From our archives: Nov 2002
Discovering new things is Hashem’s latest past time.
“What is this strange thing?” thought Hashem. “I can’t seem to hold it. It slips through my fingers, sticks in my hair and tastes strange. I can’t seem to walk in it without falling over, but it’s a lot of fun!” I’m sure that’s what was going through Hashem’s mind as he played in the sand for the first time in his life last summer. Although he was less than a year and a half old at the time, he bravely ran across the beach trying to jump, stomach first, into the surf. He loved the sea and more so, the pool. By the end of the holiday, he had even begun a primitive kind of “swimming”. He loved coming into the big pool with mom and dad, and he adored his baby pool that we set up for him in the garden. He would spend hours playing, splashing, and getting in and out while under the supervision of one of us. We took 15-minute shifts throughout the day (with the grandparents getting extended duty).
When he wasn’t swimming, Hashem was practicing all the words he had recently learned, constantly repeating the same thing over and over and over. My first thought was, “Wow, ma’shallah, he’s really learning to speak and convey messages to us.” Then after a few minutes of his repeated “talking,” I began to get bored but tried to encourage him to keep going. Four hours later, I was pulling my hair out and ready to sell him to the highest bidder! Luckily, his grandmother has unending patience and is relentless in teaching him vocabulary in Arabic, English and French. He received some new picture books from his aunt and uncle and has learned the names of animals, colors, foods etc. It’s quite amazing how much information children absorb. They are like sponges constantly observing, experimenting and adding to their database of knowledge. The only thing that slows them down is eating, and in Hashem’s case, teething!
Teething is an experience that is probably as painful for the parents as it is for the baby. The baby has the added discomfort of not knowing what this pain is or when it will stop. Hashem has been teething for at least six months. So far, he has five teeth while some of his friends have a full set. It looks like we may have several more months of this before it’s over. Each time a tooth tries to break through his gums, Hashem goes through a few days of intense irritability. I feel very bad for him because he’s generally a very cheerful guy, and the teething process really doesn’t suit him. In any case, as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” I guess that applies to both of us.
So in his new state of discovery, interrupted by bursts of teething, he has begun to “experiment” around the house. Just last week, he decided to climb onto the living room table and jump to the couch. The distance is about 25 cm but he felt he could do it. Luckily, I saw him just in time and rushed over to catch him before his ill-fated leap. However, the fact that I showed so much interest led him to climb up and try it again. “Wow… a new game,” he thought. I decided I should let him do it to get it out of his system. He successfully traversed the gap and laughed hysterically as he bounced on the couch. Of course, he wanted to do it again, so I moved the table closer. That quickly proved no good because if he slipped, he would surely bump his head on the way down. So I moved the table back. Bad idea, the gap became too big. I decided the only solution was to distract him with his favorite fruit. “AANAB!” That’s what Hashem yells whenever he sees, smells or thinks of eating grapes. He loves them – is addicted, actually. He runs around the house and up to strangers yelling “AANAB!” in a deep, sometimes threatening, voice.
Whenever he’s quiet for more than 60 seconds, he’s sure to be getting into trouble. Yesterday, my wife asked me where the telephone was. I said I didn’t know, but as it is a cordless phone, we could press the locator button so that it would beep and we could find it. It was 9:30 at night and it had taken an hour to get Hashem to sleep, so we decided to wait until morning, because we were afraid the phone might be in his room and the beeping noise may wake him up. The next day, while the washing machine was running, my wife heard a strange “clunking” noise. She thought the machine was acting up again and asked me to look at it. As she described the sound, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Sure enough, we stopped the machine and opened the door only to find the telephone, completely soaked and hidden between the clothes. I guess Hashem thought it needed cleaning.
Hassan is a father of two young boys who enjoys writing about their adventures as they navigate through life.