Here’s what Superbowl Sunday looked like for 1 male (a boy-male) living with 2 females (his mom and sister) in a PBS-supporting (i.e. no cable TV), granola-crunching (i.e. junk food-free) home: It being a special day, the male will get to eat dinner (whole wheat al dente pasta with mustard-seed infused sauce and melted cheese) in his room while LISTENING to the game on radio – having learned the fine art of listening to sports on the radio from his uncle (another firm believer in tv-less/tv-reduced existences), the male is actually excited about the prospect. He decides to gather snacks (dried fruit) to really enliven the experience. As he is in hunting and gathering mode, he notices the 13-inch almost black and white TV in the sparse living room. Could it work to bring in fare other than wholesome and educational programming? He gives it a try – and scores! The dried snacks and wholesome dinner are moved onto a quilt spread over the sisal rug and he is in superbowl heaven.

Now at all other times/sports, I’d be there with my boy-male (we’ve cheered hockey play-offs, soccer cups, baseball, basketball), but I am useless as a football watching buddy. I’m resigned to the fact that a. I will never understand football (and I’m okay!) and b. I will never be a skateboarder (he tried to teach me one summer… and to get him to stop I bought him a really cool and expensive backpack with straps to carry his skateboard along with him everywhere. It worked.)

I went to bed early and was woken up to be informed that the Patriots had lost to the Giants and all because of somebody named Eli Manning. I patted him on the arm (he was a Patriot fan) and mumbled “next time the Patriots will get more baskets in, I’m sure” and turned over and went back to sleep.

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Today I was a spectator sport for a small group of pressed-nose children. One of my students – who has a Muslim mother and a non-Muslim father – gave me a beautiful prayer rug as a holiday gift. He’s become fascinated with the “hidden” Muslim part of him ever since – as his mother had kept her religion out of the picture since she got married. At the end of almost every day he asks, are you going to pray on my prayer mat now? I’d nod yes and after all the students had left, I’d do just that.

Today he lingered longer and asked why he would see me heading down the hall before I prayed. I explained I had to make wudu in the washroom down the hall. He asked if it was ok if he watched me from the hall window while I prayed today. I said sure.

I forgot to tell him that I don’t speak while I’m in prayer. So after a while I hear him waving another student down the hall. “Come see Ms. K praying!”

I hear the girl asking “are you sure it’s ok with Ms. K if I’m watching?” Student number one opens the classroom door, “Ms. K, is it ok if S watches too? Is it? Ms K? Maybe Ms. K will tell us when she gets up from the floor.”

I broke my prayer at this point (laughing and praying don’t go together) and turned around and said yes, S, you can watch. They politely close the door and press themselves to prime spots on the window.

I start again and then I hear student number one telling an older student who asked what they were doing, “It’s Ms. K, she’s praying.” “Praying for what?” “Praying, like talking to God. You wanna watch?” “Ok” “But you have to ask first.”

The door opens again. “Ms. K, is it ok if this guy watches too? Ms. K? Wait, Ms. K will tell you after she’s gone down to the ground.”

This time I decide to ignore the requests for more tickets. They wait quietly with the door open and I hear additional boots stopping by my door. When I finish my salaams, I almost expect a round of applause but I’m just met with a circle of interested faces. I wave goodbye to each one and thank God again I get to work amongst such souls.

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