Apart from marking my son’s 20th month today has other implications for me, and for South Africa. Today would have been my 10th marriage anniversary and it is also Freedom Day here in South Africa. It marks the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.
Last year at this time I was still living with Jackie and although I was not officially divorced yet, she said to me cynically that from now on I can celebrate freedom on Freedom Day. Only my brain got the joke at that time because my heart was still sore, but today I can say that I am celebrating my freedom.
It took longer than I expected for the feelings to completely die, even as late as January this year the emotions still competed inside me, I wanted at turns to hurt, to impress, to punish and to hurt my ex husband. Now I really do not care anymore and the absence of feeling is such a relief. In the past weeks he came over a few times and visited with Robert here. And although this prompted me to put some order in our space, I felt no obligations whatsoever towards my ex, he was visiting with Robert, not with me, so I mostly ignored his presence.
I am glad that I can live for myself and my son. I have arrived to a space where I am self-sufficient and content. I am proud of what I achieved. I can glance back at my previous life as a married woman without bitterness or sadness, because when I go to sleep and holding my son I know that I am holding everything that ever mattered to me.
I will remember this phase in Robert’s life most as the phase of developing conversation. He is now at the stage where he watches people and things and gives running commentary about what he sees.
The other day I was walking with him at the beach front and one of the information billboards was about seals and how they can be strangled by fishing ropes or even plastic bags if they get stuck in them, since they have no arms to release themselves. I was amazed that he explained it to me by saying : rope hurtin’ seal… I think that his dad showed it to him before. It doesn’t take long for him to register information and new vocabulary. After a brief introduction to pitta and Humus he now regularly asks for : pitta bread (bed) with Humus or pitta with avocado. He also learned the word “cucumber” in one afternoon after filling up on it at his dad’s place.
At night he gives me a run down on his day, or remembers past events. Last night after he mentioned his teachers and his friends in class, he said suddenly : Noma .. gone. Noma is his teacher from last November who left without notice at the beginning of this year. I think his memory and power of observation in already better than mine. He knows exactly where to find certain signs on our daily walk from the taxi stop to the house, and he points without fail the gate behind which the “doggy dog” is to be found.
It is very hard to fool him as well. While he was sick last week I tried to give him effervescent cough tablets by adding them to his juice. I thought the taste of the juice would mask the medicine, but he always detected it at the very first sip, and gave me back the sippy cup with the single comment : medimed, so there was no cough medicine for him. Yesterday he made me laugh when for some reason he flashed back to these incidents as he was enjoying a drink from his sippy cup, and he said : no medimed !
Another amusing behavior he started this week was wearing my slippers and trying to walk with them. It is funny for me because I remember my younger sister doing that very long ago. He is also starting to get bossy, trying to impose his sense of order on me – for example he tells me to : put cap on.. or orders : “sunglasses on”, “shoe on”. These orders do not always imply that he wants to go out, he just feels that this is how it should be at a particular time.
Although his development amazes me on some aspects, he is still far behind on the subject of toilet training. He knows what the toilet is for, and he observe me (and other kids at school I believe) while using it – so he knows sitting toilet (toiten), but it is something that other people do at the moment, and he does not associate it with himself yet. So it seems that more effort is required from my side in this area.