hair is straight. He still thinks there should be a way to "will it" curly.

Aside from growing an afro, there's probably nothing this kid can't do.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today 2

Isn't she pretty? This is Randa. She's my first daughter, second-born. And she is extremely bright. She was diagnosed with Autism when she was 3 years old and all the professionals, doctors, experts, special-ed teachers discouraged me from teaching her Arabic and insisted I only teach her English so as not to confuse her. Idiots. Fortunately, I not only make it a habit to question authority, I usually defy it. You know, provided I'm not going to do any jail time as a result. We spoke to her in both English and Arabic just as we did her brothers and sister. I mean, how was she supposed to communicate with her father, for crying out loud?! He didn't speak much English at the time she was born, although NOW he's pretty proficient. At any rate, we figured she's got developmental delays in speech anyway. What difference will it make? We didn't know if she'd ever become verbal. Well, guess what! Randa is now 14 years old and she speaks, reads and writes in both Arabic and English. She is by no means at a 14-year-old proficiency level in either language. But she definitely knows how to get her point across. To be honest, she watches a lot of t.v. and uses the internet frequently. About three years ago, some guy across the street from us built this monstrosity of an apartment building that totally blocked out access to the satellite dish signal. So we went for a whole summer with no t.v. While the fighting levels went down, I noticed Randa spent a lot of time in my room laughing her head off. After a couple of days, I figured out why but chose not to share her secret. Everytime she would laugh loudly and attract the attention of her siblings to the point they'd open the door and go in, Randa would slap off the monitor and say, "Get out!"
Well, the child had seen me google a couple of times on-line and, being the genius that she is,
she started doing searches for YouTube uploads of Tom and Jerry cartoons. She knew that if the other kids knew what she was up to, they'd have me enforce the "everybody gets a 15-minute turn" rule and her cartoon time would be cut by four-fifths.
Randa's speech is primarily picked up by repetetion in films, cartoons, remarks that her family members make, songs and books. She even surprises us by the appropriate insertion of some bizarre one-liners. Remarkably they're also delivered with just the right amount of inherited "smart ass" from my side of the family. Here are some of her "sitcom moments:"
1. In Dallas, while visiting my sister's home, Randa walked into the kitchen while my brother-in-law, David was busy at the stove. He said hello to her and she responded with, "Hey, Baby! Are you a fallen angel?"
2. While my mom was visiting us in Egypt last year, Randa caught her in the kitchen and with all seriousness said, "Hey, Toots. What's for dinner?"
3. Ismail was teasing Randa mercilessly one day and Mohamed and I fussed at him several times. Finally I asked him point blank, "WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?" Randa answered for him, "Ismail's JACK ASS!" Mohamed sprayed coffee out his nose.
4. This past summer, I was taking the kids from our home by the beach into downtown Alexandria to visit their cousins and Randa was extremely tired and started to cry. We were on the bus and people kept staring at us and asking what's wrong. Finally, after 15 minutes I turned to her and asked, frustrated, "Do you think you can stop crying sometime today?" And she sniffled and then patted my hand like I'm a moron and said, "Maybe later, Dear."
5. About four nights ago, I was falling asleep when I heard Randa yell, "Oh, man!" So I asked her what was wrong and she said, "Stupid computer." So I asked if she would like me to fix it for her and she deepened her voice a bit and replied, "Why, yes, my juicy dream girl!" Oh, the incontinence due to laughter! (No, really.)
Randa has taught me so much over the years....patience, love, tolerance, the ability to ignore rude people and lots of laughter and lightheartedness! She brightens my life daily.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bright Spots in My Day Today

This is Ismail. He's my third child, second son, first to help when I need it. Ismail could charm the pants off of just about anyone if he tried. And he has a heart of gold...with a taste for ornery like you wouldn't believe. He's been in trouble for dumping a plate of cold eggs off of the balcony and onto the head of the woman who lived downstairs from us. He once decided to spackle the walls of our apartment for us...using 100% pure thick table cream for spackling. He's peed in the oven, scared the neighbor's daughters by wearing a "SCREAM mask", and dumped trash all over the bedroom while pretending to be a garbage man. (It was the kitchen trash can he used.)
This boy is so full of imagination, charm, and naughty that sometimes I forget that he's still the sweet and loving, protective, helpful and hard-working kid that I know and love. He's good with his hands. I once described a wooden step stool that I wanted my husband to build for me so that I could reach the dishes on the top shelf of the cupboard and more importantly, so the shorter kids could reach the sink when they help clean up. My husband told me he'd do it later after he finished some other ongoing project. Ismail happened to be in the kitchen at the time.
He grabbed the tool box and some scrap wood out of the closet (please don't ask WHY we have scrap wood in the closet.) He went out on the balcony and sawed and hammered and banged and kept himself busy for a full hour. When he came back in, he handed me the exact type of step stool I'd just asked my husband to build for me. Granted, I only used it as a shelf to put things on on the counter because he had used plywood for the top piece and it was not very sturdily balanced on the legs. But the fact that he could hear a verbal description of what I wanted and then go and build if for me with no direction, instruction, or supervision at 9 years old?!! That's pretty damn awesome, if you ask me.
Ismail is a neat-freak and helps me clean up without being asked. He does 75% of any errands that I don't do myself and he never complains when asked to do them. This boy is my little bright spot today. He made me laugh when I needed it. We were talking about bacteria and how there are some types of bacteria that are good that we need in our lives. And Ismail asked, "Isn't that Fronteria? The good ones, I mean." How cute. Sometimes I forget that they're learning two languages at once and so don't have all the vocabulary that someone learning only one language would have at their ages. I explained that bacteria is the term used for good and bad microbials and that although Fronteria would be a good word to have, sadly it doesn't exist.

Come on. Look at that face! He's a keeper, huh?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Don't I Have the High-Metabolism?

It's so annoying to hear extremely thin people who
have difficulty gaining weight complain about what
a problem it is to never get over 50 kilos when all
they do is eat! I am married to a high-metabolism
guy and gave birth to 5 high-metabolism kids!

While yes, I agree that having an extremely high
metabolism rate can be a little problematic...imagine
having your metabolism slam into a brick wall and
all of a sudden now if you so much as SMELL fresh-
baked bread, your ass stretches out one more pants
size. THAT is a little bit of a bigger problem. No
pun intended...well, maybe just a little intended.

So I am wondering how the whole thing works. Not
metabolism. I took biology in high school. I mean,
how is that my 15 yr old son can eat seemingly non-
stop all day and night to the point his stomach
aches at bedtime. He goes to the bathroom (we call
this the mysterious TFBC's - Time For Bed Cramps;
similar to the phenomenal DWC's - DishWashing Cramps.)
And he takes nearly an hour to poop. He complains
of constipation a lot. But he never gains weight.
HOW can a body burn off all the calories and still
block its own intestines and NOT GAIN ANY WEIGHT???
It's surreal.

Me? While I've managed to lose about 7 kilos since
moving back to Egypt (mostly because I walk everywhere
and do not own a car), I still feel a little on the
round side. Now I'm not as bad as some. I know women
who are as wide as they are tall and they weigh less
or the same as I do. Fortunately, I was always very
athletic my whole life. And muscle weighs more than
fat. My muscle is still there. It's just very well-
insulated. I think it's time to take a few layers of
that off.

I'm back in the game as of tomorrow morning, God
willing. Maybe a case of grapefruits and a high-protein
diet will get me back where I need to be. Me and this
here metabolism are about to dance, Baby! Bring it on.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Goodbye, Friend!

My sister informed me a few nights ago that
a friend of mine from high school passed away
quite recently. I'd known that he was ill and
had been diagnosed with the same type of
melanoma as my mother some 26 years ago. I
guess because my mom made it, I'd had hope for
Devon. God had other plans.

Devon was a couple of years ahead of me in
school. He was very intelligent and funny and
politically aware and spoke fluent Italian and
English and was learning German and of course,
I had a crush on him. Only I was a dork freshman
with braces and he spoke to me but NEVER with
the look in his eye that only a 14-year-old girl
could wish for.

His two best friends were Alex and Rudy. The
three of them would climb on the bus each morning
on our way to school and laugh and rehash events
that happened over the weekend at various clubs
(usually Karibik the disco down the hill from
our housing area in picturesque Schwaebisch Gmuend,
Germany.) I loved to hear their stories and to
watch Devon dance that typical German dance where
one hardly moves his head and moves stiffly to the
music....sort of like the guys on Schprockets
from Saturday Night Live. Devon introduced me to
punk rock and spray-on pink hair. I've never been
able to listen to the Clash without thinking of him.
And even though my short-lived crush was not
acknowledged by him, my friendship was. He was
always a good guy and remembered some of our conver-
sations once we reconnected on Facebook.

And while his family and friends are devestated by
his death at such a young age, I pray that God bless
them all with patience to overcome this sense of loss.
And that God be generous and merciful to Devon and
forgive him any sins and allow him into his place in