So, it's 4 o'clock Friday afternoon and I'm STILL waiting for Hamo to finish eating lunch so that I can sit next to him and force him to study his Islamic Studies books for his re-take test scheduled for TOMORROW. He has the attention span of a fruit fly on crystal meth. I swear I'm losing it. Between fussing at Randa every 5 minutes to turn down the t.v., at Samiya to stop tattling non-stop, at Hamo to get back in his room to study, at Ismail to stop teasing Hamo to the point that he COMES out of his room to kill him, at the people upstairs who decided to start smashing their floors in with sledgehammers around 8 o'clock last night until 11:30 and then pick up up this morning with their annual dwarf-tossing and furniture juggling contests, I'm on the brink of sanity. I think I could've handled things a little better with his failing his final back in June had I not been blamed for it. I tried to reason with him and explain that he needs to take responsibility for his own shortcomings and how you only get out of things what you put into them, etc. Then I remembered he's 14 and all he hears is the WAH WAWAWAWAH sound of Charlie Brown's teacher's voice when I talk to him. So I went back to the old "Get your butt in your room and you're grounded from computer until after you pass your exam with an A," strategy. He's pissed off, of course. But you know, when isn't he? He's a teenager. He's ALWAYS pissed off. I think the real trick is going to be coming up with various errands to send Aiman and Ismail on today. If I can just keep them busy enough, then they won't fight or tease Hamo giving me just enough quiet to stuff this vocabulary and memory work into his thick little head. Don't get me wrong. He's not dumb and this really isn't that hard. He's just bored of school, lazy when it comes to study and blames me, the school, the curriculum, me again, global warming, (fill in the blank) for his shortcomings in this one subject. I'm praying that I can make it through the next 24 hours without killing, maiming, or seriously hurting the feelings of anyone I come across. Oh, and did you see the picture of my new jacket? It's just the right size, too!
There are a ton of things that I could live without. People who spit on the street when they're walking and guys who "adjust" themselves in public are things NO ONE should have to endure. Those selfish younger and healthier people who refuse to stand up and let an old man with a cane or a pregnant woman have the seat on the subway or bus... who couldn't live without them? And those really LOUD, obnoxious, self-absorbed people who talk on their mobile phones really loudly at the eatery in the mall.....we could go years without another one of those, right? Oh, wait. I said THINGS I could live without. I didn't say people. Crap. Well, instead of editing the title, I suppose I'll just start a new paragraph and get myself back on track.
Okay, back on track-- There are a lot things that I could stand to do without. Humidity, high prices, bad manners, rodents of ANY kind, household pests like ants, roaches and sometimes my own offspring are things that I could haul off to a lost and found....well, the kids they'd probably force me to take back like the whole Ransom of Redchief thing. But the following are things that I could definitely, absolutely without a doubt live without ever having to deal with again:
10. Slow internet/No internet. I have grown tired of my kids (and me) whining about how "the internet is down again!" especially when I'm trying to do something important like cook, use the bathroom, hang clothes, or break up a fight between the older two boys and I need the other kids occupied. It's also not very convenient when I'm trying to do something important online like banking, blogging or Facebooking. (Is that an actual verb now?) Personally, I blame the loser who runs our ISP. He is a man who should be forever in my husband's debt and give us FREE internet for life due to the fact that my husband will not get me a taser.
9. The c-word. I had honestly forgotten all about the existence of the c-word because living in Egypt, no one here knows it or uses it. And although my kids swear a lot when they think I'm not listening, they don't know this word because they've never heard it. Then last night they showed Saturday Night Fever and I heard it about 5 times in a row within a period of three minutes of dialogue.
8. Liars. I have no respect for people who lie especially when they are habitual liars. I feel as though my intelligence has been insulted and just violated. I have a sister-in-law who I think needs psychiatric help due to the amount of lying she does. It wouldn't be so bad, I suppose, if she weren't so stupid on top of being Queen of Prevarication. But this chick is such a moron she forgets what lies she's previously told me (who forgets pretty much nothing when it comes to useless trivial information) and changes her story later. Maybe she's got the double whammy because I think I'm also prejudiced against stupid people. I'll have to rethink #8 as it pertains to her. Maybe I'll just say #8 is my stupid, lying sister-in-law. Yeah, that's better.
7. Canadian t.v. drama series. I just can't get into them. It's like watching bad porn that has no actual porn in it. Bad writing, bad acting, bad music. What's the point? Why not watch the weather channel? At least you'll get the excitement of an occasional hurricane.
6. Rodents. I have been known to actually pee my pants in fear when a mouse gets into our house. Now that we live in the city, I see rats on a weekly basis. No, no, no, not inside our flat! Outside near the trash bins or in alleyways. I cannot stand them. Or guinea pigs or gerbils or hamsters or even rabbits. Nope, sorry. I can't get behind the whole "cuddly bunny" conga line, man. That's just a rat with really long ears. Bugs bunny I can handle. But other than him, move over Ozzie Fudd! I'm a Wabbit Swayaw...a guitaw pwayaw!
5. Yeast infections. Yeah, no reason to expound, right?
4. Prejudice of any kind (with the exception of my prejudice against stupidity...it's colorblind, knows no borders, size, shape, religion or creed.)
3. Mean people. You know those people who treat waitresses badly, talk down to anyone not in a position to do anything for them, and those who laugh at someone else's expense? Those people are all mean. And well, the bumper sticker says it all: Mean people suck.
2. Global ANYTHING. I don't like global marketing, global economy, global warming.....I don't even think I like globes anymore. Well, maybe just snow globes. But anything global is just too big and screws the little guy in a really GLOBAL way. Global marketing made a lot of people rich (mostly those guys up there in #3) at the expense of the smaller businesses. Global economy...well, that's just a cluster waiting for Obama to fix. And Global warming.......the reason for this stifling unbreathable heat we're suffering through. Damn, I hate it when Al Gore is right. And globes are just really not that convenient when in need of a map, in most cases.
And my number one thing that I could live without: Teenage attitudes. Because you love your teenager because he's your kid...but the attitude can just die a quick death and spare me my sanity. In fact, I'd be willing to tolerate the other top 9 if we could just get rid of #1. But you know, I'll probably never be Queen for a Day no matter how badly I want to be. So the chances of me being able to rid myself of my top ten list of crap I could live without are slim and none. Perhaps I'll just have to adjust to Canadian tv drama series, my stupid, lying sister-in-law, slow internet and useless attempts at folding globes. Yeast infections and rodents, NEVER.
I was just sitting here going over a few issues in my mind when I came to the brutal realization that I've become....a little insecure. I know! ME? Insecure? Never. I'd have never thunk it either, but it is true. And this is a first for me. So I may not be handling insecurity all that well. I'll explain.
If you ask any of my friends, family, acquaintances, high school pals, former work mates, "What is Nikki like?" I'd be willing to bet that NONE of them would say I'm insecure. You'd be more apt to hear words like loud, wild, uninhibited, funny, crazy, short, a legend in her own mind, and creative. But insecure was something I could never be. And then a few events in my life left me in a tail spin. Marriage, children, becoming a Stay-at-Home-Mom.....nah, I could handle those. My two oldest kids becoming teenagers, however, has just about sucked the life out of me....and I still have 3 more teetering on the brink of Teendom. (God help me!)
I've always been just one step shy of "cool." Not quite a dork with pocket protector and elbow patches, but still acceptable enough to sell donuts for the junior class during lunch breaks in high school, and able to give the old "I'm really flattered that you like me" speech to guys at work who wanted to date me but DID have pocket protectors and elbow patches. I've always been able to do anything I've set my mind to do. I wanted to learn to speak Arabic and I have. I always wanted to travel the world and I have. I wanted to marry a great guy and have a big family...boy, did I ever! So, what's with the insecurity?
Well, I want to write. I've been talking about writing a book now for ten years and I just cannot seem to get the flow going. Yeah, I write all the time on here....but I can't make a book out of a blog. And then I meet people on the internet like Shauna Glenn and I think, "Wow. She's younger than me and she's published and she's got one fewer kids than I do. Why can't I get my stuff together? I should have even MORE to write about than she does?" And damn if that little bit of intimidation starts to expand into full blown discouragement.
I know I can write. I know I can make people laugh. And I don't mean just my friend, LaRonda. Yeah, she has a great sense of humor but she and her husband have a pest control business. So who knows what she's been sniffing all day prior to reading my blogs. She may laugh at anything now, for all I know! (Just kidding, LaRonda. I know you keep your chem-sniffing to a minimum.) I guess I just had that moment of clarity where you realize what's been holding you back from your dreams. So I guess I'd better get my stuff together and start writing for real.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it's HONKIN' HOT in Egypt in the Summertime. But ohmigosh! It's hotter than it's ever ever ever been in the nearly 8 years I've lived here. I swear, we sweat IN THE SHOWER! I've had to send out my two oldest kids to get part-time jobs JUST to afford the antiperspirant. Okay, not really. But it truly is hotter than hot. And humid. It's so bloody humid that if it were just one percent more humid, it would be raining. Damn the luck. If it WERE raining in Egypt, it would be winter.
And do you wanna talk about thirst? I don't. I'm quite tired of talking about it, frankly. I have saved up about 16 soda bottles that we refill with water and keep in the freezer and refrigerator in order to help beat the heat. I dutifully fill up allllllllllll the water bottles and re-arrange the refrigerator (because ALL family members EXCEPT mothers pile every damn thing in the kitchen onto the top shelf of the fridge as though all other refrigerator shelves are just imaginary) and stock all the filled bottles at night so that we can have cold water to drink during the scorching heat of the day. Sounds like a plan, right? WRONG! I've got 5 little sponges running around behind me sucking down all the water before it even chills 5 degrees! They get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and chug down an entire liter of cold water out of the fridge. HELLO??? Why do you think you're peeing every 9.8 minutes??? Because everyone knows when you drink 1 liter of water, 2 liters comes out! And since it takes me until around 3:30 am to get all of them in bed, bladders drained and refilled several times over, they all get up before I do. And of course, they start drinking all the water again. Does anyone refill a bottle? Of course not. This would require at least 37 minutes of the "It's not MY turn!" argument, followed by symptoms similar to the D.W.C.'s (Dish Washing Cramps- the sudden urge to have to poop upon being told it's your turn to wash the dishes.) And so around 11am after I've had a couple of cups of coffee and decide I need a glass of water to help get me through another flaming hot day in Egypt, I open the fridge to find a plate of dried up cheese and a half-eaten apple (on the top shelf) and NO WATER BOTTLES. Nope, they're all empty and piled in the sink. Oh, and the ice cube tray? At least they stuck it back in the freezer, helpful souls....EMPTY.
And the next person who asks me, "How about that heat?" is going to be told: "HEAT YOU!"
So, I've reached my limit of hearing the question whined at me, "But WHYYYY??" every time I tell my kids to do or not do something. It is the reply to every request from "Make your bed" to "Wash your hands" to "Stop giving your brother atomic wedgies in public." I cannot for the life of me remember EVER asking my mother WHY when she told me to do something. I had had the fear of God put into me at a very young age, I suppose. And although we were always allowed to verbalize our disagreements with their decisions with respect, we still almost 100% of the time had to suck it up and do what they told us while our opinions were "duly noted."
I guess therein lies the danger of our vowing to be "different from our parents." We try to allow them to grow as little persons when they aren't capable of handling that. I don't think my parents did anything really wrong with us. Oh, don't get me wrong. I STILL have a few examples of what NOT to do when raising kids that I learned from them. But all in all, I'm fine with the job that they did. None of us did any real jailtime. (I'm not counting my brother's time in the brig when he was in the Navy for peeing on his bunkmate while drunk because he was angry at the dude for ratting him out when they went to Canada without permission.) Two of us have college degrees (I'm NOT one of them) and one is a professional student. Three of us are married and have kids and none of us has joined any wild cults like Hare Krishna, the Branch Davidians, or Amway.
My kids are very polite for the most part. I'm rarely embarrassed by them in public and I receive compliments all the time by relatives and strangers alike by how well- mannered they are. Most of the sass I get from them is when no one else is around. And of course, there is the whole "I'm a tough guy and can kick anyone's ass in the whole school" crap that I have to endure with Ismail. Maybe it's my fault...okay. I'm pretty sure it's my fault. I'm probably the most sarcastic, cynical and sassy mother alive in Egypt. So admittedly I've brought a lot of this on myself. When I ask my kids stuff like "DO YOU WANT ME TO BEAT THE HELL OUT OF YOU?" and they respond with, "Sure. I'm free for an hour or so," I wonder what on Earth possessed me to keep being the smart-mouth that I am after giving birth to the first one.
I've asked them, "What language do you speak?!" and I've been told, "Hindi." I've asked what they're doing and been told, "Jumping up and down like an idiot." And I've even been told, "Not mine," when I've asked, "Do you see how this behavior can be a problem?" Grrrrr. Yes, it's true. They learn by example. Dammitman. I wish that they could actually follow directions and do the whole "do as I say, not as I do" thing. But unfortunately, it ain't happening. So, anyway, I'm going back to basics as of this morning and I've started with the simple response my mother always had for the "But whyyyyyyyyyyy?" question that we rarely dared ask when I was a kid, "BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT'S WHY!"
So, I decided to make fish today and before I left (LATE) to the open market Ismail yelled out behind me: "I want SQUID for dinner!" So Aiman and I booked down to the SOUK (pronounced soook means Market in Arabic) and stopped to buy him some grape gum with the squirty insides from a candy man next to the guy who sells eggs and homemade farmer's cheese. I got to the fish lady, Um Karima, but she said the sardines went fast today and I should get up earlier. (Yeah, Rup Rours, Reorge! as Astro would say!) Anyway, I got a kilo of squid and passed on everything else. No one has any good fish after 3pm So I decided to make green bean stew with filet of beef instead.
Still, what to do with this damn squid??! So I got out my B.A.S.F.C.B. (Big Ass Seafood CookBook) that my sister, Denise, sent me for my birthday twelve years late (NOPE! Swear to God she signed the inside cover and mistakenly dated it before she put it aside and forgot to mail it for 12 years until she cleaned out a closet or something.) So I quickly read the part about "How to Clean a Squid." Sounded easy enough. SHUH-HUH! They neglected to say that Squid-skin is really thick and clings to the meat tighter than a G.I.Joe kung fu death grip! Also, I figured out why they tell you to cut the tentacles off below the eyes. Because if you don't pay attention and cut in the wrong place the little eyeballs kind of explode and you get this nasty black ooze all over your clothes, the counter, and the clean dishes you just paid the 8-yr old to wash for you because your legs are tired from showing your muscle-head husband that you CAN lift weights even though you're over- weight and over forty! So I cleaned up that mess, threw away about half of the tentacles due to impatience being my middle name and squeezed lemons over the remaining 3/4 kilo of cleaned and cut squid, tossed it in a bag and threw it in the freezer. We'll have it tomorrow, God willing, if I can "get up earlier" and get to the fish market before noon. If not, cheese sandwiches and watermelon may just have to do nicely.