I don't take phone calls. The blackberry sits by my bedside, charging its battery, next to a pile of books I long to read. I am in the midst of chaos.
It is 7pm. The house looks like a train station and sounds like the floor of a stock market. I believe this is the time my kids actually grow, experience and learn the most. The first thing they experience is family dynamics. How to coexist with others under a busy roof. How to make themselves heard. How to express their feelings. How to diffuse their stress. How to make themselves "at home".
They are exhausted at this time and its now time to unwind, to prepare for bed. Dinner in the kitchen. There is always argument about the menu which always emphasises vegetables and protein, perhaps a random carbohydrate. I sit with them, incapable of eating with them lest I get indigestion while arguing. I read to them instead. They all listen, up till the eldest, even though its a children's book, tenth time revisited.
Bedtime stories will follow the showers and the last minute homework. I read in Arabic to the youngest and in French to the middle child. The child who isn't being read to will interrupt his sibling's quiet time intermittently. It is never quiet in this house at 7pm. Somewhere, on a night of good intentions, a violin practice can be heard.
The phone may ring. My mother has a question, or my sister in NewYorkCity is inquiring on her relatives in Dubai. I announce that I am extremely busy, that I am tutoring geology, that I have 2 kids in the bathtub, that the bedtime story hasn't been finished, that I am tucking them in bed, that I have to get ready for a dinner or function and I hate being late, that I plan on going to bed early.
7pm is the worse time to reach me. It gives rush hour a new meaning!