Conversations with ZP

ZP the linguist

Backround:  Our nanny has been teaching ZP spanish lately - numbers, letter, and words.  She's teaching him that, "for Mommy, it's cow, but for Tia, it's vaca!" or "in English, it's one two three, but in Spanish, it's uno dos tres."  He knows "mine" is "mio" and "cat" is "gato" etc.   I've been trying to stick to it too, not only to help him remember, but to help me remember/learn. So, the other day, I was asking him about his eating utensil:

me: "What's this?"
zp: "It's a fork!"
me: "Yes! that's right!  And what is it in Spanish?"
zp: (pause to consider and then tentatively) "Forko?"


ZP the engineer

Background:  ZP's high chair has a toy attached to it that is in the shape of a crab with a plastic globe filled with little beads.  He enjoyed shaking it but what he really wanted was to break it open and get the beads out.

zp:  "Mommy, open it."
me: "I can't open it.  It's stuck."
zp: "Get the scissors."
me:  "No way!"
zp: (serious expression on his face): "They dangerous.  You get hurt."
me: "Yes, that's right."
zp: (little wheels in his brain turning): "Get the hammer."


ZP the medical practitioner

Background:  I was hungry after fasting all day and my stomach started growling and I automatically covered my belly with my hand (as though this would stifle the sound).

zp (concerned look on his face):  "Mommy, wha happened?"
me: "My tummy is making noise."
zp:  "You got hurt?  It's okay.  Medicine is upstairs!"
me:  "It's okay.  I don't need medicine, but thank you."
zp: (note: for some reason, this kid LOVES medicine, both in "lotion" form or in sweet cherry-flavored Tylenol/Motrin form)  "Aw, Mommy got hurt.  Look, I got hurt.  (shows me his completely unblemished finger).  Medicine is upstairs!"


Ghosts of Ramadan Past

Me: "What time does the sun set tonight?
KG: "I think around 7:20 but I'll check on-line to make sure."
Me: "Well, yesterday it was 7:21 and it's been going down by two minutes every day so it might be 7:19."
KG's Mom: "I have never been in a room with so many people interested in the precise minute the sun sets!"
Me to myself and telepathically to KG: (I guess you've never fasted every day for weeks, have you?)

The exchange above got me reminiscing about past Ramadans.  The first memory was of a time when we were all going to my parents' friends' house for Iftar one year.  All of the adults were chatting and all the teenagers and above were watching TV.  Mornings were always rough for me because I was just too tired to eat a pre-dawn hearty meal.  The combination of a growling tummy and a Swatch watch that was so cool that its face had no numbers or marks or anything to pinpoint the minutes led me to go into an empty room and call the date-and-time phone number over and over again until it was time to eat.  I think I was 14 at the time.

Then I started thinking about other Ramadan memories.  
  • Like the time that Dad insisted on playing a Doctors v. Nurses Softball game in the middle of summer while fasting and how we, on the sidelines and in the shade, cheered him on as we simultaneously thought he was crazy.  
  • Or the time we were in Pakistan that year and I was astounded with the topsy-turvy way in which the city would completely shut down during the day and be ablaze with lights and activity at night.
  • Or the time that I spent an entire day in bed reading "One Thousand and One Nights" or "Arabian Nights" because it was summer time and I was off from school and what better way to pass the day than in a air-conditioned room on your cozy bed with a book?  
  • Or the times I had to explain to my friends in high school why I was spending our lunch break in the library rather than in the lunchroom.  
  • Or the time I was on my own at college for the first time and managed to keep all the fasts by having a cheese omelet and a huge glass of chocolate milk every single morning.
  • Or the time my college roommate and I decided to get a jump start on an April Fool joke since it was so early in the morning that our victim would be too sleepy to figure out the prank we were playing [aside:  that was the very last time I ever played an April Fool's joke.  It totally backfired and I recently celebrated a milestone anniversary of 15 years of calling my victim up on April 1 and apologizing].  
  • Or the time I was so touched that my new friends in law school woke up and treated me to pancakes for sehri despite the freezing weather and ungodly hour.  [aside:  hey, Jules, was that IHOP or Denny's or some other local St. Louis 24 hour diner?]
  • Or the time LB and I were driving to an aunty's house in Chesterfield and we were lost and running late and didn't know what time the sun was supposed to set so we just watched the sun actually set and broke our fasts in the car with some gum.
  • Or the times when Mom would mail, yes, U.S. Post Office or UPS mail, us aloo parathas and/or congo bars during Ramadan.
  • Or the time we had a Thanksgiving Ramadan in Georgia with special guest star cousins visiting from Pakistan where every square inch of the apartment was taken by a sleeping body but the chai and omelets were hot in the morning and the big party dinner was delicious at night.  And the next night.  And the next night.
  • Or the first Ramadan I shared with TP [aside: that was the year he read the entire Quran]
  • Or the first Ramadan I shared with LB alone [aside: that was the year I discovered that Sara Lee's All Butter Pound Cake made a fine contribution to sehri]
  • Or the days when I used to work in the same building as a bunch of Arabs (they were our clients) and we'd have an amazing, hot, instant iftar in the office every evening with falafels, stuffed grape leaves, lentil soup, hummus, kibbe, yogurt, and oh man, I need to stop reminiscing or else my drool will short-circuit my keyboard.  



ever have one of those days when you want to tell everyone to "SHUT IT!"?


Six of one, half a dozen of the other

Happy Six Month Birthday, me wee one! I cannae believe that six months today, you came into my life

Five months ago, you were a tiny bundle that was shuttled from person to person in an attempt to keep you from harm's way (i.e. your big brother).  ZP was still in the throes of jealousy and the terrible twos which made for a harrowing time for all.  In fact, your arrival heralded ZP's first full sentence which was repeated whenever he saw TP carrying you:  "Baby Ziza DOWN!"  You took everything, including ZP's shrieking and banging and general havoc-wreaking, with great aplomb and and composure.  You were so very easy-going and undemanding.  The visitors you received were astonished by your shock of hair, your saucer-sized eyes, and your rosebud mouth.  You slept well, you ate well, and you actually enjoyed a good cuddle session.

Four months ago, you were your Nani's roommate to allow your poor bedraggled parents a moment of rest.  You retained your lovely hostess manners while various relatives and friends came to visit and ooh and ahh over you.  When ZP was born, we bought a new leather recliner.  This time, we craiglisted my old IKEA couch away and replaced it with two bigger, microfiber Crate and Barrel couches so that Babu could sleep more comfortably.  Your wardrobe grew exponentially as people took pity on you suffering the indignity of wearing some of ZP's hand-me-downs.  Soon, his room was strewn with as many blue shirts as it was with pink dresses.  Eventually, your grandparents had to return and you were left in the care of just the three of us.

Three months ago, the weather was nicer and we started taking you out for walks.  As it is with most babies, the fresh air would knock you out.  But for those brief moments before the stroll began, you would soak in the sights and sounds and smile.  We thought that all infants were pretty much alike in the early months, but you proved us wrong.  As energetic and volatile and explosive as ZP was, you were ladylike and gentle and sweet.  ZP started taking an interest in you and actually acknowledged your presence instead of steadfastly ignoring your existence completely unless and until TP glanced your way.  He even started to want to hold you and offer you some of his toys . . . to look at . . . for a short time.  Your sleeping and eating habits were still a welcome surprise to us and we kept waiting for the other shoe to drop but it never did.  Thanks for the sleep!  

Two months ago, I cut my own heart out and returned to work full time with Tia taking care of you and ZP. It was so hard to do and the only thing that made it bearable was that I knew you were in good hands and that I was just a flight of stairs away.  The first week was torture because every time I heard you cry, I wanted to drop everything and sweep you up.  Actually, that did happen on more than one occasion (thank goodness my work is flexible enough to allow me to do so).  But eventually, you warmed up to Tia and a routine was set and there was peace in the land again.  During the day, you play nicely on your own or, when ZP isn't charging head-first into you, with ZP himself in that you observe him playing with his toys, dashing around in circles, and singing songs to you.  In the evening, TP handles the ZP feeding duties (which I was more than happy to relinquish) while you and I have a little mother-daughter bonding session beginning in the tub, progressing to the couch for a quick dinner, and ending on the bed where we smile at each other, give each other some cuddles, and then pass out with trails of drool glistening on our cheeks.

One month ago, you took your first flight to Georgia for your Chai Khala's wedding.  As expected, you were very well-behaved on the plane to Atlanta, in the van to Columbus, and throughout the wedding festivities.  You were dressed in some pretty fancy finery that you Nani tailored for you out of some of our gently-used (i.e. old and didn't fit anymore) shalwar kurtas, saris, dupattas, you name it.  While ZP was running amok with his uncles (from ages 5 to 7), you were content to lounge around with Nani and Babu and everyone who could get their hands on you.  You took your first dip in a swimming pool/jacuzzi with Uncle KG and, much like your lavender-scented baths, you found it to your liking.  The next week, you played the gracious hostess again when the wedding party arrived here for the second part.  The evening drives to the parties when you were hungry and/or tired were not so much to your liking.  Nonetheless, for the most part, you still displayed a good nature, a super wattage smile, and (once again differentiating yourself from your brother) a stunning preference for vegetables over fruit.

Now, you are half a year old.  You just sprouted your first tooth.  You have graduated to the 6-9 month clothes.  You enjoy giving raspberries and are starting to babble a bit.  You love gnawing on board books, trucks, and power tools.  Alas, we celebrated your six month milestone with yet another doctor's visit in which you were pronounced a happy, healthy baby and then jabbed no less than four times as a reward. But the day is bright and sunny and pleasant enough to enjoy some time at the park which is where you are now.  I love you, Aziza Baziza!


Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

I'm curious.  How old do you think I am?  For those of you who already know me, how old did you think I was when you first "met" me?


fourth on fourth

It's our fourth anniversary!  Yep, it's been four years since the day TP and I got hitched in front of our family and friends.  I wonder how many people realize what an eclectic mix of guests we had there.  

We had Desi men married to American women, a Mauritanian man married to a Trinidadian/American woman, an American man with a Latino man.  We had city folk, country folk, mountain folk, desert folk.  We had Muslims and Hindus, Christians and Jews (hey, that rhymes!), Hard Core versions of each and then, on the other end of the spectrum, the Atheists and Agnostics.  We had old (as in the second half of the 80s and I'm not talking about leg warmers, NKOTB, and mall walls) and young ("He's blocking the faaaaan!!!" during the khutbah at the nikkah comes to mind).  We had doctors and lawyers as well as beauticians and metal workers (well, only one of each of those, but still).  We had people whom we've known since they were born and people who knew our parents since they were born.  

It was the last time I saw my Dadiji.  It was the last time I had henna on my feet.  It was the last time I fit into size small fill-in-the-blank.  It was the last time I was alone.  Happy Anniversary, TP!  I dedicate this song to you:

Knuckles the dog what a very good dog you are
You're the best dog of all the other dogs by far

Raised to run the greyhound tracks
Down on the puppy farm
Retired and is now devoted
To protecting people from harm

Too slow to compete they sent him away
To the glue factory
Saved by a handicapped boy
Now everybody knows that boy is me

I am a blind and halting boy
Condemned to life in this wheelchair
Other kids will not play with me
But Knuckles the dog, you were always there

Knuckles goes to the nursing home
To visit the elderly
Abandoned by their own children
Knuckles lets them from their misery

Knuckles the dog what a very good dog you are
You're the best dog of all the other dogs by far

Knuckles the dog won't mind
He respects all forms of life
Dying now in my arms
To save me bravely gave his life

Put down by a chances bullet
That was meant for me
Knuckles the dog who helps people
Now you are forever free

Knuckles the dog what a very good dog you were x 2

Knuckles the dog
Knuckles it goes with you
When you explore

Just pull his chain
He'll go for a walk
He's your dog
For sure

Knuckles the dog what a very very good dog
Very good dog
You were

Knuckles the dog what a very good good
Good good very good very good dog
You were

Knuckles the dog what a very very very very very good
Very good very good dog you were

Knuckles the dog what a very good dog dog
Very good dog
Boy good dog you were

Knuckles the dog what very good very good very good very good
Dog you were

Knuckles the dog what a very very very very very very good dog you were!