Tuesday, January 7, 2014

God Rest Your Soul ya Oztaz Tohamy! Arabic lessons blues in Westchester

Fight # 1

If you don’t make some effort, you’ll never make it up to the next level

Fight # 2

How did you write that word again? Show me the paper! NOW! Do you realize this is the hundredth time you write that same word, and you still can’t get it write?

Fight # 3

Did you do your Arabic?
An hour later… Did you do your Arabic?
Days later… Did you do your Arabic?

The answer remains the same no matter how repeatedly I ask… I C.A.N.T.D.O.I.T.A.L.O.N.E…
Yes by now he’s as angry as I am

Fight # 4

This is it, I’m done, I can’t hold your hand forever.. we’ve been stuck on this level for years now and I see no improvement. Worse, there is no will to improve.
I’m telling your teacher right NOW that you are not doing lessons anymore. I AM DONE.

Tears are starting to flow … on both sides

And you know what?? Don’t you dare come in the future and blame me for not writing and reading in your own native language. It’s your problem; you deal with your own regrets. BAM!!! that hammers the last nail in.

It’s only December, and I think I’ve been through this cycle at least three times already.
As I write this, my son and I are not on speaking terms. Thank God I can use my other two to communicate to him through.  He on the other hand is tripping on guilt wires, knee deep in frustration and drowning fast!

This can’t be it: A life long struggle to teach my kids their language. I had to endure daily hours of torture at school to reach the level I’m at. And it was nothing to be proud of to begin with. Only through my work in later years did my written Arabic so improve. So why am I torturing my kids?

The answer is clear and simple.. Egyptian is who they are, partially at least.  Ten years of their cumulative lives in New York have stretched that thread to their native background real thin. They speak Arabic (at least the first two Ts), they eat Egyptian food, they have some Egyptian summer friends. By some obviously I mean my friends’ kids who see them for a few days every year.

We started lessons at the age of 4. We had weekly private tutoring and homework dispersed in the days between. This year, I came to the conclusion that it was simply not enough. So we upped it to twice a week and twice the homework. That also translated, to my greatest “chagrin”, to twice the fights, twice the time spent spelling the same words over and over, and over and over, and again……

There will come a moment when I will just give up. T1 has had his shot.  Languages were never T2’s stronghold anyway.. and T3, well as usual, she gets the shortest end of the stick simply because I’m just too tired by the time I get to her. The curse of a third child!

Funny, how my dreams of pushing my kids to take the state exams no matter where we lived, just washed themselves away. I always dreaded the day I’ll have to face the truth that my kids are not Egyptian. At least not in the same way I am. Surprisingly, raising global children becomes a much easier task once we give up the notion of a motherland, a native origin. The day has come, and to my relief, it’s not so bad J yet!

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