Perplexing Parenting

It seems that every year, since our kids were tots, the eve of Eid is an exhausting ordeal. When they were small, I’d wait for my little darlings to be tucked into bed so that I could have time to secretly wrap numerous presents and prepare the house for their eagerly anticipated awakening where they’d each find their own carefully arranged pile of Eid gifts.

Then, after slurping Turkish coffee until we were no longer catatonic from fatigue, we’d dress them up in nice new clothes; drive to the mosque while chanting “Here I am O Lord” in Arabic for Eid prayers; pick up doughnuts on the way home so we could indulge in sweets for breakfast; and feel satisfied that we survived the challenges of fasting, self-denial, and giving extra effort in prayers and charity in Ramadan.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon would be spent in calling relatives around the country and overseas to wish them Happy Eid. Later in the day, we would typically gather with friends and relatives at a restaurant for the end of their lunch buffet, which would suffice as our early dinner, and eventually end up at someone’s home to share desserts, catch up on visiting, and let the kids play. When the kiddies started to grow up, they would sometimes leave us to play basketball, laser tag, or go to a movie.

This Eid eve is proving to be another endurance Olympiad, as we had to rise early for more home improvement painting, and I’ve spent the past 10 hours in the kitchen in preparing today’s and tomorrow’s dinners. Presently, it is 3:00 a.m., and I am cooking a second large pot of stuffed grape leaves which we will haul out of state to our favorite Wisconsin getaway locale. It should be quite the event, as we may have more than forty humans from six or seven families converging on this place for the first out-of-state Eid gathering, but we still need to be at Eid prayers by 9:00 a.m. I’m really going to need a double dose of coffee in a few hours.

While waiting for my Halal lamb and beef stuffed grape leaves to cook, I had a flashback of how last weekend resulted in late hours and exhaustion affiliated with parenting. Riad and I were blissfully watching the end of a TV series that we’d been following via Netflix for the past few weeks. We were around episodes 81-82, just before the end of the series, when we could no longer get contact from our high school senior. It was getting unreasonably late, past his curfew of 11:00 p.m., and we’d not heard from him since about 8:45 p.m. when he informed us that he was going to an unidentified friend’s house to wrap up an AP Biology project that was due that night by midnight. He’d been working on this project for weeks, and we trusted that he was working with a classmate with the same course. However, after not responding to texts and phone calls and it was 1:15 a.m., I called my super sleuth daughter, who was driving back with friends and another responsible adult from a wedding in Iowa. She became immediately concerned when she too could not reach her brother by phone. However, resourceful as she is—should be considered for espionage—she found the phone number of a female friend of my son’s. Pretending to be another mutual friend, she called the girl. Apparently, the girl had been sleeping, and categorically denied seeing my son, but then my daughter heard him in the vicinity. Immediately, the ruse was up, and she demanded to talk to him. The girl became flustered and hung up. Then my enraged daughter phoned her brother again, to which he sheepishly admitted to falling asleep on the couch. Skeptical, she phoned me to alert me to her findings, and informed me that he was on his way home. Needless to say, he was grounded for several days and still has limited use of the car so that he is deterred from being so careless again.

While that may seem to be enough for most parents though, there really was much more to learn about the next day. My eldest son, who has been struggling from several debts and limited ability to earn, devised a ploy to get a free seafood dinner to share with his friend. He learned several years ago, when we’d visited a relative out West, that casinos have lavish feasts for a pittance. Wise to follow in his relative’s footsteps, he discovered a similar “deal” whereby he could get his favorite food, seafood, through coming to a riverboat casino about 20 miles from our home. Ohhh! The frustrations to keeping on the straight and narrow path! I suppose that I should be thrilled that my son told me of his brilliant plan, gloating the next day; and he was sure to add that he hadn’t really indulged in gambling but just was really interested in the free food!

I know that as a parent I should be grateful, but the icing on the cake, so to speak, came also the next day when my youngest son inquired if I knew that my daughter, the super sleuth, was in a car accident on the way back from Iowa?! Apparently, when I’d called her, she was petrified because she thought I’d known something via mother’s intuition. However, when she determined that I was very deeply concerned about my missing son, she withheld the situation she’d just survived.

She was in a two-car caravan, about two hours away between Chicago and Iowa, when her car blew a tire and careened out of control swaying repeatedly across lanes until the car was stopped in a ditch. Police and paramedics were there, and miraculously no one was severely hurt beyond bruises and sore muscles. They were deposited by a hotel by the paramedics while the driver called parents to pick them up. The other responsible adult also waited and resumed the caravan with the newly arrived parents until they were all safely home. My daughter informed me that the wedding was causing their very late arrival and that she was going to simply sleep at the home of my trusted friend for safety sake. How apropos!

Within a single night, three out of four of my precious darlings were all in danger, and I was lucky to have them all back safe. This Eid is one which I will hold with special thanks and hope that we all live to see the next Ramadan. It seems that threats to our safety are swelling.

This afternoon, my neighbor told me that while she was away from home, about seven local thugs broke into her home, at 2:15 p.m.! Amazingly, nothing seemed to be taken; but the fact that some neighbors saw the intruders and yelled at them, and that the police were essentially ineffective was concerning. Last night, I was awoken about 3:15 a.m. when I heard siren after siren, and saw several series of flashing lights illuminate my bedroom wall. Peeking out the window, I spied a block long double row of assorted police vehicles from up the road to my driveway. Cops were opening their trunks and hauling out assault rifles, and there was tumult for at least twenty minutes while we flipped on all our exterior lights, verified that our doors were locked and children safely home. In fact, one was still out and en-route to home after staying out to chat with a friend after a movie. I commandeered the logistics of safe passage from car to kitchen door so not to provoke a potential hostage situation. Assistant Principal emergency training came in handy!

Seriously though, I cannot emphasize my hope to be able to relocate fast enough. And I am taking extra precautions with current plans to celebrate Eid away this time, as something is telling me that it is time to move on, treasure precious life and people I am blessed to know, and stay close to my Creator for protection.

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