Kid speak, Ramadan, Saif

Mama got a haircut yesterday— first one in over 6 months.  When I walked into my house afterwards:

“Nice Hair, Mama!”-Sufyan

“Boo. Ti. Fool. Mama’s cut hair!”-Laila

Sufyan offered to be my “new hair” photographer.  Here is Sufyan’s picture of mama:

Today is the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.  Ramadan was never something that conjured specific images in my mind before I lived here.  That was probably because in American media when I heard “Today begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan…” it was an intro into a story about mid-east unrest or speculation about possible unrest.  But now that I am here, guess what?  Ramadan seems a little more  real.  Shocked?  I know.   I’m not either.

Ramadan is a month fasting from both food and water during every day.  During Ramadan believers are expected to be more thoughtful in their adherence to the principals of Islam and to pray and reflect on their humbleness before God.  Have you ever fasted?  It’s an  effective way to create a mood of introspection.  Fasting naturally supports prayer and a change in consciousness.  And I can imagine it makes one more grateful for the food and company one has.  (I type this as I sit alone at a coffee shop drinking lemonade and eating a cookie.  It goes without saying that I am not a Muslim).  The fast  is broken at the end of every day at a time determined by the setting sun when family and friends get together to enjoy a meal.  I am told that women who are single, widowed, or in any way “alone” are brought into company of their friends and no one should be feeling themselves an “outsider” during the iftar (the breaking of the fast and recitation of prayer for those who are devout).

So I drove to downtown Ramallah today to take a look at Ramadan on the street.  Indeed, no one is eating or drinking publicly (though this is rare anyway).  Traffic was lighter than usual (الله أَكْبَر).  The coffee shop I am in has its outside tables closed down and in here it is almost empty.  Notably the little boys who usually beg for change outside are missing and I am guessing this is part of Ramadan adherence as no one is supposed to engage in activities that are unbecoming of a Muslim (hard time thinking of a better word but surely there is one.  “unbecoming” is almost as matronly a word as “fiddlesticks”).

Maybe this is a good place to mention that I have accidentally become the patroness of one of the little boys who begs for change.  He is just so cute.  He’s maybe 6 years old and he’s polite (to my face) as he can be.  Not that he’s not tenacious, he is as tenacious as a puppy on a rawhide.  He followed me to my car, knocked on the windows, would NOT go away without being given change…of course he’s little and I feel terrible for him.  But what was engaging about this little boy was that when I said “Leh” (“no”) over and over and was grasping for what words to tell him politely to go away (being divided as I am about when to give money to people who beg and when not to) he told me the words I should use.  He said, “Marra il Jai?” (“next time?”)  and smiled.  So every time since then I have given him money and called him habibi and blah blah blah (gloss over the afternoon I gave him way too much money and scandalized my husband).  So the other day Faris and Sufyan were at the grocery store and the little boy was there.  He stopped Faris:

“Hey, does your wife drive that Jeep?”

“Yes.  This is our car.  Are you the little boy she gives money to?”

“She is always with that boy!” (referring to Sufyan)

“Yes, this is our son.”

Turns out the boy’s name is Saif, meaning “Sword” as in righteous or divine sword of Allah.  I feel a little embarrassed that I have given Saif enough change and it has a big enough effect that he actually remembers our car.

Ah, well.  I think he can pretty much count on me marra il jai…me not being able to say no to him.

More Abboushi Kid Quotes:


“I’m not licking!  I just put my mouth on mama’s arm and then my tongue came out.”

“I LOVE spitachio”

“tooties make bubbles.  Tooties are made of air, and air is everywhere” (this is why farts make bubbles in the bathtub)

“when Mama was a little boy did mama wear this shirt?”


“Watch dis BREAK DANCING on da bed!”

“I want the other side.  I want any side I want.” (nursing conversation)

“Brother!  Don’t Leave! ooooh nooooo!”

“Watch Dis BIG NUTI!!!”  (Nuti:  “you jump” in Arabic)

“Watch dis going ‘wheeeee!’ with Panda and Meow Meow!” (taking 2 stuffed animals down the slide)


7 thoughts on “Kid speak, Ramadan, Saif

  1. Sufyan has a good eye! Perhaps he has inherited the Erlewine knack for photography. I love the “I’m not licking” quote. Elise’s favorite thing right now is to start any excuse with “I was just…”.

    Ramadan never meant much to me either until we met Elise’s preschool teacher in San Jose. She was a devout Muslim raised in Pakistan. She strictly observed Ramadan but admitted to me one day that it was difficult to keep her patience with the kids while fasting and that her favorite part was the end of the day breaking of the fast. She described it as a wonderful celebration with friends and family, full of her favorite traditional foods. It must be fascinating to see an entire area observing the holiday. If only more of our holidays encouraged introspection instead of consumption.

    • nicely put, Amy.
      BUt, unfortunately, Ramadan is a consumer fest here as well. Now people get together and go out to eat for iftar (expensive), buy new clothes for their kids (especially for the final eid il fitr), buy new toys and give spending money for their kids, and I understand that people actually gain weight now during Ramadan because they binge eat at night. All you can eat buffets are open late for Ramadan.
      I guess it wasn’t always this way…

  2. Lucas: “That’s Mama Ravyn!”
    Me: “Do you like her new haircut?”
    Lucas: “It’s shorter than yours! It’s nice! It’s straight! Where’s Sufyan’s hair?”

    And those are adorable quotes from your kiddos! I can totally imagine Laila’s enthusiasm with all her statements! Such cute fun kids you have!

  3. I know, we totally had it good when we were neighbors. I’m certain that your friendship and proximity saved me from PPD. That was a rough first 9 months! Even with Sophie being an easier baby sleep-wise and personality-wise (though not health-wise), I’ve been in a serious funk without any local friends or family. It totally takes a village to support a young family. Miss you so much!

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