My good friend Haniyyah was going to be in town visiting her sister-in-law, Ayesha, for a few days.Â Also in town was Haniyyah’s other sister-in-law, Fatima.Â Ellie and I were invited over for lunch with the group.Â (Actually I think I invited myself over)Â All of us have kids.Â Fatima’s daughter Aliyah, 5 months, is the youngest, then Ayesha’s son, Abdullah, is almost a year, then Ellie at 18 months, and then the oldest at two years old is Haniyyah’s daughter, Zayna.Â Three women, two babies, two toddlers, and me. There are a lot of Y’s and H’s in those names, did you get all that?
We walked in the house, said our hellos then made our way into the family room where Zayna (the two-year old), Haniyyah, and Aliyah (the 5 month old) were.Â Haniyyah was holding Aliyah who was crying.Â And when Zayna saw me, she started crying.Â I have a love hate relationship with Zayna. I love her, but she hates me.Â She’s met me a handful of times, and sometimes she’ll tolerate me, but most of the time, she won’t.Â And this time was no exception.Â Just the site of me made her burst into tears, so I kept my distance.Â Ellie, unphased by the commotion(as usual) started playing with the toys. So within the first five minutes, we had two crying kids, one sleeping kid upstairs, and Ellie, who would look up once in awhile thinking, “What’s going on? There are toys to play with. These are toys, right?”
This circus went on for some time until it was time to eat lunch. That’s when we had the first shift change. Zayna went upstairs to take a nap, and Fatima came downstairs to get Aliyah, who still wouldn’t stop crying. Fatima was convinced Aliyah needed solids to help satisfy her, but she had never given her solids before. Fatima felt bad giving her first spoonfuls of food without her husband or mom around. Now Haniyyah, Fatima, and Ayesha are sister-in-laws and have known each other for a long time, and act like it too. So while they bickered back and forth about whether or not Aliyah should get solids, Ellie and I just hung out quietly together and looked around the kitchen. “Maybe we should leave?”
When it was decided Aliyah would get solids, I felt bad. Maybe we really should go. At least maybe I should look away. That way I still wouldn’t see anything before Aliyah’s dad. I’m just some dude with a baby to that guy. But since he wouldn’t be there, Fatima wanted me to take photos of her first bites because no one else had a camera. Between three moms no one had a camera? So now I was some dude with a baby, and a camera. Boy, that doesn’t sound creepy. I hope she doesn’t tell her family that.
But the solids thing worked. Aliyah stopped crying, and then we all ate. Which by the way, Ayesha made these awesome sandwiches with a sauce that was a mixture of mayo and Russian dressing. I’ve had many failed attempts at trying to recreate this at home since. I’m convinced she’s withholding a secret ingredient.
Anyway, after lunch, we had another shift change. Aliyah went to sleep, and Abdullah woke up. Zayna remained sleeping, and Ellie remained playing. But now with Abdullah awake, she had a friend to play with. Abdullah, not yet walking, was confined to the floor, looking up at Ellie curiously as she looked down at him. She seemed confused because he wasn’t crying. “Everyone else was crying. You seem alright kid.” And then she climbed on top of him to give him a hug, which was very worrisome because Abdullah was scheduled to have open-heart surgery in just a few weeks. Ellie! No! His heart! I think it was time to go.
I know what you’re thinking. Who is this guy? He invited himself over to their house, eats a free lunch while his kid plays with a bunch of toys, crashes Aliyah’s first time food moment, and then goes home after his kid almost squashes Abdullah who’s about to have open heart surgery. But wait, it’s okay. I brought a cake! I did have to frost it while I was there, but I still brought a cake.
Now it really was time to go. Ellie was getting tired, and so was I. What a fun afternoon with so many kids, even though they were never all awake at the same time. Aliyah was a little too young for some true bonding, and Zayna was too asleep to really connect with anybody either, but Ellie and Abdullah seemed to make good friends.
The next time we get together there will be more numbers to add to the equation as Haniyyah is expecting her second child. And because of that, I better bring an extra chocolate cake. You know, for the extra kids.