Monday, August 06, 2007

where to start, where to end - Part I

There are so many things on my mind. Tonight's one of those nights where my mind won't calm down, and even though I have tons I could write about, want to write about... I wonder if I'd ever be able to finish a thought, because everything seems to go so deep and is unending, it seems.

First things first... Naief is recovering from his 3rd sets of shots. Since the Ministry of Health rations out polio vaccines, he had to wait to get his until today. His injection site is so red and inflamed and he cries if you touch it. Poor little guy. He wakes up in the middle of dead sleep crying so hard... I figure he's having little babymares about all of it and I do my best to calm him, but he's like mommy and doesn't calm easily. But I hope that in a couple of days, the pain will have subsided, so his mood will be better and he'll feel better.

I've been trying to be a good auntie and have been taking Naief over to visit his cousin in the afternoons for the last few days. When I leave there, I find that I am constantly searching for an answer to something that can't be answered, for like I said, it's unending.

This is my nephew, Naief's cousin.

How else to say it, but to say it....?? He's a mean little boy. Before, when Naief was just a newborn, I found myself unable to deal w/ his ways and stopped going over there for a while. Now, after finding fabulous anti-anxiety meds, I have found a calmness somewhere in the sphere of this child's madness.

I say madness lightly... for I honestly don't want to be mean. I can be and have been in the past... but since getting to know him better, I feel more sadness and then a lot of anger... after he tries time after time to hurt the baby.... well, it sends me into a loss for what to do, how to act, what to say.... seriously, no book, no program, no body can prepare you for these sorts of things.

I find myself questioning my own style of raising my baby. I question all sorts of things... I question the environment in this country, traditions, religion... the fact that he's a boy... just so many things play into what is happening in my world.... be it as small as it is, it feels quite large at times and, again, unending.

No, I'm not hoping for the world to end, my life to end, the baby's life to end... nothing like that. Just for a few ppl to wake up and smell the roses and get a freakin CLUE as to how to raise a child.

No... It is far from easy - raising a child that is. Yeah, I had lots of advice to give prior to having children - many times to my own sister, which she didn't appreciate it... but maybe, somewhere in the back of her mind, she listened. Maybe.

Well... I'm at place w/ this issue that I just can't see going anywhere unless I try to tear down the very fabric from which it's built - this little boy.

Honestly, my mind is going 100 mph w/ all the thoughts tossing around when it comes to this child, his mother, his father... and the housemaids/nannies/babysitters. I've been watching all of it for days now. Participating, playing, swinging, reading, giving kisses/sugars, tickling, singing... just anything and everything to make this little boy happy around my son. But, he's jealous. Not all the time, but most of the time. Now... I might add, just to be catty... I'm the only one, other than the housemaids, that sit on the floor w/ this child. I'm the only one that plays w/ this child, other than the housemaid(s), maybe two at one time... depending. I'm the only one that doesn't give my child to a housemaid and go in w/ the adults and let them raise a child. See... I'll tell a little secret... I was raised that children should not be heard, but seen - which isn't the best school of thought... so I don't want you guys to think that I have all the answers because I don't.

I can at least dream, right??

In my childhood, we could play in the same room w/ my mom and my mom even played games w/ us or my aunts or uncles, and I had tons of cousins and such and we all pretty much spent all of our time together because there was never a babysitter from another country looking after the kids. So... this is my background when comparing what I see here... and the books I've read and studied in school.... but again, NOTHING PREPARES YOU FOR LIFE!

Today, when we first get there, H is so excited and will run up to give Naief a kiss, and it's really sweet. The thing is, he becomes somewhat uncontrollable soon after this and makes for a very busy day. Anything and everything I bring for Naief, H wants it. That's ok, I believe in sharing toys - H wasn't taught. I give him some of my juice, my green tea, and today I read three books to him in English (he speaks arabic w/ a little, tiny amount of english - but i know i can teach him... just give me a few months! :) ) Anyway... He sat on my lap while I read and we pointed to the pictures, made the sounds of the animals and I showed him other things in order to know what I was saying... it was very sweet. He actually loved it and didn't move a muscle. I pointed at everything, explained everything, even tickled him w/ the fizzies that where in his mug... he laughed and so enjoyed it. H watches me, I've noticed. I think I'm the only one that he'll mind but then he gets mad because I tell him no to doing something (like hitting the baby) and he'll go out of his way to be mean to Naief. He kisses me and listens to me like no one else. But... whenever any attention is paid on Naief, he becomes a little insane monster filled w/ jealousy, that's awarded to the baby like a prize, and he'll either start trying to kick him, try to bite him, pinch him as hard as he can, try to slap him or hit him w/ objects, or just scream until he gets what he wants, which is usually to try to hurt Naief.

I think I've become the Super Nanny. ;) I laugh, but seriously. I watch her all the time and I'm trying some of her moves on H. I get down to his level, w/ the baby in my arms and tell him why he shouldn't do this or that, I try to explain why we don't bite and to give kisses instead... and that Naief is a little baby and to be nice. he listens for a brief second and then tries it again - just on someone else this time, which is usually the housemaid watching him... and it's back to the same old ways as soon as his mom comes in.

I wish she'd take the child in her arms. Hold him, kiss him.... so many things really, but like i said, I won't be catty. I will add though, that she's also very bad about trying to make her son jealous about Naief. i told her today... like i said... but God only knows if it sunk in. Don't get me wrong... I like her. She's nice, funny, friendly, dances a wildly beautiful belly dance.... but... she's a first time mom and is probably not knowing what to do to tame this wild animal herself.

Maybe I could teach a different way of doing things to the boy?? Who would I teach it to? My SIL and insult her? The housemaids... do they care? Would they even understand me?!! Even w/ these possibilties, I still find myself wondering: How do you change a child when you're w/ them for approx. 2 hrs a day, if that, and if they and everyone around them like it just the way it is?

Does anyone think it possible? if so, please... I'm open for advice.

I know Ramadan is coming soon and I'm a bit anxious about all of this. There's so many things about it that's causing me stress... but... something will happen, and we'll figure it out. For those of you that don't know... it's a full month at your parent's/in-laws' house.... so naief will be going there, for the most part, a full month... and then it's to the other relatives' house, which I enjoy, but... phew... a lot of stress.

This little American that hasn't had a sit down w/ her brothers and sisters since.... hmmmmm..... I don't even know the year, and STILL isn't used to all of this. But, I love Naief and I love Hashim.... so I will at least try.... maybe a change can happen?? you think??

Ok, my Valerian root has kicked in... so I'm tired and off to bed.

Good night... sweet dreams


Jahooni said...

Take a deap breathe... let out. In... out... In... out....

better now?

Um Naief said...

yeah... i've been trying that. i think it's time for me to take up yoga again... and maybe some meditation.

but w/ this... is never ending... for years i have to look forward to this... aaaahhhhhh, back to that happy place, like ellen degeneres talks about! :)

where is ur pic? hashim is finishing a big project and once it's done, then something on wed., i'll have it take a look if you haven't figured it out by then.

ur good at that stuff... go in there and see if you flubbed it up some place :)

Jahooni said...

what are you talking about, what picture?? it there! I am looking at my first comment and its there... why aren't YOU seeing it????????

Olivia said...

Ha, my mother used to take Valerian root when menopause made her restless.

BTW, Jahooni, I don't see your pic either.

When I was young, I knew lots of children like H, and often they were children of Mideastern people who went to our church. Some of them would bring their kids and dump them on my mother for the day because only she knew how to control them - this being England, you see, they had no housemaids :P

Gardens of Sand said...

I wish I could give you good advice, tell you what you should do in this situation, but I can't. However, I can tell you what not to do and that is speak to your SIL about it. Been there, done that...not only will it not work, she will get defensive, think you hate her son and are intolerant towards him, and create drama you are better off w/o. Trust me, you will end up the bad guy.

Maybe, when the sonboy hits Naeif, your husband should appear angry and speak to his brother or sil about it sternly. For some reason, this will go way better than you saying something. He is the boy's uncle and as such, his word will carry more weight, atleast imho. Maybe you can also feign some excuse and get to leave early in ramadhan (ex. baby bath time, nap time, arabic lesson time).

Good luck, I know from experience that this is a very stressful thing to deal with, esp since he is only a child.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

You tried very hard to take an interest in this little kid and good on you. Maybe being jealous is part of kids getting together and wanting some toy or attention, but you certainly must stop a bully hurting your precious littlie. Maybe as someone commented, get your husband to talk to his relatives about it. Keep trying though as that kid has to learn not to be greedy nor to hurt others.

Puppy said...

After your post i am very pity for this little guy H.
But i support your approach, and i think its the right one.

You know we were late kids for our mom, and i still remember her playing hide and seek with us in apartment. Where a mom can hide in an apartment??? but i can remember all her efforts to make us happy, play with us, entertain, explain.

She still does that, but now we play cards ;))))))

Ohh and also dad, we were riding him, doing things together, playing chess lots of fun :(

I am really sorry for little guy.

poetic muslim said...

hey ..really enjoyed reading your post , its an arab culture thing ..they always leave the kids to do whatever and run around wild ..their was this boy who was tunisian his mu would let him get away with biting any child any age ..she got into alot of trouble with the mothers they told her 'lack of dicispline ' she said its a phase ..a pahse at 3 years old ? hmmmmmm hes been doing this since hes one ! the reason why he keeps doing it is because his parents let him get away with it they say its a tunisan way . so I suppose its a tradition in tunisia to bite ? no comment their then

Um Naief said...

olivia, i see a lot of children like this here. i think it comes down to discipline and the active participation from the parents. many aren't involved, which does nothing but hurt the child in the long run, or at least this is how i feel about it.

gardens of sand, i think you are completely right about the situation. because when i did bring up his jealousy, my SIL made an excuse, and i knew not to take it further. some things are better left unsaid it seems. if anything were to happen in a bad way, i know hashim would say something. he has in the past... but...

well.. i won't go there. we can talk about it when we get together. :) i think you give great advice.

wendy, i think jealousy is normal w/ kids too. if we had another, i'd fully expect it. i was and still get jealous w/ my sister, and i even see it in other families. but i also think, like you, that i shouldn't allow a little bully, no matter the age, to hurt my little one. that's where i draw the line. i only hope... that at some point, he grows out of what he does, but what i see is him acting out because he's not getting what he needs from his mother.

puppy, i also feel sad for him. the housemaids get fed up... after a while i do as well... he's acting out for attention and love.

Um Naief said...

hi poetic muslim, thks for coming by. i'm puttng baby to sleep. will comment further on ur comment in a bit.

Jane said...

Hmmm...I don't know much about childrearing in the Middle East so I'm doubtful I can help.

Is it common to have other people raise your children there? Or is it like here, where it's only the very wealthy who can afford nannies and such who dump their kids on others?

I don't really understand this mindset. I had children because I wanted to be a mother, because I wanted the whole experience. I brought them into the world and it is my responsibility to raise them. I didn't have kids so other people could take care of them for most of their days.

In my neighborhood I see a lot of neglect, which is exactly what you're dealing with. Only in my area there are no other responsible adults around, no nannies or housemaids.

Just this morning I took my kids to the playground and a young boy, no older than eight showed up alone. He began talking to me and it was instantly clear that he was desperate for adult attention. Within five minutes he told me that his mom is doing the best she can but last night she got drunk, kicked in a door and broke her foot. So he says now he has to help her a lot more. He showed me a nasty scrape on his foot, which looked dangerously close to being infected and was not being cared for properly. I felt so bad for him but what could I do? I talked with him for awhile, was friendly and told him several times to wash his foot well with soap as soon as he got home.

I see a lot of this neglect and it kills me. Good luck with your situation. It sounds like you are showing this boy some direly needed kindness and affection. He won't forget it.

salfa3ajeeba said...

hi um naief

am not married and i watch supernanny alot trying to learn few tricks of her n even passing them to my married sisters to adopt them with their children,

one trick that i learned from my sisters n not the nanny this time is that u include the jealous child when takin care of the younger one in that u make him feel that he is responsible for him so whenever u want to do anything for ur sweet baby ask the other child to help u,

it might work out for u coz it worked out for my sisters lets say 80% of the times:)

Um Naief said...

jane, yes, it's very common, once the child reaches a certain age, to have the housemaids take the child. they go everywhere w/ the mother and are the primary care givers. i disagree w/ it on so many different levels the first being that you have no idea what type of background these women have and what they might do to your young one. there is a lot of neglect but ppl don't see it like that. many times i feel like an outsider looking in.

poetic muslim, thanks for stopping by. checked out your website and you have some nice poetry. the parents let the children get away w/ everything here. there are no restrictions, other than he doesn't bother my FIL. there is no discipline at all and he is never made to see that you can't do this or that. maybe one day though.

salfa3ajeeba, great advice. i really never thought about doing it like this. i will try it and see how it works. i know he gets very excited when the baby rides w/ him in his stroller, and he always wants to walk w/ the baby, altho the baby can't walk, which causes him extreme anger. so.. i think getting him involved will be something that could cause good things to happen. i'll keep you guys updated.

thanks again!

salfa3ajeeba said...

if you dont mind i would like to comment on certain things i found in other people comments on this post,

i just wanted to add one thing about the middle eastern society in that our mothers and grand mothers did not have any housmaids in the past n they raised us in the best way they can in my opinion "thank God",

maybe the ones u see nowadays either they are careless or cluelessa about how to raise their children but believe me in my country so many educated couples that i know are raising their children by themselves, and the housemaid rule is only the cleaning and washing and maybe cooking and will not touch their child.

thank you for allowing me to comment here.

Um Naief said...

salfa3ajeeba, you're right. educated couples aren't doing this. i too know several couples who are friends w/ my husband and they aren't allowing this. they have housemaids that do the housework and that's it.

i will also add that it's not only middle eastern couples that do this. i know americans here that are doing this, indian couples and also some british ppl who do this.

i very much believe that it comes from a logic that you just need to have kids. it doesn't matter if you want them because your mother is there to take up the slack... just in case... and once she's had her fill, then the housemaid is there. there are ppl who don't understand the magnitude of raising a child.

when you're educated and care, it does matter and these things don't happen.

i love your comments... and hope that you'll return. :) i enjoy reading what you have to say.