So I’m well into the morning routine when, to my surprise, my three year old daughter Mervat pads into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes. This was not in my schedule. I was used to the baby waking up and crying, but Mervat, well, Mervat talks. She talks. She comments on what she sees and asks questions. Moreover, she expects answers. “Good morning Mommy.” “What are you doing Mommy?” “Oh, you making food for the boys Mommy?” “I sit next to you Mommy.”. “Is this my water, Mommy?” “I like butter.” Her monologue continues as I make the food, and I answer as best I can with grunts and monosyllables. Abdel Hamid comes into the kitchen and stands there dazed. After a minute, he desperately shushes his sister, to no avail. She is wide awake.
“Why you allowed to eat when you… why you…allowed to eat next to the computer?” “Cause I’m a grownup.” “Oh.” “Mommy, don’t eat my toast”. My husband and son have already fled the table. Abdel Hamid foolishly decides to go to the bathroom, foolish because of course the moment he does Mervat realizes she has to go as well. “Open the door, I have to go to the baf-room”. “Close the door”. She comes back afterwards, brushing her mussed hair out her face, and grabs a crust of toast, heading now to the living room where her brother is hunkering under a blanket until the adhan calls. Her chattering is infectious. Looking at the cat, who is up hoping for scraps, he says “You know, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a tail”. I grunt in answer. I mean, how can you answer that? Fortunately he doesn’t seem to want a conversation so I swallow the last of the toast and put the plate away.
“Why you need a bowl? Why you need… why I need a bowl?” “It’s a plate.” “What? It’s a plate? Why you need a plate?” “So you don’t get crumbs all over.” Munch, munch, munch. Her chattering continues and I consider going to sleep in the car after fajr. Sigh. Instead I clear the table and head to my room. Five minutes until fajr. Five minutes until she has to be silent because she has finally learned not to talk while we’re praying. Five long minutes. I spend the time asking Allah to give me patience. Patience, and earplugs.