I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

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Ever feel like you were being watched? Yeah me too sometimes. Courtesy of Middle Child, Twin 1 and Twin 2.

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We Need Less Barbie, Less Fake Cover Girls and More Warriors.

Dear Darling Daughters,

I overheard you talking to each other while you played with your dolls. I was relieved for the few minutes of conflict free cooperation amongst you. But what you, my youngest munchkin, said was far worse for me than one of your epic battles.

“I wish I had blond hair and blue eyes and was pretty like Barbie.”

I read about stuff like this all the time. It didn’t really matter of course until you said it because I thought I was doing such a good job by giving you confidence that looks don’t matter and everyone is beautiful in their own way etc etc.  But of course you do not live in a bubble and I cannot shield you from our increasingly shallow world. I suppose it was my fault for buying the damn dolls in the first place, but you know the thing is every mom wants her little girl to have nice toys. I just misjudged what nice is. Thanks a lot Mattel.

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(No. Just no! Pic from here.)

I tried to fix this problem by going out and finding some brown skinned, black haired dolls. Voila, thank you Disney for Mulan, Pocahontas and Jasmine. Although they should have done their homework because no, that is not what Arab princesses wore.  Belly dancers yes, but Jasmine was not a belly dancer. Also Pocahontas was only about ten or eleven and apparently she never saved John Smith.  Yes unfortunately women are objectified. A lot. I will explain what that means later, right now let’s just stick to My Little Pony. Okay yeah it has something to do with how they look in certain clothes. Yes, a certain lack of clothes. Thanks a lot Disney! Yes the bumpy parts that are barely covered by their skimpy clothes. No, it is not something good to walk around like that. Your body is yours, it should not be on display for everybody to ogle at!

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(What exactly is the message here?)

Anyways looking pretty means different things to different people. There is not just one way to look pretty, in some countries the idea of pretty is very different and many of us wouldn’t see it as pretty. Like the giraffe women of Burma.

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Yeah long neck.

And some countries in Africa have tribes that take great pride in lip plates….

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Ouch, but it is beautiful to them.

More importantly I also want you to know that looks are not everything. Even if, eventually, the entire world goes crazy and thinks that they are. The thing that matters most is what is inside, and what you do with it. You can’t change the way you look, but you can change the way the world looks at you.

Mulan , Jasmine and Pocahontas didn’t actually look like that by the way. No one looks like that. Jasmine wasn’t even a real person. Yes models are real people, but no they don’t really look like that. Their pictures are photo shopped to make you think they look like that. Why? So women and girls spend their money on makeup and silly products because they think they will look like that. Yes there are people who make money out of fooling people. It is not a good thing, but it is a thing.

Never mind. So according to the legend, Mulan was an awesome girl who fought in the war in place of her old father who couldn’t fight. Do you think she worried about her hair? No.

What do I mean by legend? Well legend means that it might or might not be true, but there must have been something to  the story. Okay here’s a story that I can assure you is true.

There was once an Arab female warrior that fought in many wars hundreds of years ago, during the time of the Holy Prophet. Her brother, who was a knight, had always been very proud of her and taught her to handle her sword so well she became a skilled fighter. She was also a great poet. She was smart, brave and she eventually led an army into battle!

When her brother was taken prisoner during a war, she didn’t sit back and let someone else go save him. She led an attack, won the fight and saved all the prisoners including her brother. She fought fearlessly in lots of battles and stood by what she believed in, she inspired men and women because of her bravery. One time she was captured by the enemy, you know what she did? She motivated the other prisoners and together they fought their way out with tent poles and pegs as weapons! She didn’t let anything get her down and she probably didn’t own any glittery lip gloss or whatever it was they used back then.

I can tell that you like this little bit of history.

“She was awesome! Was she brown?” You ask me.

“Yes.” I answer.

“Did she have long black hair?” you want to know.

“Yup.”

“Was her name Jasmine?”

“No. Her name was Khaula. Khaula Bint Al-Azwer.” I answer with great satisfaction as wide grins spread across your precious coffee colored faces.

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(Pic from here.)

(Disclaimer: I have nothing against girls playing with dolls, but we need to teach our girls they have the ability to be so much more than just pink frilly show pieces. There are more important things than looking good and taking endless selfies. Warrior is meant in the metaphorical sense, I am not encouraging girls to pick up arms and start a war. However if they are keen to learn fencing or archery I say go for it!)

Sometimes Bullies Need to be Bullied

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I am the kid who got bullied at school. All the time, yes, even in high school. I was brown (still am, but proud of it now) and my parents were immigrants. I was taught to suck it up and turn the other cheek. And of course tell the teacher. But there were some teachers who didn’t really care. And I was not the type of child to go home crying to my parents every time something happened, especially as I got older. I would ignore it as best as I could and then I had enough. I started to fight back. I did get into a couple of physical fights because I defended myself, the result of that was reinforcements were called in and I was beaten up by a group of racist little brats. It was not in school so not much could be done about it. The last incident I remember was in high school when this boy in math class continually called me “Paki” with an assortment of nouns added for color. He was also the child of immigrants but he was white. One day as he whispered profanities at me I turned to him and very loudly, whilst our (stern) teacher was explaining something, told him exactly what he was.  The class was deadly silent. All eyes were on us, and then the teacher continued. He did not send me out of the room, did not ask me to explain.  He let me have my say, he let the boy turn red in front of the entire class as he glared at him. He did not interrupt my victory. Sometimes you can’t turn the other cheek.

Things have changed a lot now. My daughters are not the only brown girls in the school. They do not get picked on for being brown.  But of course kids still get bullied. And I too give my daughters the same advice my parents gave me, walk away and inform the teacher. Stay away from those conflicts. And I know the teachers do their best now to keep bullying at bay. But sometimes they can’t be there and some kids just can’t control themselves. I don’t blame the kids, I know some times there is a serious issue that is affecting them. I do know that sometimes bullies have to be put in their place.

There is a boy (or two) in twin 2’s class that can’t control his arms and legs. He has to hit, he has to kick he has to push. The teacher can’t keep him in her sights every second, and I know she tries because Twin 2 has told me he is always being pulled aside and getting the ‘talk’. But it doesn’t stop him and he would be at it again in no time.

Then I told my daughter if he hit her again or hit any of her friends and the teacher was not there (something always happens at recess) she needed to tell him to stop and if he didn’t listen she needed to defend herself. Yes I told my daughter if he hit her she was to hit him right back.

I am not a violent person and neither are my daughters, they are gentle and caring. It was not advice I liked to give but I want my daughters to be able to stand up for themselves and I don’t want them to go through their entire school life before they learn to do it like I did. Bullies need to learn they can’t keep hitting with no consequences.

Anyways some days later twin 2 came home with a note informing me that she had broken said bully’s water bottle.  She told me that he had been hitting her in the hallway after recess and the teacher was nowhere close by so she had asked him to stop (he didn’t) and then she took matters in to her own hands, threw his bag thus breaking the precious water bottle. She was upset because she thought I would be upset at the note. I wasn’t,  but I had mixed feelings.  Would my baby now turn into a thug?

“Why did you break his bottle?”

“He wouldn’t stop, and I didn’t want to hit him. Are you mad?”

“No, of course not. Sometimes people don’t understand words, you had to make him stop somehow.”

I signed her note and gave her a hug. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, I hope I have not given her the wrong advice.  So far she has not come home with any complaints of being bullied again and it is with great relief that I have not received any notes from school informing me that my daughter has taken it upon herself to bully the bullies.

Resident Evil: Messy Kids

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Friday is the last day of the week the house stays clean. As the kids come home from school, my neat and clean abode slowly turns into Boxing Day aftermath.  Yes my kids have issues. They are suffering from “our mom is too good to us syndrome”. Yeah I need to work on that.

By Saturday there are dirty dishes in the sink. On the dining table. And on the coffee table, under beds, near the computer table and yes even in the bathroom. Unwashed clothes decorate floors in bedrooms and outside the clothes hamper, the litter box needs to be emptied and toys need to be put away. The walls are screaming their discontent at being adorned with what seems to be yesterday night’s spaghetti dinner. And this is the start of my weekend. Sound familiar? Well at least I’m not alone.

I am the mom, I do not get tired, I am never sleepy, I do not need to relax. My only aspirations in life are to cook for, feed, clean, wash, and pamper anything I have given birth to or married. I realize that: “you look tired today”  is not my friend sympathizing with me. That is her  saying “Woman you need a face lift, hair dye and a week at the spa.” The only thing I can afford from these options is the hair dye, which I am not gonna do anyways. Honestly I rather be grey than have to scrub that dye from the tub every time I wash my hair. Being perfectly coiffed is so over rated. I am just going to embrace my inner Carol. I mean just look at her!

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I have some suggestions on how we should deal with these problems:

1. Pack up all their stuff in black garbage bags and inform them it is being donated to the Salvation Army.
2. Take it out to the front yard and put up a garage sale sign.
3. Collect it all in the backyard, surround it with a circle of rocks, light it up and roast marshmallows over it.
4. Bury it in the compost heap.
5. Take pictures of it, especially close-ups of underwear and then post it to their Facebook walls.
6. Invite their friends over for a get together and not let them know about it.
7. Pack our own bags, get in the car and drive to South America. Take all their electronic goods to pawn off along the way.
I am thinking either # 3 or #7. Let me know which worked out best for you!

Dollar Shop Masterpieces

Winter Vacation is coming up and if you have tyrannical offspring under the age of twelve you know that means countless whining sessions of “I’m bored” and even “come and play with me”, “color/draw with me”, “cut and paste with me” in general just “do something with me!” And you probably won’t have time to stop and take a breath with all the cleaning and cooking the holiday season brings. That and the stress of trying to be super woman and not breaking a sweat in front of the in-laws or your other “competitive company” i.e. the women with the perfect manicures, well-behaved children, spotless picture perfect homes and designer clothes who serve up gourmet delicacies they cook themselves. We should actually be thankful for their questionable existence, if it weren’t for them how many of us would actually try to workout once in a while and change out of those baggy plaid PJs?

A trip to the dollar shop can turn up some real treasures, yes and also cheap “use today, break tomorrow, dump in recycling on Wednesday” items imported from China. So you have to be careful. If you go in the aisle that has all that artsy stuff you will be amazed how many things you can find that will actually keep your kids busy for at least fifteen and if you are lucky sometimes a little longer.

Cutout pieces of colored paper, glittery fomic sheets in bright shades, sequins, beads, glitter glue, pom-poms and feathers are great for making cards, murals and other holiday themed decorations. Kids love decorating boxes and empty jars that you can use to give gifts in or candy in. You can make an outline of Santa, candy canes, reindeer or whatever else and have them decorate it as they like or even use old coloring book pages if you aren’t that great at drawing. If you have older kids threaten to take away their Xbox controller or with hold shopping money till they draw an outline of a big fat snowman on a sheet of chart paper for their siblings.

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Twin 1 and 2 made these, all this stuff came from the dollar shop.

Empty jars and odd left over pieces from tea sets or serving sets can be made into very pretty center pieces for the coffee table. You could also get stuff from the Thrift store. The pine cones, dried flowers and shiny little pebbles that you find in boxes under the kids’ beds are great to use for these. You can even find elegant (and cheap) glass candle holders to use at the dollar shop.

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We made this one ourselves. I got the tray from a thrift shop, pebbles we collected from the beach and you can find little candle holders at the dollar shop (you can tell this is my favorite place.)

Don’t forget to bake some extra cookies to use as a bribe to get them all to clean up their mess. And if that doesn’t work then you can always remind them of the gifts they won’t be getting, that often helps in convincing them to cooperate.

 

Laws of Mom Physics

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There are about four days left before school reopens, and I have mixed feelings about this. Summer is ending, this is a nostalgic and often bittersweet kind of feeling. After a certain age it reminds you that  you are at that late summer stage in life.
I will miss sleeping in and being awoken by my twins acting like lion cubs and lounging on me, late and lavish breakfasts and the no stress late nights because no school the next day.
However I also miss the few hours of peace and quiet, the clean house, the lack of screaming after every five minutes and the time away from the kitchen because summer vacation is also basically just one big “I’m hungry…” all the time.
You’ve got to have both experiences or life would be pretty boring…which made me realize that two extremes of people commit suicide : those that have everything and those who have nothing. No this has nothing to do with my blog post, sorry for that depressing thought. It’s just my brain has all these tabs open at once, you know all that creativity and stuff.

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What I wanted to blog about today was the “Laws of Mom Physics”
1. The amount of a mother’s love is constant,  it simply changes from one form to another from mother to mother and even in the same mother. Like “overprotective love” to “please get out of my hair because I don’t want to hurt you” love.
2.  Every action from a child will cause an increased reaction from a mother. For example a hug from a toddler will result in a much tighter hug and many smooshy smooches from an exuberant mommy. A ridiculous demand from a teenager will result in a higher decibel verbal reprimand and an increased possibility of house arrest. 
3.  The stickiness of the floors is directly proportional to the necessity of the reopening of schools.
4.  The capacity of a mother’s bladder increases exponentially with her number of offspring.
5.  The angle of projectile vomit spewing from a noxious child can be calculated perfectly by mommy ready with the plastic bag.
6.  Dinner ready and set on the table will always result in all the kids NOT being hungry at the given point in time.
7.   Pi(e) is always equal to happy children especially when served with ice cream.

There are many more laws, please feel free to add yours.

Kids in the car

Every time we go out with all the kids we swear it will be our last trip. We remind our snarling, fighting brood as they cause pandemonium. I write this post ( on my treasured S3) in the car as their drama unfolds in a very familiar way…

Middle child: Mom! She pulled my hair and choked me!
Twin 2 : she’s lying!
Middle child: No I am not!
Twin 1: Eww who farted?
Twin 2: It was you!
Teen 1: SHUT UP!
Me: STOP IT ALL OF YOU
Middle child: Stop pushing!
Twin 2:  then look out your own window!
Middle child: That is my window!
Twin 2: Idiot! Stay on your own side!
Twin 1: Someone keeps farting! (lots of laughs)
Twin 1 : You aren’t allowed to look at my window(in a very whiny voice)
Teen 1: SHUT UP!
Teen 2 : YOU SHUT UP!
Twin 2 : (whispering)You’re ugly!
Middle child : No you’re ugly!
Desi guy (husband):We are never taking you guys anywhere again! (laughs and giggles from the back seats)
Twin 2 : I need water I’m thirsty.
Me : No you had water before we left…
Twin 2 : But I’m thirsty again!
Me: Its only been ten minutes.
Twin 2 : Mommy!
Me : No then you have to go pee again and we aren’t stopping every fifteen minutes for that.
Twin 2 : I’m hungry.
Teen 1 : OMG SHUT UP! Mom why do we always have to bring them?
Twin 2: :Stop saying that you are so mean!
Me : What are you looking at?
Desi guy : Nothing
Me : Yes you are!
Desi guy: Its nothing
Me (snatching his cell) : Stop it and keep your eyes on the road!
Middle child : Hey motorcycle dude!
Me (hissing) : Stop that!
Twin 1 : But its a motorcycle dude! (Lots of giggles)
Me : The window is open, motorcycle dude can here you!
More giggling.
Teen 1 : SHUT UP!
Desi guy : THAT IS IT WE ARE TURNING BACK!
Silence for  thirty seconds.
Twin 1 : Who farted?
Middle child : Ewww!
Twin 2 : I’m thirsty!
Twin 1 : Move over and stop looking out my window!
Teen 1 : SHUT UP! ( loud Indy music coming from earphones)
Teen 2 : oh my god you shut up and stop screaming shut up!

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Acting like angels as soon as they realize I am taking a picture.
Desi guy :  what are you doing? Put the phone away you made me miss my turn!
Me : SERIOUSLY?
Desi guy :  yes. STOP TAKING PICTURES!
Drive in silence for two minutes, then stop at our destination.
Desi guy : Ok only teen 1 and 2 are getting off with mom. You three stay in the car with me.
Middle child : Awwww why?
Me : You dont need uniforms
Twin 1: But we wanted to play hide and seek and this is the best store for that!
Me : Are you kidding me?
Twin 2 : Puleeeeeeze?
Teen 1 : SHUT UP!
Teen 2 : oh my god you shut up, you’re louder than all three of them!
Teen 1 : nobody shut up!
Five minutes later
Me : Come on we cant buy uniforms today.
Desi guy : What happened?
Me :There is a one hour wait at least.
Desi guy : You’re exaggerating
Me : Nope.They made a waiting area. And it is full..must be at least fifty people sitting there. You wanna wait in the car with these three?
Desi guy : Nope. Let’s go
Twin 1 : Awww!
Twin 2 : Yay!
Middle child : Move over!
Twin 2 : I’m thirsty!
Teen 1 : SHUT UP!
Desi guy : THAT IS IT WE ARE NEVER TAKING YOU GUYS ANYWHERE AGAIN!
One minute silence.
Twin 1 : Who farted?
Desi guy : Damn it I missed the exit again
Twin 1 : Dont lick me!
Me : Stop licking your sisters.
Middle child : I’m not licking her. I just  licked my hand.
Twin1 : Yeah and then she touched us with it!
Me : Where are you going?
Desi guy : What? Oh damn it missed the turn again.
Me : I think you should teach me to drive now…
Twin 1 : who farted?
Oh my god I need a vacation.

Extreme Parenting or How to Fix Your Obnoxious Brat

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You know that parent you find in random aisles when you go shopping? The one with a UNICEF Ambassador’s concerned expression and the tact of a woodland creature surrounded by hungry wolves?

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Their child is sprawled on the floor causing a ruckus that would shame a South American howler monkey. And they stand there being a good parent and continue to give this writhing, howling hell child “choices”.

“Honey, you can’t have both, you have to make a choice. Do you want the (sugar laden, cavity causing, hyper-activity trigger) cereal (made with loads of genetically modified stuff) or do  you want the (excessively salty) chips (full of saturated fatty acids that will be sure to make you a candidate for cardiovascular diseases in the future) ?”

Devil spawn gets up glares at the parent and knocks down everything on the bottom two shelves. Because it couldn’t reach any higher than that. Not effective parenting.

I say, yes give the child choices. In fact I would give the child three choices.

“I can either whoop your ass: 1 here, 2 at home or 3 you can shut up.”

Being a bad ass parent literally means you have to be bad ass.

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My dad’s cousins were bad ass mothers. These aunts of mine, they are oh so awesome! To this day they evoke respect and can make their grown sons shake in their boots. They believed in extreme parenting. Once one of their very young sons let them know that the story about the stork bringing babies was a lie, babies came from tummies. My aunt’s reply?

“Really? Well come here and I’ll cut your tummy open, let’s see how many babies we can find.”

Needless to say, the son never questioned the authenticity of her explanations again. Their children did not throw tantrums. Sometimes being extreme is the best option.

Some Extremely Effective Options:

1. Your child needs to go pee and refuses to acknowledge this. Options:

“Honey your bladder will burst and you will have a pipe attached to a pee pee bag that you will carry around for the rest of your life. Or you can go to the bathroom and save me a trip to the hospital.”

2. Your child can’t fall asleep because it is too hot. Even with the A.C working perfectly. Options:

“Honey I can stick you in the freezer. Or you can just go to sleep in your bed. Immediately.”

3. Your child can’t fall asleep because it is too cold. Replace ‘freezer’ with ‘oven’ in above option.

4. Your child is unhappy with you because you are an unfair mother. Options:

Pack a bag with some of their clothes and drive them to an ominous looking building. “This is the place for children with moms that aren’t fair. There are no x-boxes, no ipods, no birthday parties and no snacks ever. They are served only with leftovers, they wash their own dishes and clothes, and no one tucks them in at night or tells them stories. You can stay here or you can come back with me and live with my rules.”

Teens?

5. Your teenagers don’t listen. Ever. They don’t even deserve an option, post their bare bummed baby pics on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. Don’t forget to tag them. Another great pic is the ‘first time on potty’ pic.

6. They forgot to take out the trash? Dump it on their bed, that should improve their memory.

7. They don’t put away their stuff? Throw it in the driveway.

8. They don’t like what you cook? Kick them out of the dining room and lock the pantry. After two days of starving everything will taste gourmet.

And every night at bedtime don’t forget to tell them how much you love them. BTW I have used #s 1, 2,3,4, and 7. Extremely effective.

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(all pics from Google Images)

Desi Mom: Parenting 101

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I was born and (mostly) raised in Canada. My parents were clueless FOBs (fresh off the boat) and I blame them for my thoroughly awkward upbringing.  I was a total geeky loser in school, yes right up to high school. My post is absolutely not related to my traumatized childhood, I just wanted to get that off my chest.

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In the many years I spent in Pakistan I learned the importance of plastic shopping bags and yogurt containers. Also that if you aren’t quick at weddings when they signal dinner, you will find there is no coke left. Or chicken broast. So don’t be shy.

Raising five monsters kids in Karachi has given me, besides nerves of steel and the amazing ability to not go pee for  48 hours, some multicultural expertise I feel I must bestow on non-desi moms.

1. You can live without water: When there is no electricity for 9 hours straight you can count on running out of water. The kids need a shower. What the hell do you think baby powder was invented for? Douse those little buggers with it. Sprinkle it in their puppy dog smelling hair and dust it out. Not only will the greasiness be replaced with powderiness, the powder will absorb all further sweating. Inevitable since there’s no electricity and its 40 degrees in the house.

2. Never throw away plastic bags: Keep plastic bags handy in the car, in all your handbags and purses even in your jeans’ pockets. Teenager 2 always got car sick as a little boy. I could catch his involuntary projectile of gastric juice without blinking. Plastic bags are also good for when there is no gas station on a road trip. Or if you are in Karachi, where the gas stations are so dirty your child would prefer to poop his pants.

3. Don’t buy toys: You know very well that once the box is opened it takes about 3 and a half minutes for the charm of that $35 toy to disappear completely. My mother-in-law could keep Middle Child busy for hours with her empty plastic pill containers. The allure lay in the fact that the containers could be closed and opened again and again and again and….

4. Kids need to be spanked: Your kid needs to know you are the boss. If you think “let’s talk about what you are feeling right now” and “we need to think about the consequences” is working than you are a dummy mummy. That is Junior knowing he got away with it by showing remorse he certainly doesn’t feel, he or she is already planning the next escapade. Spank that kid! Just ask Russel Peters…”Somebody’s a gonna get a hurt!”

5. A good sweater can be used for at least four siblings. Oh yes I did. In the span of ten years. We still have the sweater.

6. Never praise your kids in their presence: Always ask them why they can’t be more like your sister’s children, your cousin’s children, your neighbor’s children, your brother-in-law’s children, anybody’s children. It keeps them competitive, no of course it will not hurt their self-esteem.

7. Always one up other moms: Don’t let your sister, your cousin, your neighbor or anyone else have the last word on their children’s achievements. Whatever they say is 50% exaggeration, beat them with their own rules. Example? Your child got her black belt last year. So what if she was only five?

Stay posted for more Desi tips.

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Posts

Hungry Little Monsters:A Lunch Post

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After wasting time I decided to write,
looking at the clock I had a great fright.
It was time for hungry offspring to return from school,
I had to cook lunch! This is so uncool.
I panicked I flipped,
Into the kitchen I tripped.
What to cook,
I trembled, I shook.
Last time lunch was delayed,
Twin 2, on my shin she preyed!