March 21 is Mother’s Day in the Middle East! And 11 years ago today I became a mother to David Beauregard Nicholls. It was the first day of Spring, yet it was snowing in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The doctor delivering him was born in the Philippines, just like me. After David’s lunch party today, all the Filipino servers at Chili’s sang him “Happy Birthday” in Tagalog. That’s a lot of happiness AND a lot of happenstance!
Sweet baby D has grown up so much since we moved to Abu Dhabi. He was a nervous and cautious boy when we came. He cried easily if people spoke crossly with him.
Starting 5th Grade at the American International School, a huge K-12 intuition, intimated him at first — and me too. But David quietly prevailed, relying on his smarts to make friends and to make a place for himself. He’s endured some anti-American sentiments and his first broken heart.
Six months later, thanks to his amazing teacher and a little extra help from the school counselor, David is a confident, comfortable, class leader. Last week, he auditioned for the Middle School musical, Annie, and earned the role of FDR. He defends himself, peacefully, against bullies on the bus. He reminds his classmates to be culturally sensitive and not to be “genderist.”
On the way to his party today, David looked out the window of the cab and said, “Remember when all this seemed so foreign?”
Oh, little boy, I sure do. I even remember when you were so foreign to me.
His friends at the bowling alley, where today’s birthday’s festivities began, represent a lot of foreign places — Syria, Kenya, Australia, Russia, and Lebanon.
Some foreign places, as per the news this morning, aren’t celebrating. There are a lot of mothers in neighboring Yemen who are mourning the 142 killed during two separate suicide bombings in mosques in their country. The news comes on the heels of 23 tourists killed by ISIL terrorists in Tunisia earlier in the week. I think, too, about the absolute hell in Syria — from where one of David’s pals hails.
Abdul gave David a Minecraft book for a present. But the real gift was his inscription (see the picture). He says, “Congratulations on becoming a pre-teen.” Tragically, many young people in his motherland won’t make that landmark occasion.
He ends with “May all your wishes come true.”
I wonder what D wished for when he blew out the candle on his cake this afternoon?
I know what his Mother wishes for him, and every child in the world.
A safe place to call home.