A Lesson in How to Love a Child


Recently I took my daughter Mai and her three-year-old son to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. I poured tea for her and I. My grandson– his nickname is Nooni–  wanted to drink tea, too.

“I want shay!” he demanded. He mixes his languages, sometimes.

Mom told him, “It’s too hot, Habibi.”

“I want shay!” he cried, louder.  Mai continued to dissuade him but he wouldn’t believe her that the tea was hot. In fact, the tea was not particularly hot, and Nooni insisted on his own cup of “shay.”  Finally, she poured him a tiny amount in his own cup, and swished it around a bit. I didn’t object.

We had underestimated the tenderness of tiny mouths. He screamed, threw the tea cup down, then started slapping his mother’s arm. I scolded him for slapping his mom, but Mom did not react. She perceived that he was  expressing his shock and pain not only at the hot tea, but more importantly, at her for not protecting him.

His slaps said, “Mom! Why did you cave in to me? Don’t you know I’m just a three-year-old, and still inexperienced about the world? You have to protect me!”

I felt quite badly then  for not objecting to the tea, and I remembered  occasions on which I had caved in to him and gave him whatever he wanted, because when he cries, my heart also cries. I love to see my grandson happy.

The incident with the tea taught me a lesson about how to make him happy, a lesson I’ll have to keep foremost in my mind. This is a kid who always wants to do whatever the adults do, from drinking tea to driving the car to diving into the deep end of the pool!



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About Marahm

At first glance, I may appear to be a middle-aged American woman with kids, grandkids, a job in a hospital, and the responsibilities that come with all of that. Behind the image, which is true enough, I am fairly unhinged from much of American mainstream living, having spent twelve years in Saudi Arabia, years that sprung me from societal and familial impositions of narrow bands of truth. I have learned to embrace my sense of identity as a seeker, an artist, and a writer. I study Arabic and Italian language, because I love them, and I love their people, and I plan to spend more time in both the Middle East and Italy after I retire. I am a photographer. I write, and sometimes publish, flash memoir, and now a blog or two.
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