Sunday, August 30, 2009

A 1st Birthday

There's nothing like birthdays for marking out the passage of time. And so Oli, our little 'rubby' prop, turns 1. No teeth and not crawling, but clapping and pointing and sitting and stretching and smiling and sleeping and, when in doubt, a thumb in the mouth.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

For the record...

Last week I had two completely sleepless nights worrying about preschool. One side of my brain tells me this is totally ridiculous, to agonize over my three year old's scheduled playtime, I repeat, playtime. But the other side of my brain tells me this is a huge decision that requires an endless, frenzied if circular debate in my head. So there I sat, in bed, not sleeping, thinking about educational philosophies, Rudolf Steiner, Montessory, Reggio Emilia, for a deranged hour or two I became completely committed to home schooling (or is it Un-schooling?). In the darkness I wrote out pros and cons, added up pluses and minuses, formed bullet points and made lists of priorities. I felt completely at sea in a tempest of learning debate. I even found myself making midnight calls to family in the UK. Such was my sleepless insanity. Was my child being exposed to enough music, enough art? Was he getting enough exercise? Was he being allowed the right amount of freedom and yet being taught, too, to take instruction? Was it the right community for him, one both he and I felt comfortable in? All this, I was demanding from a few mornings of playtime.
I realise now, having passed the application deadlines (and with Max staying at the same school we had him in last year), that the preschool issue was just was one of the worries I could DO something about. I could be proactive, make changes. Some of my other anxieties these days just don't seem to have answers, like whether or not we'll ever move back to the UK, and where we want 'home' to be as the boys get older. (None of this demands violin accompaniment I know, and there's always joy in that post-worry relief, that was all it was - we still have our health and each other - but sometimes it's hard to see that at 3am.) And I think one other thing fed into my insomnia; a moment of loss as I flipped around in bed, too hot, too cold, and infuriated by some strange and unidentifiable ticking noise. I was sort of saying farewell to the three year old boy who has been living in our house, acknowledging that with another school year underway Max will turn four, get that torrent of testosterone and maybe lose all the sweet loving that takes me by surprise these days. The other week, I was changing him into swimming trunks at the pool when he said again that he loved me. My mind was full of what we'd have for lunch, whether I had the suncream, and the damn preschool debate and it was a slow thirty seconds before the words filtered through and I acknowledged what he'd said. I'll regret that delay when I haven't heard those words in weeks, months...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Computer ggglitch

There were just too many seconds of silence this morning. Oli was having a post-breakfast kip in his cot, I was brushing my teeth upstairs, Max was in the kitchen...and silent. As I came downstairs I realised my mistake. I had cleared away the cereal bowls, the milk, the yoghurt, put away the sugar and picked the cheerios up off the floor. Then on the one occasion I'd put the computer on the breakfast table, I had cleverly gone and left it there, exposed, awaiting destruction. Max was rubbing a soggy string of loo paper across the keyboard. His old toothbrush, the one I threw in the bin yesterday, was lying on the floor.
'What happened?' I tried not to let my vocal chords snap.
'I put toothpaste on the comm-pute-er.' Every syllable is enunciated. 'Then I spat on it. Now I'm cleaning it.'
I rush over to the invalid 'comm-pute-er'. Like a wet child rescued from a dangerous bath I hold it up in the air. Water drips onto the sideboard.
With gritted teeth I say, 'Thanks for telling me the truth', in the hope that one day, when it is a wet child, he'll be just as honest.
'But please don't get it wet, or spit on it, or...'
'Sorry' he mutters.
For the moment we still have power, although the mouse pad is glitching. How long does it take for a motherboard to rust?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer Camp Part II

Well, except for the belt of mosquito bites across my hips, we are still in one piece after the camping trip. Not even a sniff of a mountain lion. In fact, I have since been informed that we weren't camping at all, but glamping (the top end variety). Imagine you arrive at the camp ground, the car sweeps in, it's high sun and you look out from a remote ridge onto the vineyards of the Napa valley. In front of you is a 12 ft teak table with benches. There are two large hurricane lamps. Two hammocks swing from the trees. There's a gas barbecue for our supper. Hidden from view, a little cabin with, oh joy, a loo.
When the darkness enveloped us we packed ourselves off to bed. In the moonlight Max took in the sight of Dom in his orange cocoon of a sleeping bag.
'You look a bit like Tutankhamun!' he exclaimed. And he wasn't too far off.
And even without much sleep and the aforementioned mosquito bites I was able to see again the magic of sleeping under the stars. When we woke at dawn, balloon rides were making their slow descent into the mist below us. And the shower! Like a freezing bolt of electricity. I'd go camping next weekend for that shower...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Summer Camp Part I

Three weeks living out of a suitcase and two long haul flights is clearly not enough for Dom. No, we must go camping. I can't blame it all on Dom, I do have a sneaking suspicion it might be fun. It's our third attempt. The first we canceled because a child had a snotty nose and we anticipated a sleepless night (oh, and I have an unspoken fear of mountain lions). The second faltered because for some reason we got no sleep on Friday night, the night we were in our comfortable bed at home and we realised that rest rather than anything even remotely recognisable to our RV experience was the priority for the weekend. (And then we watched some terrifying documentary on California's mountain lions). This time there seems to be nothing standing in our way (except the fear of mountain lions)...But I'm sure we'll survive, we even know what s'mores are, which means we must be ready for the great American outdoors.

Quiet Time

I've been trying to find quiet activities for Max - and who'd have guessed it...he's sewing! A bit of cardboard and a holepunch and he chose the design. Here he shows off his craft...

Saturday, August 1, 2009


The other day Max told me he was worried;
'I'm just worried Mummy.' He was peeking through the curtains and looking out of the window.
'What about?' I asked, trying not to sound surprised or let him detect in my voice how my legs had gone weak hearing this little person who basically just plays, eats and sleeps say he was worried about anything. And anyway, isn't it my job to do the family's worrying? After all, I do it so well. I'm a total sponge for worry these days. It started with the long haul flights in July (Ok, it really started with pregnancy three years ago, but more recently it was the flights) which miraculously we survived, no emergency landings, no depressurized cabins, no dodgy sensors, no mid air crisis, just 2 cramped, hellish transatlantic flights with children. We're alive. Amazing. So now I'm worried about preschool, whether it's the right one, whether Max is going too many days, or not enough. And while we are on the subject of schooling, Kindergarten, I'm worried about it, even though it's 2 years off. Of course I'm worried about where we might be living in 2 years time, but that's another thing altogether. I'm worried about storage, because the house always seems to be a tip. I'm worried about childcare, worried I should be working, worried about everyone's health. I'm worried about Oli's head circumference (it's off the pediatrician's percentile chart which means everything from being absolutely fine to all sorts of medical complications I can't even bring myself to voice). I'm worried about getting this whole parenting lark right, which then opens the door on a myriad other 'mummy anxieties' too numerous to go into. So what could Max possibly be worried about, when I seem to have the whole thing in hand?
'I'm worried about missing Granny.'
Oh my heart! She's five thousand miles away. They both are.
'I miss her too' I say.
He turns away from the window and looks at me. He seems satisfied that in my huge repertoire of worries there is room for his too. I realise now, this is just the beginning.