When D was seven years old, he proved to me that miracles do indeed happen. I saw it with my own eyes in a way that was clearly obvious, like a bright beam of light being shown down on him.
After several attempts to toilet train D as a toddler, I was growing a bit desperate with the idea that it would never happen. His school and after-school therapy program didn’t want me to try a particular toilet-training method until he had mastered some basic other functions. But I said to hell with that. There was a method I wanted to try, and I was determined to make it work. So, I announced to our family (which included my in-laws and husband) what my plan was, and how the following week I would be devoted to just this 24/7 — no cooking, no cleaning, no work, nothing else.
It was a very precise, exacting and tiring program that had to be followed to a T. At times it seemed almost cruel to me to be so strict with four-year-0ld D, but at the time I felt it was the right thing. By evening’s time every night, when my husband came back tired after a long day at the hospital, I would turn over control to him and ask him to run the program, as I was exhausted by that point. Poor D was exhausted too. When I think back at it now, I grow angry at my former self for being so strict. Maybe if I had waited another year, we could have run that program with greater ease.
Ease or not, the program worked. And, at the end of the week, D understood the concept of the toilet — more or less. This was big, huge, I daresay. But there were many, many hiccups still. He didn’t know how to respond to his own biology, and we had to take him to the bathroom on a schedule. If I forgot or waited too long, there were obvious consequences. And so even though we had achieved daytime success, I felt we were still chained to a clock.
Then, when D was seven and a half, A was four and a half and H was a baby, flu came into our house. D and A were hit hard, with a week’s worth of high fevers and vomiting. Finally, when we had pushed through it to a clean, albeit exhausted, bill of health, their Baba announced to me one Friday afternoon to put the kids in the car because we were going away for the weekend to a hotel. You need a change, he told me.
Before we left, I noted one very surprising and sudden change in D. I saw him go to the bathroom on his own volition, do his business and come out. I had never seen my son do that before, ever. He only went to the bathroom when someone took him and verbally instructed him to “go potty.” I watched him do it once and then again. What is going on? I thought. Could it be? Just like that?
When we reached the hotel, I conducted the final exam. We were staying in a cottage, and upon walking in, I took a survey of the rooms and bathrooms. Hey D, I told him, come here! This is where the bathroom is, if you need to go later, I told him, pointing to the bathroom. We proceeded to settle ourselves in, and sure enough, an hour later I saw him go to the bathroom.
That was the turning point. I never needed to take him on the clock again after that. Some thing just clicked in his brain. It was, to this day, the only glaringly obvious God-given miracle I’ve ever witnessed with my two eyes. So obvious and direct that there was no denying it. We’ve had our bumps, major and minor, since then. But as the years have passed, things have only steadily improved in that department.
My in-laws, parents and other wise Muslim elders say to me constantly, Allah dai-na walla hai. Minto mai sab teek karsak thai. Uskai kuchbi kam-i nai hai. (God is the giver. He can make things better in mere minutes. There is nothing He cannot do.) They pray for Allah to miraculously and proverbially snap His fingers, and D will be able to talk and communicate with us. He will proverbially snap His fingers, and all of D’s anxieties, frustrations and self-injury will disappear. He will proverbially snap His fingers and all of D’s challenges will melt away.
They say that to me, out of utmost love and faith in God’s will. And I smile and nod and say Ameen. Inside I think, yeah, that’s not the way this works.
But the truth of it is, I’ve seen a miracle. And I’ve seen so many others since that big one at the age of seven. I just needed to learn how to see them. And to know that maybe they weren’t the miracles my parents, in-laws and elders were praying for, but they were miracles, nonetheless.
So why not?