I looked out the window as we sped down the freeway and back to the comfort of our compound home. Endless desert stretched out before us, camels dotted the landscape, interspersed with bedouin tents where men sat wrapped in blankets, stoking fires and sipping tea. My son leaned against my arm, rubbing the bump that remained on his head, where hours before he had been pushed into a cement wall and onto the floor. He laughed and played peek a boo with baby Soos who fussed and then giggled at his silliness. The stress of not eating our usual after school meal and sitting for hours in the hospital waiting room had taken it’s toll, leaving the children tired and impatient. We entered the compound and drove the loop finally arriving home. A quick snack, then brushing teeth and off to bed for the early morning wake up at 5 a.m. I got the little ones to sleep and then gingerly scooted next to my son on his single bed, watching the rise and fall of his chest and listening to his breathing. The doctor confirmed a concussion based on his symptoms, but said careful monitoring was all that was needed. I was relieved and spent the night next to him, waking him gently every hour until I was too tired to stay awake myself.
The next day brought more anxiety than usual as I woke the boys for school and made their lunches. I insisted on keeping my son home but the stress of not attending and the hours of work he would miss made him determined to go. It had been almost 24 hours and I could see it was a losing battle, so off with the driver they both went. As I waved goodbye the same old worries set in, magnified by events of the day before. I felt a sudden rush of anger paired with realization. I hesitated for a moment trying to shake off the cloud that came over me and seemed to resurface every few months. I swept and mopped, scrubbed and vacuumed but it was all for nothing as tears streamed down my face and into an invisible pool. I thought terrible things inside my mind, he didn’t care, he was wrong and I wanted more. Each time this frustration came, I carefully voiced my opinion and mentioned my inner most fears thinking this would some how soften his heart. The result was the same, he would remind me that I was listening to the shaytan (devil) and needed to be thankful for all that I had. I neatly tucked these thoughts away, filed under disobedient and ungrateful, begging for forgiveness and praying I could fix whatever triggered my unhappiness. I continued with my work, piles of laundry, cooking and baking, all the while wondering how my sons were doing at the Arabic school. I thought of all the good that I had been blessed with, but the waves of anger could not be held back. I remembered my own childhood, attending University elementary, where children were sent to the school nurse if they fell and scraped a knee. Teachers were firm but did not yell or call names and some left a lasting impression that shaped a young child’s future. I sat and furiously wrote a letter to the doctor, informing him that my sons were never to be turned away and in any event a call was always mandatory. I signed it and wrote the villa phone number at the bottom vowing to send it the next day. When I finished with my silent rant and calm had once again been restored, I approached him and gave him the letter. I asked him to deliver it to the doctor and explain that this was unacceptable and he was to call me if anything ever happened that lead my boys to his office. He agreed to do this and hugged me kindly, “Um Osama you worry too much, it’s not good and you are raising nervous children”.