Tuesday, 16 November 2010

"Happy Birthday Mr. Dumpie!"

I can't believe that four years ago today...in the middle of the night...I gave birth on our bathroom floor (sisters looking on in horror)...and Dumpie was the result.

Ah, I recall it fondly...

My sisters had made the mistake of picking up the phone when the husband rang in the early hours of the morning.  Wandering over in their pj's from where they lived a few doors down, they had been promptly ushered into the bathroom to 'deal' with me whilst the husband busied himself in the kitchen, rustling up tea for the novice midwife.  In retrospect, perhaps rustling up a tea party in the kitchen whilst I lay beached in the bathtub moaning that i wanted to die, was perhaps not the best use of his time...but I digress...

The poor girls.  All they'd signed up for was babysitting duty for Egg - not accidental birthing partners.  Nonetheless, they were present for the whole shebang, and secretly I suspect that their reluctance to spawn up until now may have in some way been a result of witnessing firsthand the horrors of live birth sans ANY pain relief.

And then of course moments after a push or two (my mum on speakerphone across the ocean) the husband cried out incredulously 'It's a BOY!" shocking all of us - especially me - who had been certain a little girl was on the cards.
Now four years on I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade 'The Dumps' for even the sweetest, most darling girl in the world.  I really wouldn't.  (And that despite me having the most divine accoutrements to hand on to a daughter...what a waste!)

No, once you've spent some time in Dumpie's universe, you realise that he's a one-of-a-kind force of nature...a charmer...a scamp...a clown...a total and utter delight...and well - pure comedy from morning til night.  Since Dumps has come into our lives my scowl to smile ratio has gone off the scale.  Everyday is an adventure waiting to happen, and whether it borders on horrendous or hilarious is pretty much luck of the draw.  But I wouldn't have it - or HIM - any other way.

(NOTE:  Please consider these sentiments null and void if, in the coming years, Dumpie manages to do any/all of the following:  sets fire to our home, impregnates one of his classmates, kills a family pet, runs us into bankruptcy due to abuse of premium number lines, submerges my laptop into the bathtub, etc.)

My father teasingly tells me that Dumpie is his revenge on me after all I put him through growing up.  And he may be right.  For Dumpie is a carbon copy of my father in so many ways.  Whether it's his rogue-like wink of "Hey Lookin' Gookin'", his naughty smile when he knows he's just done something utterly horrid but sees I'm trying to keep from breaking out in laughter, or whether it's the confident way he meanders through life, charming all he meets...they share the same soul - of that I'm sure.

Today Dumpie celebrated his fourth birthday with not one but two birthday cakes.  The first was for his kindergarten class of thirty.  Let me just say that again.  THIRTY!!  Have you ever tried wrapping a 'pass the parcel' gift with THIRTY layers of toys and treats?!  Not fun.  It gets bloody big by the end of it I'll tell you.

Despite burning the skin off one finger while lighting the twenty odd candles (Dumpie likes to blow things out), the party was deemed a success.

Party Number Two consisted of Dumps opening 14 birthday presents, all wrapped up in gaudy silver and green foiled paper, later that day before dinner.  Pressie highlights included:

*his own torch (runs on three AA batteries...will likely be left at a restaurant and never seen again)
*a hula hoop (don't ask - was all the rage in the Gilli Islands a few months back)
*a 'light and sound' army rifle (husband abhors it but Dumps adores it - our neighbours not so much)
*Ben-10 Action Figure with sounds (from big brother Egg...in retrospect not ideal to bring to candle-lit restaurant...a tad disruptive)
*Lego 'Indian Stylee' (ie. looks like Lego but pieces probably won't fit together and will be lost within a fortnight is my bet)
*Ben-10 t-shirt (already stained with Baskin Robbins Bavarian Chocolate Ice Cream)
*giant coloured chalk (with which to decorate his walls with his own particular brand of graffiti)

Of course no birthday would be complete without the presence of 'Sandkelp' - Dumpie's 13 year old best friend from next door.  He came bounding in with a present of sand toys and a big grin.  Dumps gave him some chocolate birthday cake but then made him clean up all his toys and transport all his loot to the bedroom.  Luckily Sandkelp adores Dumpie and has a very obliging nature.

Dumpie insisted on carrying out his own birthday cake whilst singing Happy Birthday to himself - and who were we to argue?  Despite a near miss when his fine little locks almost caught fire, he did an admirable job.  And if you discount the fact that he insisted on opening every single present - even the few we got for Egg (who was greatly suffering from birthday envy to the extent that we invented a 'Birthday Brother' role which garnered him a few presents himself), he was on fairly good behaviour.

For a day which started with me chasing him from the landlady's house where he was yelling Sandkelp awake with cries of 'You've got a stinky bum bum!" to now, where he lies curled up with Eggie in bed next door, clutching his teddy and glow in the dark light sabres, looking like butter wouldn't melt...

I for one am glad the day is over.  It was fun, but I'm good for another year thanks.  Birthdays are exhausting.

Now I've just got bloody Christmas to worry about...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

"The Beer Vs Bikini Conundrum"

Isn't it funny how beer ads and commercials often feature at least one bikini-clad babe prancing around with a bottle suggestively clasped in hand, laughing and joking around with her mates on a beach somewhere?  Well if anyone stopped to think about it, they'd realise how ridiculous that notion is.  Yep, young people are always gathering for parties with their friends, drinking beer and frolicking about...but I guarantee there will not be a bevy of size 0 beauties prancing about with concave, 'Victoria's Secret' tummies and putting away several bottles in a session.


Simple.  Beer makes you fat.  It gives you a beer belly.  It is notorious for filling up your tummy with empty calories and air and has no nutritional value whatsoever.  So....

A more realistic representation of beer commercials would be a bunch of overweight dudes sitting about with their pudgy, beer-loving, muffin-topped girlfriends, chomping on crisps and asking their mates to toss another one over (being too lazy to get up and get one themselves).  There would be little if any frisbee playing and less flirtatious looks and more burping.  Yuck.

So it is with all this in mind that I was rather relieved to put an abrupt halt to my short-lived but not insignificant beer drinking career.  You see, a long-timer here in Goa informed me a few days ago that my beloved Kingfisher Beer is made with glycerine and that if you open a bottle under water, keeping your thumb firmly pressed against the opening, it is possible to see the globules of glycerine float in revolting liquified dollops to the top.  Eeeeew!

That's all I needed to hear.  After all, I became a vegetarian for almost equally off-putting scenarios which I was never able to fully exorcise from my mind.  

And so the beer drinking curse has been lifted.  I now order fresh lime soda's and water with my meals and have lost all in interest in beer.  Which is good I suppose, as 90% of the coming months will be spent in a bikini and given the choice I'd prefer not advertise my love of Kingfisher beer by posting a free advertisement on my waistline.

The other benefit I suppose is that when I go to pick up Dumpie from kindergarten in future, it is likely that he will have made me a little bowl or a picture frame - and not (as happened last week) proudly be displaying the 'beer opener' he made for Dada and I at craft time (oh dear).

Of course, the lack of beer means that I will have nothing to wash down the deliciously spicy 'Masala Papads' with, and more importantly, have no means with which to take 'the edge off' when the monsters start throwing sand or chasing each other around the table at mealtimes.  

Instead I suppose I'll have to glean comfort from my rather flatter belly and try and not stare longingly across the table at the husband who shall be imbibing with a knowing smirk on his face...wondering when I'll cave in.

Friday, 5 November 2010

"Diwali Dawns"

Last night Diwali celebrations kicked off here in Goa. Diwali is sort of like an Indian Christmas. It's their biggest festival of the year, and they consider the new year to start today. It is tradition to wear newly purchased clothes and to get up at 4am and let off firecrackers.

Lying in bed early this morning we jumped in alarm as a flurry of firecrackers could be heard going off around us. And just now, Sandkelp, the landlords 13 year old son, shyly brought over a wrapped box of sweets for Dumpie...aw bless...

Last night Eggie's school had a Diwali celebration which we all attended. Dumpie had been coerced into attending, decked out in his matching Balinese two piece comedy Batik shorts and top set on the condition that there would be cake and games there (ALL his clothes are dirty...he had four separate 'accidents' yesterday because he was sick).

The students had decorated the floor of their outdoor classroom with coloured sand, depicting various pictures and designs. Little Egg had made something that resembled four red and green flowers and was ever so proud of his work. He also glowingly showed off his homemade lantern to us. (The children in his Steiner-led classroom may not be able to necessarily read and write at his age, but gosh darn it they can craft themselves silly!).

I was fairly exhausted having been up most of the previous night with Dumpie who had been suffering from a fever. When i had eventually managed to get back to sleep, the horrific 'Cujo Cacophany' which kicked off around 4am or so, was enough to ruin what was left of the night. It basically sounded like we'd been delivered straight down into dog hell for all eternity (well 45 minutes of what sounded like dozens of freaked out snarling dogs could scare anyone...especially when they're right outside your front door!)

So I spend most of my time off to one side, taking pictures, and watching Eggie proudly announce to all and sundry that his Dada was a 'great drummer' and thus would likely win the drumming game (he didn't). Then when the 'Smartie Game' started up between the parents (using a straw and some serious sucking action you had to transfer smarties from one bowl to another fast as you could) Eggie yelled out, "Can my Dad have a practice first?" Obviously he was a bit tense about his Dada performing well after his surprising loss in the drumming game earlier.

Alas the husband, though in possession of a most lovely and substantial pair of lips, was unable to keep up with the fellow next to him, who undoubtedly used the magical power from his long beaded hair piece (a 'rat's tail' I believe it's called) to harness the bionic sucking skill needed to win the game.

When snack time came, all parents having been asked to contribute, Egg made clear to all and sundry his father's generosity by declaring, "Would anyone like one of the twenty four samosas my Dada brought?"


At any rate, it was a lovely evening, made miserable only by the random expelling of rather putrid gas a la Dumps (tummy troubles) who hardly left my lap all night, thereby leading fellow parents who had the misfortune to stop and chat, to assume that it was I who was responsible for such pungant flatulence. Great.

And of course it poured down with rain just as we were about to leave. So we arrived home soaked, having been accosted by little bands of children in the road who improvised roadblocks to beg for money for Diwali. The husband had to empty out his pockets for small change instead of just roaring through when we discovered Sandkelp the neighbour boy made up one particular band of ruffians.

Diwali however, is not without meaning for us.

For one, it's the most auspicious day to begin a new business venture or open your store. So fingers crossed that our beach finally gets up and properly running this week. The four on an Enfield thing is proving a bit challenging this time around - whether because the boys have grown that little bit bigger, or because I have yet to master the graceful dismount which entails peeling my moist thighs off the leather seat like velcro whilst lifting my leg high enough to get over the back 'bitch pad' rail, whilst not losing a grip on Dumpie who is in my arms. Add to that the husbands mega-black-bag he insists on carting around - and my own - and you see that we're nearing 'ten clowns stuffed in a car'
territory. Time to get back to good ol' walking I'm afraid.

The other thing is that Eggie is off school all next week. This is going to present a problem. Not only is Dumpie going to put up a fight every single day about having to go to 'stool' when Eggie doesn't have to, but the husband and I are going to have to try and find new and interesting ways to amuse our six year old each and every day (thank goodness for Nintendo...!)

And the husband has just announced that in celebration of Diwali (huh?) he's going to go out this morning and buy that guitar he's been lusting after. Never mind that we have no place to store it, can not take it back home, and it's likely to be used in combat at some point between Egg and Dumps.

As for me? Well I reckon I could get into the spirit of things if i tried...like stroll down the road and avail myself of a new outfit in honour of the day...after all "when in Rome" and all that :)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

"Two Husbands...Good Idea or Insanity?! Discuss..."

Ever wonder what life would be like with two husbands instead of just the one?  It's crossed my mind a few times, I don't mind admitting, but usually only when the husband has had a running streak of 'nights out' and I've found myself bored and lonely at home wishing I had another husband who enjoyed romantic nights in, cuddling up to me with a bottle of wine and a dvd occasionally.

Well this past weekend I had the chance to dry-run the idea when our family went en masse to Karnataka, the next state along.  We were headed for Gokarna, or more specifically 'Om Beach' - named such because of the formation of rocks along the shore which are laid out just like the Om symbol.

Having paid a small fortune to get his beloved Enfield tuned up after five months of being locked in storage, the husband was aching for a proper ride to flex those 'moto-muscles' of his and revel in the satisfyingly chunky 'clunk-clunk-clunk' tick synonymous with the Enfield engine.

As our friend from London was keen to come, the husband suggested that perhaps he could accompany the monsters and I on the train while the husband rode his motorcycle along the three hour stretch and met us there.  Our friend may not yet have any children of his own, but has more god children than we have friends, as well as being 'god uncle' to wee Egg.  

He thought it would be amusing to step in for the husband and get a taste of family life without the strings.  And of course, being a rather courteous and considerate fellow, we all joked about how he could be 'Husband Number Two' and I could try him out for size in case we ever decided to go Mormon and live in a reverse-gender-plural-marriage.

The journey there was surprisingly without incident.  The monsters weren't too rowdy, they held our hands crossing the train tracks and we all managed to find seats next to each other.  To be fair, Egg had his head buried in his Nintendo DSi the whole time and Dumpie spent the journey making faces at other passengers and surreptitiously trying to sneak into my handbag for chewing gum and crisps when I wasn't looking.  However the weekend itself proved to be a bit more of a challenge.  

Our friend (a model fake husband it has to be said:  always carrying the bags, making sure I was comfortable, helping chase Dumps across crowded restaurants etc.) showed his weariness only a few times, mealtimes being the most trying what with Dumps insisting he would only eat every other bite of food, and our friend having to choke back cold porridge in an attempt to coerce Dumps into eating.  The throwing the sand thing didn't go over too well (Dumps again), nor did the regurgitating unwanted mouthfuls of Momo's (delicious Tibetan dumplings) back onto the plate.  However I did rather enjoy having two men at my beck and call, allowing me to daydream about how lovely it might be to keep a spare husband for when the primary one is acting up or not fulfilling his husbandly duties!

I'm not entirely sure what our friend made of his experience of pinch hitting as husband/father for three days.  I suspect serious consideration has been now given to any plans he has for pro-creation.  I mean, as much as he adored the kisses, cuddles and watching Egg and Dumps sleep like little angels, he was also front and centre to all the chaos.  Highlights include:

Egg and Dumpie wrestling and fist-fighting in front of a holy temple in Gokarna, as the old holy men filed out after a ceremony and stared aghast at the boys attempting to tie up and choke each other - and me! - with long strands of 'holy string' i'd unwittingly purchased earlier...

Dumpie knocking frantically on my hotel room door, being pursued by an angry Dada, after having bolted the door on the outside of our friends hotel room and locking he, the husband and Egg in there for several minutes, refusing to let them out or even answer their pleas for release (luckily our friend was able to call out the window for a bystander to come and free them)...

The hardcore mud-slinging fight Dumps and I had on Om Beach, much to the amused delight of all the Indian tourists gathered near to watch my three year old literally pummel me with fistfuls of mud (his aim is scarily precise) as I sat there covered in mud, begging him to hold off and trying vainly to protect my bikini-clad modesty...

But the worst had to be the train journey home and getting chucked out of the air-conditioned first class carriage.  Much to our humiliation, we were sat next to a well to do older British couple who watched us get admonished and told to move along by a portly, uber-serious conductor who literally shooed me aside and painstakingly sat down, opening his notebook, pulling out a laminated fare sheet and powering up his handy dandy pocket calculator to begin the onerous task of figuring out just how much money he might potentially owe Rail India for our innocent oversight.  

Egg and Dumpie were of course at this point ensconced in a sleeping berth, curtains shut tight, eating crisps and chocolate and watching Tom and Jerry on the portable dvd.  Only occasionally would a hand emerge, with a little voice demanding that we open some package or another and pass in some mango juice.  We had to drag them, shamefaced, chocolate smeared faces and all, through three further carriages until we arrived in Second Class non-AC where we we taken pity on by a young woman who said that Egg and Dumpie could sit with her while we climbed up onto the highest berth to sit out the rest of the journey.  For my six foot something friend, this amounted to sitting painfully hunched over, necked straining beneath an unfortunately placed metal pole, while I just sat there contemplating how on earth I was going to be able to climb down gracefully in my tenously tied sarong and not expose my undercarriage to all and sundry upon embarkation.  

At any rate, we made it home.  In one piece.  I'm not so sure whether our friend is so keen to repeat the experience and pinch-hit for the husband again, but he at least now knows that 'husbanding' and parenting is hard bloody work.  He also doesn't realise that I saved him from one of the more harrowing tasks: seeing to Dumps when he loudly demands (usually in restaurants as our food has just arrived) "I NEED A POO!".   And did I mention that a lot of the toilets here are primitive mere holes in the ground?  So I have the unenviable task of having to bend over and grasp Dumps under the arms while he goes limp like a rag doll, splays his legs straight out in front of him and waits for his body to do the work.  And if you think that's bad try cleaning him up without the help of toilet paper - especially when he pushes me out the door (my job clearly done) and bolts it from the inside, and I hear the sound of the hose (the 'bum-blaster' a friend wittingly coined it) starting up.  Minutes later he'll emerge, soaked but triumphant, smelling faintly of poo, and ready to eat his meal.  Me...not so much.

Ah well.  Such is life.  Our friend leaves tomorrow to go back to London and I hope he's had a good trip.  We worked amazingly well as a parenting threesome, though I did realise that a permanent manifestation of such might be trouble in the long run given that both husbands might just spend a lot of their time drinking beer together and passing on their bad habits, until you were left with two unwieldy husbands to manage. 

And like Bono sings in 'Until the End of the World', 

"A woman needs a man, like a fish needs a bicycle"...

Think I'll stick with just the one.