I pray for a lot of significant and insignificant things at all times of the day. I have a standard group of things I ask for when I finish one of my five daily salats — let my children grow to be good Muslims and good humans, help Lil D (my eldest) to manage his autism, give Lil D peace and happiness, ease his suffering, help him find a way to communicate, make him independent, help Dr. M – my husband – and I to be good parents and make the right decisions, help ease the suffering in the world, help me magically lose 10 pounds – you know, important stuff.
And I have the random things I pray for - please God, no tantrums when Lil D gets off the bus; please God, let Amal have do well on her test; please God, let Amal eat fast tonight so we can make it to swimming practice on time; please God, is Hamza starting ANOTHER cold? Let it end quickly.
Here’s my random prayer from this morning — something I’ve prayed for many times in the past, a prayer that has yet to be answered — please God, let Lil D learn how to blow his nose. Lil D is 11 years old, and he cannot blow his nose.
Now, on the list of all the things that he cannot do and that we are trying to teach him do (bathe himself, remember to wash his hands after he goes to the bathroom, put his dirty clothes in the laundry, dress himself completely without me having to lay out his clothes and verbally prompt him through it, and many other life skills), blowing his nose is usually not a top priority. That is, until cold and flu season starts and he gets a cold. And his nose starts running. And he is unable to blow his nose.
And that is a big problem. Imagine having a cold with a runny nose that is dripping, and instead of grabbing a tissue and giving said nose a big honk and cleaning the gook out, you spend all your time going srrrrrrr — that’s the sound of sucking the gook back in. Because you don’t know how to blow your nose.
I think that must be one of the most annoying and frustrating feelings – not knowing how to clean one’s nose when one has a cold. And everytime fall hits and Lil D get a runny nose and a cold, I am back to my prayer: Please God, let Lil D learn how to blow his nose. I’ve tried all methods of teaching him – verbal instruction, physical prompting, modeling behavior. I’ve shown him a thousand times, using myself and our other children as models. But unfortunately, he just doesn’t get it.
So to clean his nose, I resort to the massage method — massaging the sides of his nose to draw the snot out; the steam method — putting him in a hot shower with lots of steam to get his nose to run more and clean the snot as it flows out; and the sneeze method — lightly flicking some water up his nose to get him to sneeze it out. None of these methods are as effective as properly blowing the nose. But what else are we going to do?
These are some of the millions of challenges of raising Lil D – some of the most basic life skills that you wouldn’t even label as life skills because they are so basic are things he just does not know how to do. My other children learned how to blow their nose before they were two, and I kid you not – I did a special shukrani ki namaz (a special “prayer of thanks”) each time they first learned this important life skill, because I knew how important it was.
I’m waiting for the day I can do shukrani ki namaz when Lil D miraculously learns to blow his nose. I pray that it will, one day, out of the blue, just happen. Just like this past weekend when our new therapist instructed Lil D to “buckle up” in the car, and he buckled his own seatbelt. I never knew that Lil D knew how to do that. We’ve been buckling him in for years. And one fine day last week, he did by himself. And then he unbuckled himself when told to as well. It was a small miracle.
So please God, let Lil D learn how to blow his nose. He has as runny nose right now. Let the miracle happen.