- 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.


Junior’s Nearly All Grown Up!

Almost. See for the past few months, he has been insisting that he is not 4 years old any more. And he would get all touchy about being 4, saying that I told him he was 4 when he was in Sparrow B Class of Teacher Meg (this tale has no end in sight. Trust me). So yes, to him, since he is in Robin Class, which is Teacher Nancy’s class, then obviously he is not 4 years old any more! You’ve got to give the kid credit though. Even when the concept of years is not clear, he seems to comprehend shifts in milestones.

Today is his birthday. All week we have been trying to decide what we want to get for our birthday. It’s kind of a collective thing since I am fully involved in the choice of gift. Last year, we got ourselves a bike. Naturally, I had to test-ride it, just to be sure it was safe (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it). It was a good bike. A speedo bike. It has served us er… I mean him well. Two nights ago, he had one of his brilliant ideas. With face all lit up, he came yelling for me.

Him: Muuuuuum! Can we go to Makunatt and return the bike so that the shop man can give us a Motor Bike? I am tired of riding the bike now and I want a motor bike.

Me: Son, it’s not Makunatt. It’s Nakumatt.

Him: I know mummy! That’s what I said! Makunatt. Can we go now?

Me: *hides face as I pull an eye roll* I doubt the shop man will want to exchange for us.

Him: Why? We shall give him my beautiful bike and he can give us a motor bike.

Me: It’s time to go to bed now.

I know what you are thinking. ‘Did she just slither out of a debate?’ No I didn’t! I am still trying to find easier ways to properly introduce the concept of money as a from of trade. Why did they abolish barter trade? This would have been so much easier! And did I mention this was around 9:15p.m., his official bed time? While it looks like I was escaping the crossfire, I already knew that no amount of discussion, logic or smack upside the head was going to work on a half grumpy nearly 5 year old kid so there. Plus by morning the idea of bike/motor bike exchange would have been forgotten.

We didn’t get the motor bike, which you obviously know would have been fun to test-ride for him but we got something equally fun. Should keep him busy for a while. I baked a cake for him too. Yes, yes, I can bake. Stop gasping for air!

He does have these moments of misplaced humor coupled with brilliance which he tends to be oblivious of and does not understand my shocked looks or bursts of laughter. He teaches me every day and has been a source of pride and joy. He is a blessing in my life and I thank God for him.

Happy Birthday Junior. You rock my world.


My Spanking New Work Spot

If you don’t know by now, I’m a freelance consultant. Woah! Let’s take a moment here. *sigh* I’ve always wanted to use ‘freelance consultant’ in a sentence. It sounds vague yet completely mysterious! *wipes tear* Moving on. It follows then, that I do most of my important work (nothing like heart surgery but close) from my house, save for time wasters called meetings and client visits. I like it. It comes with perks including but not limited to perennial tea flow, getting out for a breath of fresh air without clocking out, flexible working hours (meaning I work ALL the time) and taking vacations to the next room whenever I need a break (obviously this needs to change).

So what’s with the ‘spanking new work spot’ thing, you wonder. I’m getting there. You may not believe this, but I am your average human being and like any other human, I get bored of my work station. Unfortunately, I have already done the quit my job, be my own boss, do my own thing, thing. Still, my workspace does require occasional shaking up. Change of scenery if you may. I have come up with an ingenious way of effecting this change, without completely upsetting the status quo.

My house has some rooms (excluding the bathroom and the toilet) which essentially translate to a few corners and walls that are considered real estate, with people, guests and residents alike, always claiming spots for themselves. Being head resident of the property, I recently decided to do some claiming of my own. After a complete survey of the area, I found the perfect place. Or so I thought. What I was eying had a smattering of toys and honest to God, I did not know it was claimed, let alone by a feisty almost 5 year old (please don’t tell him he is 4 years old. He gets all defensive about it). Satisfied with my find, I went on to clear toys and moved a stool and my comfortable work seat and gadgetry in place. The said almost 5 year old was asleep all this time, as I had decided to undertake said development early in the morning. Pleased with myself, I went about other tasks, daydreaming of how I would settle in my new work area. I was however rudely brought back to reality by a half screaming kid claiming I had moved his ‘things’ from where he had left them. That is when it hit me! The toys that were looking MISplaced were actually IN place! Ninja parenting had to kick in. Fast! Attempting damage control without letting go of a prime spot! I presented the argument of ‘but you are always in school son and mummy needs a nice place to do her work. Besides, you have other spots around the house’. To which he responded, ‘but I like this spot better and I’m not always in school’. He was not buying into any of my theories. A little back and forth with case presentations by both parties, and we decided to coexist in the area.

I know what you are going to say. Yes. I’m the boss. Mostly. I however believe in teaching the kid the art of standing up for what he believes in and reasonably asking for what he wants as a pathway to independence. Don’t get me wrong, when whoop-ass can opening happens on him, it happens pretty good. This time however, I went with negotiation and compromise. And we lived happily ever after, till I crave change of scenery again.


A Disease & Germs Lesson in Not Planning

I generally love kids. More specifically, I love my kid more than anything else in this world. But. And I say this with a lot of love. Kids are germ carriers. Disease magnets. Vermin breeders. In fact, I’d go ahead and confidently say, if you were to place them under a giant microscope, you’d probably have creepy crawling thingies where their tiny bodies are supposed to be.

Once in a while, the germs that these kids port around does show up as full blown diseases. On such days, no one, and I mean NO ONE is immune to the said diseases. What, with them being suddenly and excessively needy, they even forget to blow their noses, and they go out of their way to look for you just so they can sneeze on your face. It even looks appropriate for them to hurl all over your shoes.

I’m supposed to take this on with tons of smiles. And I do my best. Only that when the sniffles and sneezes show up, I start counting down to the day the germs will start working on my relatively healthy body. I’m a planner. So during such countdowns, I already know how many days I’ll be down, how many boxes of tissues I’ll require, and I begin to paint the ceiling a different color, in preparation for my few days of staring blankly at it. All the while, I’m still trying my best, where possible to duck my vermin carrying boy, which I shall not have to tell you I fail miserably at. Unless I’m taking a bathroom break that is.

What is amazing is that every time these unsolicited attacks show up, they always catch us ill prepared, even with a list of things to do and fire fighting plans in place. We both get knocked on our behinds pretty good. We become nightmares to be around and we are both quite weepy! Not my fault! I swear!

We are just coming out of such a spell, and I can tell you, this appears to be more nasty than the last two combined. At least we are smiling and beginning to run around. We are not there yet, so don’t go getting ideas of paying a visit or antagonizing us. We will readily break down and cry. One thing these episodes are teaching me is that no matter how much planning you do, there are things that you will sail through via blind faith. Planning is good. But humans were never blessed with foresight. So we do our best, plan where we can, not plan where we cannot, and believe that we are going to be at the right place at the right time, even if it means the place is a weepy, slap your ass to the ground place.


Now They Slap Me With New Rules!

Seriously! Nobody ever listens when I speak. Its like I’m gnashing my teeth! I talk, they stare at me, hang on to their hats, and continue with conversation. Like wind just passed through the room! The worst are the teachers in my kid’s school. That lot has absolutely no respect for my tantrums. I need new ways to yell so they can listen.

So this time, he’s graduated to another class. Class Robin. His previous class was Sparrow B. Don’t even ask what happened to Sparrow A. Probably the kids ate the poor bird. Now things are changing too drastically for my liking!

See, I’m one of the dreaded parents who mostly does what she wants, and lets the kid live with the consequences. That’s how my mother did it and how her mother before her did it. Tradition. Yes I know, teenage is coming and he will disown me at every turn. Probably emancipate himself. Then I shall unleash a can of whoop-ass on him. I digress. Here’s what they have hit me with this time round:

Uniforms: What!!? I happen to think he looks quite handsome in home clothes. I have therefore pushed the home clothes agenda for a whole year! Till I went visiting the other day and saw him sticking out like a really sore thumb. Images of him being a beacon and the Mothership (no pun) aiming lasers and yanking him off the playground made me decide it’s probably time he fitted in. That plus they gave me no choice.

Junior & Me. Evidence of Long Legs.

Swimming: I have averagely long legs. Not tall, just long legs. He takes after me. He has been swimming in the paddling pool (look it up) with tiny kids. Yes, I admit, I did the teachers he doesn’t belong to the big kids pool. He does look tiny in my eyes you know… Now the teachers tell me they are having trouble since he tends to displace water when he gets in, and they have to keep refilling the pool. Not to mention having to fold his legs four ways to get a good waist length submerge! To the big Swimming Pool with official swim wear it is.

Full Day: Remember how I became my own boss and I could do stuff I like? Like when I can take a break whenever I want (which mostly involves moving from one seat in the house to the next). See I’m used to having him home at lunch time, then we can run around a spell as part of my break, before he blacks out from sheer exhaustion. Now they say his workload has increased and he has to be in school all day! Sidenote: Do you know they even close one week after other schools? You’d think its University! I’m still in mourning.

You know me and tantrums. I went completely local when they sprang this stuff on me. I think they are used to me by now seeing as the class teacher just rolled her eyes and the head teacher gave me a sit, after I was done protesting and handed me a cup of coffee and continued like I did not even speak! See why I think they no longer take me seriously?

He does seem like he has fun in school (and some education, I hope), so I won’t chew my nails too much. As for the lunch time break, I suppose I can go unhang birds from trees with rocks, kick twigs down the walk-way and terrorize that neighbour sporting a Probox thingie (I know! Who drives such a car!) till the boy gets home.


A Play Called Cinders

It is that time of the term again. Another first for me. As you can guess, I was not going to miss it. This time, we were being treated to a play called Cinders. A small boy comes to the mike and announces; ‘This play is about mummies and daddies. Once there was a mummy and a daddy’…. Yes, I know. I almost fell off my seat. No, I’m not a drama queen. You should have seen the shocked expressions on parents’ faces. Me, I’m always optimistic. I decide I’ll give it a chance. You can however smell the shock emanating from the rest of my gang members, aka parents. The looks of I-pay-them-to-teach-this is not lost on the head teacher. Pleasant woman that. Good sense of humor too!

So this mummy and daddy apparently got a baby girl and named her Cinders. And villagers came to congratulate the new parents and dance around a bonfire and toss the baby around. Seriously, they did.

Then Cinders’ mummy dies. Exactly! It was turning out to be a horror play. Surely, do these kids even comprehend what death is? I almost got my boy out of there quick! But patience can become me. Guess what happens next? Yep! Cinders’ daddy remarries. Go on, I dare you to curse a 5 year old daddy. Now Cinders has sisters to play with and keep her company, right? WRONG! Enter evil step-mummy, who sends Cinders straight to the kitchen to do housework while daddy has gone to work to look for food. At least there’s some lesson here, daddies do go to work to look for food.

Poor Cinders continues doing housework, singing the saddest songs you have ever heard! And she was good! Do you know how hard it is to hate a cute little girl playing evil step-mummy? I told you it was turning out to be a horror play!

There was a ball at the King’s palace. Of course, step-mummy makes sure that her daughters go to the ball and bans Cinders from going. Poor Cinders cries in the kitchen until fairy god-mummy appears to sort her out for the ball. You know, cute dress, dazzling glass slippers, pretty make-up, horse and carriage (no babies were turned into pumkin and horses in the production of this play) and she is off to the ball, with warning to return before the clock strikes midnight. We all know how this story ends. And Cinders lived happily ever after with a drop dead handsome prince.

P.s: The star, my star, played back-up singer and a spectacular ball-room dancer. He has potential this kid. I was proud.


He Can Do Everything, All On his Own

Yes, I cannot tell you how many times I have rolled my eyes over the above statement. He turned four the other day. Since then, he’s been feeling quite grown up and has adopted this statement from his favorite cartoon character. It goes ‘I can do everything all on my own’. This is the boy who gets so absorbed in his play he needs to be reminded to visit the bathroom (he’d kill me if he knew I said that).

He is determined to show me and the rest of the world that he is no longer a baby. The only thing he wants me to do is read him his stories, but nothing beyond that. Take for example his new bike. He will continue falling off it, but he will not take any assistance offered to him because ‘he can do it all on his own’. He will squeeze half a tub of toothpaste into his tiny toothbrush to show that ‘he can do it all on his own’.

He wants to take a bath by himself, which I once allowed him to, only to come out with patches on his body that had not seen a drop of water, others still had soap and others, well, they looked like they had been over-scrubbed. And with a huge grin he said…..

On Sundays, I like sleeping-in. Him being at the age he is in, sleeping-in appears to be a sign of laziness. He has therefore taken to yelling my name all morning, which will either get me up immediately (or so he hopes) or will get me yelling back at him to stop yelling my name which in essence means that I am not going back to sleep anyway. He wins either way. I am however catching on to his game. I have resulted to completely ignoring him and he is slowly noticing that no amount of yelling will get me out of bed. Just to clue you in, his breakfast is very uncomplicated as he prefers feeding lightly in the morning. He of course knows where his morning cereal is and has access to milk from the fridge. He also knows where spoons and plates are kept.

Last Sunday, as usual, he took to yelling my name. I of-course ignored him. My plan must have worked and I must have drifted back to sleep. I woke up to realize that he had gone unusually quiet, and since I know silence is never a good thing, I dragged myself out of bed, tip-toed to the kitchen where I could hear dishes clattering. To my amazement, he was on top of the kitchen stool, busy mixing breakfast from the counter. The picture that greeted me was splashes of milk everywhere, half the cereal on the table with some bits on the plate. He had used 3 spoons, two cups and half a bottle of milk. When he saw me standing at the door bewildered, he just looked up at me, with a smile he went….‘See Mummy! I can do everything all on my own’. At this point, I did not notice all the mess he had made. Just the cold breakfast that he had gone ahead and made. I was proud of him. I did let him finish, warmed some extra milk for him and gathered the cereal from the counter onto his plate (no wastage is allowed in my house) and sat down with him as he ate his breakfast.

I am beginning to think this kid really can do ‘everything all on his own!’ Who knows. I might just get my peaceful Sunday morning sleep-in session.


Field Trip? What Field Trip?

“You are not getting me out of this bus! I don’t care if you had informed me earlier about this trip. Did I agree to it? What do you mean I signed the consent form? Did I understand what the form was all about? What do you mean it’s a short trip?!”

The above? Me being dragged kicking and screaming from my boy’s bus. It is his first field trip. A notice had been sent about two weeks earlier, and for whatever reason, I had nonchalantly agreed to the trip. Paid for it even! I probably thought the day would not come or I could fake illness that would require him to stay home to feed me and keep me warm. No amount of coughing, sniffing or stuffing the thermometer in my mouth convinced the boy that I needed taking care of and he was not going to miss school and in this case his first field trip. That is why I find myself being half dragged out of his school bus, as they are running half an hour late, on my account. He sits there, not worried, not even noticing my protests. Chatting with his current best friend. I’m not even sure they know they are going on a field trip. His girlfriend (don’t even get me started on this) looks at him with the most content glee as he chatters away with the best friend.

Do not even think of judging me! The thought of him being away in school was scary enough. Now you want me to get used to him going on field trips? What next? I should allow him to go for overnight camping trips without me around? Why don’t you go ahead and cut my middle and index finger while you are at it!

It appears I still have many firsts to go through where he is concerned. Some will be easily accepted, others will be sources of embarrassing moments as with this particular First Field Trip. In the end, when he finally sends me to a nursing home, he will tell his children I gave him a ride of his life. That’s all I’m expected to do. Isn’t it?

P.s. The said First Field Trip was about 8kms from my house. While I did my best not to go all kuku on the poor teachers, I can assure you, inside closed doors I was hyperventilating on paperbags and wore my tiles from pacing up and down. I also have a patch of hair missing from twirling and tagging on it.


Why I am Enrolling in Kindergarten

When I was growing up, life was, well, not exactly easy but rather straight forward. Go to school, cram everything the teachers tell you, memorise your abc’s, sing your numbers, play with lots of mud, sit for an exam, touch your opposite ear with your hand and you are good to go to class one. That’s it!

Nowadays, life has become more complex. Take my little boy for example. From day one of being in school, he had homework! That really upset me! Not so much that I cared about the burden that they were putting on him, but the burden that they were suddenly installing on ME! You think that is even upsetting? Wait till you hear the rest of the story!

So, things hadn’t been too bad, because most of what I was expected to do is just read him stories, for at least 30 minutes each day. Then came the burden of all times! Wrapped up in something called Phonics! Yep! I knew you were going to wear that what-in-the-world-is-she-talking-about face! If you are like me, and I imagine a number of us are, you have no idea what this is all about. And lucky for you, you need not worry about it much, unless you have a hyper-inquisitive boy who will want to learn everything they can and every third phrase out of his mouth is ‘what is this mummy’? Back to the story about the monster called Phonics.

Apparently, some scientists somewhere decided that Phonics are the best way to teach children how to read and apparently write. I am not so worried about writing, seeing as he is learning how to type, so we are covered there. Now the reading bit. According to the all knowing wikipedia, Phonics involves teaching how to connect the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters. It’s quite complex really. No really! It is! Instead of reading ‘c’ as you would in the alphabet, you imagine it’s a word, and read it as ‘short ka!’ You beginning to see my dilemma?

Now, try telling a three year old that you don’t know that sound, which sound they were told to practice at home with parent or guardian. At this point, he is not even transferable to anyone, considering not many people understand this Phonics business. So, when I am asked, ‘mummy, what sound is this?’ I look at the poor boy, quite clueless I might add, until somewhere between messing about with my laptop, watching cartoons, whizzing by in a blur and yelling his favorite nursery rhymes because they sound better loud, he remembers what the teacher told him the sound is! And bam! Homework can go on! And I am ‘that’s great baby! Exactly what I was thinking’. I know that will not sell for long, and he will expect me to take up my role as the all knowing mummy in the world, so I have a sit-down with his teacher and explain our dilemma in homework tackling. The teacher, without even batting an eyelid, quite matter-of-factly says ‘You will need to enroll for a few days, then we can teach you the 26 Phonic sounds, if you really want to help your son’. I look at her, laugh out loud, with evil, hideous laughter, realize I am actually alone in the laughter, shut my mouth, look at her in confusion and then with dejection, upon realizing that she was dead serious. She goes on to hand me the speech of how my child is the most important thing in the world, and I should not be embarrassed to go back to Kindergarten, if only to learn Phonics. ‘We won’t even charge you for the lessons’. She goes on to add. I guess I should be grateful for free education.

This I presume is less embarrassing than waiting for a three year old to remember what sound they learn’t in school so that I can assist him with his homework. At least I keep telling myself that. So, in a few days, I shall be going back to Kindergarten, to be taught my Phonics, and maybe later, word building. Look at it this way, I might break the record of the only mummy who went back to Kindergarten at the tender age of …… Surely, you were not expecting to see a number there now, were you?


The School Term Ends

Two days ago, I was the proud recipient of a young man’s school projects. While I have never seen much of what they do in school, I was greeted with a folder full of paintings and diagrams! That, accompanied with the most exciting report card! It read in part “he is a very courteous boy. He gets along with his friends, and he has settled very well in his new school. He knows how to use his ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Yes, I know what you are thinking at this point. I really don’t think this the boy got from her. And you are probably right! Just make sure I do not hear you say that because I shall not hesitate to reconstruct your nose. Image to maintain or not. All I am saying is, I have just been reminded of my one true pride. A boy who makes my heart sing.

Yesterday was sports day. I need not tell you how exciting and terrifying the thought of the event was. That was before we got to the school and saw all these expectant parents (yes, you can think of me as a parent) looking around, some even looking way out of their element but trying to wear this almost composed look, silently willing their sons and daughters to do them proud. Well, I was among the ones who was saying “he better make me proud”. And he did! My little boy (I say that with beaming pride and hope he doesn’t get to read this post as he hates being called little) was in one of the races, and needless to say he won. No really, he did!

The most interesting bit about sports day is that the kids are completely clueless and they have no idea why their mummies and daddies are making such a big fuss, and why they had to appear in their school and cause all this commotion and all they are doing is having fun, running around like they always do, only that this time round, it appears more organized and they are wearing colored Jerseys and have been divided into groups! Tell the parents that….. I was sure some blood was going to be shed in the said event, with each parent claiming that their child was better than the next!

The term that was. One term gone. With all the hurdles presented to us, it was an overall success, and I am grateful to God, for giving us this very wonderful experience.

Comedy is: The event is to transfer water from a bucket to a basin. A three year old participant decides he is too thirsty, right in the middle of the event and uses his transfer jug to quench his thirst from the bucket! His mummy almost faints! We all hoped and prayed the water was sanitized. The teachers are still tight lipped about the state of that water. P.S, the above described child has no association with me whatsoever.


After-School Fun

The reason I am on this particular post, is not so much as I have something extraordinarily brilliant to write about (I can be brilliant at times).  I am just tired, heavy day, and the first thing that comes to mind is my good old after-school primary school days.

Most of you already know that lately I have been living in my yester years. Simply because life then was so pleasant that I want to re-live that for a bit, and don’t anybody go raining on my parade. I know I am all grown-up and as such, I have a responsibility to build the nation.  That having been said, today I am re-living my after-school primary school hay days.

Good days those were!  I remember school ended at about 4:30 and no it’s not a coincidence.  This post comes to me round about that time.  You see, what used to happen, we packed our bags at about 4:20, leaving only one book on the desk, mostly for appearances sake, (you have got to love our brilliant little minds), that is, having made sure that the lesson for that evening was not maths.  You all know how my maths teacher was.  Quite touchy that guy, if you ask me.  The reason for packing our bags that early was because we needed to catch the cartoon hour, that came round about 4:45 (correct my times if I am wrong, all ye oldies out there), the station having opened at 4:00, with the national anthem, a prayer, Jacqueline Kamonya (or some other flowery presenter) and a rundown of programs for the evening.

Our work was get into the house, right about when the cartoon hour was commencing.  You could not afford to miss cartoon hour, because it meant missing out on the following day’s show and tell. This happened over break, where we discussed the events of He-Man or Sheila or Danger Mouse (insert all those brilliantly done cartoons), and if you did not watch the previous day’s cartoon, then you were better off dead, or hibernating, or pretending you had a bad headache and needed to go home long before break time.

Today? I don’t know what kids discuss. Do they even have break time I wonder?  Right now, I have over 6 cartoon channels on my TV, and these are the ones that I have been able to surf to, and it only includes pay TV.  On such occasions, I am glad that I am some kind of old timer, and I had such an exciting childhood!


Changes

What is considered growth by one person is not nearly always what the next person would consider much. We should thus plan to grow on our own terms. This means that any pat on the back that we expect should be by ourselves only. If it comes from someone else, then let it be an added bonus.

I have watched a tiny boy grow into this almost very responsible man – save for the constant reminder that he needs to visit the bathroom. I take him to school and am on the verge of tears because he looks so small I wonder whether he is going to be alright. He sees other children and a very jovial teacher coming towards him and he gleefully runs towards them and he is completely absorbed.  For the next fifteen minutes, I cannot move. My heart fills with pride, awe at his immediate adaptation, sadness to see him fly away, not even remembering that I was right there. I remember what my mother said, that it never gets easier. Every time your babies disappear, even to the playground, to middle school, to high school, to college or even moving away from home, the feeling of sadness never becomes any less, even though you knew it was coming. Then, I am interrupted by tiny hands hugging my waist and saying “see you later mummy”. And off he runs again. I sit down for a while, to catch my breath. We must have done something right, his dad and I. That was the best last thought that crosses my mind.

I am now busy try to adapt. I realise that changes come all the time. They are never easy. They break our hearts. They help us grow. They move us to levels that we were never prepared for. Beauty about these changes is that they happen each and every day of our lives. Just because we are too busy to notice, it doesn’t mean that we do not grow or change as of the last hour.

If this is the case, I shall be more careful to watch what’s happening around me and appreciate everything that’s changing, and hope that the ones around me realise that they mean the world to me.


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