My mother’s favorite tool was her wooden spoon and I gave her gave ample occasion to use it.
I had a real issue with holding in my urine whenever the urge hit. Naturally, this resulted in many accidents at school, home, on the street. Wherever and whenever. She got fed up eventually and resorted to the spoon to make me stop, but that only made me more prone to hide the evidence. The spot that I chose to hide my soiled underwear was behind the heater in my bedroom. That only made things worse for me because of the smell. This problem stayed with me until my preteen years and nothing she did had any real impact on that.
Another thing that got me the spoon often was my tendency toward wandering off from my mother’s side and hiding in weird places. She told me about a time when, in a clothing store, I wandered off and hid under a large rack of coats ignoring her frantically yelling my name throughout the store. She found me by pure chance and, for awhile, she would put one of those child leashes around my wrist whenever we went out together. There are several other memorable times when it was used, like when I hung out with the Italian mechanic when we got separated one time, but that is negligible in the large scheme of things.
Aside from my mother being the disciplinary force during my early years, my parents did not get along well. The first incident of conflict between my parents was at the dinner table. My father wasn’t too pleased with how my mother had made spaghetti so he began yelling and threw the hot plate of food in her face. She ran out of the kitchen crying and I just sat at the kitchen table silent for a time scared and not knowing what to do. This kind of thing continued throughout the years, but it wasn’t as frequent during our time in Queens.
They sent me to Islamic school in the city instead of public school and the curriculum was a joke even by New York standards. All girls had to wear scarves, no matter their age, and class size was too large to teach anything effectively. The main focus, of course, was memorizing the Quran and studying the hadiths. Friends were scarce and I usually sat in the back of the classroom by myself with my seat far from others. Sometimes by choice and sometimes due to causing mischief with the only person that I considered to be a friend. He hated the stuck-up popular girls of the class and, while I felt the same, I had a crush on the one with red hair. She reminded me of Ariel from The Little Mermaid and there was never a moment when he didn’t give me hell over it. We had fun together until I had to tell him we were moving. This coupled with my rejection of his romantic feelings, made him angry enough to not talk to me again. He confessed on the day of our third grade graduation and I basically told him that it didn’t matter because I was leaving for Egypt soon.
By that time, my sister and first brother had both been born. My sister’s birth made me jealous and even more angry than I already was. It took me some time to stop picking on her when my parents weren’t around and get used to her presence. She grew on me and I even started to feel protective of her and all of my siblings.
Egypt was a different world at that time, even by today’s standards, and our family changed a lot while living there.