One Blue Line? Two Blue Lines?

I’m late. Not for an appointment, or for the bus, or for anything else for that matter. I’m late for that monthly visit that makes all women worldwide wonderful people to be around.

I’m 5 days late for my period. And as a result I’ve been frantically peeing on pregnancy sticks non-stop for the past five days as if getting rid of all that pee on a stick will bring my period around.

Am I pregnant? No! Do I want to be pregnant? Hell, no! Or I don’t know! Or maybe? I’m just so confused and apprehensive and freaked out that I don’t know what I want. Ironically if I do get pregnant it will yet again help me defy all conventions and medical norms by getting pregnant on an IUD. My first two kids were almost miracles, since I was told I would not get pregnant without fertility treatment and both times I was surprised by the little blue lines on the stick without once popping a pill.

Back to the pregnancy scare. Ironically, I’ve been throwing around the idea of a third kid to my husband the past few months, partially to see how it sounds aloud but mainly to see him freak out and go into a deep sweat. But now that it may be true, I’m turning into the coward that I know I am and calling a do-over.

I’m probably not pregnant. The probability of it happening with an IUD is pretty low. My period is probably just taking it’s sweet time to get ready, in the mood and come, much like my arrival to all my appointments. But that’s too much probably’s for me to live comfortably. I need it to come now and I’m willing to do anything to get out of this waiting phase. I wonder if a rain-dance will work? Or does it work like child birth? Do spicy food and sex hurry it along? Should I try jumping up and down?  I’ll try anything to keep me from going crazy.

And so I’m off to the drugstore to buy yet another pregnancy test. I think they’ll start offering me a buy two get one free promotion to help me out after all the money I’m spending on this stuff.

 

The Geek Squad

I live in a quirky little household. Me and my husband were the poster children of geeks as kids – probably still are. It’s something we enjoyed and are proud of. We have storm troopers lying around the house, a subscription to Wired and National Geographic, a library of books lining the wall of our home in Cairo and a large number of electronics and gadgets that would put an Apple store to shame. Our favourite TV shows and movies have to involve vampires, werewolves, dead bodies or some kind of fantasy creature.

And our eldest has taken after us in alarming ways. Not a big sports fan, his Netflix account is littered with documentaries and animal shows. His room is full of Star Wars lego and figures. And his library of choice has a majority of encyclopaedias and reference books. Jo on the other hand is not looking so promising – he’s probably going to grow up and become a dance club bouncer – so for the sake of this post I’m going to pretend that he’s totally like us.

So with all the above characteristics you can predict what are reaction was when we found out that one of the Calgarian bookstores was going to feature a visit from Star Wars Storm Troopers and Darth Vader! The minute we read that, it was Geek Squad on alert! The whole family got dressed up and off we headed to meet our heroes.

Please don’t judge us.

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Road Trip

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Picture this; a scenic drive along the Mediterranean. Lush, green mountains on your left and a breathtaking drop to a sapphire blue ocean on your right. Passing through quaint Italian, Spanish and French villages. Absorbing the countryside and getting charmed by the cultures. Driving for hours on end and stopping for a picnic on the grass under the radiant sun. Finding a storybook B&B to stay the night in and then waking up refreshed the next morning, ready to do it all again.

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Now imagine this with two, screaming and fighting boys in the backseat.

Me and the husband have been planning for our dream vacation; two weeks of driving through Europe. Stopping wherever we fancied and taking up the architecture, sights, scents and tastes of the historic cities and villages. Start in Spain, and end up in Germany or Belgium or Denmark or anywhere, it doesn’t matter as long as we enjoy the ride in-between. It has been on our minds for so long that we can almost taste it.

But then we had two wonderful, boisterous, driving-us-insane boys and the trip keeps getting postponed. First it was when Adam turns 6. Now it’s when Jo turns at least 8 (he’s a joy to have in the car). And that’s six and a half years from now. The thing is, even though I know it will be a highly educational, once-in-a-lifetime experience for the boys, I just realised I don’t want to do it with kids at all.

What brought on this realisation? Well, on Christmas break we drove over to Vancouver. It’s a 12 hour trip one-way that cut through the Rockies and not much else. Whenever we told anyone we were driving they looked at us as if we were crazy. But we were unfazed. After all, we love driving. Come on, our drive vacation is to drive for two weeks. Right? Wrong. Try driving 12 hours with two bored kids.

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Adam began asking ‘When will we get there?’ 15 minutes after we left Calgary. Jo had finished all his snacks 30 minutes into the ride and was on a sugar high. The boys started fighting and I was going crazy. Thankfully we were prepared. Cars 2, Ice Age 3 and three repeat performances of Toy Story 2 (most of them running at the same time), plus multiple stories read, snacks that turned the car into a travelling garbage can, a Galaxy Tab, an iPod, Adam pretending that he’s a news reporter with Jo screaming the accompanying sound track, four children’s song albums played, one stop at McDonalds and we were thankfully at the halfway point. After that it was smooth sailing, me and my husband switched places (I was driving the rest of the way since my husband is notorious for falling asleep at the wheel), and the kids went to bed. And I drove the remaining 6 hours in peace and quiet.

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I still want to do my Europe road trip but now I’m thinking of ditching the kids before I do it or waiting until I ship them off to college before I can start living again. It also makes me sympathetic with my husband who freaks out at the idea of a third kid. All he can think of when I say baby #3 is,

‘Oh my God, that’s an extra three years added on to my life sentence. Please don’t do that to me. I want to be free.’

 

The Tale of the Fake Santa Claus

Adam & Santa at my DH's Family Christmas Party.

Adam & Santa at my DH’s Family Christmas Party.

I have a moral dilemma that has been pestering me for days now and I don’t know what to do.

You see, we don’t celebrate Christmas. We have our own holidays and they’re fun and exciting and as cheerful but there is nothing like Christmas with Santa, the lights, the gifts and excitement to get any kid in a frenzy.

So in recent years when Adam had asked us if we celebrate Christmas we told him no, but we have Eid, Ramadan and so on. And since he was in society that didn’t make that big of a deal over Christmas – he was okay. Until we moved here. And the question came up again.

“Mommy do we celebrate Christmas? Is Santa real?”

Oh what to do, what to do? Technically we’re not opposed to Christmas as a holiday. Come on it’s fun, it’s crazy, what’s not to like. We just like to foster identity and independence in our kid. We want him to be proud of who he is and what he has while accepting other people, customs and religions and helping them celebrate their beliefs. So while we don’t celebrate Christmas we still tell people Merry Christmas and hand out Christmas gifts to the relevant people in our lives. But Santa?

We have a strict no lying to the kids rule. I refuse to mislead them. But I also don’t want him going to his friends in class, telling them that Santa isn’t real and breaking their hearts. In the end we told him that we believe that he’s not real but other people believe that he is, and everyone is entitled to believe what they want.

Fast forward a few weeks to yesterday, last day of school, Adam came home so excited saying;

“Mommy, you know, I’m sure Santa is real. My teacher told me so” and not teacher would lie. H went up to his baby brother and told him,

“Jo, Christmas Eve is coming and Santa is going to visit and bring us gifts. We’re gonna have so much fun”. He then turned to me and said “Santa is real, right mommy?”

“Ugh, Umm, We’ll talk about this later.” I back-tracked quickly. The coward’s way out, I know, but I really didn’t know what to say. And more

I don’t know why I have this dilemma.

My husband alter that night told me he will not lie to Adam. I told him I didn’t lie, I just avoided the truth (which is something I’m very good at) to buy us some time.

Although when Christmas Eve comes along and there is no Santa and no presents I don’t know what he’ll think.

Refrigerator Dragons

I was swimming through the river, the lazy water lapping away at my hair. A peaceful calm and serenity descending over me. I was the happiest I’d been in years when suddenly a loud bump reverberated within the calm blue sky and a formidable whirlpool formed in front me slowly sucking me down, down into it’s black existence. Just as I was going under I heard Jo’s loud protests and whines.

I woke up with a sigh and looked at the shiny numbers on the IPhone beside me. 1:10am, another sleepless night. Got up and trudged to the boys rooms, gave Jo his pacifier, bear and turned on the lullabies.As I was turning to go back and salvage whatever was lift of my peaceful swimming dream, I noticed Adam’s bed empty. And then I realised what the initial bump was; Adam had gotten out of bed and gone downstairs to watch TV.

You see, that night was the first night of his mid-term break and since Adam was notorious for refusing to wake up unless a marching band goes through his room during weekdays, yet managing to get up at 5:30am, all bright and ready on weekends, my husband had made a deal with Adam. If he got up quietly in the morning and didn’t wake Jo, the light-sleeper, then he could go downstairs and watch TV or play with his iPod until I woke up.

So Adam did just that. Except he didn’t wake up at 5. He got up at 1am, all bright and ready to start his day and maximise the amount to parent-free time he has. I had to force him to go back to bed after numerous of complaints of ‘I can’t sleep’, ‘It’s morning’ ‘But, daddy said I could’. Needless to say, I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. And Adam woke up all bright and cheerful at 7:45am, after I had to deal with a noisy Jo for an hour.

I’m so not looking forward to the holidays.

Bakogun Toys Bakogun Toys

I also woke up to find these strange creatures sticking to my fridge…

The Price of Productivity; Cranky Kids & Sleeping on the Floor

So I didn’t post yesterday. I spent my day from 9am to 6pm driving around town running oh so many errands. And half of them were with a grieving Jo (he hates the car) and the other half were with both a grieving Jo and an over-tired and whining Adam. This is a quick time-line of my day:

– 9am – 11am At Superstore, where I stocked up on supplies for the houseguest gift basket. And a lot of other random stuff that looked so pretty, or so tasty, or so fun.

– 11am – 1:30pm Drove 35 minutes to downtown. Drove 20 minutes around downtown looking for parking. Queued up  20 minutes in the bank to get my compromised debit card fixed. Gobbled down a quick lunch with hubby in 10 minutes. Then drove 30 minutes to my family photographer design appointment.

The rest of the day was spent visiting Michaels, Walmart, the Dollar Store, the car wash and Pier 1 and spending way too much money (i’m going to cry).

Came home at 6 with very tired, grumpy and loud kids and had a quick dinner of leftover chicken masala and rice. I unpacked three tons of shopping and spent the last next hour hurriedly putting together the Christmas gifts Adam was supposed to take with him to school the next day.

At 9:30pm my husband walked in to find me asleep on a throw pillow on the floor.

But it was totally worth it. I finished the teacher Christmas gifts and bought all the supplies I need for my friends gift Baked Goods Gift Basket and my husbands wedding anniversary (which is tomorrow) gift box.

I’ll share each project individually but now I have to go continue poking Jo in his tummy because he’s standing beside me sticking his belly out and screaming for a poke.

Boys Will Be Boys

It’s 6pm and I’m frantically rushing around the kitchen, trying to get dinner ready. My DH is sitting at the dinner table try to appease a fussy Jo. Adam walks in, scratching his hair and pulling at one of the locks.

He mumbles without looking from the IPod in his hand, “How do you spell private?”

DH looks over a little surprised; “What do you want to spell again?”

“Private.”

Adam is exasperated he has to say it twice.

“Why do you want to spell private?” I look over at my DH, an crazy idea forming into my head as to why my 6 year old wants to spell private. But no, it can’t be. He’s still too young after all.

“Because I want to google girl’s private parts to see what it looks like.”

And it can be. I did not expect this day to come so soon. 6 years?! With two boys I knew it was inevitable, much like tyrannosaurus’s inevitable betrayal (see Firefly for the geeky reference). But I was hoping I’d have a longer run. 10, 12 maybe even 20 years.

When I commented to my husband a little later that it was too young for him to start thinking like that. He shrugged and said “Nah, seems right.”

Oh boy. Am I going to have some lovely years ahead of me.

So we sat Adam done, and we told him we can talk all about girl’s privates and what they mean. We can even get a refernce book and show him pictures. But we will not google it (internet porn will have to wait).

Adam was surprised. “Don’t we google everything?”

That stumped me for a bit. Until it came to mind,

“Well Adam would you like people to look at your private parts on the net?”

And that got to him. He was convinved and wandered away in full-on spaced-out mod.

Until my husband walked by him a few minutes later looking at pictures of girls on the IPod (fully clothes thankfully).

Icicle Mommy+Daddy = Happy Kids

Oh the things we will do for our kids….

Ever since we moved here my son has been obsessed with seeing two things; the Dinosaur Valley in Drumheller and the animals at the Calgary Zoo. We haven’t been able to do those things yet and decided to leave them until Spring when the weather is better. That is until we found out that on Saturday, the Zoo is dropping ticket prices from $21 to $1.47 in their bid to break the record of 1.4 million visitors in a year.

So if it meant I would pay $4.50 instead of the regular $54, who am I to wait until Spring? And off we went. Which was a huge mistake. Because the weather hit a low of -20 on Saturday. And we froze our asses off (and that happened literally after sitting down on a frozen park bench). Heck, even the animals were freezing. Most of them were indoors in heated buildings. Which that is where we spent most of our visit. The only animals that were happy and comfortable outside were the penguins.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad day. If you ignore my frost-bitten hands and feet. But at least the kids had fun. And I found out that Jo, who screams his head off in fear from the baby elephant on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will stand and yell at an actual 4m tall, real, live (smelly) elephant.

Welcome to the zoo

Welcome to the zoo

Adam and the bear

Adam and the bear

Followed by Adam and the penguin. Adam wanted to take his picture with so many fake animals, we wondered why we even went to the Zoo

Followed by Adam and the penguin. Adam wanted to take his picture with so many fake animals, we wondered why we even went to the Zoo

Jo any the weird, fat, dancing elephant. The only fake animal he would take his picture with it. I wonder what that means.

Jo and the weird, fat, dancing elephant. The only fake animal he would take his picture with it. I wonder what that means.

I'm cooold.

I’m cooold.

Calgary Zoo Bench

 

 

My Cross To Bear

” I think you should consider getting him assessed.”

I looked at Adam’s teacher calmly while I tried to quell my rising tide of panic.

“Adam is an extremely smart boy, but I’m worried that his problems may start affecting his learning.” She said a little too hurriedly, almost back-tracking her painful words before “He has so much potential, I just don’t want to see it go to waste.”

I nodded, smiled and said all the necessary words that accompany a well-meaning but adamant suggestion from his teacher.

But deep down inside I knew that it was too be expected. Hadn’t he already gone through this process before? It was just only me in denial, with the hope he’d gotten better. Maybe it wasn’t this severe. I look at his teacher with renewed hope.

“Thank you. I will definitely do it. We just don’t have a family doctor yet so it may take time.”

“I don’t think you should wait that long.” Quick shake of the head “Tell me if you can’t find a doctor soon, maybe I’ll be able to help.”

Dread fills me as I thank her again or her help.

The meeting went on for a few more minutes, random comments and stories, pictures of his work and talking about his friends. We then shake hands and leave. I walk away, Adam in front of me, running all over the place, his boisterous voice carrying to the adjoining classrooms and the close knits of other parents and teachers discussing their kids achievements.

We walk outside and I wonder why hearing these words the second time was so much worse. I was hoping against hope that somebody somewhere had got it wrong. Or he was just going through a bad phase. But as Adam skipped to the car I realised that I shouldn’t have even considered otherwise. After all, it was my legacy to pass on. How could I ever think he would be spared? Yes, I know that I my life with ADD wasn’t the worst. But it wasn’t the best too. Why would I want that for my children?

I get in and buckle my seat belt and turn around to look at Adam as he beams at me.

“What did my teacher say? Did she say I was good?”

I ruffle his wild and curly locks. “She said you were great. And she’s really proud of your printing.”

“Yes. Yes. I know. I practiced and practiced so my printing would get better. My teacher said if I practice everything gets better.”

I smile at him half-heartedly and turn around with sadness as I whisper to myself; “Not everything”.

The People We Never Knew

I looked at her across the school playground. She had glowing brown eyes and an infectious smile. Her hair was covered in a bright head scarf that reminded me of my friends back home. She was smiling at her little girl as the bright summer sun beat down and girl danced around on the green grass. Suddenly a fresh wave of home-sickness hit me. I miss my friends, I miss connecting to somebody, anybody.

I look again at the cheerful woman as I hoist Jo from one hip to another. A breeze carries her words to me and I hear the familiar whisper of an exotic language. My exotic language, and in a very similar dialect to where I come from. Too many signs are nudging me, telling me ‘Go, get to know her.’ Still I hesitate, characteristically shy, waiting for a better opportunity.  In a burst the school doors fly open and excited, happy kids shoot out in every direction. Adam is late, as usual. But I see her walking up to slight, handsome boy.There is a frail look about him but he seems to be only a year or two older than Adam. He’s probably in Grade 3. She hugs him and their heads gather together with shared love. As she looks up, she catches my eye and offers a tentative smile. I smile back and turn to Adam, who has just arrived. It’s time to go home.

Over the weeks, we cross paths and share smiles, but nothing more. I keep on trying to muster up the courage to go say hi. I worry about rejection. Or disinterest. And I never make a move. I keep looking for her every day, thinking that this will be the day I connect. But I stop seeing her. Maybe the cold and snow make she her wait in the car. Or maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Either way I can see her no more.

Today I got a letter from Adam’s school. They informed us that one of the Grade 3 boys who had been previously diagnosed with brain cancer has been getting weaker and weaker an is now terminal. His family all flew East where he can spend his remaining days near loved ones.

It has to be her. And the boy. The handsome smiling frail boy that I saw is dying. Physical pain grabs at my heart. I can picture her happy eyes full of tears and sorrow as she sits by the bed of her dying son. I can see the little girl playing in the other room. Scared and anxious but not knowing why. I can see the father sitting in a dark, dark room trying to compose himself so he’ll smile and laugh in front of their son.

I don’t know what I regret more. The fact that I was too scared to reach out and never got to know this family before they broke apart. Or that I could have been of any help to her when she needed it most. Or that I will never see that happy boy again or watch him play and laugh with my son.

I don’t know her. I lost that opportunity. And I don’t think I’ll ever get another chance. But if I could, I would go back to that warm summer afternoon, walk up to her and say,

“Hi. I just moved here and I’m trying to get to know people. Want to get together sometime?”

 

Written in response to the Daily Prompt: Set It Right.