Wednesday, 17 September 2008

"Bye Poo Poo"

These were the words Dumpie triumphantly bleated at me ad infinitum this morning, lying on his back on the change table...long, skinny legs overhanging the edge and grinning gleefully. He was very pleased with himself to be able to express such relevant sentiments as I wiped and swiped his dirtied bottom into submission. We parroted the phrase back and forth, giggling uproariously (yes, my life is that lame that I find such nonsense hilarious), and I was infinitely amused by how he blows his little cheeks up like a blowfish and trumpets the words 'poo poo' out. (Less amusing was the fact that it was his THIRD bowel movement of the day and it was only 11am!!! Unfortunately Dumps took matters into his own hands - literally - with the first one of the day - taking off his soiled nappy in his cot and smearing the contents on his clean sheets.)

Verbal milestones aside, Dumps is his high spirits because his beloved Grandpa arrived yesterday and he is beside himself with excitement. They are like two peas in a pod and spent this morning giggling and playing ball. Lucky Grandpa gets to stay in the room beside the boys, but doesn't yet realize that such privilege entails random kiddie visits and next to no privacy. Ah well.

On day three of his first proper week of school, Eggie this morning announced that he didn't much feel like going to school because it is 'boring'. I felt like telling Egg, "You think schools boring? Try scrubbing toilets, hoovering 24/7 and paying that's bloody boring!" We made it to school in the nick of time, though Egg again pointed out that he is one of the few children without a Belleville book bag (they are out of stock for a few more weeks). At least Egg wasn't like one of the children today who was pulled up the stairs kicking and screaming as his beloved grandmother trudged away without a backward glance. This poor boy was in Egg's nursery as well, and could usually be found sobbing when dropped off every day.

Anyway, real life beckons. I have to find out why my cleaning lady has gone missing in action, I have to get our old flat sold in the worst property market the country has seen in years, and I have to arrange two new mortgages, oversee a bathroom and kitchen renovation in our rental flat, AND I have to entertain an extremely adorable but oh-so-demanding 22 month old every second of the day.

Would you believe me if I told you that that last challenge is almost the hardest of all? I don't need a nanny...I need to be cloned. Twice.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The End Of An Era...

Today was a milestone in terms of parental sadness and deep emotional stabs to the heart. My little Egg left for his first FULL day of school...for the rest of his scholastic life (sigh).

I thought i'd be okay. I mean I didn't bat an eye when he went off to nursery for the first time...and when he went for his shortened day on his own on Friday I just felt mildly touched. But TODAY...well today as I watched him bravely walk inside the school - blowing me kisses as he went - i thought, 'there goes my darling little boy...he's a toddler no longer'.

Even worse was when i got back home. Dumps and I entered a deathly still house and it felt...wrong. It felt so empty and so depressing. I couldn't even turn on the telly because all the little kiddie shows reminded me of Eggie (sorry Dumps). I looked in the garden and imagined him wielding the big hose and making a mess of my plants....I looked in the kitchen and imagined him making little play-doh cookies and pies...I looked at Bacon propped up desolately and discarded atop the radiator, and I almost cried.

I say almost because Dumpie was an absolute nightmare today and didn't let me get morose and sulk about the house like i wanted to. He must sense that things have changed and that it's just us, because we were joined at the hip today and I couldn't even go to the loo or put him down for a second without an unholy roar of indignation.

Eventually I was getting so sad that I packed up Dumps in the pushchair and we went for a long walk to do some errands and buy some supplies in anticipation of Grandpa's arrival tomorrow afternoon (he is stopping by here en route to Majorca and then Cyprus).

Going to collect Egg at 3:25pm this afternoon, I trail-blazed past all the Honeywell moms and children with their perfect R.P. accents and arrived at Belleville where I joined the swarm of parents waiting to be let inside the gate. By all accounts it is an excellent school and many children from private nurseries around here go there - it's just that Honeywell appears to attract the slightly more privaleged, and no one can tell me exactly why that is. After a youth of rebelling against my parents insistence on educating my three sisters and I privately (much to our dismay - public schools appeared to be far more edgy and therefore more fun) I finally understand that parental yearning to give your child the absolute best start in life...especially in this country where your accent is everything. Have I failed and chosen the wrong school? Have I allowed myself to be swayed by my very liberal husband?

Only time will tell, but as I ponder these and other thoughts, my darling Egg will continue to leave me day after day and I may eventually get used to the loneliness and his absence, but a part of me already mourns that precious time of childhood when the outside world isn't really allowed in, and it's just you and your babies and their sweet-smelling heads and their trusting eyes.

On another note, I guess with Egg at school there will be less opportunity for him to get revealing shots of his Mama on the toilet with his new kiddie digital camera. Not knowing how to view the shots or delete them, I live in horror of the day when some hapless soul comes across all manner of indelicate shots of my arse and other bits. Egg has recently taken to doing impromptu photo's of family life and I feature pretty heavily in them. One of his favourite gags is to throw the bathroom door open (none of our bathrooms have locks) and gleefully click away on his camera while his sidekick Dumpie yells 'Hiya!' They both find this very funny and are not the least deterred when the get me mid-crouch and screaming.

(Mental note to self: DO NOT let him take camera in for show-and-tell. Make husband show you how to work simplistic kiddie camera and REMOVE offensive shots. ALL of them.)

Friday, 12 September 2008

"Bye-Bye Eggie"

"Bye-bye Eggie...have a good day!"......These were the words with which I sent my little Egg off into the big bad world today. 10am this morning found me and about 90 other parents clustered around uniformed 4 and 5 year olds who were entering 'Reception Year'. We were surrounded by a sea of navy and grey-clad little people and the many spontaneous outbursts of tears from the assembled were enough to make even the most cold-hearted choked up.

Luckily I hand Dumps on hand to lend a bit of support. As Eggie bounded up the cement stairs into Belleville School he looked back only once for a cheerful wave - then off he went. Dumpie however squirmed uncomfortably in my arms and waving his arm agitatedly, cried, "Mama...! Mama....!" at me as his adored elder brother left him desolate in the playground with nary a backward glance.

Dumps and I consoled ourselves with some yummy red grapes upon arriving home, then took to sorting out the last of our holiday unpacking. Mixing up piles with glee he donned his beloved captains hat and toddled from pile to pile 'helping' me. Bless.

Later when picking Egg up at 2pm (shortened day today) I spotted spotted my little man immediately in the cluster of children sat crosslegged on the pavement searching excited faces in the crowd for their 'mummies' or 'daddies'. Egg sauntered over, looking happy to see me but otherwise nonplussed. I think to him this is just like his nursery class and thus not too much to get excited about.

Anyway we celebrated his 'first day' with a skinny extra wet cappunnino with an extra shot (me) and rice krispie squares (Egg n' Dumps). A visit to the park was called for, as today was uncharacteristically sunny and mild. Shortlly after arriving Egg recognized a girl in his class and set about (with Dumpie's help) to relieve her of the majority of all her after-school snacks (gummie bears, chocolate croissant, creme biscuits, and raisins). It wasn't like the little girl had a choice. Dumps was screaming and pointing at the snacks every time she pulled something out of her bag. Egg would then continue with the double assault by asking her matter-of-factly for whatever she was eating, then immediately followed that request with an outstretched hand and a plea of '...and one for Dumps'.

At one point i lost Dumpie and I panicked until Egg casually pointed across the playground where Dumps was flying up and down on a giant see-saw, thigh-to-thigh with a little brunette lad of about 5. Goodness knows how he got there and who put him up there, but he was having the time of his life and none too pleased when I pulled him off 20 minutes later.

I'll end this blog with another mystery. As I was leaving Starbucks with my cappuccino earlier today, I noticed Dumpie slurping on a smoothie that...get this...I HADN'T GIVEN HIM. I have no idea where he got it - I still can't come up with a viable source. The bin?... The counter when I wasn't looking?.....a scary stranger who poisoned it?....Urghhhhh.

Don't you love this child-rearing business? When you're not utterly exhausted and flopped limply like a scooped out melon in front of a bland tv program, you're freaking out and paranoid and extra-cautious that the little one(s) in your care are in mortal danger.

I should think that for most people it is merely over-anxiety and should be treated with long,hot fragrant baths, generously poured glasses of bordeaux, and the odd massage where someone is paid to make you feel good for the next hour.

Now if you have a child like 'The Dumps', no such claims of paranoia are likely to be thrown your way. If it's possible, even remotely possible, Dumps will happily give it a go. From throwing himself off his change table to climbing every available surface in slippery socked feet, Dumps is a man on the move and going to prove the most challenging project of my life thus far. And on that note, I'm going to medicate with a nice glass of red wine. Adios amigos.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The First Day of the Rest of Your (Scholastic) Life

Today was Egg's first day of school. Aged four and 3 months, he's one of the youngest in his class yet he strode purposefully into the classroom this morning and sat down confidently. Unfortunately (but oh so typically) we were late. Jay had taken the morning off to usher our firstborn into the tunnel of academia which now stretches for years into his future. Auntie Kenz was meant to babysit The Dumps but due to pouring rain she was late and we assumed she was a no-show so had no choice but to take Dumps with us. This of course was a disaster.

Most of the morning was spent with Jay outside in the corridor managing Dumpie while I sat uncomfortably in my low-rise black hipsters (bad idea) trying to feign interest in a bunch of wooden train tracks whilst uncomfortably aware that my knickers were on display. Making small 'mummy chit-chat' with a few of the other parents there, I looked around and noticed that Egg was the only one who wasn't decked out in the proper uniform. Oops. I had put him in a white polo shirt with some grey dress trousers, but the school store hadn't been open yesterday so his requisite logo top and jumper were missing.

Despite being the only tag-a-long sibling in attendance, Dumps made himself quite at home in the classroom and quite happily fit into the orientation morning. In fact if it weren't for his screaming 'Daaaadaaa' quite randomly and blabbing all through story time, one might have assumed that he was merely a vertically challenged reception student.

In the cafeteria, everyone was given a catered meal and Egg ran through the queue of dinner ladies like a pro, saying 'yes' to everything but eating very little of it. Oh well, I reckon it will be the worst money ever spent in paying for his school meals but it sure beats prepping lunch boxes for the next year - especially when Egg only favours cheese and pickle sandwiches. Dumpie wasn't too impressed with the meal itself but the strawberry jello with mandarin slices went down a treat and when he had demolished the remains from Egg's tray he popped down off his seat and went to explore the other tables, sipping his little milk box and looking entirely comfortable with his surroundings.

Tomorrow I am to bring Egg to the playground at 10am for a half-day on his own, and on Monday it's his first 9:10 - 3:25 full day of school...for the next 17 odd years of his life (unless of course he opts out of higher education and moves across the world to become a beach bum). I suspect if he realized the implications he would be recoiling in horror but as it stands he is more delighted with all the attention his newfound status of 'school boy' is affording him in terms of treats, presents and and special privileges.

Last night I gave Egg's hair a trim but left it basically shaggy and longish and today in the classroom a mother came up (in front of an incredulous Jay who would love to see Egg's hair shorn into typical short fashion) and complimented me on his hair and style. She said it was gorgeous and really suited him and was a big fan. I get compliments on Egg's hair all the time from other mothers but Jay for some reason wishes his son would 'conform' stylistically in terms of hairstyle.

You can imagine how amusing I find this when Jay for many years sported 'long' unkempt hair - bulking tradition by not even getting it cut for our wedding and insisting on keeping his Nepalese silver earring in for our nuptials. I suspect Egg will have a lot to say about such indiscrepancies when he's a little older, but for now the photo albums and evidence of his parents slightly checkered past is out of reach, and the issue of his hair to him is a simple matter. He likes to shake his head around and flick it about. It's part of his identity. He is the Egg-Man and the Egg-Man he shall remain until further notice.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Anniversary Antics

Sunday night was our wedding anniversary. Twelve years ago, Jay and I walked out of our wedding ceremony about 15 minutes prematurely, leaving our poor violinists looking puzzled and perplexed, and our guests teary-eyed and touched. (It just so happens that the music being played at that point was a poignant wistful tune, and one might have thought we had orchestrated it to be timed with the recessional in order to maximize the emotional potency).

So with no congratulatory announcement and no end of service fanfare, the bride and groom merely strolled solemnly out of the church, leaving two bewildered violinists and one agitated minister staring after them in confusion. Of course the mistake can be traced back to the day before, when during rehearsal, the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be had been cracking jokes and messing around during the part where the minister was issuing the rather staid but nonetheless essential instructions pertaining to order of service.

You would have thought that given that our only requirement was to walk down an aisle, say a couple of heartfelt 'You betcha's' and then walk back out, that it wouldn't have been so difficult to get right...but then we are talking about Jay and I - who despite our best intentions often find ourself messing up the simplest of tasks (like child-rearing, home improvements, etc).

At any rate, looking back, we left at just the right time. Who really enjoys squirming on a wooden pew - wishing the service away - when you know that free booze lurks in the wings, and the spectacle involving the bride getting trashed and lurching around drunkenly issuing heartfelt sentiments to the assembled guests awaits.

At any rate, the other night Jay and I, his parents, his brother and his wife, and his sister and her husband all went out for a fancy dinner downtown in the 'Distillery District'. What made this occasion so momentous was the fact that three out of four couples were celebrating their wedding anniversary.

Purely unintentionally (and more to do with visa restrictions and holiday allotment in his then 'twelve-grand-a-year-McJob' in publishing), Jay and I got married on the same day that his parents got married 40 years ago. Stranger still though is the fact that we discovered that MY parents also got married on the same day on the same year and maybe even at the same time as his parents did those many years ago.

Not so strange is the fact that Jay's brother chose to get married on the 31st of August as well. Summer being a popular time in 'Oh Canada' to get hitched, it wasn't a huge stretch to overlap dates and now makes it easy for everyone to remember to send cards to each other every year. Jay's sister when she got married chose a day in July to exchange nuptials...swerving the trend altogether.

So the eight of us (paired up neatly like trussed-up animals on Noah's ark) found ourselves sliding into a rented limo the other night, and spending the whole half hour drive downtown trying to figure out the sound system (never did) and how to open the sun roof (never did). A bottle of champagne was imbibed en route and a fair bit of jollity ensued. Once arriving at the restaurant, we had a 20 minute wait while our table was moved to a more suitable place, and only once we had been seated did we start to relax and enjoy the night.

That was short-lived however, as suddenly the high-ceiling room began screeching in 7 second intervals as the fire alarm went off. Smiling at each other we waited for it to stop. And waited...and waited...and waited.

It never went off.

For the next TWO HOURS the fire alarm continued to wail...despite grimaces from the diners and the advent and departure of the fire brigade. Turns out it was a security malfunction and only as we were paying the bill at the end of the night did the owner have the good sense to climb up on a ladder and cut the power.

In the meantime we got through another bottle of champagne, a bottle of sparkling white, two bottles of red and some post-dinner cognac and baileys (not together of course - that would be disgusting).

We asked for, and were compensated with a few plates of brushetta, the champagne, the white wine and a trough selection of desserts on the house. Our waiter was tipped over-generously and we left inebriated, bellies protruding over waistbands and ears only gently ringing from the nights assault.

The one thing I learned that evening was that our family does not have exclusive rights on hapless mishaps and random bouts of craziness. To see that the Johnston's were privy to the fire alarm debacle was somehow it proved that the A-K's do not have exclusive rights on such mishaps.

In the words of Douglas Coupland (who recently wrote a book of the same name)..."All Families Are Psychotic"...and if you appreciate this fact, even revel in it, you will be able to derive much humor as you journey through life with the loving individuals who make up your 'tribe'.