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you’re in, you’re out!

There is truly a hierarchy among minority populations. And, throwing “faith” into the mix makes it even more challenging. When we are with immigrant communities, our blindness sets us apart and makes others feel a bit more superior. When we interact with our community of blind people, our interfaith existance and intercultural marriage seems to divide us from the rest. We are too liberal for some Muslims and not liberal enough for others… the same goes with the Christian population.

I have noticed that with my other four children, they feel much more rooted in the community that they were raised in than I do. I raised my adult children in a small town homogenous community. There were — and still are perks for raising your children in such a community. And, truth be told, somedays, I desperately miss those perks. However, there are also drawbacks. One of the most prominent is the fact that it is so insular. And, many people, my family included, fall outside those guidelines of acceptance. Sometimes, somedays, some people can transcend those boundaries. But, the rules of “who” and “how long,” and “at what cost,” is left to the community. Anyway, My children still have friends from that community, even though they have moved out of its vacinity. I, However, don’t enjoy that luxury. I moved to a larger city. My decision to interfaith marry has also contributed to the schism between myself and them. It is more complicated, but most community members’ perception of me now is not one that would encourage a strong friendship. The lessons that I have learned from such an experience has taught me to be more open to people in general. Thus, I am always looking for new experiences and to meet new people.

In my effort to make more friends for both myself and Azaan, I have joined two meetup groups for parents. I am also considering attending a few different churches in the hopes of expanding my likeminded friend/community base. Of course, that is not the only, nor most prominent reason to continue to look for a church, but for the sake of this parenting blog I am only going to discuss this reason. And —– when you don’t have fellowship, you miss it.furthermore, having disabled parents and being in an interfaith family, I want my little guy to both celebrate diversity himself and find places inwhich he feels comfortable belonging. I also don’t want to project my feelings of marginalization on him.

We have been to a variety of playdates and functions that were meant to do just that. We have enjoyed them all for one reason or another. The jury is out on “what” exactly these have yielded in terms of friendships, but they certainly have broadened our prospective on learning, helped Azaan to be more social, possibly educated other parents on blindness and/or other cultures, eliminated the bordom factor, given me more confidence about going out and allowed us to have many interesting discussions at home. Now, I am conscious about overscheduling my child. And, I do feel like many of the activities that are offered out, especially for two year olds, could also be done just as effectively in the home. Thus, less money spent and less hastle. But, I also know that as blind parents, we can get so frustrated with paratransit and public transportation issues; so hastled about carseats and extra luggage with no free hands; so disoriented with loud music and wide open spaces; so alone when parents are hesitant to have a casual conversation with you and so flustered when trying to balance giving our children freedom to explore and being responsible enough to know where they are and what they are doing that many times we forego the experiences and just stay inside our little cocoon homes. I think thatI did a good job at balancing these, this summer.

summer roundup

It certainly has been a active summer for us. My baby (Ahem, toddler) has been to the library several times; enjoyed an indoor playground until he got lost amoung the hundred children that were there: was able to pet and play with baby chicks; visit a few different water parks; played at the Children’s museum; picked strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes; enjoyed at least three summer festivals; finally seen his three brothers at the same time; been fascinated with sparklers; went headfirst down a slide; enjoyed his first tractor ride; got his picture taken with a cow; narrowly escaped a geese ambush; spent numerous days at the mosque during Ramadan; welcomed his older sister’s baby girl into the world and tried to drive a golf cart. Of course, someone else has all of the pictures, so I can’t even display images for my sighted friends to see. (sorry).
He speaks in sentences, is understanding and speaking more Urdu, can recognize more than half of his letters and most of his numbers from 0 to 11, is starting to grasp the beginnings of consequences and empathy for others . He is learning his colors and knows at least eight shapes. He is learning to think of his own suggestions instead of taking the two options that I have given him.
What he doesn’t have down is … … going to the potty. That still seems to remain either out of his grasp or out of his desire…. whichever. So, I am patient and try not to feel a sense of competition from those who have had potty training success with their nineteen-month-old toddlers. I said that I would just relax and allow him to take the reins on this one, but — I must admit that with each passing month of dirty diaper duty (remember we cloth diaper), it is becoming a bit more challenging. Yes, I’ve checked and can confirm that his bladder can hold urine throughout the night. And, yes, he is aware of his penis and its function. He just has no desire to interrupt whatever he is doing to sit on a frog potty. And, I have not sunk low enough to bribe him, although when I do, it will be framed as “reward.” — as if that really makes a difference to anyone else, accept me. and, I’ll try to make it a “healthy reward,” by giving peanuts or soybeans instead of chocolate pieces.

Depending on the village!!

As a disabled parent, I realize that there are times when I need assistance, specifically in raising my child. surely, I might be able to go without this assistance, but at what expense to both myself and the child. We, as disabled parents walk a fine line. . There is a spectrum of responses to assistance.
first, there are the “uber independent ” who believe that they need no assistance at all in raising their children. I applaud these parents for being resourceful enough to find solutions to difficult challenges faced because of their disability. I commend their determination. However, there is a bit of pride and superiority that seems to accompany this determination and resourcefulness. Often the one who requests help is chastized for not being “independent enough.” And, there is an underlying notion that anyone who does depend on others for assistance is either unskilled, lazy or both.
Then, there are the assistance seekers. Often those who request someone’s help are quite aware of their limitations. they acknowledge that others might be able to perform a duty or handle a task better than they can. Humility is never a bad thing. However, many times, I do find these assistance seekers suffering from a case of learned helplessness. This type of learned helplessness and able-bodied superiority is frequently reflected in the children, as well. The children are not able to trust the parents because the parents can’t trust themselves. and, when there is learned helplessness, the helper’s fears of a one-sided relationship of burden has come to pass.

sometimes it is difficult for the disabled parent to foster an environment of interdependence, pride and humility at the same time. Honestly, many parents depend on others to help them. The difference is that if the one needing help does not exploit the situation, the helpers find it less of a burden because intrinsically, the helpers know that they might be able to count on the receiver for assistance, if they were to request. This reciprocation is rarely found in able-bodied / disabled parental interactions.

I use to believe and revel in the concept that “it takes a village to raise a child.” And, ideally, I do believe this. But, I wonder if anyone or most people understand the implications of that “village” raising your child. Here are some positive and negative points to ponder.

***PROS:
1. your child receives an entire network of people who love and care for him/her. This network might give the child more financial, educational, social and spiritual opportunities than he/she would have had if the parents didn’t consent to the village raising process.
2. While the parents might (or might not depending upon the culture) have the final say in the decisions made for the child, the village plays an important role in making and carrying out said decisions. They assume a bit of responsibility sometimes in the absence of the parents and sometimes in conjunction with the parents. This eleviates the parents of being the sole responsible caretakers for the child/children.
3. The child receives a variety of people to interact with and whom they can learn from when forming ethics, values and self esteem, etc.
4. Even only children can understand and reep the benefits of sibling-like interactions. the village is usually responsible for more than one child, thus, not only is there a network of adults, but children, also. It is comparable to having a plethora of cousins at your disposal whenever necessary, yet, the child remains an only child in their own household, so also reeps the rewards of being a singlet for their parents most of the time.
5. the village is strengthened by each person’s participation. Thus, each individual is able to give of their time, talents and resources to help others. Recognizing individual strengths helps each person achieve their highest potential, all while strengthening the village.

***CONS:
1. Many times those in the village who Claim to have shared values, might stray a bit too far in either direction for your comfort. If you are someone who likes control and wants your child to learn a set value system, this could be problematic.
2. It is more likely that your child will also encounter some situations that you might want them to avoid for quite some time.
3. while you, as a parent, might enjoy the shared responsibility, you might also be indirectly required to take on a bit of unwanted responsibility. This might come in the form of care, finances or time.
4. Decisions about the child takes on a more egalitarian approach. Therefore, consensus is much more important than individual opinions.
5. the children might grow to be more active members of the village, yet the parents (especially if they are disabled) might still be marginalized without a true communal purpose other than a vessel of charity.
6. the parents (especially if they are disabled) might experience a shift in power so that they are no longer the primary (or even a secondary) decision maker in the child’s life. It is easy for someone to inadvertently or even intensionally override your decisions and even parenting style.

In order for the village to actually support both the parent and the child, key concepts needs to be understood.

1. Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined. This will help the village not to feel as if you are pawning your child and the parent to not feel undermined by the collectiveness of the village.
2. Always Respect the parental structure. There needs to be respect for the parents in such a way that “they” are the sole decision maker. The children need to understand that although the village “assists” in raising them, their parents are the primary caregivers.
3. Every financial or significant opportunity should be discussed with the parent before presenting it to the child. Aspects such as “consequences (intended and unintended) both to the family structure and the child and repayment of an opportunity should be considered and evaluated.
4. Every member of the village should be an equal participant. The strength of the village lies in its people. Each member should find ways to contribute and everyone should feel comfortable accepting these contributions. community living should be reciprocal.

begin again!!!

It’s amazing to think about the reasons you start a blog, the reasons it doesn’t last and the feelings around the blog itself. I’m here to say, I’m picking it back up again. But…..

I started the blog because I thought that our parenting experience was unique enough to help those get a different prospective on parenting, yet common enough to include those who feel marginalize. Yet, I soon was overwhelmed with life, disenchanted with the lack of discussion from other bloggers and second guessing the importance of my own voice and prospective; thus, I stopped writing.
There is an amazing amount of guilt that comes with “not writing.” Even if only a handful of people read your blog, you feel as if you have stopped the story and you don’t know where or how to pick it back up again. And, even if you did, it is appropriate to do so?? Won’t others criticize you for being so halfhazzard about the entire blogging experience? does this mean that you are not really serious about those convictions / reasons that you had for starting your blog in the first place??? You wonder if you should just fade into blog history or if you will be seen like a washed-up has-been musician if you decide to pick your blog back up. And, you feel guilty because part of the story is missing, it feels fragmented, disjointed, etc.

But, I’m here. I am going to try this again. Because, for me, I feel like I am missing important reflections that I would rather read about instead of experience time and time again. Maybe there are parents who are still going through those challenges that I am … or have gone through them … and … … even if my story does seem fragmented, to leave it even more fragmented do to a bit of guilt and blogger shame is rediculous. Besides, I yearn for a bit of discussion and co-blogger analysis.

this is me, I am human, let’s move on.

For those who either enjoy or are in constant need of visuals, I’ll try … … again, to link my facebook and post some pictures of our growth, etc.

To those who are actually still subscribed to my blog, I give a hearty “thanks!” And, know that I’ll keep writing. I do ask that you comment because I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on my experiences / analysis / etc.

linking to another blog:

Ok, so I know that this particular blog has been inactive for quite sometime. and, I’m traveling soon and have lots to say, but feel guilty about so much time lapsing and not writing. We have missed so much!!!
We missed picking all of the green tomatoes out of the garden. I forgot to blog about how many words he can say now and his favorite toys and the fact that he tries to climb everything and his trips to the museum, etc. But, I need to practice putting in links and such. So, here goes.
We are traveling to Pakistan in … … 32hours…. exactly 32hours and our plane will take off from chicago. So, I am writing a blog just about our traveling in Pakistan.
Check it out at:
Pakistani safari
I hope that this link words. I have been trying to post links. Now, onto the video portion of this email…. and a way to make it relevant.
We will be attending a wedding… … how fun!
Here is a link to a Punjabi style wedding

Hopefully people can see this vidoe.
If not, excuse
me while I play around with these settings so that I can post videos and/or pictures and audio for family.
please check out my other blog and leave comments as well.
Thanks.

A package from Pakistan

Today we finally got the package! It came all the way from Pakistan. I had asked DH to ask his in-laws to get some of those plastic placemats that you put on the floor and a shilwar kamis for the baby. Those have not come yet. But, we were so excited that the package had finally come. After all, it had been lost in customs for a while and was almost sent back to Pakistan. And, nowadays, it costs his father a lot of Pak Rupies to send such packages!
Anyway, There were three wonderfully warm outfits, a snowsuit (which Azaan doesn’t have yet) and three pairs of shoes. The smallest pair of shoes (which fit him wonderfully) squeak. There is also a larger pair of shoes that light up. DH’s mother was wise in getting three different sizes of shoes. Luckily, the smallest just fit him, so he will be in shoes for a while. and…. … they probably didn’t send toys because Azaan has so many: especially acording to DH’s standards.
At first, he did not know what to think of the shoes. But then, the baby started walking in circles around DH and I… … just to hear the shoes squeak. I’ll try on the clothes tomorrow and try to send / upload a pic. The clothes are not Shilwar kamis, so they will probably look pretty “American.” But, they are good clothes. My mother in law picked out the clothes and although I don’t know what they say: two shirts have writing or pictures on them. the third shirt is a nice dress shirt. The clothes seem to be quite warm! We are greatful and excited. I want to get pictures and maybe I’ll try a video tomorrow!

Halloween reflections!

I just spent 45mins writing this while Azaan was asleep and it somehow was deleted with a stroke of a finger. (really frustrating).
anyway, (2nd time)
I dislike Halloween. I always have. I don’t think it is fun to scare people or to be scared. And, often people’s antics are just annoying, not scarry at all. I don’t like the pranks that they pull, either. Now, I am not an overly serious person, but these pranks have an ominous bent to them which makes them distasteful for me. Although, DH would love to find a good haunted house to visit. Most are too visual and he does not want to spend the money unless he is sure that he will get something out of it!
We (I) did pass out candy this year. Next year, I will be prepared and find some glow in the dark toys to pass out instead. I only had seven trick-or-treaters within three families. I decided to pass out candy in an effort to get to know my neighbors. It really didn’t work much. And, when DH came home from the mosque, he flippantly turned off our porch light to save money. Of course, being totally blind, I did not realize that he had turned out the light until he told me an hour later…. by that time, trick-or-treating was over. But, I really don’t like the aspect of begging for candy. OK, some of it is harmless, but why threaten to take revenge if you are not given what you want. How spoiled!!! Which leads into another reason that I dislike Halloween.
**Jack-o-lanterns**!
A pumpkin is gutted and carved and a candle is placed inside. this insures that the pervectly nutritious vegetable inside will be ruined. What a waste of food. In keeping with my theme, I must admit that I never liked or encouraged my children to play with their food. I won’t be putting my baby in a tub of uncooked rice for the sensory experience. I won’t be letting my child paint with jello and cool-aid. I won’t be using whip cream to help my child learn to draw. We won’t be using beans or macaroni for art projects that will just get tossed aside in another year. Although it is fun, I won’t be buying a gingerbread house kit so that my child can create with food. Food is for eating. How privileged we are to use food as art when others are starving…. … yes, even here in America!!!
I did buy a pumpkin and will hopefully harvest pumpkins bought by any family members who haven’t rendered the vegetable useless. My sister found some great ways to decorate pumpkins that did not include cutting or opening the pumpkin. Thanks Pintrest!! I don’t know who Diana Ratray is on “About.com” but she is certainly not very helpful when it comes to pumpkin preparation. I can’t get the rind off the pumpkin so am steaming it in chunks in the hopes that I can peel the rind off when we are finished. Hopefully, if this works out, I’ll make a great pumpkin bread with a creamy icing in the middle for DH and a pumpkin soup which I will thoroughly enjoy. Baby Azaan will probably love them both: but I’ll have to do some convincing to get DH to eat the soup. I’ll make some pumpkin seeds and spice them with chaat or cayenne for DH. I like mine with plain seasalt. I think that I might try to make a kind of “Nimco trailmix.” It might have spiced pumpkin seeds, candied cayenne pecans, honey roasted peanuts, chaat cashews, cheesy chex, goldfish, raisins, banana chips, garlic chips, chocolate pieces, mini sugar coconut balls(found in Shahi maywa), little cheese crackers, wasabe peas, roasted chana, sunflower seeds, small pretzle rods, chereos, dried cranberries/cherries/apricots, jellybellies, namak para and whatever else I can find. I’ll put them in small ziplock bags so we will always have some snacks around.
When Azaan gets old enough, we will probably have an autumn party which might include lots of pumpkin recipes, leaf collecting and whatever I can think of to celebrate autumn and harvest, but not Halloween. Maybe I’ll have a costume part of the party, but no devils/gobblins/etc. but, I have time to think about it because the baby is only 11months old.
In any case, I hope that this pumpkin steaming/preparation comes out well. If I can get a pumpkin bread made in time, I’ll take it to a friend who has three children(a four-year-old and 7mo twins) because she has invited me over today. I’ll help her with her English and maybe she’ll help me perfect my Biryani. Who knows!

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