It’s the night before Jalsa, and I suppose the children are feeling that same kind of giddy excitement that their friends feel on Christmas Eve.

It is a constant barrage of questions while I am desperately trying to scrub off last years’ mud from the Wellies. (Yes I really am that lazy!) As much as I adore my 10 year old son, he is beginning to grate on my nerves!!

Son- “What time do we have to be up in the morning?”

Me- “6am, it is a 3 hour drive if there is no traffic”

Son- “But why??  That is too late, I am staying up after Fajr, we will be late, I don’t want to miss anything, I am going to do Car Park duty with Cousin ‘X’”

Me- “Ummm, you are too young for Car Park duty, the drivers won’t be able to see your small stature over the steering wheel!”

Son-“BUT WHY can’t I??  That is not fair I want to do duty, ok FINE, I will do Security duty with Cousin ‘Y’ then, he told me to meet him at 8 am at the gates, so we CANNOT be late.”

Me- “Sweetpea, you can’t do Security duty, you are too young, it is a very serious responsibility.”

Son- “BUT WHY can’t I???  Everyone else is doing it, it’s not fair, I want to do duty as well, you ALWAYS make me do water duty, and I like doing that but I want to do another one.”

Me- “There is nothing more blessed than giving thirsty people a drink, you get the most prayers.”

Son- “Ok FINE, but then I want to give Huzoor water, he gets the most thirsty with all those speeches, and then he can pray for me and maybe I will get to do a better duty with his prayers”

*Stunned silence, not quite sure how to respond!*

Me- “I don’t think that is going to happen somehow, but you can always pray”

Son- “So where is all my stuff? I need a sleeping bag to stay at Jalsa Gah with Cousin “Z”.

Me- “You wish, you are coming home with me, and your dad and sisters.” Getting a little tired of this by now…

Son- “BUT WHY can’t I stay, EVERYONE else is? EVERYONE in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE is staying at Hadeeqa tul Mahdi, why am I the only one???  It’s NOT FAIR!”

Me- “I’ll tell you what, when you are old enough to drive I will buy you a Jalsa car, you can leave at whatever time in the morning and stay until whatever time your duty finishes and spend all the cold nights with your Ahmadi brothers, until then will you just drink your milk and eat your veggies, so you can grow into a strong healthy young man, you can’t do any duties until you are big and strong.”

(He hasn’t yet been told he is too old now to come into the Ladies section, and will have to spend the entire 3 days with Daddy!! That should be a fun journey tomorrow: an ice-cream should ease the pain for a while!)

Phew, one down, now two girls left to deal with, pray for me!

I love how Jalsa brings out the sense of duty in all children, not just mine. I see it all around the complex, little kids desperate to be a part of history. May Allah bless all our children and make them a source of comfort not only for us as parents but for our beloved Khalifa and may they be excellent servants of faith as they grow up.  Ameen.