A Bright Spark in these Uncertain, Dangerous Times

I’m not sure anymore what is normal in this town. We hoped, but knew it was not possible to return to normal after the unexpected two-week holiday. It can’t be normal if we can’t go to our favorite restaurants anymore, or if there are more roadblocks, checkpoints, and detours around the city. It can’t be normal when you have battle-hardened soldiers aiming their guns at motorists around government and diplomatic facilities. Yes, it’s been upsetting and depressing since the Marriott blast. All our assumptions about what is safe and secure have changed considerably.

But living under the cloud of more threats and heightened security has not dimmed the dazzling smile of our baby, who remains the sunshine and center of our universe. He will be a year old soon. While he’s still underweight, his development is on schedule and even advanced in some areas. He knows how to get down from a bed and couch. He can open his books to the right pages if you ask him to show you the duck, sheep, tiger, or puppy. And he can also pick out the duck from his toys. His hand-eye coordination is amazing. Minutes after getting a new toy he was already putting the circles through the pegs even though the holes were less than an inch in diameter. He can say Dada and Ayah, too. He will cover himself with his favorite sarong or clothes to play peekaboo. And he’ll wave hi and goodbye. He loves the water very much, and instinctively starts to swim or float even when he’s on his tub. Maybe he’ll be walking soon, but we’re not encouraging him. He’s already giving us a lot of work whenever he climbs stairs, which he loves to do every chance he gets. He understands the words no, stop, wait, dirty, and dangerous¬† … it doesn’t mean he will obey. He will in fact repeat what he’s doing — like pluck and eat leaves — to see my reaction, then do it again while giggling.

Here’s his latest video, taken this weekend:

So what’s going to happen next? We don’t know. We are currently looking up vacancies in other schools in other countries. But our decision to update our resumes took place months ago, and we sent expressions of interest to a handful of schools the week before the Marriott blast. Do we really want to leave Islamabad? Not entirely; but we knew vacancies for music and computer teachers don’t happen often, so we’re just being proactive. We love our students because we’ve had them for years and know them rather well. We’ve just gotten comfortable living in Islamabad with our baby, and we hate packing and starting all over again. And taking two online courses that make me review the standards, technology resources, and priorities of schools make me proud of mine. Compared to some of my classmates’ schools in the US, we’re doing very well with Smartboards, wireless Internet on campus, as well as regular workshops and stipends for professional development. This just makes it harder for us to find similar schools that will hire us as a teaching couple … A school in a city with minimal pollution, lots of parks, competent nanny, and good health care for James … which Islamabad is.

But, as we love to remind our family and dearest friends: just keep praying for us if you want to stop worrying about us living here.

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