Some of the most random conversations I’ve had have been with my nieces and nephews. One night when the lights went out we all sat on the floor and told stories. Nuha’s one was about a butterfly and an apple (I don’t think she’ll remember this now because she was so young, and I’m not sure that I’m remembering it correctly either) and when we all started giggling she yelled at us for being “erretating”! Which is funny now still, especially because Nuha is so cool and calm nowadays.
For some reason one of the first words I remember Imaan saying is “water”, so I always associate watermelon with Imaan. This kid really knows how to do a supermodel pose for a photo (at some point when she was about 2 years old she couldn’t smile for the camera at all – I think the concept of a fake-smile confused her sincere and uncomplicated picture of the world).
Aside: did you know (who knows if this is truly true but I read it somewhere) that we learn what smells good and what smells bad? This means that roses smell rosy and sewage smells gross because at some point we taught our brains that we should have good or bad reactions to those smells. This means that we could potentially have taught ourselves to like all smells! If only I had known this before walking the smelly streets of India! Anyways, I think that we also learn what to fear, for instance, the dark. When the lights went out on that fateful storytelling night, the kids weren’t scared at all – why? Because they had not yet learnt to be afraid of the dark. I wish that I could unlearn my fear of cockroaches and insects and things with wings.
Also, don’t underestimate energy – when Rania, Hanna, Nadia and I were babysitting one day, we thought we could get the kids tired by running around the yard, and then we’d all get some quiet time – well, we ended up tired, but the kids kept running (bad plan). I want boundless energy!! How do we get that? How can a kid spend hours playing the same game but I can’t even do one thing without looking at Twitter or email etc – what great focus they have.
The girls also sometimes end up in endless fits of giggles. Nuha, Imaan, Tahani and Khadeeja have these insane laughing fits that remind me that kids laugh hundreds of times a day and adults, I think, laugh under 10 times a day. How sad. Why don’t we find things infinitely funny? Are we afraid of being silly?
I also envy their sense of style and self-confidence. Khadeeja, who I once thought was a tomboy, felt confident walking around with a tiara, heels and a flowy dress for a whole evening out. How cool is that?! Tahani, a bit more shy, still manages to surprise me when I notice her busting a move in one of our impromptu dancing moments.
The boys – well they’re just another ballgame all together, but I must say that I’m surprised by how affectionate they can be. Momo is pretty much a tall almost-adult by now and he scandalizes me by how much he knows about…stuff. He’s just about one firm handshake away from being a man, but it’s still strange to see this proper fully formed person moping around when I still remember the chubby cute baby (oh gosh I sound old). Talha is an adorable little ball of energy, strong as a house and sweet as a marshmallow. Although it’s little Uzayr who teaches me most about manners, always politely saying “Jee” to everything and everyone.
Laughter, confidence, manners, fun – I want to be a child for a day – and it’s not that hard – hanging out with these guys, my childhood feels just a skip and a hop away.
By the way, on the anniversary of my Elizabeth Bennett day, a bucketful of love and toasties must be sent to my very own Mr Darcy. It’s probably time to read Pride and Prejudice (again).
But in the meantime, I need to remember to enter the world of these kiddos more often – so much fun has yet to be had, and they remind me of all things good, and teach me many things forgotten.