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Saturday, 22 February 2014

A Ramble at Sunrise


This morning I was awake before the sun! Why? Only my subconscious knows! It’s a Saturday for goodness sake! Likely the only Saturday until April we won’t have to be running about getting ready to go watch a bunch of six and seven year olds play their version of a cricket match. I am awake and I don’t want to be, I hate it!
But, having said all of that I do love the complete silence in that hour just before the dawn starts to break. My children are sprawled spread-eagle and naked on their beds as the fan slowly oscillates moving the warm late summer air around the small seemingly airless room. My husband grunted a greeting as I got out of bed then pulled up the duvet to his chest and rolled onto my side of the bed. He claims my side of the bed is more comfortable, he forgets that a month ago we turned the mattress around so technically it’s his side of the bed! So I got out of bed made myself a cup of tea, yes tea, I am trying to not drink coffee I drink far too much of it, and I sat in the dark lounge watching the sky begin to lighten. Now, in an effort to combat the uncharacteristic heat and humidity of this late Kiwi summer, I am sitting outside writing at the garden table in the early dawn light. The cicada chorus is deafening and drowning out those first tentative early bird calls that grow slowly in volume as more birds rise with the sunlight. The neighbour’s cat is staring at me with one beady eye; he is "sleeping" on a garden chair wondering if I’m going to chase him off. I can hear my insomniac neighbour hanging out her laundry and having a low conversation with her very spoilt dog. I consider popping my head over the fence and saying hello but then I decide I prefer the alone time. 
I thought perhaps I could use this time to be poetic and artistic but my muse had other ideas. She opened one eye looked at me looked around pulled the covers over her head and told me to go away. So I sat here, poised for poetry, completely uninspired by all the inspiration surrounding me and wondered what to do next. I got up, made myself a cup of coffee, turned on my computer and started to read some blogs! I am an avid “blog” follower; there is some genuinely good stuff out there and some right royal crap too. But I read anyways because the good stuff gives me ideas and maybe some ways to improve my own blog and the bad stuff makes me feel pretty good and way more intelligent! But there are some I read because these bloggers lead very interesting lives and it doesn’t matter if they write well or not their stories are the interesting bits. But the blogs I like best are the ones that read like a conversation. I like it when I can hear the author speaking as I read, it’s reminiscent of sitting round the dinner table listening to people recounting their lives and experiences. I like to hear what I am reading, or perhaps I just have a thing for voices in my head.
Then the Butterfly woke up, look out the kitchen door at me with a rather bemused expression on her face. Then she shook her head, disappeared back inside and I can hear noises coming from the kitchen as she prepares herself a bowl of Weetbix and a glass of juice. Then the silence returns, so I take a peek inside to see what she is up to. There she is sitting on her beanbag watching the National Geographic channel chomping down on her cereal and I am left wondering when did she grow up? She is a cheeky, stubborn, noisy, happy, helpful, friendly child who loves to dance, sing, and draw and absolutely bursting at the seams with love. She has learnt to accept that she has a Lollipop shadow and that none of her toys are hers any more, they now belong to the demon two year old the grownups tell her is her sister. The trade off is she gets to scooter to and from school on her own, make her  own breakfast some mornings and have her own email address. She plays cricket goes to dancing lessons has numerous play dates and long conversations with our neighbours. She’s also now finished her breakfast, bored with television and jumping on the trampoline.
Next to rise is the Lollipop, stumbling down the passage rubbing her eyes calling out for her sister totally shunning the attentions of her adoring maternal parent. Hearing her sister calling the Butterfly yells at her to join her on the trampoline which the Lollipop declines and demands a cup of juice instead. Pandemonium reigns when mum attempted to pour the juice and to the rescue comes “Super Sister” with an emphatic call of “I’ll do it mum I know exactly how she likes it!” Peace returns to the emerging day as big sister pours the correct juice into the correct cup and places it in the correct place for little sister to drink. Now I’m  wondering when it was that I no longer knew exactly what it was the Lollipop wanted and the Butterfly does. I am almost certain that they have a secret language, I am always asking the Butterfly to translate from Lollinese to English. I try washing Lollipop’s hair she screams blue murder no matter how hard I try not to get water on her face. When Butterfly volunteers she empties a jug of water over Lollipop’s head and she laughs with abandon. I try soaping Lollipop down or rubbing on eczema creams, she squirms, squeals, and complains it stings, she sit still and co-operates when the Butterfly does it. Apparently I just don’t do it right!
Last to rise is the Mauritian, eyes half closed, what hair remains on his head is all akimbo, he stumbles down the passageway in much the same way as his youngest child before him. Straight to the kitchen to make coffee and then he flops onto the couch to drink it while his girls climb all over him and try engage him in loud silly conversations.
And with it the quiet of the early morning, my reflection and ramble are brought to an end.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Hurricane Terror


When we pass through the entrance of the Supermarket my children morph into Super Villains, it is all rather terrifying. Despite all the warnings and threats when those automatic doors closed behind us my children lose their ability to hear instruction. They grow horns, tails and numerous pairs of extra arms with oversized “have to touch everything” hands. The volume control slips up to “extra loud outside voice” position and the speed button sticks on “run and slide.” There is a list of favourite games including “toss our shoes at the eggs,” “bounce on the toilet rolls” and “climb in the freezers.” There are those inevitable sprint races up and down the aisles and temporary good behaviour when one child runs into a teacher or classmate’s parent.
I have warned, cajoled, bribed, threatened and begged them to behave to no avail; going shopping with the Mauritian is no help they just get worse! I have to double check the trolley frequently because one or both of them is always putting something unwanted into it. Last week’s Supermarket expedition the Hurricane whipped off not just her shoes but also her shirt inspiring the Terror to do the same! Fortunately I was able to stop the Terror before she got that far, unfortunately the Hurricane ran off shirtless before I got to her.  Then the Terror requested to try a new cereal, the request was denied so she staged a sit in to protest the denial. To top it all off the Hurricane decided that jumping up and hanging on the handle of the trolley and dangling her legs in the air was fun, until she missed.
All the parenting books, magazines and websites will tell you that grocery shopping for young children is boring and that is why they misbehave. Said advisors also advise to involve said bored children in the shopping by giving them small jobs to perform. Said advisors are right, getting them involved works, brilliantly! Unless, the two-year-old Hurricane wants to do all the jobs that her eldest sister is given to do regardless of what it is: If big sister is doing it little sister wants to do it! Therefore, in retaliation the six-year-old Terror will try anything to get her sister into trouble.
So what do you do when a Hurricane and a Terror met in the Supermarket? You turn your back on them, walk away and pretend you do not know them. When said Hurricane Terror makes a beeline for you yelling “Wait for us mum!” you duck down the nearest aisle and run like hell! When one trips over her own feet and lands face first on the floor and her sister has a head on collision with a trolley when she turns to help her you shake your head, sigh and say, “Parents really need to learn to control their children.” Don’t forget the obligatory “Tut!” Move on to the next aisle make sure you haven’t seen any of the people in that aisle before then hand them each a tissue and let them sort themselves out while trailing after you sniffing in misery.
Eventually you will have finished the shopping so you can safely head to the cashier and get the hell out of there. Of course by now the two monsters would have recovered enough to ask for a sweet treat. Now this is where you get your own back: Throw your head back and laugh as if your sides are going to split. Then take a deep breath slowly in and out, go down to their level look them in the eye and say “Uhm... Yeah...Nah!” and then watch in sheer delight as their eyes fill with crocodile tears.

Maybe tomorrow I should just lock them in the backyard and go shopping alone.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Confessions of Confusion


In exactly four weeks, I shall be packing a suitcase and heading off on that arduous journey that will take me back to South Africa, my family, friends and my baby brother’s wedding. For varying reasons my family is staying behind and I shall have the pleasure of my lifelong friend for company on the flight home. Last night, while the Mauritian berated the girls for their horrendous attempt to go to sleep I sat and continued watching television. When the Mauritian asked me what was happening on the program I couldn’t answer him, I was looking at the screen but I was in a completely different mental space. I realised that the impending trip is creating conflicting emotions, which has me really looking forward to going home and dreading leaving my family at the same time.
The truth is I would’ve moved heaven and earth to be at the wedding and I have no doubt that the Mauritian will cope admirably with being a single working father for two weeks. I should be embracing the first break away from children in five years. I should be jumping for joy at the prospect of good old fashion “girl talk” with my lifelong friend for an entire trip. I should be looking forward to no cooking, no washing, no early morning alarms, no lunch boxes, no after school activities and no sibling squabbling.  I’m not! I do not like the idea of the Mauritian missing a chance to see his family, I do not like that my girls won’t get to see their Godfather and our favourite Eeyore getting married. I’m not so keen on the possibility that I may miss the Lollipop’s first day at “playschool,” or the Butterfly’s first dance recital. I don’t relish the idea been away from my soul mate even though the break will be good for us.
One minute I can’t wait to be on a bus heading for Auckland, the next minute the thought of being back home is horrifying. It’s all rather confusing and frustrating! What I want to feel is excitement and enthusiasm. What I want is to be ready to leave a week before hand. What I want is to not be able to sit still with anticipation. No such luck! I’m all over the place; I can’t keep my emotions in check let alone make any sense of them. I’m start getting into my "to-do" list then lose interest and leave things half done. I feel like a dog with two masters calling to it from opposite ends and not knowing whom to obey!
There have been a number of times over the past months that having my lifelong friend living in Auckland has been a blessing. Her unbridled excitement at the prospect of going home, while justified, has left me with the urge to slap her sometimes. I really wish I could feel like that!
This morning our Lollipop was in a charitable mood and decided she would spend the morning empting the toy boxes and playing with all the toys in a different part of the house. This left me with time on my hands so I decided to tackle that “to-do” list and start crossing off things.  I ended up baking apple and banana muffins, stewing apples and adding them to an apple jelly, making Lollipop an omelette for lunch and cooking supper, all before midday. My second attempt at the list today turned into a trip to the veggie market and grocery store. After supper and a long involved and emotional conversation with the Mauritian, I resolved to at least finish one thing on my "to-do" list tonight. I wrote this blog instead.
So having gotten nowhere or sorted out my head yet again tomorrow is another day and I shall begin again.
Here’s hoping tomorrow is a little more successful!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Reflection at a Garage Sale


Last weekend my neighbour decided to have a garage sale and she graciously offered to sell anything we wanted to get rid of. The offer could not have come at a more opportune moment as the Mauritian and I had decided we needed to make a few changes and de clutter a tad. With the Lollipop now officially potty trained and dry overnight she is out of the cot and in a bed. She of course thinks she is the bee’s knees now but that is another blog. In the process of buying the bed, the Butterfly brought up the subject of the two of them sharing a room. In the past when we had suggested it, the Butterfly had not seemed very enthralled by the idea of giving up her privacy so we were surprised when she broached the subject. During the course of the discussion, the Butterfly asked if we could move the Lollipop into her room and they can decide together if they like sharing or not. So, that is what we did, and within a few days it was quite clear that both girls were very comfortable and happy with the idea. So these past two weeks Butterfly and I have tidied out her bookshelves, toy boxes, cupboards and bedside tables and made room for her sister’s things. Then we attacked Lollipop’s room and we piled into the disused cot all the clothes and toys she no longer fitted or played with and moved most of her things into her new room.  With two children and two beds in one room the already limited space has shrunk so we converted Lollipop’s room into a storeroom/playroom.

My goodness did they take to the idea of a “playroom,” except for first thing in the morning and just before bed the sister’s have been dividing the day up between the “playroom,” bedroom and trampoline. Unfortunately with all the unused stuff being stored in the room it has not taken long for total disorganisation to take place. It had become necessary to rid ourselves of any stuff that was unused and gathering dust so Aunty E’s offer was readily accepted. So again the Butterfly and I repacked all the toys into their boxes, and set about cleaning and sorting out everything for sale. Friday evening we carried everything next door, the Butterfly was completely uninterested except for the fact that there was now loads more space in the “playroom.” The Lollipop was not so sure about the idea. She showed some concern when we moved out the changing table but only because she thought we were taking the toys that had been stored on it with us. She asked why we were moving her cot and seemed satisfied with the reply that we were giving it away because she did not need it any more. Her little sleeper couch was a different story she let out a heart broken wail of protest, until her sister said “We don’t need the couch any more silly Billy we have funky bean bags now!”

While we were helping the neighbours set things up we left the girls with electronic babysitters and told the Butterfly to come get us if they needed us. It was not long before one or both of them decided we were gone too long and they came looking for us. On seeing all her baby paraphernalia the Lollipop’s eyes lit up and she squeal with delight at having found her cot. When we left I told the girls’ to say goodbye and our little Lollipop went around the garden touching each item and saying goodbye. There were four weepy-eyed adults in that yard all sighing and saying, with hands over our hearts, how cute she was. This soon turned to sidesplitting laughter as she bid goodbye to the neighbours garden furniture, barbeque and garden gnomes.  Once we were home the Mauritian and I started discussing about how else we could put the room to use, providing of course that we were able to sell everything and didn’t need to move it all back  in. I walked into the room to get a sense of the space and I was suddenly aware of emptiness. Suddenly we no longer have a baby in the house and nothing to look at that represented my children’s babyhood. Oh my goodness, my babies are growing and slowly but surely the chapters of their childhood are opening and closing before our eyes.

It is at moments such as these that I am grateful to be able to be at home with my children. I have not missed any of their “firsts” or any of their worst. On reflection I have come to realise just how great a sacrifice the Mauritian makes every day so that his children want for nothing. He is missing so much of their growing up, so often he has to hear second hand about the funny little things that children do and say. Like most people he often wishes he could just stay at home and not have to work and he does complain often and sometimes bitterly about having to go to work, but he never does less than his best every day. So many times these holidays he has left me to sleep in while he gets ready for work and when I ask him why he didn’t wake me up he just says I looked like I needed to sleep in. On most mornings he is the first to arrive at work and is always the last to leave, yet if I need him at home in an emergency he will not hesitate to drop everything and come home. Recently I got up after lunch and sighing said something along the lines of putting away yet another load of laundry and picking up after the kids yet again. The Mauritian followed me down the passage and said “We all have our jobs to do babe, like it or not!” Well that pulled the soapbox right out from under me.

As it turned out the garage sale was not as much of a success as we had hoped and we had to move most of the paraphernalia back into the “playroom.” So yet again chaos rules as the girls fill what is left of the space with toys and books making it impossible to move. No room either for reflections or feeling sentimental, for now!