Last Thursday you turned nineteen months old. You’ve become an avid stick collector always bringing them to me with pride expecting nothing short of jaw-dropped amazement at your finds. A few weeks ago we walked past a fallen tree you stared at with such longing I could almost see the wheels in your brain turn as you formulated how best to convince me to take home with us this beautiful stick, the biggest stick you ever saw.
We’re still in our condo and we go to your favorite park daily without fail. Despite the fact that this is an entrenched part of our daily routine, each time we walk up to the park you squeal and jump as though you truly thought you would never see this place again. This month is also the month of your teeth which while missing in action for most of your life are now coming in quick bloody succession and leaving behind the baby I knew and bringing forth a little boy, one I can scarcely believe is mine.
In keeping with your impending boyhood, you get things more this month. You tell us bus [stop], try to sing the ABCs, and you read. My train driving, laundry-hamper-pushing, jumping squealing angel monkey now loves to read. Put Me In The Zoo [which I inexplicably feel drawn to read in a German accent] is your favorite as is the Urdu Bul Bul Ka Bacha. You love this book. Just the sight of this book makes you leap up and clap. You laugh at certain parts, you squeal and wave goodbye when the bulbul is released to join her friends. Some days I look up to find you lying on a pillow, book in hand, turning pages in intense concentration. I love that you love to read.
Though you remain a boy of few words you understand us, perhaps more than I can properly appreciate. A while back unsure if I should stay at home or perhaps go back to work I applied for a job that seemed right up my alley and decided if it was meant to be I’d get a call. I got the call. The interview went great. They called me to come in again. I felt torn as it was the sort of job I’d love to do and in an environment that seemed ideal. I lifted you up after the phone call, jokingly explained it to you in a sing-song voice, that mama had a job opportunity and what did you think of me going back to work. You stared at me. And you broke down into inconsolable sobs. Elmo, Pooh Bear, promises of the park– nothing would soothe you. You refused to go to your Abu, instead you clung to me your arms and legs wrapped around me and wept for a good thirty minutes. I didn’t take the job. When I told you this, how much I love being home with you, how this [ultimately a] job offer and this clear choice I had helped me see just how much I can’t leave this behind yet, you ran to me and tumbled into my arms and kissed me for five straight minutes. I don’t know how you understood it, and some say you didn’t understand a thing, but I know you did. I saw it in your eyes, the understanding, and most startling, the appreciation for this choice I made for us. Thank you for appreciating me and for not taking for granted an arrangement you have every right to believe your birthright. Every parent does what is best for their family, and my job opportunity helped me realize that right now being home with you and pursuing my personal creativity is the best thing for all of us.
Your nani and I love exchanging books with one another, nearly each time we meet, the trading of paperbacks are inevitably involved and maybe one day, I’ll do this with you. One of my favorite authors is Alexander McCall Smith, and recently I read a book of his in which he wrote something that stopped me in my tracks. I try each month to leave you with a bit of advice, and this month, his words contain wisdom I hope you will one day absorb and live by:
We should all busy ourselves in being who we are, although many of us do not and spend so much time and energy being something else. We try to be what others want us to be, or what we ourselves want to be. And then we suddenly realise that our lives have shot past and we have not got round to being who we really are.
Waleed, strive to be brave, confident and creative. Strive to go to the moon or build designer igloos for wealthy Inuits or whatever you wish to do to that is true to your heart and your talents. Be the best you but always be you. Because I see who you are, and what I see? Is beautiful.