Summer in the City

I did not plan to foot it all the way to Camps Bay today, but the weather and the scenery beckoned me along. I only wanted to avoid a desperate situation such as yesterday’s when I wasted so much time trying to get Robert to catch up on his daytime naps without success, so today I decided that we would both be better off if he nods off in the buggy.

We started right after breakfast, and headed towards the ocean, and soon I found myself pushing a sleeping baby past Clifton 1st Beach, and towards Camps Bay. The weather was perfect and there was a non-stop stream of traffic into the area. The beaches themselves were very busy with holiday-makers and locals enjoying the last few weekeneds before the end of school holidays. I had brought a book with me, but it is usually the case that my little man wakes up as soon as I stop for a little break. This is most inconvenient when I arrive home with my backpack and full shopping bags, and just want to catch my breath from the heat.  Well this time was no different and my book languished in the backpack unopened as we spent some time on the beach.  We mostly clung to the shaded park belt on the periphery of Glen Beach in Camps Bay, but I allowed Robert a short time to play in the sand with his “bucket”.

It was too hot to walk all the way back so we took a minibus taxi home.  Later in the afternoon Robert managed another short nap, and we continued our routine as usual.  Later we played and read books and enjoyed a stress free afternoon. This was so much better than yesterday when both of us were out of control;  Robert was spinning around because of his lack of sleep, and I became frustrated, tired and angry as a result. Needless to say that this is a lethal combination that leads to unhappiness all around.

Cape Town on January 1st

In South Africa the first of January is when most people especially Africans head to the beach. I do not know where this custom came from, but it is a fact mentioned often even as far up the coast as East London.

Today I decided to investigate this phenomenon myself and walked towards the promenade with Robert.  The first thing we saw was a very long queue in front of Sea Point swimming pool, then we witnessed the crowds that were already enjoying a swim there. Of course there were many more people occupying the shaded area on the promenade. For the occasion the city council prepared extra portable loos to relieve the pressure on the existing washrooms.  So I was dismayed when I actually had to visit a washroom to attend to my son’s nappy (I was prepared to change the nappy anywhere but I had a hard time finding a private space on the grass amongst the picnicking masses). To my surprise, or perhaps because it wasn’t noon yet, the washrooms were not busy and still fairly clean. I was able to change Robert quickly and there was even toilet paper to complete the cleaning task. For his part, Robert did not like lying on the hard bench in the changing room,  he howled inconsolably while staring at the mouldy ceiling and the broken fluorescent lamp. Maybe the place was not up to his standards,  he is part snob of course.

I was not planning to stay the whole day at the beach.  Today I wanted peace and quiet, away from the crowds; this was the last day of my holiday and tomorrow I have to start working again. I headed with Robert towards Mount Nelson Park, which is always quiet on public holidays. Today we had it to ourselves. Robert slept in his buggy for over an hour and I relaxed and read my book.  When Robert woke up he got to enjoy playing on the swing, running around and looking for sticks (tick). It was a great way to start the year.

We returned via Main Road, Sea Point which was bustling with people, so different from the quiet deserted streets on Christmas Day. Stores and most businesses were open, and people were just in full party mode.  More people were still streaming to the beach, and there was still a long queue to the swimming pool. For Robert and me though it was home time, we had to get ready for a long day tomorrow.

Robert’s Adventures at Sixteen Months

The most remarkable progress Robert made in the last month was with his vocabulary and with recognizing himself as a separate entity.

When I recently ask him where is Robert, he points to himself and says: Ah-Peh, which is what he calls himself these days.

Among other words and vocabulary: , Out, hat (at), ball, up (refers to both up and down for him), water (Ah-ti), book, back (he orders me to put back the food he does not want), bike – the new toy he received from his father(sounds exactly like back), Apple (ah-pi, and refers to all round fruits), open (ah-pi), baked (for baked beans), head (ed),  hug (ug), kaka (anything dirty), tick tak (his name for the clock or anything that looks like a clock) bucket (bah-ki refers to the small play buckets he has), cup (for his play cups) and baby. This in addition to his favourite sentence : don’t go down (dungoda).

Britt gave Robert a big picture book of all the animals and among those he recognizes are : dog (pronounces it like duck), and puppy. The cat in the book looks remarkably like Petey, and perhaps this is why Robert points at it and just grunts. Him and the cat do not like each other that much.

There are other words that he says, that I do not remember at the moment. He says car (cah – which is the same sound he uses for cow referring to the milk bottle), and he says papa, but unfortunately whenever he says mama he is referring (and demanding) the part of my anatomy that still provides him with a comforting snack. Lucy said that perhaps this is his pronounciation of nana (with a Xhosa click sound) which is their baby language for food, but I do not think my son is that gifted to speak Xhosa as well.

Gregarious as my little one is, his new flair for words sometimes only makes for new frustration for both of us.  There are many words that sound the same in his diction, and for them I go through a process of elimination. Robert’s patience sometimes runs out and he does not understand why it takes me so long to get him what he actually wants.

Apart from the words he can actually say, there are many more he understands. Today when I said Christmas he turned and pointed to the Christmas tree, and when I asked him whether he wanted music he pointed to the radio.

I am starting to notice patterns of behaviour as well:  He gets very impatient and frustrated when things do not work, and this is when he has a fit with a pointing finger. He also cannot tolerate any dirty hankies in his vicinity, this includes the paper towel which I keep handy at feeding time. He keeps, however, throwing it to the floor with the exclamation: kaka !

When he wakes up and finds me working on the laptop he starts trying to get my attention, and usually demands : Back ! ( I should put away the laptop I guess).

During these days we spent at home Robert’s appetite returned and he started picking up weight again. Maybe it is because he is away from the daycare and all the germs from other kids, but it is could also be attributed to less teething pain, as two more molars have already cut through (he now has a total of three). When it comes to food, Robert is very hands-on. He opens the fridge himself taking out the food he wants (or the food he thinks he wants).  Baked beans are by far his favourite food and he calls them by name, or finds them in cupboard, fridge and pantry and brings them over. He amazes me by holding the can from the top using only one hand.

Today and after our busy time at Christmas and Boxing Day, we got to the beach, and this coincided nicely with Robert’s 16 months birthday. It was an outing sponsored by Robert’s father who bought him a bucket and a shovel to play with. We went there in the morning and it was a perfect day for the beach, the sky was clear and we could even say the cable car on Table Mountain from Clifton Beach. Robert enjoyed the cold water, he still hasn’t learned the word for ocean but he recognizes it as a body of “Ah-ti”. His favourite game was to fill the bucket with water and then walk with it back to the shade of the tree where we set up our temporary camp.  He made quite a few walks back and forth and was whipped tired by midday. I let him sleep sandy nappy and all until three in the afternoon.

Busy Playing, Busy Organizing

Yesterday was another busy day. In the morning I met with two moms from our playgroup at the Pavillion Park, and the kids spent a great time in parallel play. Robert took turns on the swing and climbing up the slide and basically running around.

In the early afternoon I took delivery of our new furniture. The rest of the day was spent trying to organize and store things in their proper places and getting rid of the boxes. I have recently posted a photo of my chaotic lounge area and now I will have to post another one demonstrating the great change. The tidy-up process is still ongoing, because after the bulk of the work is done there is always the fine-tuning and the subsequent disposal of unnecessary bits and pieces, which were simply squirreled away out of laziness or because there was no time to deal with them immediately.

It is difficult to do such work with Robert running around, and the time he spends sleeping is hardly enough to get the necessary work done, but getting organized remains my one major objective for this holiday. It would be nice if I manage to update my blog as well,  but this latter job is still sadly lagging behind.

Robert helped me organize yesterday in his own way. Pulling out books while I tried to put them on the shelves and emptying the drawers I painstakingly ordered.  At the end of the day I was really frustrated, and as soon as I got most major stuff out of the way we took off for a quick visit to the beach. After a full day of being stuck in a hot apartmernt,  Robert played happily and enjoyed the nice mild weather of the late afternoon.  We headed home at sunset and Robert slept in his buggy all the way home.

New Experiences

This has been a very busy week with many new experiences for Robert. The stroller has been dusted off and finally put to use, breaking new (and old) ground on the promenade and in the mall. Robert also had his first close encounter with the Atlantic Ocean and the playground.

We are now trying to overcome and extend Robert’s over-stimulation limit, in the stroller environment. Previously we used the carrier, and he would be happy in it for up to two hours with a little bit of a break. Sometimes he would nod off to sleep at the point when it got too much. Under the best circumstances, and even with a break and swapping the carrier between the two of us, two hours is pretty much the maximum limit. We would definitely be much happier pushing the stroller for two hours, but Robert still needs some time to get used to the arrangement.

We spent Robert’s first day at the beach at Llandudno. It was a scorching hot day and we found some shade under some bushes and tall grass. I think I fussed a little too much trying to protect him from the sun. Ron showed him the water and dipped his feet in the cold Atlantic. He enjoyed the feel of the wet sand against his feet, and looked with great interest at the rushing waves. I remembered a similar scene when we took my baby brother Fadi to the beach; he just looked at it perplexed and then started gesticulating with both hands towards it and shouting baby gibberish. Considering that Fadi was looking at the Mediterranean, Robert’s reaction to the Atlantic is s a lot more reserved and philosophical.

After a while at the beach, Robert got his fill of wide open space and started to get fidgety. We were about to call it a day, when he finally succumbed to fatigue and went to sleep on my shoulder. After his little nap Ron tried to keep him busy, introducing him to things like trees, bushes, sand and water. He became very interested and engrossed in his close encounters with things he could touch and feel and forgot a little about the onslaught of information from the wide space around him.

The next important adventure was Robert’s first time in the swing. He kind of enjoyed the slow swinging and wondered at the voices of much older kids in the next swings. It was a Sunday afternoon and the playground was very busy, but we would definitely take him there many times in the future.

Today we had to take baby for his long delayed immunization shot. It feels like ages since our last visit to the nurse. The last time was back in November, and I was anxious to see Robert’s growth progress. I can definitely feel his weight increase in my shoulder and back (Just to make it clear that I am not complaining about this fact, I always say Mashallah in keeping with my native superstition – to thank God and to ward off the evil eye). Of course it is nice to know how much weight I lift up and down every day, just to feel good about my efforts and about the treats I consume with the excuse of putting on weight, hopefully on baby.

The nurse’s rooms weren’t as busy as I expected, and we were only third in the queue when we arrived. We just missed the rush as more and more moms and tots streamed in afterwards. Robert’s statistics for this week: Weight 7160 g; Height 68 cm; Circumference of Head: 41.4cm. He has made good progress Mashallah ! The graph of his weight gain is consistent, slightly above average in weight, and clearly above average in height.