Is Watermelon an Animal?
Could God Turn Himself Into Jelly?
Edip Yuksel, Yahya’s Father
My first son, Yahya, was born in 1st of July, 1990, as a divine gift in the anniversary of my rejection of the sectarian teachings and acceptance of the Quran as the only source of my religion. The following excerpts from our journal start with a number indicating Yahya’s age. The fractions of the year provide the exact date of the event from his birthday. The journal contains observations and reports of Yahya’s parents regarding the development of their son. The evolving mind of a well cared child is the most curious and amusing experience; especially if he or she is your own child. I recommend every parent to observe and listen to their children carefully and note them down in a journal. Besides, I recommend a special photo album with subtitles. I wish I had such things left from my parents. Don’t deprive your children from their sweetest moments. I don’t need to tell you the difference between a journal and a videotape. Each has its own merit.
I wish I could keep a daily record about you. You are the salt and pepper of our home. You are its honey and jelly. We are getting along with you very well. We hope it will last forever.
Several days ago you were playing with a transparent plastic bottle that held your marbles in it. You were trying to drop a little plastic ball into it from the air. After a couple of misses, finally you exclaimed, “BASKET!”, and applauded yourself. Then, you wanted to take the ball out of the bottle.
The neck of the bottle was too narrow to allow your hand out together with the ball. You tried to force it with no success. You dropped the ball back to the bottom of the bottle. You gave force another try, again with no result. You did not try a third time. You held the bottle and turned it upside down. The ball fell out! You learned another lesson: your mind is more useful than your muscles.
2.580 The Healing Stick
Last week you made my week with an amusing conversation. These days you enjoy playing with sticks. Like the Prophet Moses carrying a staff, you carry a chopstick with you all the time.
You noticed that the tuning button of the old radio was missing. Instead of taking the button and inserting it back where it belonged, you poked that chopstick here and there into the radio while declaring, “I’ll fix it!” It was an enchanting scene. In the end, you showed the wisdom of using your hands by grabbing the button and putting it in its socket. You erupted with joy screaming, “I did it, I did it!” Somehow, you were giving the credit to your chopstick. Your mom and I congratulated you for this accomplishment. You were mesmerized by your chopstick!
Several minutes later you noticed the redness in my eyes due to the soap I had used in the shower. First, you informed me with a mixture of Turkish, English and Persian, “Baba your eyes kirmiz.” Soon you remembered your magical stick and pointed it at my eyes saying, “I will fix it.” I immediately put my eyeglasses on for protection. We were laughing hysterically until moments later you inserted that chopstick into my ear. You lost the possession of that stick for a while.
3.002 A New World
At this time you are not only able to make sentences, you make jokes too, without of course, even knowing that you are saying something funny.
When you are tired and want me to hug you, you say: “I hug you”
If we hurt your feelings we apologize immediately, you say: “No, you forgive me”
When your mom or I tell you, “Yahya, forgive me,” you respond by saying, “No, you forgive me.”
Yesterday, while waiting in the bus station in front of Baskin Robins, you kept asking for “dondurma” . When I showed you the bus on the horizon, at first you ignored it. When you could no longer deny the existence of the bus as it came closer, you made up a lie for the sake of the ice-cream: “it’s going wrong way, baba.” I was happy to learn that you discovered the only lie that could have credibility. I am sorry that I could not afford missing that bus. But you had your ice-cream at home.
You are buzzing and humming the song “Oooh New World” from your favorite movie, Aladdin. It is with you that we discover every day another new world.
3.016 Don’t Cry
My friend Altan and his wife Ebru have come fromTurkeyon their honeymoon. They will be our guests for several weeks. You have become pals with Ebru in a very short time.
Your mother was outside. Altan and Ebru were by the door on their way to the market. When you noticed them going out you did not hesitate a moment to leave me to join them. First, you wanted to inform me that I was condemned to stay at home alone by pointing at me with your index finger, “You are now one. You are one!” You did not forget to add a piece of advice: “Read your book. I’m going out. Don’t cry.” You repeated it several times, extending the last syllabus of the word “cry.” Altan’s majestic belly is shaking with laughter.
3.043 I don’t say it anymore
You are talking and talking and talking.
You are excited about discovering the power of words. You are learning taboo words too. From whoever and however you have learned it, now you started saying “SHIT” accompanied by a morose facial expression. Your mother warned you not to say it and told you that it was a bad word.
Later I overheard you telling something to your mom with a great excitement: “I don’t say bad words . . . anymore . . . I don’t say SHIIIIT!”
3.2 Little commander’s tongue
Several days ago while crossing the street, you insolently gave advice to a lady who was smoking. She was perplexed when she heard a command, “don’t smoke!” But she started laughing when she noticed how small the mouth of the commander was!
You continue this defiant attitude. Today, you stuck your tongue out to the girls on the bus whereas you are usually cordial and kind to strangers.
3.246 Bad guys
You still categorize the strangers in two ways: good guys and bad guys.
Under the influence of the morally black and white TV you look for this contrast everywhere. Now you are watching a documentary on PBS about a medical team trying to save some endangered African elephants through artificial insemination. The medical team is chasing elephants and shooting them with a sedative knocking them to the ground. You have a hard time understanding this task and repeatedly ask me, “who are these?” When I tell you that they are doctors, you wonder, “are they bad doctors?” When I tell you that everyone on the screen is “good guy” you cannot understand. You still ask, “where are the bad doctors?” I did not tell you that they were in hospitals.
3.246 First spelling exercise
Your verbal communication skills are improving rapidly. When you want me to sit on the floor you use and illustrative analogy: “daddy, sit like a pretzel.” You can now ask, “what are you talking about?” You do not miss the article “the” in your question, “you don’t like the sun?” (you are asking about the sun inTucson!) To show off that you can spell your name, you put your favorite alphabet segments before your name. You say, “XYW Yahya” or “RST Yahya.”
3.268 I don’t know
Two days ago, for first time, I questioned you about God. I asked you who made me, and who made you. Then I pointed at the mountains and the sky and asked you who made all of those. After you glanced at your surroundings you gave your answer with confidence: “giraffe.” I told you that the mountains and the sky are very big and too high. You modified your answer by qualifying the giraffe: “big giraffe, tall giraffe!” I could tell from your sparkling eyes that you were almost sure that you got the right answer.
Despite the cost of spoiling your excitement and happiness, I continued asking. I reminded you that the sun was much higher, and besides, too hot to touch. I again repeated my question: “Yahya, who do you think made them?” You shrugged your shoulders, lifted your lower lip and said “I don’t know.” Now you had enough knowledge to acknowledge your ignorance, a good step towards wisdom.
3.819 Objection! Hearsay
Recently you started talking about God, mostly exploiting the concept in order to please or amuse us. However, sometimes you make excellent comments regarding God.
Your mother and I have been encouraging you to join us while we pray. One day you wanted to pray with your shoes on. Your mother told you to take them off. But you blatantly rejected this. Then, your mom appealed to God.
“God says you cannot pray with your shoes on.”
You were not moved by this holy decree. You insisted on keeping your shoes on by supporting your action through reason.
“I did not hear God saying that.”
Your mother could not continue. I was amused and delighted. You joined us with your shoes on. By this statement you both questioned authority (your mother) and also demanded a kind of empirical evidence to be convinced. You acted like an able lawyer objecting to hearsay or a scientist rejecting paranormal claims. I hope you will never cease questioning assumptions, including those of your parents.
One night, after I put you in your bed, you told me that you are scared of ghosts. “Here comes trouble,” I said to myself. You seemed partially serious, partially acting. First, I denied the existence of ghosts. It did not work. Then, I told you that your daddy is so strong all ghosts were scared of coming close to our home. In order to give you visual assurance, I showed you my muscles like a body builder. But soon I realized the problematic nature of this assurance. It could require me to sleep in your bedroom, forever. Finally, I had to bring God in.
“Don’t worry! God will take care of you. He is great. He will kick out all the ghosts from your room.”
You said “No (meaning that you did not buy my argument), God is great.” While shaking your head horizontally, you continued, “He cannot fit my room.”
I did not try to fit God into your room. Your simple reasoning was a linguistic lesson. Our language is ambiguous and open to misunderstanding and abuse. You were right; God could not be that “big” if he was so close to us!
3.923 Deductive Reasoning
“God created everything. He created you and me. He created your mom. He made all the houses, all the mountains, and all the stars. All the toys, all the trees and all the cars. He created this fruit and that food. God created everything and He is very Good.”
After listening to this theological indoctrination, you asked a simple question in a very serious tone:
“Why God created bad guys?”
In fact, this question is one of the most difficult philosophical arguments which theologians have been wrestling with for centuries.
“I don’t know,” I replied helplessly, “when you grow up you will find out yourself.”
Your thinking process was clear. I had underestimated you. I never have told you that it was God who created bad guys. Apparently, you used the following deductive reasoning with three premises and two conclusions.
P-1. God created everything.
P-2. Bad guys are something.
C-1. Then God created bad guys.
P-3. But God is a good guy.
C-2. Then He shouldn’t have created bad guys!?
Your question was an expression of confusion generated by the contradiction between your two conclusions, i.e., C-1 and C-2. Ironically, your daddy has a belief system inflicted with this contradiction.Why do I have that belief system? Well, to avoid living with a much bigger contradiction; it is a matter of a logical deal I have negotiated for myself. Sure, there is more to it; but this is not the right place.
3.945 When you grow up…
I am asking you what you want to be when you grow up. “Cooking an” (that is, a cook) was your immediate answer. Later, you gave up and switched to your favorite cartoon character. You would become a “Ninja Turtle!”
3.978 You Rascal
Well, today we had a big fight. It started when you pulled the hand brake while I was driving. As a punishment, I stopped talking to you. You retaliated by not coming out of the car (a 1993 red Honda Civic) on a hot, really hot afternoon. I warned you to get out. I told you that you would be broiled in the car like a hotdog. When you started yelling and hitting me, I was left with the last choice. I spanked your buttocks several times. You tried to scare me by saying: “I will tell everybody that you are bad daddy!” We ended our fight with a repeated exchange of apologies with the sweetest statement: “I love you.”
Within the last two weeks you have made many amusing and interesting comments. Here are the ones I could not forget:
“Why Scruffy (our little dog) is not going to school?”
“My daddy is going toBostonto get some horses” (instead of saying courses)
“We don’t eat pork; why then God created pork?”
“Why watermelon is not a vegetable?”
And a couple of morbid ones:
“Why you do not eat dinner while you are dead?”
“Why don’t we go to God without dying?”
Finally, my favorite one:
“Remember, you are (to me!) sometimes crazy!”
Well, you are more generous than your mom. To her, I am sometimes sane!
4.189 My Sweet Yahya
My sweet Yahya hello. You are sleeping soundly now and I thought I would write to you. I cannot believe it’s been over 2 years since I’ve written in this book. Edip has been keeping up pretty well. You are a joy, a gem in our lives. God has endowed you with such beauty of mind and body. Inshallah, He will guide you to be the best that you can be, above all things, a good Muslim, a believer in God alone. You pray with us and you’re so adorable. Most of the time, you’re too playful during the Salaat. Inshallah, this will change with time. You still go to preschool and have started swimming lessons atFt.LowellPark. You love it and are thrilled by it. Life is good, alhamdulillah. You are raised in a loving and positive, healthy atmosphere. We try to educate you as much as possible. You’re very expressive and loving. You are a good friend to your father and me.
I’m pregnant with Matine and inshallah he’ll join us in 2 months. I’m so excited to see your reaction towards him and his presence in our lives. From what I see in you, I can bet that you’ll be a wonderfully loving big brother. You do very well with children older than yourself and don’t seem very interested in playing with younger children. You communicate well and are learning your alphabet and numbers now.
We are still inTucsonand Edip is going to theUniversityofArizonaas a graduate student. Inshallah, he’ll apply to law school. I’m still working atElDoradoHospitaland they’re very good to me.
We hope to be able to provide you and Matine with a good future, inshallah. I try to instill in you an appreciation for everything that God has given you. Inshallah you’ll always hold this in your heart. I love you with all my heart.
Love always, Api.
4.320 Hard-working family
On my way home from school I picked you up from La Petite, the day care center. After getting out of the bus, on our way home, you wanted me to carry you. I told you that I had worked hard and I was tired. You said “Mommy works hard too!” I acknowledged that fact and was happy that you appreciated her hard work. Nevertheless, when you continued I learned that you used her as a pretext to justify your denied demand:
“You are working hard, Mommy is working hard, and I am playing hard.”
4.391 Eagle and dudul
Last night you were asking me the meaning of words such as “release”, “order” and “condemn”. You told me that you heard them from Disney’s Aladdin. I am very glad that you are learning big words.
But you still call “quarters” “eagle moneys.”
Your brother Metin (Matine) is one week old and he is continuously sucking your mommy’s breast. You tell people that your baby brother has “come out” from your mother’s “dudul,” your own word.
4.400 I am strong, but
I was getting ready to go to work as an intern in Pretrial services at Pima County Jail. You wanted to come with me. I told you that they don’t allow children. Criminals or bad guys could hurt you. You needed to grow up and become stronger.
“I am strong,” you protested. “Okay, I said, if you can move this stove one foot to left then you can come with me.” The stove was so heavy even I have a hard time moving it. You started pushing it from here and there without any sign of hope. Then, you discovered the reason of your failure to move the stove:
“Edip, you see there is a teapot on the stove. If you take that away then I can move the stove!”
4.545 Write it down
Your room is filled with toys, books, and clothes. The life span of a toy is about one or two days; they end up in one of the boxes in your room waiting hoplessly for your attention. Again you started asking money to buy a plastic toy from the wending machine. This time I refused to give you money.
— “You want a lot of things Yahya. You ask too much for money.”
Your answer was a drama.
— “It is not fair. You are rich. You are a winner; I’m a loser!”
While driving to the hospital where your mom is working as a dietitian:
— “This guy is an idiot; he passes through a red light!
— “Why Edip? What makes people stupid?”
— “Perhaps he drank alcohol.
— “Yes, he drank alcohol and ate pork.”
— “I like it Yahya.”
— “Then write it in my book (diary)!
My sweet Yahya,
You are now a little over 4 1/2 years of age. You are very expressive and talkative. You love Matine but at times act jealous which is a very normal emotion. You love dede and your gramma Ferideh and they love you more than life itself. They are here now and you love having them here. You are a very family-loving person. You care about good clothes and jewels. Dede promised to bring some fromIran. You are very smart and you like going to La Petite and playing with your friends. Your teachers say you are attentive. You are also taking piano lessons and like Yanni’s music. You enjoy Masjid and the kids there. You pray at times and sometimes play around and don’t want to join the prayer. I love you, my son. Inshallah, you’ll grow to be a loving and respectful and God-loving person.
4.939 Your mom is cranky
It was several weeks ago. I want to write it before I forget it.
You were checking the mailbox. I saw it as a great moment that deserved to be frozen. Standing on your toes, with one hand holding the door of the mailbox, you stretched your neck in order to see the mail. I rushed in to get the camera. While running back I fell and dropped it. Fortunately, there was no significant damage. I took your picture, but to my dismay, I later learned that the camera did not contain any film.
Evening. I’m talking to your mother and telling her how I rushed to take your picture: “I fell bad,” I whined, expecting a word of comfort. Your mother did not show any sign of concern. But when I added, “the camera fell with me too,” her eyes opened wide: “did you break it?!”
The same evening we are all together having dinner at the kitchen table. The lettuce in the salad tasted bitter. In a half-serious tone I asked:
— “Apameh, I fear the lettuce might be poisonous. What you think?”
— “Well,” she said, shrugging her shoulder, “then, eat it!”
Eight o’clockin the morning. You wake up and come to my office saying “good morning.” I kiss you and tell you not to watch TV now. I remind you that you watch TV too much. You rebutted my criticism with a great challenge, indeed, an unforgettable lesson:
— “You stick with the computer, I stick with TV!”
4.969 God vs. Satan
— “Edip, you say there is only one God. But what about Satan?”
— “Satan is not God. God can destroy him in one second.”
I was expecting a challenging question from you, such as “why then God does not destroy Satan?” I was relieved when you took another path:
— “But Satan has strong muscle. He is exercising.”
4.980 What I like about you
I made a list of your close relatives, all from your mother’s side, and asked you what you like about them the most. Here are your answers:
REZA (uncle): I like him when he gets me stuff [gifts].
FERIDEH (grandma): I like her when she makes me noodle.
DEDEH (grandpa): I like him when he waters my plants.
NASIM (cousin): I like her when we go toDisneyland.
NAGHMEH (aunt): I like her when Jevad marries her.
JEVAD: I like him when he plays with me and Armin.
HENGAMEH (aunt): I like her when she takes me to Nasim’s school.
ALI (Hengameh’s husb.) I like him when he plays with me and Nasim.
MATINE (brother): I like him when he plays with me.
APAMEH: I like her when she gets me stuff.
MYSELF: I like myself when I am proud and listen to you.
Well, some of your answers were revealing and some were amazingly banal. The things you liked the most were basically playing, playing, getting gifts and eating noodles. However, what you liked about me was categorically different.
EDIP: When you go to the heaven and I see you there!
What a euphemistic expression for wanting someone to die! Egad!
4.991 Wanna be Cain?
“I feel like I wanna kill somebody!” you revealed to me after I warned you to be gentle while hugging your brother Matine on the floor. When I stared at you with a curious look:
“I never killed somebody in my life,” you continued, “I never had a knife in my hand.”
“Edip, why did God want us to sleep? Why did God make the world?”
Early morning you came to me and said, “I hope I will have a wife when I grow up.” But after a short pause you expressed your reluctance: “Why do girls always fight?”
“Edip, is watermelon an animal?”
5.052 What are testicles for?
We were taking a shower together. Abruptly, you pointed to your testicles and asked me:
— “Edip, what is this for?”
— “I know, but I will not tell you.”
— You insisted, “Please daddy, tell me what is this for?”
— “It is a secret!” I whispered.
This naturally increased your curiosity:
— “Please tell me; if you tell me I’ll tell my children too.”
Finally, I explained to you with your surprisingly prophetic excuse to learn the function of your testicles:
— “If you don’t have them you won’t be able to have children to teach the boys the function of their testicles.”
This morning at7:30you took a bus by yourself. The school bus of course. You will return on the same bus ateleven o’clock.
With your huge but almost empty backpack hanging on your shoulders and a name-tag on your shirt, you are a traveler today. Now you have joined the big boys and girls in the neighborhood. Your mother and I feel highly emotional watching you take the bus alone, without us.
I pray for your success. May God protect you against troubles that afflict your generation. Don’t forget the Ten Commandments and remember that we gave each other promises to meet in Heaven!
5.128 I worry about you
My sweet Yahya. Good morning. You are in school now. You started kindergarten onAugust 2, 1995. Your teacher is Mrs. Powers atLuluWalkerSchoolonRoller Coaster Rd.,Tucson,AZ.You ride the bus with all the children and like to be the first in line, of course. You all have a slight fight about it. You’re learning your ABCs. I sometimes worry about your future because you’re very outgoing and social. You don’t like to spend too much time reading and writing. I hope that you’ll become more focused as you grow older.
You are challenging and require a lot of time from us to entertain you. I don’t allow much TV-watching because you get easily influenced by violent and bad behavior. Also you would rather befriend a rowdy child than a calm one. You get bored easily. On the positive side, you love your family, and you are very hospitable, but at times you may offend people by your remarks and that tends to be embarrassing for me. I’m stuck with you because I feel you desperately need discipline. I’m trying my best to raise you in a good, healthy environment and give you all that you need and more. But I never spoil you. You sometimes steal coins from us and that saddens me so I try to instill honesty and respect in you. But it’s difficult trying to mold you. It seems to me when you want to get something, you do not care how you get it, but you must have it.
I was never like that, nor was your dad. I dearly worry about you. You love Matine but you’re jealous also and try to hurt him sometimes. I know it’s natural but I pray that you get better with him. You’ve been sharing the same room sinceJuly 1st 1995and you’re doing very well. You’re quite understanding about not disturbing him during his nap times.
My sweet Yahya, my first born, I love you. I hope someday you won’t be distant from me because I have been disciplinary toward you. I pray that my hard work will pay off by seeing you become an outstanding individual, respectful, God-loving, honest, successful and loving toward all humanity—rich or poor.
Edip will be starting law school tomorrow and I pray in four years we will be able to have a more prosperous life so we can inshallah give you two boys a good future. We must always remember the best success in this life is striving to make it to Heaven, but we are also responsible to apply ourselves in this world and to do our best. Yahyajon, I say good-bye for now and I give you all my heart.
Your “Api” always.
5.197 The mischievous
“I cannot handle two parents. I wish I had only a father or a mother.”
This statement was uttered by you after having a bad morning with your mother. You borrowed your friend’s toy and despite your mother’s order you did not want to return it. You claimed that you lost it. I believed you, but your mother did not. Later, you “found” that toy (a little car) in your pocket!
5.216 The bad word
Just after going to bed, you came back in your pajamas. Pointing at your head in a very serious manner, you said “Daddy, my brain is telling me to say a bad word.” I felt pity for you. You seemed so stressed. You were hysterically pointing at your head, as if your brain was pregnant with a bad word and now it was having labor contractions.
— “Well, say it!” I said.
— “But God will not like it.”
— “That’s okay. Say it just for once, then repent.”
You wanted to be really sure that I was not testing you. The moment you realized that I was serious in my permission you spit out the bad word:
— ” SHUT UP!”
You were relieved for delivering the bad word. I was relieved too, for not hearing worse.
5.493 All kinds of moods
— “Yahya, when I’m in good mood and you are in good mood too we get along very well.” (An empty statement, you can just reverse it: when we get along we are in good mood!)
— “What about when you are in good mood, but I am in bad mood?”
— “That’s okay.”
— “What about when you are in bad mood but I am in good mod?”
— “That’s okay too.”
— “What about when you are half in bad mood, but I am in whole good mood?”
I did not tell you that the answer, for this one should have been obvious to you from the previous answers. Realizing that you have discovered the endless combinations of moods, I grinned and changed the subject.
5.504 God controls everything
— “Does God control everything?”
— “Those palm trees?”
— “What about the car?”
— “He controls every car”
— “What about your eyeglasses, your T-shirt?”
— “He controls everything”
— “What about your ears, your puffy ears?”
We went to the mall for fun. You asked for a penny to throw into the pool around the fountain. You secretly made a wish before throwing it. Upon asking about your wish, you said: “I wished that everybody worship one God, not Jesus!”
5.613 The impossible transformation?
Climbing on the steps of the Memorial Wall halfway in the park, you sat and confessed,
— “My mind has evil thoughts. I’m scared of height.”
— “It is not an evil thought. The feeling of fear of heights is from God—to protect us from our adventures. Otherwise, you would climb higher and higher and higher until you fall.
— “Like Yurtle the Turtle?
— “Daddy, are you also scared of height?”
— “Of course, all normal people are.”
— “Is God scared from height?”
— “No, He is the highest. He is the greatest. By the way, Yahya, God does not look like anything you see or know.”
— “Could God turn himself into jelly?”
Certainly, you were confusing God with a jinni.
6.430 Boys vs. girls
It is around7 a.m.and you are getting ready for school. You put your cloths on all by yourself: A turtleneck shirt and tight khaki pants. Meanwhile, your brother had another big labor. His diapers were saturated and his pants and shirt were wet, with crawling coli bacteria.
You were standing in the bathroom over the toilet bowl. While you were unzipping your pants, I overheard you saying, “I like peeing with my pants down.” Then you told me that girls cannot use urinals on the wall. To make you feel good about your male-exclusive talent, I joked that men will always beat girls in the long distance peeing competition.
Later you told me that there are more girls in the world than boys. All your teachers, including the principal, you said, were girls. Now I know how girls felt 100 years ago. Was this another sign of the end of the world;-?
6.476 Deserving my new middle name
Last night we went together to the theater. “The Mighty Ducks” was a Disney movie about a high school hockey team and their ambition and determination. I enjoyed your occasional comments and predictions during the show.
This morning, I demanded some comments from you regarding your mother. You made a cute wish: “I wish my middle name was Mighty Duck.” Laughingly, I approved it and uttered it in its new context, with your full name: Yahya Mighty Duck Yuksel. When you asked me about my middle name, I could not help but say, Lame Duck, Edip Lame Duck Yuksel. Your mother’s eyes opened wide and she affirmed it wholeheartedly.
A moment later, your nit-picking mother noticed that the gallon of milk I bought last night had an expiration date of December 24. Knowing that you and Matine cannot finish the “whole” gallon in two days, she accused me of being oblivious: “you really are a Lame Duck!”
6.646 Fake Indians and Criminal Law
After you watched Costner’s The Bodyguard film, you said “when I grow up I will not be a bodyguard; but I will be an architect, an artist like dayi [uncle Reza]. Well, not exactly like him. I do not want to make waterfalls and candle-holders.”
Tonight we went to a Powwow by the university. You met Kyle, your best friend from day care since you were two years old. You made an unexpected remark to Judy Freeman, Kyle’s mom, by asking her whether she was pregnant. In front of her friends she had to acknowledge her weight-gain.
We saw many Indians dressed in their colorful traditional attire.Turkeyfeathers were everywhere. You doubted whether they were real Indians. You questioned their use of plastic materials or eyeglasses. This observation of yours was very impressive.
Your best comments of the night were on criminal law. When you suggested capital punishment for every petty crime, as if you memorized the Law of Hamurabbi, I tried to inform you about the reasons for observing proportion between crimes and penalties. After a 5-minute explanation you appeared to understand the relationship. You came up with a novel idea, a compromise between your initial position and my objection:
“Then, if someone kills two people, he should be put on electrical chair and also should be shot.”
6.778 Comprehension of small brains
— “Remember God all the time, Yahya.”
— “Even kids? Kids have smaller brains.”
— “Can you go on street alone?” asked your mom, intending it to be a rhetorical question and expecting a “NO” for it.
— “No, you are a child. Can you take your brother from the baby-sitter?”
You were consistant in surprising your mother. You did not chang your tone: — “Yeah.”
Your mother gave up from rhetorical questions and started preaching you about your incapability:
— “No, you cannot. You are a child. Don’t you comprehend?”
I had to interject a naughty comment in order to reduce the unnecessary tension:
— “Can he comprehend that he doesn’t comprehend in the first place?”
6.879 Out of town looking for what?
After a happy day and a delicious kabab, you and your brother Matine were having tea followed by ice-cream! Your mom and I were watching our sons having fun.
Your mother, relaxing in the recliner, made a comment out of the blues, “one day when your dad and I get old you will take care of us, inshallah.” You disagreed, “No, we will not take care of you. Other people will take care of you.”
Your mother, who happens to be more serious than I, wondered with disappointment. She asked: “why?” Your answer came very naturally: “we’ll be out of town,” you quipped, “we will be looking for girls to marry with!”
I love your comments, especially when you speak your mind without using the auto-censor program that we adults employ! But, with your cute disposition, handsome look, good mind and the trend inAmerica, I doubt that you will be out of town for girls. You might well be hiding yourself from harassing girls in the neighborhood.
6.945 Legal authority
While driving to theCollegeofLaw, you wanted to go to McDonald’s. I protested. I reminded you of the healthy and delicious food at home. You were determined and finally you threatened me:
— “If you don’t buy Big Mac for me I’ll sue you!”
That was serious! How and when did you learn to threaten someone with a law suit? Perhaps it is a contagious epidemic in this society. “OK,” I said, “what will be your legal argument? What will you tell the judge?”
— “Your honor, my dad broke his promise. We are Muslim, a different kind, and we are supposed to keep our word.”
Well, I told you that we would have a mock trial when we arrived at theLawSchool. I asked a colleague of mine in the lobby to be the judge. There were several other law students curiously listening to the trial. The law student listened to your claim and upon my suggestion he asked you: “Why do you think that breaking promises is bad?”
I was expecting your religious argument and was anxiously waiting to hear your “different kind” Muslim remark again. However, you surprised everyone:
— “Breaking promises is bad because Bill Clinton said so!”
We all laughed at your choice of authority. Bill Clinton is a president who became notorious for breaking his promises. It was such an irony. But what was more interesting was your switch of authority. You appealed to the president of theUSAinstead of God. You had sensed a secular ambiance in theLawSchool; it was not like Masjid.
When my friends questioned you about a higher authority that will sanctify promises, then you brought God in and started talking about the Quran.
The same day you launched another philosophical challenge for religious people who believe in an Omnipotent and Omniscient God:
— “If God knows everything, why then he makes angels record our words and works?”
— “We’ll stay at Masjid for half an hour.”
— “It’s too long, daddy!”
— “What about 30 minutes?”
— “That’s better.”
6.986 How to hire a good lawyer?
After picking you up from your school’s recreational center, we went to a law firm to submit my resume for a summer clerkship position. An interview date was scheduled. On our way home, I wanted to hear your opinion.
— “Assume Yahya, that you own a law firm, Yuksel & Bashar Etc., and you need to hire a lawyer. Five lawyers apply for the position. Which one would you pick?
Without hesitation you declared your pick.
— “The weakest and skinniest one.”
Surprised, I wondered: — “Why?”
— “Because it is easier to beat him,” you replied in a serious tone.
You had misunderstood my question. You thought that you, as a law firm boss, were going to pick someone to fight. I took my time and clarified the issue. Your criteria for picking a lawyer among the five applicants were inspiring. Here are the list of factors that you would consider. You would hire the one who was: smart; not-shy; a boy, since according to you they are smarter than girls; had good grades; had gold stars from kindergarten; not lazy; and finally, one who ate breakfast to keep him going.
Upon my inquiry, you stated that the dress or the suit of the applicant was not important; it was irrelevant. I liked that one the most. Wearing a tie and jacket on a hot desert day over 100¡ F is a ridiculous tradition. As you have discovered, it had no relevancy to serving justice or the legal profession. I wish we could bury formalism to theMuseumofPrimitive Obsessions.
7.000 Birthday Invitation
On First of July, our first son
will be 7 years old. In other numbers, Yahya will be exactly (365×7)+2 =2557 days old which is the 375th prime number and is many heart-beats. Yahya knows that the number of heart-beats of the longest living human being cannot amount to a fraction of molecules contained in a single eye-lash. Yahya knows what is odd and what is even, what is prime and what is the Avogadro number. He is not a master in chess but he is a master in Connect-four. He thanks God for making his gray jelly so marvelous. He bets that you have the same thing inside your skull.
For the reasons you might guess, we will be celebrating YahyaÕs birthday on Sunday, 29th of June, instead of 1st of July.
So, we invite you to Skate Country, 2700 N. Stone (at Glenn), at4 PM, June 29. Children will skate for two hours while watching their parents falling down like pears and apples. Children will have ice-cream, pizza, soda and all sorts of junk food.
After we are all exhausted, we invite you to our home at …….. , exactly at7 PM, for dinner. YahyaÕs mother is a nutritionist; so bring your salt and butter in your pockets.
Edip Yuksel, Father
Apameh Bashar, Mother (joining in substance, dissenting in style;-).
7.008 It is just another body part!
You have mastered the bicycle, as you did rollerblading. I was very proud of you when you were skating with everyone while I was trying not to fall down at the corner. When I was your age, I dreamed of owning a motorcycle though I had no chance of even having a bicycle; it was an unattainable luxury for me.
Today you had a bicycle race with the neighbor’s kid in the park. You were so competitive; you started to cry when you lost one of the races.
On the way back home it started sprinkling. At one point, Matine resisted moving forward. I lifted your brother, but he kicked his feet and hit my private parts. I cried, “Ouch! Matine hit me in the balls.” With a naughty smile you commented: “I liked it the way you said, Edip!” I wondered, “Why?” You explained, “It’s first time I hear you using that word.” I expressed my regret of using such a word. You comforted me: “It is OK, it is just another body part!”
7.506 Dear Mom, can I have my iluoise back?
This morning you shared with me your letter to your mom on your computer screen:
I’m so sore [sorry] that I pot [put] sothing [something = GUM!] in yor hare [hair]. Can you forgiv [forgive] me?Can I have my iluoise [allowance] back?”
7.712 The use of the scotch tape
— “Why is this scotch (poster) tape on the toilet sink, Yahya?
—— “I used it. I wanted to take my mustache off!”
7.767 Inter-faith Study Group and Your Paper Airplane
This evening we had scripture study atCasasAdobeChurchat Ina and Oracle. As a member of the interfaith group, once a month we study the Old Testament, New Testament and The Quran for about one and a half hours. It is a small group comprised of Jews, Christians and Muslims. The previous meetings were at Masjid.
To provide some experience for you, I decided to take you with me. I was hoping that there would be children to meet. When we arrived to the gate of the church, you asked a host who was welcoming the guests: “Is this a church? It looks like more to a palace” It was a fancy building compared to our Masjid which is a dull rectangular structure. Unfortunately, the palace did not have any princes or princesses. You got very upset for having to spend hours with boring adults. The mansion immediately turned into a prison for you.
You did not sit on the chair. Instead, you interrupted us and asked me to make a paper airplane for you. I took my time and made a fancy one, the one that looks like a Stealth. While we were reading verses from the Old, New and Final Testaments, your airplane circled in the air and dived in the middle of the room. When it followed the same route again, I showed you the door. You went to the baby-sitter room and found some entertainment for yourself until we finished reading and talking about “boring” issues.
Obviously, our interfaith group was not inter-age. You were justifiably out of context.