Tag Archives: I have two girls

11 years later.

 

Princess is 11 today. There will be a festival of sorts, cupcakes at school, dinner with friends, a Saturday night party, more cake. She deserves it; after all she is my sunshine girl.

Princess is so much more than her name. Camper extraordinaire, friend to all, t-shirt designer, Sartorialist obsessed, champion shower singer; her room is a blaze of pink and softness, her wardrobe a cornucopia of colour, hair bands and scents. She will curl up and read beside me for hours or stand in the kitchen chopping onions and stirring warmed chocolate, preparing a feast of some sort.

She cried for the first year and a half of her life. While the rest of the world settled into the comfort of knowing the new millennium would not strip us of water, power or the internet, in short the world would not stop, ( do you remember that crazy worry? the stockpiling of water and tins of chick peas? What was that?) Princess was crying, screaming even most days, cross with something that none of us could figure out. As soon as she could speak and express her discomfort when things were not specific enough for her, she stopped crying and started smiling and talking. She has not stopped since.

The first three weeks here in Kampala, back in August 2009 when we leapt over two continents to move here she was not happy. In fact she was terrified, devastated and turned inside out with misery. She wanted to leave and she wanted to go NOW. It was the first time since those early years that we had seen her so miserable and we worried that she might not overcome the discomfort of being here; the cockroaches in the “palace” the abject poverty, the dirt, the chaos. Princess likes everything “just so” and Kampala at first was anything but.

Now she often thanks us for her life, exclaiming that she is so happy, she loves the adventure of her life, the opportunity to see and feel and do so much more than her friends in the first world. I love her grateful manner and her positivity that shines through each day.

I am thinking of 11 years ago. Sharp blue skies, bone chilling wind, a late January Montreal day. As I held my little blanket wrapped parcel of love and looked out of the window of the Queen Vic, across the sheer white fields of McGill I could never have fathomed how life would change so much. Here I am 11 years later, marking the passage of time with a curly girl in my arms and I am amazed.

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Living inside a computer.

Not really very much to write to be truthful. So the question begs, why write at all? Well I made a decision, a resolution really, about writing and I must keep to it. I feel it is good for me and in many ways keeps me sane. There are dark thoughts going around my brain, there are school matters proving most distracting and there are matters of a parental nature, more specifically parenting a nearly teenage girl, that are spinning my thoughts asunder.

It seems not that long ago that Trooper was small and wide eyed, eager to learn all and curl up beside me for a good cuddle and a read. Now things have disappeared into a world of cyber possibilities where gossip and love stories zip across the continents, where hearts are spilled on status pages and multiple conversations take place at once, sometimes between Facebook, MSN and Skype. It has all suddenly appeared to be out of control. Perhaps once school is over and the minimal homework that is doled out is completed, there is not enough to do. We have no TV, there are no neighborhood kids with whom to ride bikes or kick a can, no ice cream shop to walk to and how many hours a day can one really read? So the computer has become a world unto itself and I am not sure I like it.

It cannot be banned, it is here to stay and in fact a very healthy and normal part of adolescence, similar to the amount of time we spent on the phone, those many pre-cell texting years ago, with school friends that we had seen mere minutes before. Then when I went to boarding school we were always together, attached through meals, visits to the loo, long homework sessions where novels were written in the form of  “notes” and we didn’t need any devices to keep us connected, only apart!

A plan is needed. Horse riding lessons will be booked forthwith!

In other news the Entourage addiction continues. We are now on season 5 and I doubt I will ever return to watching TV with commercials. It is quite pleasant to sit and watch two episodes without being interrupted by averts for itchy skin, adult diapers or anti-anxiety medication. If there is one sure way to send you into a depression, American ads will do it. Between shiny cars, oozing beef, and dandruff shampoo, it is quite common to find scary legal firms offering us help with law suits and pharmaceutical companies selling us pills for problems were didn’t know existed. It is not a pretty picture of the world. I do not miss the ads one bit. But I did miss the Golden Globes terribly and I must confess to spending my break in front of People.com looking at the best and worst dresses of the night.


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Dock Notes. #2

Three girls go to a sailing race today.

 

There is a father here who refuses his daughters the joy of sailing with friends, for their objective is to win the race and the companionship of others will simply weigh down the boat and detour from his aim. His daughters cannot speak to boys, swim for fun or enjoy a silly game of tennis. Everything they do is to please their father’s manic obsession with success. It has led me to wonder about the purpose of entering into any activity at all. I appreciate the desire to compete and succeed and I understand the value in passing on ambition to our children. But still.

 

Imagine that a person loves to write, to paint, perhaps to sing or photograph. Imagine that these pursuits give the person much pleasure. Now consider that the individual is not talented in any of these activities, maybe not able to win competitions, get published or even perform. Does that eventually diminish the pleasure? Perhaps if we set our sights too far beyond the realm of creation and push them into the success and appreciation by others the pleasure of a fine day painting will be lost. Does something have to be read, purchased or applauded for it to be real?  Does my daughter have to win the sailing regatta in order to enjoy it?

I hope not.


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Dock Notes

 

Notes from a dock.

 

I am not one of those women who get up before the rest of the house to make French toast and warm fresh scones. I am not one of those ultra patient earth mothers who has 6 children and still has time and patience left over to run the summer play on the lake. I am not one of those mothers who devotes her entire life to feeding her family. I am not one of those women who always has snacks and juice and kleenex in her deep deep bag. However, I am in awe of those women who brandish their toilet pump in one hand and spatula in the other. I stare at mothers with infinite patience as if at a higher species from the planet “I am Mother, hear me Roar.”

 

Lying on a dock is an experience in self contemplation.  Between bouts of sneezing ( allergies) and regret at being a cold water wimp there is time to stare at the sky, the still smooth lake and the gentle curves of the hills, and in these moments the mind may travel. Back to the collection of mothers I encountered at the charming summer camp on the lake, all of whom had remembered towels for their children while I was still bleary eyed and grumpy from waking up before 9am. My poor cold children, towel-less and dripping were learning the hard way what it means to be Canadian. There is a posse of teens on the dock as I type and where is that super mom with the fresh baked cookies for the hungry wet swimmers?

 

Some women make mothering a profession while I stand back and wait for the moments when I want to draw my brood near for moral sustenance and a glimpse of good art or literature. I think it is amusing that part of me really wants to be one of those Betty Crocker Moms but I just can’t drag myself into the kitchen to make the leap. 

 

My sweet but snappy eldest, somewhat like a charming garden turtle, has fallen for the lake hunk. While her eyes boggle at the sight of him and her smile shyly shows her crush, I step back and let them swim and splash and feel the joy of a sunny day on a Canadian lake. For these are the days memories are made of. Better that I don’t disturb them with warm fresh cookies.

 

Don’t you think?

 

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More summer limes.

 

Sun desperately trying to get through these dark clouds. I haven’t been this cold in a long time. In London during the snow storm of the century I was cold, but then, it was snowing, it was to be expected. It has been forever proven that I am a warm weather girl. I get very sad when my bones ache with cold. At night I sleep clenched, trying to stay warm, longing for a hot water bottle. Last Saturday, at 4pm on July 4th as I sat huddled, practically in the fire place, I decided once and for all that I will never own a country house here in Quebec. That was quite the epiphany moment there. This is my home, the place I love and I have decided that I will never again own a home here. I simply hate to be cold.

Now please don’t imagine that I am complaining. Yes, I might grumble now and again as I borrow another sweater but I am still happy to be here.

 

And I do live in hope, I have a pretty Trini sundress hanging in the closet.

 

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Does anybody know a remedy for the problem of teens and their selective blindness? Pull out a pack of cigarettes to have a quiet and sneaky cig and they are as sharp as a hungry seagull. Walk into a room and see a pair of crotch in your face underwear left centre stage and they are as blind as a mole. I point them out. Even walk them through the room like a private visitor to an exclusive gallery, but even if they see it, the mess, the strewn clothes, it is with the blurry vision of the carefree teen. These things are just not important!

But I think they are, along with table manners, talking back and general politeness. I know a lot of parents, tired from the constant fighting, just give it up and sweep the discord under the proverbial rug. Then bitterness ensues, complacency and the eventual silence at the dinner table. Parents then become so surprised to learn that it was their child who gate crashed the party in a bikini.

So I might be the nag, the mom who forces then to pick up, the recipient of many a rolled eye ball, but I believe in the old fashioned fundamentals.

 

So bring on the dropped knickers and I’ll lead the gallery tour.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 




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MR. Mom and the dog ear cleaner

It is not a common occurrence that a mother leaves the roost in the capable hands of the father for 10 days, but I did just that. I have been home a week now and I have observed some small but significant changes.
First, they managed so splendidly without me that I have been made aware that I am no longer indispensable. My role, while of course still crucial, has shifted somewhat. For example, the only thing that went even slightly wrong in my absence is that during the transfer from one lemon car to another, a lovely beach chair was lost. This had nothing to do with parenting and everything to do with the tendency that handsome husband has to lose something every few months.
Second, MR. Mom has moved in. When my daughter needs ear drops, it is MR. Mom to the rescue. When a yummy Saturday lunch is wanted, once again it is MR. Mom to the rescue. When I arrived back from the London cold, coughing and spluttering it was MR. Mom who handed me a fizzy vitamin C drink every morning.
Third, MR. Mom has learnt a very important fact. Not only did he realize that he can survive so well without me, but that he can actually do it better! A Delicious meal incorporating ALL 5 food groups? Ask MR. Mom. Valentines Day pancakes with maple syrup? Ask MR. Mom. Chocolates for the valentine’s daughters? Ask MR. Mom. 

I think tonight he is making Risotto. Luckily, the fact that I have no Penis prevents me from feeling emasculated.
When asked what exactly my purpose was, now that finer dining, Band-Aids, nail cutting and reading with young ones has been taken over, I was handed Dog Ear Cleaning and Giver of Kisses.
Kiss, Kiss.

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Hiding from the Children

At what point did I start hiding from my kids? You spend a good chunk of your adolescence running around behind parents’ backs, sneaking and stumbling around hoping they don’t notice that you aren’t sober.  I went to boarding school so the sneaking around bit was amplified by it being teachers I was hiding from. Breaking curfew, crawling down the balcony to break into the boy’s dorms and hiding the stash of vodka were all part of the thrill of being 16. Then you grow up and get to have fun without hiding. Still a party but without the risk and thrill of being caught.  ‘Till you have kids. At first they are too young and unsuspicious. They think we are saints and when we are out of earshot we are simply still being parents, planning the next birthday party or surprise.  I remember lying in bed when I was around 7 or 8 and and hearing Roberta Flack playing really loud barely masking the sounds of my parents and their friends laughing.  I wondered what they were doing. How could they be having so much fun without me?

 

Then at a certain point the kids grow wise and suspicious.   We have a Very Important Rule in our house. No one can disturb Mommy and Daddy’s saturday nap. Ever. Unless someone is bleeding. And now we have another rule. If adults are in the sun room ( my “sin room”) at night, children cannot come in.  

My 11 year old always tells me “I know what you are doing, Mama.” 

“What?” I say, trying not to look nervous.

“You are smoking!”

“Yes.” I sigh. “But it is a really bad thing and you shouldn’t know about it or see me doing it”

“But why Mama? It’s okay. You’re allowed to have a cigarette sometimes. I don’t mind”.

So now I am getting permission from my daughter. 

Yesterday I was busted. She came into a room while a friend and I were leaning out of a window, cigarettes in hand. “Urggggg.” I exhaled.

I am running around behind their backs, sneaking cigarettes.  I am only a social smoker, never alone, never in day light and never without drink in hand. I want them to know that smoking is Really Bad.  But I also want them to know that by hiding it I am being a hypocrite, doing it but passing the message on that is is not a good idea. It is all just a silly game.  

The eldest was standing in the room while my friend and I, moments after being busted, were in the kitchen discussing how to mix the best Mohito. Once we realized it was too strong, since my husband hadn’t realized that he had picked up 70% proof rum at the store, we decided to split the mix into two jugs. Then, of course, we had to squeeze more limes, melt more sugar. The whole process was taking a long time. The eldest, at the very least will be a pro mohito maker at her parties. But what I am teaching them? Where is the good example? Is this a case of do as I say and not do as I do? 

Like many evenings and weekends here in Trinidad they are seeing a lot of drinking.  They don’t see any one drunk or foolish but they do see us having an excellent time. I worry that I am condoning drinking and smoking. But why should I be a saint, all sensible and pure and no fun just so that my kids will grow up untainted by the sight of their mom laughing up a storm, cocktail glass in hand. 

 

 

Now that their bedtime gets later and later they just seem to be around all the time. This is almost always a good thing. Sometimes, though, it is just sweet to be a grown and not a sensible one.

It’s not like this is some episode of Weeds. Aren’t I just a grown up bon vivant?  What to do?


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