So yes… I’m working. That’s what happened. I thank everyone who missed me and asked about me and I apologize for not writing sooner. I made a decision to make time for me things and this is a me thing and this is me making time!
Recaps and updates:
That last post made a bit of a splash in my little pond. It may just surpassed my most popular post which is not surprisingly also about women issues. (Why Arab Women Are The Root Of All Evil). Some people didn’t agree some did and that’s the beauty of opinions, everyone has them.
My mini tribe is doing well. S is dealing with 5th grade and a bigger classroom well thank God but the focus is still on getting him to focus and sit still. I am still trying got be ok with the cookie cutter school systems because there is no alternative. I am seriously starting to appreciate the idea of un-schooling that I once made fun of! I think I get it!
J and I have to sit down and reach an agreement on which one of us is going to raise the younger two because it seems like we are doing it together. When B does something wrong we both tell him off simultaneously. When Special K is running a muck at family gatherings we are both running after him. I am insane! I should totally just let her do it right? Put all the effort into raising the first two and make them raise the rest!
I am faced with a tricky idea to explain to little miss J and have opted for the ‘just tell her the truth and hope she understands it’ solution. Here is the story. There’s an out of school family fun day thing happening this weekend that is organized by some of the expat community in a Saudi owned location. And my kids want to go. So I bought tickets for me and my mini tribe. When I got confirmation of the tickets I read through the email and one line popped out: “Please note that Abaya’s are not allowed”. The Abaya is a black women of this region wear over their clothing when they go out of the house to public places.
So, I thought ok… I am being told, in my country, that I cannot wear what women of my country wear when they go out.
Side notes: I do not wear a abaya when I am abroad unless it’s in another country who’s citizens wear it (such as UAE). I do not particularly like the abaya nor do I consider it our traditional dress because it’s what goes over our traditional clothing but it is what we wear and I would never go anywhere here in Saudi without it.
We can have so many conversation about this from so many angles but it’s not necessary. The fact of the matter is if I showed up at the event with my abaya on I would have to either take it off or go home! Again, in my own country where all the women wear it!
It’s one thing to say that the expats don’t have to wear it. That is in fact the way it used to be here! We would dress as we always dressed and the foreign visitors would dress the way they would dress. As long as it’s modest then I don’t think anyone should be forced to wear it. Or not wear it!
I explained to J why I am not going and organized for the ticket to be changed in the name of the nanny who would go with them. J did not take this news well and could not get her head around why it was a big deal to me. So much so that I got this letter from her.
“Mama please come with me I know you want to wear a abaya but you can’t. Think of it as London or LA you don’t wear a abaya there and no one is wearing a abaya.”
You can see it goes on to say how I made her cry and with more pleads to ask me to come. I always wondered how I was going to address these schizophrenic aspects of our life with her as most of them effect us women more than the men. Or at least you can see them more clearly.
How do I explain to her how I both love and hate the abaya? How when she is older she will also wear a abaya when she is here and not wear one when we travel? How I think this makes total sense but can also be viewed as hypocritical! These conversations have started much earlier than I expected and I am hoping the ‘stick to the truth’ solution is going to solve it!
B has been on his ups and downs but he is a little J. He will get tougher and more resilient with age but his super sensitivity and intuition make him susceptible to really absorbing all that happening around him. And now it is Mama working a whole lot more than she ever has and nanny getting ready to leave.
‘Nanny getting ready to leave’ means I have been interviewing nannies, again, and as usual it has been interesting. Most of the nannies coming over here are starting to ask for insane amounts of money, because there are some who pay the insane amounts of money, and are now ruining it for the rest of us who can pay decent amounts of money that 5 years ago a nanny would have jumped at the chance of earning, tax free and in an environment that while is restrictive and boring. is still very comfortable.
I have a relative who was interviewing a nanny who was also offered a job in the UAE. The nanny told her that she was being offered more money to work one day on one day off and live in her own apartment. My relative told her to go for the other job.
So yes, B is a bit agitated. And that manifests it’s self at night when he wakes and cannot get back to sleep. It usually ends in a massive meltdown that wakes the house up. We went back to our old tactics and tried all our old tricks but of course the anxiety led to lack of sleep which led to him being more moody and having more meltdowns.
Finally, I thought, ok… he likes things being written down these days. And children feel that things that are written down are important. So I sat at the dining table with him and our nanny who is very effected by this since her room is right beside his. I got a pen and a paper and drew three columns. One with his name, one with mine and one with our nannies.
I asked him what he wanted when he woke up at night. His answer: “The bathroom”. I wrote it down sounding it out. Then I asked “what else” and he replied with his eyes getting big and sparkly “Water” I wrote it down and again asked “What else”. We added ’tissues’ and ‘to sleep in nanny’s bed” to the list.
Then I asked our nanny what she wanted and she replied “To sleep and for B to sleep and for everyone to be happy”. Then I filled in what I wanted in my column; To sleep, for B to sleep, for nanny to sleep, for everyone in the house to sleep and be happy.
So far he loved this. I then drew a line under the columns and asked him how he thought we could fix each of the problems.
We decided when he wakes for the toilet he could ask one of us for help if he needed it. We also decided to place the water closer to his reach and the tissues under his pillow. As for sleeping in nannies room we lay a mattress in there and gave him full permission to go in and sleep there. He could tell her he was going to sleep there but he is not allowed to shout or scream of cry.
We used this tactic with J when she was waking at night after the summer vacation. The idea was that if we gave her that option instead of forbidding her to leave her bed then it diffuses the anxiety. it’s not as comfortable as her own bed tho so eventually after a couple of weeks of finding her on the mattress in her brothers room she started sleeping in her own bed all night consistently! This beautiful nugget of advice I got from the fantastic book ‘The No Cry Sleep Solution’ for toddlers.
After every ‘clause’ we would shake hands and say ‘deal’ and then I would ask ‘what else?’ and we would discuss the next point. When we finished he say “Mama asks ‘what else'”. So I asked “What else B?” He said “The Monday after Tuesday we will go on the ‘erplane’ and fly to Courchevel and build a snowman! Deal?” And he held out his little hand. I said “B we’re talking about sleeping now.” He replied “Ok Mama, we finish the sleep then we talk about the traveling”. Itchy feet just like his mama!
I had no idea if this would work but I thought if nothing else the process was entertaining to the three of us. After we documented the problems and solutions and rules that included “If I lose my pillow I can find it myself”. I asked him to sign it and I signed it and the nanny signed it and we took it up to his room and hung it on a wall. I told him this was our contract and he couldn’t break it. Thankfully he didn’t ask “Why?” or “What happens if I do?” he just nodded with his big eyes wide open.
That night he woke up and got out of his bed quietly. B went to his nannies room and said “Hello… can I sleep in your bed?” His nanny replied “That’s against your contract!” to wish he reply “AKHH! UFFFFFEE!” Which are his exasperated sounds and then said “FINE! Put me back in my bed!” and slept there the rest of the night!
And has slept there every night since and not woken once! No, not really that’s total nonsense but there has been a huge improvement! He has slept most nights in his own bed except when he crawled into nannies bed without telling her and when he came into my room when I was sleeping and said “It’s morning time mama! Can I lay with you a bit!?” I said yes and pulled him and beside me where he promptly fell asleep too soon for me to realize it was 1 am not ‘morning time’.
In an ideal world he would sleep with me every night but it’s not good for anyone. He wiggles like a worm on steroids and often whacks me or his father in the face. The end result is us adults not sleeping. So I am trying to find a solution where both the adults and the children sleep! It can’t be that difficult right?
Special K has been hilarious and cheeky and finally starting saying things beside “eh”. He is now stringing words together as long as they involve balls, balloons or food then he will make an effort to use the words. He started the whole talking thing with the first words “Happy Birthday” then decided that was enough for then.
K has a very active social life that is keeping us all busy and amused. Our current thing is turning on my iPhone camera so he can see himself and filming it! It’s just too hilarious for words. His favorite book right now is ‘Good Night Moon” which happens to be my favorite one to read but he is so obsessed with the balloon that every time it comes up on a page he shouts “BALLOOOONAAAA”
This was nice. Like visiting an old friend! I feel like I should thank you for this lovely change of the routine! I can’t promise I will be back as often as I used to because while I fully intend to I worry I won’t.
OH! I forgot! I made my daughter a costume. No wait, a totally amazing wolf costume, from scratch and a glue gun! Then I started making B another one and haven’t finished it yet because I suck. But below is the picture of my attempt at being crafty and quite a good attempt it is if I do say so myself!
I know it’s time for bed when I have heard the same song on MTV a third time tonight.