D E E M A

In conversation with Deema:
A new routine during COVID-19

Staying home is hard for us because we're used to going out: my husband going to work, me going for groceries, my kids going to school. This routine is not easy.

 

We have to stay home, but we don’t like it. Sometimes, my husband drives the kids to the beach, just for the drive. They don't get out of the car, they just go for the drive, to help time pass.

But we are doing good, we are managing, between studying online, between cooking, between working in the front yard, talking, driving the kids outside.

​- Deema, translated by Asia

Reflections on online education during COVID-19

"My kids are getting tired of staying home and studying online, they want to go back to school. They say, 'We miss school, we want to go back to school, we can’t sit home and study online.' The hardest thing is to wake the kids up at 8/8:30am to get them to start their classes online. When I wake the boys, the girls are going to sleep again. When I go to wake the girls, I find the boys have gone back to sleep. I have seven kids, and I get tired going from child to child.

 

The kids have too many apps, they go from app to app, from teacher to another teacher. Sometimes the kids can’t focus. And the house is too small, so I have to separate the kids. One in one room, the other in another room. I send one to the garage, I send two or three outside to study.

 

One of my sons, he takes classes with his teacher and has to study speech with another teacher because he has a difficulty. Mohamed has a hard time reading, so the tutor suggested that he listen to the book being read on tape. Then, we ask him questions about what he hears. Our friend brings him boxes of books, because she wants him to read thirty minutes each day. She also brings my son, Salah, picture books about words. I sit with him and ask him about the picture and the name for the picture. My other son, Faisal, his tutor comes to the house twice a week and she spends three hours with him, from 2pm to 5pm. So I am a busy mom, like every mom.

It’s very hard for me, because I have to study for my college too. It's hard for me and my husband to study after 8pm or 9pm. The classes get harder and harder every time. My daughter Ayat, who is in high school, helps us study online. She has also applied for classes to help prepare her for university.

So I'm teaching my kids, I'm a student myself, and my day is a busy day, every day." 

​- Deema, translated by Asia

Reflections on Ramadan
during COVID-19

"This is the first Ramadan that the kids don’t get tired, because they're staying home to fast. Before, when they went to school, they would get tired, especially when Ramadan comes in summertime, it gets harder for the kids. But this Ramadan, they like it and they're doing good and they're fasting and they don’t complain about the fasting, because they get to stay home with air conditioning and sleep during the day.

 

So it is good for the kids, but for me, between seven kids studying in the morning, fasting for Ramadan, cooking before dark, watching the kids study, it’s too much.

At the same time, it is very nice that everybody in the house is praying together the five prayers (Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha). Then there is another prayer: the Taraweeh. This prayer is performed after the Isha prayer during Ramadan and consists of 12 rakaat. It is something that everybody in the house enjoys.

In the afternoon around 4pm, before the Iftar, the boys go out in the front of the house with their dad, and they start planting the vegetables (tomato, cucumber, eggplant, okra, thyme, oregano, parsley, mint) in the garden we started two weeks ago. They spend one or two hours in the garden. My youngest likes to play with the mud and the water, so I let him take his time, playing and making stuff in the front yard.
 
While the boys work in the garden, the girls help me in the kitchen. Yesterday, Ayat, my oldest daughter, made a dessert that we make everyday during Ramadan. It’s called atayef and it's the best dessert. It's like a pancake is stuffed with cheese and fried. Then, we put syrup over it. It can also be stuffed with nuts. Ayat took the recipe from online and she did it step by step and it was good. The girls help me every day in the kitchen before Iftar. They make salad, each one makes something different. They are learning how to cook." 

​- Deema, translated by Asia

Askadinya fruits

"After the Iftar, my family goes outside to the front and sits altogether. We take an hour talking, drinking tea and eating sweets. The kids sometimes go to the neighbours, where there is a tree with small yellow fruit, called askadinya. Our neighbour grows the tree, but they don't eat it, they don't like it. So they tell me to bring my kids and pick the fruit and take it to eat it. The kids pick the fruits from the tree, since it's the season for the fruit. Afterwards, the kids go inside, watch TV, pray, do homework."
​- Deema, translated by Asia

"We have that tree in front of my house and my kids don't eat it a lot. And you're right, it's in season. The whole tree is yellow, and the fruits just keep falling down. But we don't know what it is [laughs]."
- Famo

"It's askadinya, it's a small fruit. Sometimes it's sour, but if you leave it for more time on the tree, it gets sweeter and sweeter. Some people, they love it. Some people, they don't care about it."
​- Asia

"Like my family [laughs]."
​- Famo

"It's really only in California that you find it. I went to Florida and they asked, 'Oh, do you have this tree in California?' I said, yea, everywhere I walk, everywhere I drive, it's everywhere [laughs]."
- Asia

"Yea and most people don't eat it, it's kind of weird. If I see it, I'll take some."
- Dan

"People will knock on my door and ask if they can have some. Some will come and sneak to get it and run, and I'm like, 'You can have it!'"
- Famo

"That would be me [laughs]."
​- Dan