- Life and Times of carolkmail

Growing Up

Junior Goes Camping

For reasons only a mother can understand, I tend to hang on to Junior a little tight (er). You know, my world revolves around him and all those cutesy things that mothers blurt out which end up embarrassing their offspring…? But I can be quite flexible when I want to. Every child gets to hear of camping and camp fires at some point. They watch a movie or hear older kids talking about it and they get curious. Me being me and Junior being Junior, we got into a debate on camping. He watched ‘Mulan’ an animation that has all these heroes and villains and camping and camp fires. That’s when he decided he wanted to build a tent.

Creativity is essential when you enter the parenting realm. I was either going to help make a tent or buy him one. Buying was not going to be done so after racking my brain, and with help of Junior dearest, we set on to build a tent.

Building time is the one time I can get him to concentrate on something that is not school related, without him jumping about and wheezing by in a blur. After 30 minutes of arguing, discussion, compromise plus deciding which items of clothing and furniture in my house were suitable (read disposable) we came up with a pretty good tent look-alike.

Tent is fully enclosed on all sides, with warm blankets inside

So excited is the boy that he has declared that he is going to spend the rest of his nights there. His ‘Sleep Room Tent’, he calls it. If this is what I have to agree to in place of the dangerous outdoor camping trips, then by God I will make it work! And so, Junior will spend his first night in the tent today. He has everything set out. His sleeping clothes, blankets and his water bottle.

This I will indulge him until he tires of it. Which will probably be 2 days tops. It’s the only time I can afford to give anyway, seeing as said tent stands smack in the middle of my living room. No guests expected this weekend, hence we are good for the 2 days.

Junior gets to go camping for the weekend. Mummy gets to be a hero. We live happily ever after. The End.

Mummy And Wasp Face-Off

I’m not necessarily a tree hugger, but I’m a nature lover. If you have followed me long enough, you probably know that during some free time, I can be found at The Arboretum lying on my back, chewing on a blade of grass contemplating the skies. And with my current balcony farming undertaking, I am beginning to get along with insects. To a point that my savage self does not yell murder at the sight of one and deliver a one-way ticket for poor insects to insect heaven with my over-sized foot.

In particular, there are the wasps. You should know that I’m not afraid of wasps. In fact, there is this colony of wasps that we have harmoniously co-existed for quite a while. Not in my house though. At the balcony. They mind their business and I go ahead and offer accommodation at the top corner of my balcony.

That is until the other day. Weekends have become twice as exciting in my house as Junior and I go crop tending at the balcony and he is able to assess how well his crop is doing. Remember I mentioned he has planted a few seeds on some margarine tubs? Yes he is quite excited especially since we are about to harvest those and utilize them in a meal soon. Back to wasps. As usual, after morning chores on a bright Saturday morning, Junior and I go to the balcony to look after plantation. Out of nowhere, this wasp comes zooming down and delivers a sting to Junior’s hand. I have never seen the boy as terrified as he was that day. You have never seen an angry lioness as I was on said day. How dare they attack my offspring? Do they see me flying up their nest to attack their almost offspring (they are eggs at the time)? Of course not! Haven’t I been paying rent on time and ensuring there is a roof over their offspring? Darn right I have! And then they go and do this? I did not care that it was probably one rogue wasp that did the ninja attack. This mama went savage on the whole colony. And this is where things got interesting.

You see, wasps are not exactly the kind of insects you hold a committee with and kindly request them to leave because they have violated some unspoken terms in some contract. No. They never go quietly. Not even with a can of bug spray. So it was an all out war. Face painting and all. I locked junior in the house, after administering some overkill (really, pain killers, antihistamines, vaseline, ointment, dettol) yes, overkill first-aid, picked up a long broomstick (I keep those for various reasons which you probably don’t want to know), covered my face with a large scarf, red, no less, strategically placed myself and yanked the hive off and took off like the devil was after me. Because believe me, he was. All this time, Junior was watching the action through the window in amusement, momentarily forgetting his hand was in pain.

Let me tell you, never expect respect from sub-letting tenants or for them to go away without drama during eviction. The wasps were adamant. They were categorically refusing to be evicted. Did I mention? We had an arrangement, the wasps and I. An unspoken arrangement but an arrangement all the same. I pay rent, provide room and occasional snack from my farm and we respect each other’s boundaries. When it’s time to go, they were to pack up and go. Without causing damage. Well, after hours of running battles with the wasps, I won. I wasn’t going to have it any other way.

I’ve seen one coming to scout the place, probably trying to determine if it is safe to return. Wasps tend to get attached to their ‘homes’ like that. But make no mistake. My home is no longer their home. I am putting my foot down. Pun if necessary.

Lessons Courtesy of Balcony Farm

Once in a while, ok, more often than I’d openly admit, I’m always looking for lessons in what I do. Partly because I do too many things at the same time. In other part, because if I don’t look for lessons in what I do, most likely I won’t do much. Remember the balcony garden I started the other day? I am happy to announce that it is thriving. Ha! Take that you lot who thought it was going to be a source of firewood for the neighbourhood!

So anyway, it has not been an easy plant-me journey. Truth be told, I have yanked some plants off because they did not grow as expected. I have consistently talked to others and others almost made me weep. Seen a grown woman almost weep? Cringe factor I tell ya. What lessons could a mere balcony garden have especially for the hard-headed individual like me have? You wonder. So I tell.

Think of A Project And Start

I probably I’m a serial project starter. Fine I shall admit guilt. But let me ask you, if you never start on projects, how will you know which one will work and which one will fail? I once told a friend the only thing I probably won’t take up is ‘Hitman For Hire’. Anything else is possible in my head. You think I am joking? Look at my latest project. Yes, this one you will love. Story of how it became shall be told on here.

Patience to Let Things Grow

Really, could you keep the laughter to yourself? I can hear you giggle! Of course I can be patient! Fine, not so patient. It is not one of my strong points. I have however learnt how to deal with it, instead of denying or pretending that I am a patient man. I am not. But since I still have other things I’m doing, then the watching and waiting becomes bearable. I mean come on… Some of those plants take 45 days to germinate! Can you picture that? Watering a blob of soil for 44 (give or take a few days) without seeing anything growing? At some point you look around to see whether anyone is watching and wondering why a grown woman is watering soil in a can!

Strength to Admit When Things Are Not Working

Gimme a second here *breaks into silent sobs*. Let me tell you. If you ever see a farmer and their shamba thriving, give a bow and let them have your seat in public transport. I have had to yank plants away because they were not growing. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but it had to be done. It was what gave me room to plant others that are now thriving. I still mourn that loss but when I look at what I planted later, I am consoled that it was not an ‘in vain yank’.

Blind Faith is Also Good

See that blooming fern plant on your right? With all it’s green singing happily in the wind? That fern had completely withered. So much so that it was almost discarded. The reason why I did not discard it was because I had already discarded one set of plants and I couldn’t bring myself to just discard yet another. That fern I have talked to. Begged to tell me what it wants. Watered it even when it seemed hopeless even! Then one morning as I was watering it, I saw an ever so tiny shoot at the bottom, hidden by the withered leaves but it was all green! The squealing and clapping that I did on that day! I’m still explaining to the neighbours that I am sane. And ignoring those judging looks from them. Yes dear readers, blind faith, hanging on a little longer, luck even. They all play a great role in project progress.

So you see? Lessons everywhere. O, see those 2 Blue Band tubs? Those are junior’s. He thinks what I’m doing is uber cool so he decided to plant something. I am however spending a few minutes every morning explaining why ‘My Plants are Not There Yet’. And yes, the idea is to turn the balcony into one happy green area with a sitting spot on the side.

Insecurities Of A Proud Mum

I will now openly and officially admit. I am not super anything. I get tired. Actually knackered. Between running around with junior, doing homework, housework, money work (that’s earning a living in case you are wondering) and showering (I really think this should be optional) at the end of each day, or the beginning of each day (they tend to merge in my world), I do get extremely exhausted.

O come on… once in a while I should be allowed to whine on this space! Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But does it mean that it is not sometimes hard? Course not! Does it make me look like a superhero sometimes? You betcha. Does it leave me in a pile of tired? Most of the time, yes!

So there is junior. You remember him? The one I brought into this world? Yes I know. It has been so long since I talked about him on here I imagined you could have forgotten there is a him. Well, he’s growing pretty well, thanks for asking, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Once upon a post time I mentioned that I had overslept on Sunday and he had found it fit to feed himself the first meal of the day, where half of the meal was on the floor. I’ll have you know that he has perfected the art of preparing breakfast for himself so that task is officially out of my hands.

Due to the nature of my choice method of earning a living, I tend to have meetings all hours of the evening (not night). Sometimes this is rather inconvenient because evening is my appointed (or not) time to help junior with his homework. The help mostly comes in the form of barking orders to concentrate. He has quite a fleeting mind and he needs to be reminded of the current task at hand. So, while I hold the medal of the best order-barking mum in town, I am acutely aware that most of the time, that’s all I do. This was never more evident than when I went for an evening meeting that took longer than I had anticipated. I got home at half after 9pm. The one thing I was looking forward to was assisting Junior with homework and arranging his uniform for the next day. So imagine my shock, when he gleefully meets me at the door with all the pleasantries of hugs and kisses (I love these moments), grabs my handbag, sits it on the floor, and proceeds to show me how he managed to clear his homework. I was proud. O, that was not all. He had followed the procedure that has now become our nightly routine and set out his uniform for the following day. And it was the correct color too! Well the socks and hankie were missing but you get the point.

Yesterday was one of those dropping in a pile of tired days. Coupled with work and living drama of the last few days, I have been a miserable sight. Not that you could see, since I slept in. Only to be woken up by clattering dishes. I’m half used to this since I know he makes his own breakfast but this time there was sound of dishes that I’m not accustomed to hearing when he is in the kitchen. Shock of the morning? He was on top of a chair, cleaning dishes. Yes, including that do-not-touch-or-I-will-kill-you treasured glass mug. I couldn’t be sure, maybe it was the morning mist but a tear might have dropped. Or smoke from the neighbours. Yes. It must have been smoke.

He’s growing up too fast. Gaining independence at a rate I was not prepared for. I am beginning to feel insecure. He’s a step further from being mummy’s little boy. I am proud of him. I am a pile of emotions.

We Dropped A Tooth

Technically, Junior did. You know how when a woman gets pregnant and the husband goes fist bumping all his pals, yelling ‘We Are Pregnant!!!’ while singing circumcision songs and dropping drinks? Yes, well, that’s how the WE in ‘We Dropped a Tooth’ is used here.

Insider Information: When you bear offspring, you are always worried that you’ll never know when anything goes wrong, or right, for that matter. How will you know when his tummy is aching? Or his diaper is wet (not as obvious as you may think by the way)? Or when he swallows a roach? Or a coin? Or when his teeth start wobbling? Will you know in good time or will he swallow it in his sleep? I tell you, mummyhood can be a nightmare sometimes. Forget the cooing and all that. That’s the cute stuff. There is that other side that no one tells you! Thank God you have me. To tell you that is.

So anyway, we tend to get bored sometimes…, Junior and I. In the throes of boredom, we’ll clip our nails, I’ll rub his back or, we’ll count each other’s teeth. It’s fun! I can then use the line of ‘see how many teeth I have? You need to eat a lot of food to get as many teeth as mummy!’ Yep! The magic of a mouth full of pearly whites. Anyway, so this teeth counting day last week, we (I) discovered a wobbly one. I did go through all the appropriate reactions. Excitement! Panicking. Dry mouth. Sore throat. Singing a happy song. Hyperventilating… And you are wondering, where is he during all this? He’s not allowed to be in the bathroom with me. Which is where I was. After calming down, it was time to find out how to go about yanking the wobbly white.

Kid was pretty excited when I pointed it out. Mostly because he had been told by someone that once his teeth come out, he would automatically turn 6. I know! The information that gets passed down to children these days! He couldn’t stop playing with it. You know, shaking it and all to confirm and reconfirm that it was really wobbly.

In my infinite search, I came across a lot of ‘helpful’ information. Observe:

Seriously, you don’t think I got this advice? Fiiine. Don’t believe me. Check out this link of ‘wisdom’ then!

I was so busy looking for ways to get it out I didn’t at first notice him holding something in his hands, the bleeding mouth and his shocked expression. He doesn’t like the sight of blood, not even a hint of it so a mouth dripping with blood made him panicky, even weepy. But there it was. He had accidentally pulled it! Then there was me running around, looking for cotton wool and salt water to clean his mouth out and to check whether he got the whole damn thing out. He had done a good accidental job, believe it or not. I even baked him a cake.

Drama aside, I am very happy with how the first dropped tooth experience went. No dentist, him doing it by himself (albeit accidentally) and the celebration that went with. We even got to learn. Something. Least of all, the simplest solutions work best. Plus I am loving his minus one tooth smile! ;)

The Boy and His Shaved Eyebrows

I know what you are thinking. And you could not be more wrong. This was not one of my experiments. Neither did I confuse him with one of my dollhouse collections. Honest! This is entirely his fault.

Just so you know, he turned five recently. Lately, he has developed a heightened sense of adventure. The good/bad thing about the new sense is that it has no respect for gender boundaries. This means that if anything looks cool and dangerous enough, he’s going to try it, girly or not. If he is not climbing to the top of any cabinet to explore it’s hinges, he’s trying on his superman suit (which really is a sheet tied around his neck) and jumping off from relatively high places. At least he’s tall so I never have worry about him crawling under the bed to munch on poor roaches. Those were his toddling days. Take for example the eyebrow incident.

I am a do it yourself kind of person. This means that I prefer to wash my own hair, make my own nails, clip my own toe nails and yes, shave my own eyebrows. Shocking as it may sound, I’ve been known to doll myself up every now and then. Sometimes my boy is present during some of these activities. At such times, I like hearing his stories which although half the time they get so mixed up I am lost as to what we were talking about, they are always entertaining. He has been there during the eyebrow shaving moments. Several of them in fact. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine he would climb to the highest cabinet where I store such dangerous shaving equipment, grab one and actually attempt to shave his eyebrows. He did. I was shocked. I did not even think of appropriate punishment. Neither did I know whether to shape the eyebrows for him or just let them grow out, all patchy.

Had I not noticed the silence coming from the room where he was, I would not have been there in time to gasp and yell and try and explain to him why only mummy should have shaved eyebrows. He probably would have, God forbid, gone ahead and shaved off part of his hair and I can assure you, child welfare services would have been at my doorstep the following day. I have had to explain the eyebrows to a few people including his teachers, and conveniently prevented his grandmother from visiting my house but I can tell you, I am done getting surprised at stunts he is bound to pull. I am however more watchful because as amusing as some of these stunts are, I do realise that it could get quite dicey should he get himself into more dangerous ones. O yes. And I have dialed up explaining boy and girl things a notch. Also ‘dangerous and safe things’ lessons are in full force. All this without curtailing his sense of adventure or curiosity. Hopefully.

Superhero and Sheep

Schools have closed. This means I am, and have been for the past two weeks, my kid’s new playmate. I love playing with him. I don’t get much play time when he is in school, so you can call this my holiday as well. It is as good as it gets most of the time anyway. If you don’t know what 5 year olds play, think soccer, cycling, horsie, superheros and dogs. Sometimes, sheep. Most of the games I learn along the way. Others I never ever get to learn but well, what’s he gonna do?

It was one of those mornings where after my morning tasking and productively working, I figured a break was necessary. And him, like the idle mummy radar he is, homed in on my idleness, came running and planted a huge wet one on my cheek in a bid to introduce/con me to the new game of the day. The idea was to dress him up as a Superhero and I would crawl around bleating like a sheep. No. No awkward moment there. Trust me, if you had a clue as to what other games entail, you’d realise this is one of the most face-saving ones.

I was lost at first. I mean, superhero? Sheep? Superhero and damsel in distress I understand. A German Shepherd and sheep, sure! But superhero and sheep? I was wearing the same clueless face you are right now. But as I said, break is break, right? Plus I was curious. You know how terrible I get when I’m curious. Apparently, after what would be 45 minutes of him explaining, almost breaking into tears because I just could not understand (I’m sure at this point he was sure I was adopted), I got to understand what the game was all about. It’s one of those cartoons that he had watched, where sheep were crossing the road, and sheep being slow in nature could not cross the road fast enough and there was a truck moving very fast towards them. The superhero came flying from the skies (he jumped from the chair to effect this illusion), grabbed the truck (it’s a light truck don’t go calling child services on me), yanked it from the road and hurled it across the fence. And hurray, the clueless sheep were saved!

Playtime was over. It had to be! First I was thirsty from all the bleating. Second, my knees were killing me from crawling around. Third, my head was hurting from trying to understand what the game was all about. And fourth, I was beginning to feel awkward. He was happy. We went and grabbed ourselves 2 cups of chocolate and cookies.

Are you waiting for a lesson? Stop holding your breath lest you faint. Mouth to mouth isn’t my thing. Sometimes play is just play. No lessons. Just fun. Indulging in the moment. Letting go and being as sheepish as you can allow yourself to be. Then getting on back to life and lessons.


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