Toddler Terror

I don’t know if I can call my non-walking, bum-shuffling 15-month old a toddler yet; I always envisage toddlers as Emotionally unstable tiny dictators, running around very fast, ordering other people around.  She’s all of this, but there is no running around (thankfully!). Everyone is so hung up on the fact that she’s not walking yet they’re missing all the crucial stuff she’s doing: mainly talking, mimicking and learning new gestures and developing trademark mannerisms.  She stores up all the words she learns and spends her days (and nights) chattering away. Alhamdullilah. 

Her latest obsession is the phrase ‘a spy’, or ‘I spy,’ something she picked up from my nephew who said she was shuffling into the kitchen to find me, like a spy. She’s also been spending a lot of time with the book “Each Peach Pear Plum”; if you’re not familiar with it, get acquainted, it’s an excellent read.  She heard my nephew say the phrase seven days ago and even now she will randomly say it, sometimes in the dead of the night when we’re asleep.  She shatters the silence with, “A spy!” I think she may be part of MI5, the toddler unit, licensed to spill.  I think she may be spying on us looking for extremist behaviour. I think there may be merit in my suspicions.

Equally, she may be an extremist herself.  There are so many signs and you never know who is these days.  According to the government’s PREVENT Strategy, it could be anyone, it could even be your toddler.  So I’ve been watching her. We should all be watching each other, all the time, every day.  You never know who could be an extremist.  I’m watching you too.  Paranoid? No, I’m just Muslim.  And you can’t be too careful these days. I think I should be more careful.  I think I should be watching her closely.   I think there may be merit in my suspicions. 

I few weeks ago I wrote a Facebook status update outlining why I thought my bum-shuffler needed to be under the radar.  Here is a more comprehensive, updated version of that. I added some details as the bum-shuffling terrorist has developed at an alarming, you might even say, radical rate. If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d send it to the Prime Minister and insist he reply…

Dear Mr. Cameron, 

I think my toddler is becoming radicalised. I understand that I need to report this, so below are all the reasons why I think Rahma might be becoming radicalised. Please advise me about what I can do to stop her. Perhaps she would benefit from an enrolment in the anti-extremism programme you set up specifically for toddlers? 

– She prays more than 5 times a day. If she doesn’t see me praying she’ll immediately put her head to the ground, repeatedly and then sit up and move her finger up and down rapidly. She’ll do this up to ten times a day. She’s obviously praying more than the average Muslim.  She even prays in the bathroom whilst I use the toilet; as if to remind me that, like her, if I was devout, I would be praying too. Praying this much must be a sign of radicalisation. 

– She refers to any books that I read as “Qur’an”. In fact what she says is “Qu-qan”, over and over, as if repeating it will change the copies of my “infidel novels” to the most sacred text of Islam. She has recently started to refer to the iPad as Qu-qan because she heard the melodious tones of my favourite reciter emanating from it whilst she played on the floor one day.  Since then she insists I put it on all the time.  She seems obsessed with listening to it. Should I be worried? 

– She screams and protests when anyone, including her dad, tries to touch me. Currently my husband is not allowed to hug or touch me in her presence. Any attempt to do so is met with shouting and moaning. She obviously wants to preserve my honour. Too late love. But I think she is also trying to segregate the sexes too, keeping men and women apart. If this isn’t a sign of radicalisation, I don’t know what is. 

– She will only settle in the car if I play Qur’an recitation to her. Silence is just not good enough. And she won’t tolerate Radio 4.  Any attempt to drive in silence results in a low, rumbling moan until I give in and put her favourite chapter of the Qur’an on – the one she listened to when in the womb every day I drove to and from work.  Did I inadvertently radicalise my baby?!

– When she sees the cleavage of other women in the street and when we go swimming, she points and says “Dudu” (the Pakistani slang word for milk) I can only assume she’s trying to shame them into covering up and obey Shariah Law. Shariah law in England.  

– She can’t say the word “Pig”. Now she’s 15 months old and this wouldn’t normally be a big deal, but she says more than 40 other words and parrots everything we say, but she’s never actually said this word, although we do recite “This little Piggy went to market” as we fear we’ll be targeted under the PREVENT strategy if we don’t. But I think she’s deliberately avoiding saying it. 

– She’s showing very little interest in walking and is content to shuffle on her bum. Obviously she realises that, as a woman, she has no need to walk when she can get married and have a man control her life and bring her things. It’s quite obvious she believes women should be covered and stay in the house. She’s clearly gearing up towards a forced arranged marriage that she anticipates we’ll provide.  (Since first starting this letter, she has made half-hearted attempts to pull herself up to a standing position, but she’s never quite succeeded.  I think she’s trying to throw us off her scent because she realises we are onto her.)

– She sits in her high chair, and on the floor, waving her arms around and shouting  and gesticulating in the manner of extreme, radicalised Islamic clerics. Yes, at the moment it’s just babbling with some real words thrown in, but who knows what she might be saying soon? Who knows what she could be inciting other toddlers to when we go to Stay and Play at the local Children’s Centre? 

– she corrects Arabic pronunciation.  We are of Azad Kashmiri and Pakistani descent, so there are some Arabic words that family pronounce using the Urdu/Punjabi accent.  My mum said “wuzu” the other day and my toddler immediately corrected her to say “Wudhu” and kept repeating it, as if to hammer the point home.    I can only imagine she doesn’t want the beautiful language of Heaven tainted with incorrect pronunciation.  A radical view don’t you think?  

– I recently bought some child-friendly Arabic cards to display around the home.  I thought it would be a colourful way to teach her what to say when we eat, go out, sleep, get dressed.  I thought I’d casually introduce things to her, not being prescriptive and doing it all the time since she’s only 15 months.  But she now won’t let me walk past the bathroom without insisting I recite the supplication for going to the toilet on the way past; no matter that we are only going to the study, we must read the reminder for going into the toilet. When we go out, she points at the card for going out and smiles at me, waiting patiently for me to read it.   We come back in and she reminds me to read the card for coming back home.  I have to read both the morning and evening supplications over and over again when she points at the cards.  She does all of this patiently and in her own humble little way.    In making me read these cards at the appropriate times I think she may be trying to radicalise me too.  She smiles a lot when I do this, like she’s extremely happy – you might even say her happiness was extreme, maybe even radical. 

– she has started trying to cover her head.  I’ve told her it’s too early for hijab, but she won’t pass up an opportunity to put clothing on her head and make eyes at herself in the mirror; mujaahidah eyes.  Socks, my pyjamas, her own pyjamas, bras, cardigans, anything; it all ends up on her head and she watches herself in the mirror, willing herself into the burqa, delighting in her own radicalisation, a radicalisation of ‘Talibanesque’ proportions. 

Mr. Cameron, there are many more signs of radicalisation in my toddler but I have outlined the most prominent. I do hope you and Theresa May will aid me in helping to combat these signs before Rahma attends nursery: we can’t have her radicalising other babies and inciting them to terrorism.  

I anticipate your response, 

Yours etc.

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