Domestic Failures #04: The Kids Are Not Alright

She is, usually, smart.

At nine years old, the general shape of her personality is set. She enjoys dancing, pop music, great stories (but not always books), and professes a keen sensitivity which causes her to burst into tears if she finds something unbearably sad or beautiful. I once listened to her monologue about the use of Arabic language and the pride one takes in a native tongue; it takes unusual foresight and intelligence for an Arab child raised in Jordan to resist lingering colonialism so deftly.

We often read books and discuss things together. I’m happy I’m a confidante and always happy to spend time with her. I like to think I helped raise her, and that she has been raised well.

Then there was today.

My sister told me that, at nine, she knew who George Bush and Condoleeza Rice were. “But that,” she said, “could have been due to the Iraq War.”

I suggested we test this, and produced a photograph of Barack Obama to show my nine year old cousin. “Who is this?”

“Obama,” said my cousin. “Duh.”

“And who is Obama?”

“The President.”

“Of what?”

This put her at something of a loss. My sister decided to throw a hint: “What’s the most powerful country in the world?”

Ah, grins my cousin. “England!”

“No. The world.”


Disappointed, I decided to produce the picture of another world figure. I chose Elizabeth II: Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and Head of the Commonwealth, probably more famous than the crown she wears.

“And who is this?”

“That,” she said, proudly, “is Miss Obama.”

I suppose I should be grateful she’s not a racist, and maybe even happy there’s some logic at play here. But who am I kidding?

I have failed this child.


Domestic Failures #03: Baby-Kicking

Today, I kicked a one year-old in the head.

On her birthday.

As I was swallowing down a slice of her chocolate birthday cake.

Which I suppose confirms the literary theory that villains aren’t born, but made.

In truth, I accidentally bumped into little M—- as I was walking, my leg connecting with her head when she made a sudden lurch (as crawling babies will) from beneath a chair. Luckily, she’s doing OK; she looked resentful for a solid hour, but it wasn’t anything some nursery rhymes off an iPad couldn’t fix.

But imagine the story she’ll tell in future years.

(And if in future years you ever read this, M—-: I love you!)

Domestic Failures #02: Cereal

Procure a rare craving for cereal. Walk to the supermarket clutching wallet in hand—smiling sheepishly at Mrs. Turner’s glance towards what she considers to be your inappropriate attire (shorts), a probable indicator you’ve fallen in her estimate—and spot a brand you especially like (Honey Nut Cheerios? Kellogg’s Fitness?). Walk home triumphantly (Mrs. Turner’s glance now disapproving the state of your legs), drop the change in a tidy column, remove a clean bowl from the cabinet, cleanly open the pack of cereal (no tears), pour in just the right amount, fetch a banana, slice the banana, drop in the slices with a flourish, open the fridge to pour in the milk, and the fridge—the fridge mocks you with its lack of milk. We had milk, you say. I checked before leaving the house. What happened to it? There was half a carton and the neighbours dropped in wanting some, they say. We just gave them the carton when you went to the shop. Scan the change; you’re 5p short to buy a new carton, and the teller’s stubbornly stringent. You’re unwilling to cash-in a solid 20. Fork up the banana slices and reluctantly spoon the cereal dry into your mouth instead. Should’ve had eggs.

Domestic Failures #01: Temptation



A man, KARIM, sits at a computer, looking thoughtful. He erases and rewrites paragraphs, clearly unhappy with his work. Behind him is his BED, looking soft and inviting—almost maliciously so.

Hey. You look tired.

I am. The words won’t come-out right.

You know what I do when I’m tired? I sleep on it.


Come on. You’re yawning and it’s the afternoon. Psst. Hey!

I have to write.

Just a ten minute nap.


Just relax. Ten minutes. I won’t be comfortable enough to let you doze off. (beat) I promise.

I’m not going to fall for this again. You took all afternoon last time.

You’re not even writing anything. All this time, wasted! What have you got, 1000 words? It’s been three hours. Come on. It’s a great way to get solutions to your problems. Think about efficiency.

KARIM (uncertainly)
I want to get this done early so I can see a film tomorrow.

You can! By sleeping! Just look at Winston Churchill. He slept in the afternoon during World War II. World War II! The bigger budget one. The one with the clear-cut villain. He slept through that.

I am pretty tired.

Or da Vinci. He had the strangest sleeping patterns. I’ll just lie here. Ten minutes, Karim. Come to me.

Ten minutes, only.

Foolishly, KARIM walks towards the bed, and places his head on the pillow. Ten minutes, he thinks. Just ten minutes. Then a cup of tea and an evening’s worth of writing. Yes, a nice…cup of…cup of tea…



KARIM wakes-up a full 90 minutes later, exhausted.

What time is it? No. No no nooo.


You promised!

I did just lie! Heheheh!

You bastard.


Oh hey, you guys. Is it nighttime?

Go away.

Why are you so groggy? Did you try reenacting the drinking contest from Monkey Island again?

I need coffee.

No no. Go back to sleep. You might as well continue and get an early start tomorrow.

The bastard actually snickers.

BRAIN (snickering along with BED)
I’m just going to stay here with bad if catchy songs. Let’s see if you can sleep with, oh, what about—Nicki Minaj? Yeah, Nicki Minaj!—stuck in your head…