Wide Earth Smallholding

Wide Earth Smallholding

And Allaah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.(Qur'aan- 71:19)

Beauty All Around: Creative Parenting Part Six

The other day I was listening to the children discussing some of the places we have lived. Those of you who follow my Yemeni Journey blog will know that we have moved around a lot more than most families, prompting me to at times ascribe our little tribe to that of the Bedouin. Most of the houses we have lived in have been pretty small, often in not so nice neighborhoods, and hardly what most people would think of as ideal. Yet, despite this, the children don’t have any bad memories of any of those houses, instead remembering them for the good in them, and the good we made in them, alhamdulillah.

One case in point would have to be the mud house we lived in in Damaaj. It was tiny, even on the scale of tiny houses, and our family was large. We chose it because it was right near the masjid and we had come to Damaaj in order to study, and because the price was something we could afford. The kitchen was smaller than most people’s bathrooms, and the three rooms were postage stamp size. There was no electricity, the plumbing didn’t work for most of the time we were there, and running water was by no means a sure thing. There were no systems for heating or cooling at all, and every time it rained the small sitting area would flood. I mean flooding of epic proportions. I don’t know how many times I sat on the doorstep to my room when I had the typhoid, watching the children bail out the house, bucket after bucket that I suspect just came back in from another route. Needless to say we had no furniture in that particular room!

Despite all of this, that little mud house was one in which we were all incredibly happy and fulfilled, and our lives were interesting and meaningful. I remember walking to class in the mornings, feeling so totally and completely alive and content that it was almost as if I might burst. I once told someone that living the way we lived ( and still live, as much as possible) cuts down on the distractions, the white noise that fills your ears, mind and heart and causes you to not see the truth of the beauty all around.

How does this all relate to parenting? We teach our children what they should put value in. If you teach them that value comes in having the latest gadget, a sweatshirt from Victoria’s Secret, or some new game to play on the computer, then guess what? That is what they will value. The other day in class I was trying to explain this to my students: Everyone complains about their children, and says my children are “different” from everyone else’s, mash’Allaah tabarakAllaah, as if they came out that way, fully genetically programmed to be the way they are. BZZZT! Wrong answer. It is a lot of hard work. A lot of careful watching, examination and appraisal, and switching gears when necessary. It is teaching them to see that strength comes from hardship, and patience, contentment, and even joy are a part of every trial that reaches you. It is teaching them that this life is not what you are thinking about or planning or hoping, but rather is what happens to you, each and every moment you draw breath on this earth. That there is beauty all around them, and beauty inside of them, and they just have to take the time to look, listen, taste, smell and feel it.

SIngle leafYesterday we went on a walk at dusk. The air had that crisp almost winter but not quite flavor to it, and the smell of the decaying leaves reminded us of the cycle of life and death that marks our time on earth. We stepped out the door, and I said, “Breathe.” And they did. And they can never untake that breath, or unfeel the cold, quiet air filling their lungs. I pointed out a small red leaf, laying in stark contrast to its brown and yellow neighbors. “Look!” And they can never unsee that splash of color in the late Autumn landscape. In the park, we saw the geese gathered around an old, bare tree, looking up at it in seeming adoration. The wind was blowing the leaves across the path in front of us in a scuttling, rushing movement like the tides on the beach of the Arabian Sea. “Listen.” And they can never unhear that whispering, rasping sound of dry leaf and cement coming together, parting, coming together again, or the soft sound of the geese feathers as they moved, restless, when we disturbed their peace.

Just be, my children, be and be thankful and know that things are unfolding as they should, and you are a part of all of this, right here, right now- the beauty all around.

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14 comments

  1. What a gift it is to teach your children to love writing, Khadijah. I have 4 grandchildren who are being homeschooled. Like you, their parents are creative people who are developing in their children the love of creative expression – and helping them find their voices on paper. God bless you and Nusaybah and Juwairiayah and Maryam. Yes, you CAN write… and I look forward to more of your postings!

    1. Thank you Jan, for your kind words! I love to hear about other homeschooling parents who nurture creativity in their children- it’s so important. I’m sure their grandma has a hand in that as well!

  2. Maa sha Allah. This is beautifully written. Their poetry reflects their intelligence and creativity. You have definitely inspired me in doing that with my children, despite the fact my children are both under 5…I’ll give it a few years. Inshallah.

    1. With my smaller children, I tend to use other forms of art for creativity- edible finger paints, mud, clay, you name it…little ones are creative by nature, and it is so good to let them learn how to express this in a halal way…

  3. Hugs to Maryam for “I can write with clothes all over the floor”! Here’s to priorities set straight.
    ALL the possibilities expressed are delightful. So glad you posted this – so glad I’m reading it as part of starting my day. I may write a little better today …

    1. Of course, Jazz, she couldn’t be talking about a room in MY house, right???? I liked the image of writing with kids on my legs- I’ve done that with babies on my lap for years!

  4. AS SALAAM ALAIKUM.
    your children have inherited your writing talents, MASHAALLAH, nusaybah & juwairiayah sound very observing and maryam looks very playful.

  5. AsSalaamu’alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakaatuh, So beautiful alhamdulillaah. All of them are such creative and descriptive writers, maashAllaah. I can’t believe this was coming from a 13 year old, 11 year old and 6 year old!? BaarakAllaahu’alaihum I can”feel” Nusaybah’s writing so vibrant and vivid. And Juwayriyyah’s poem is intensely beautiful….By the way, is gossamer a word that 13 year old even heard of, let alone knows how to use? And Maryam is too adorable maashaAllah, so intelligent for such a little girl, baarakAllaahu’alaiha. Tell her she inspired me to write this note while holding my son on my lap (even though I didn’t want to). SMILE. All of these are 1st prize winners in any poetry contest maashaaAllaah. Please, keep writing! I’d love to read more! May Allaah bless all of you to use this talent in a righteous way.
    Your sister,
    UmmAbdillaah

    1. It’s funny you mentioned Juwairiyah’s use of “gossamer”- she has always been teased by people because she has a very colorful vocabulary, and has had since she was a baby. She actually DOES use words like this (SMILE)!!
      I will tell Maryam what you said, she will be happy, alhamdulillah.
      BarakAllaahufeekee for all of your comments and encouragement, alhamdulillah!

  6. I loved reading that – but I dont think I can write even as well as Maryam – lol! Any ideas for getting the kids to write more? What are your favorite assignments/topics/exercises that you give your children to get them to write?

    1. We do a lot of writing together, mash’Allaah, so it is difficult to choose favorites! I like to give them the option to draw, paint, write, or whatever they feel like when they hear the topic, and it’s neat to see the directions they will take, each one totally different. There are some pretty good writing prompt books, as well as daily prompts for kids and adults. Many of them are useless to us, dealing with things that are of no benefit or impermissible, so there is a lot of sifting through for me to do. Usually, I just come up with something based upon what’s happened that day, or something I’ve read.

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