My Days Just Outside the Spotlight

dsc00501I rarely do interpreting in Cape Town, because I cannot trust myself to simultaneous interpreting, and other interpreting jobs do not come up as often. One of those rare ones came my way in the past two days, and the bizarre thing is that I ended up on the set for a commercial. The ad was for an international brand and the same crew and set was used for both the South African and the Middle East versions.

Initially I was contracted as a language consultant, to monitor the correct delivery of the Arabic script; altogether three sentences. I thought I will have a boring time watching and sitting around, but somehow I had a gut feel that it will turn out to be a little more. I was right, because already on the first day I jumped into the role of interpreter for the Egyptian star. interpreter.  The actress was someone I have never heard of before, which means that she is not one of the ancient actresses I used to watch when I left the Middle East ten years ago. This of course is a good thing if they were trying to advertise for a beauty product.

So for the first day I shadowed the star, through her beauty routine scenes, and one sentence of the ‘dialogue’. In the meantime I learned and watched what goes on behind the scenes of a movie set. Before this I only had second hand experience through the stories I heard from Robert’s father. He used to get the occasional assignment as an extra for some commercials. I got to do the same thing, only a little better, because I was just outside camera range, interpreting the instruction to the lead.  She could have done without me I suppose, because she understood and spoke basic English, but I made her feel more comfortable and less intimidated by the foreign crew; she never worked with non-Egyptians before.

When the star was resting between scenes there were still dozens of people working on the set. I got to meet half a dozen interesting people, and learned lots about their various roles. I will probably go back to my call sheet a few times and look up the various designations again.

At some point I got to chat with the VT (Short for Video Technician I suppose) and he explained to me the various roles of DOP (Director of Photography),  gaffer, focus puller, spark (lighting crew), key grip and clapper loader among others. The rest I looked up on this handy database

Some jobs sound a lot more glamorous on paper than they are in actual life. On this set for example, the main job of the production assistant was moving around the smoke making machine, then wafting the smoke for best effect.

If I had a little more time on set though I would have ended up with a serious crush on the AD (Assistant Director) who is a great sport with a wonderful sense of humor. Of course he also has to be a no-nonsense guy to manage the progress of filming and the production schedule.  According to him working on a movie set is great, and beats a real job.  The problems of course are the long hours, little time for family during the summer, and the drain on energy. One guy told me that they virtually run on Coffee and Vitamin B injections, which led me to a scary thought that these people are not even allowed to be sick on a movie shoot day.

Another observation for me was that almost everyone in this industry (including the actress) smoked profusely. It was a good thing that smoking was not allowed on set, because I would have ended up with a serious headache.  The AD said he quit smoking a few years back but it must have been terribly hard in this environment.

There are a few perks to working on a movie set. The free snacks all day, the buffet lunches, and getting paid for being there even while not working. On the second day I got a little bit more down time and I retreated to the relaxation area with the extras to read for a little bit. The highlight of the day -if I may call it that- was seeing a former Miss South Africa, who was playing the lead in the South African version of this commercial. I used to think she was graceful and glamorous, but seeing her in real life made me change my mind. She is all bones and limbs, terribly thin, and slightly masculine. I would say that her smile is her best feature, and without it she just looks like some scrawny athlete. At lunch time the poor thing mentioned she was on diet, and I felt grateful for my curves and my appetite.

The comparison between the two leads was in favour of the Egyptian star. Although she is a mother of five, and on the wrong side of the thirty five, making her perhaps a decade older than the South African former beauty queen.  She has however that mysterious softness of the Arab woman.  Something essentially feminine that all women of the east are born with. I understand how this quality attracts men the world over. I wish I had a little more of it.

It Puzzles Me

My ex has been nice to us in this past month, and as much as it is a relief for me, I am still puzzled about his latest incarnation as a caring father, when not too long ago he told me that I was not able to look after our son AND called me many colourful names because I refused to hand him over some money which he thought -wrongly as usual- that it should be his.

I see his recent change of behaviour and wonder what is behind it. Is it real? Is it some sort of preemptive measure to avoid escalating maintenance payments? Is it a mind game? or is it just the sad realization that Robert is all he has left? I do not know, and I am hesitant to make a judgement call on this one. I am going to wait and see,  and I mean really wait for a long long time.  Maybe ten years from now I will be able to tell some more.  In the meantime I am taking his “helpfulness” where I find it, and taking advantage of it while it lasts.  As things happened, it looks like I will not be able to rely on his helpfulness too much because he got himself a full time job (something that he has been loath to do since moving to Cape Town). He said that he would be working every day including Saturday mornings until 11:30. What worried him, as he told me yesterday (and again this is completely out of character for my ex) is that he will not get too much time to spend with Robert, very strange.

In return my natural instinct is also to be nice, and although my analytical mind tells me that perhaps this is not such a good idea, I am willing to risk it. I feel in the end my son will benefit of a hostility-free relationship between his mother and his father.

Having fun at the toy store
Having fun at the toy store

On that note today was the said father’s birthday and we went with him to the Waterfront after he finished working (and gym) and I bought my ex a ticket to the Aquarium which he enjoyed. Robert has his usual fun-filled day at the toy store and we later introduced him again to the fish. He is still too young to appreciate all exhibits, but occasionally he would look and say fish, or “big” but mostly it is water (Ahti).

The Two Oceans Aquarium is really nice. The last time I was here was on the fateful day I lost my wallet (the one that got really lost, not the one I stupidly misplaced), so this became my first visit to the new frogs exhibit, which was interesting.  The few species they showed great variation in size and colours. Some of the frogs are as big as an adult’s fists while others would fit comfortably on a small coin.  In addition to this new exhibits therer were also the old favourites like the predator exhibit, and we were there in time for their feeding. My personal favourite is the kelp forrest with many snub nosed fishes that look pouty and angry. The only photo I took though was in the tank of the clown fish (made famous by the movie Finding Nemo) but the pictures turned out poor especially since I did not have enough time to study the features of my new camera.  I will have to try it out next time at leisure.

At the Aquarium I bumped into W. and her tall, tall son Zack.  Zack is now 18 months, and Robert still wears some of babygros that were too small for him at 12 months. I do not see much of Zack’s mom anymore because she lives and works in Sommerset West, but she promised to get in touch whenever she was in Cape Town.

It was five thrity in the afternoon when we got out of the Aquarium. Robert was completely finished, but I still managed to do some shopping. I went looking for some clothes for me and ended up buying a sandal for Robert. Meanwhile my own sandal is falling apart, but I will shop for myself some other time.

During the excitement out, Robert has nothing to eat for the whole afternoon, but he made up for it by eating one whole scrambled egg and toast. When I reported this to his father in a text message, he texted me back thanking me for a nice birthday.  “You are still important in my life and now Robert gives it meaning” he said.  Whatever that means, I will know ten years from now.

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.

Can I ask you Something

I sometimes bump into a woman walking around in Sea Point. She looks old, her mouth puckers because she is missing quite a few of her front teeth, and her white hair is trimmed short.  She always wears black and white clothes, usually too warm for the weather, but she doesn’t look like a homeless person, she always has reasonable shoes on or crocs.  Whenever I see her she comes up to me and says: “Can I ask you something?” , then goes on to tell me that she doesn’t have enough money for transport into town and asks if I could help her out.

The first time I talked to her I think I turned her away, but then I saw her several months later and I gave her money out of guilt. After that I saw her many more times. She always had the same appearance, and the same question.  I must admit that at this point I started turning her away regularly. I felt that she does this act out of habit, not necessity.  It appeared to me that she always addressed me as if she sees me for the first time, and I thought that she didn’t take note of people she asked or people who turned her away because she asks “something” out of everyone she sees.

Yesterday I saw this woman again, not in Sea Point this time but in Gardens. She walked across the road from my ex’s place while we were getting ready to drive back home.  As usual her face did not register anything, but when I said to her: “You do get around don’t you?”, she came up to me saying: “Can I ask you something?”. I said: “No not today, I do know you from Sea Point,  and you do make it all the way here to town?”. She said: “Yes, I walk because I look for work”. Her answer made me feel a bit guilty, maybe I am being uncharitable, but she walked away and I did not want to budge.

Imagine my surprise when on New Year’s Day I see my friend again! I could not believe it was her, so I walked again past the orange facade of the new Italian restaurant on Main Road Sea Point, and there she was. Sitting at the bench facing the street in her usual attire and crocs. This time she recognized me, as she looked up from her food, still chewing on toothless gums; she smiled and raised her hand in salute.  I greeted her back and continued on my way.  The funny thing is that I have been avoiding this restaurant since it opened last month. I felt that it would be too expensive, and that I could not afford it. Clearly though, asking for something, netted this lady enough money or perhaps an invitation for lunch. Good for her I say; if you want something just ask.

Disclaimer: I do not mean to be unkind to any person living in poverty and who is reduced to asking for handouts. In this instance however I have a strong suspicion that this old lady does not fall under the aforementioned categories.

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.

Old Year’s Eve

As I was getting ready to take Robert for the weekly Pram Jam at the Sea Point library, we get another text message from his father.  He wondered again about our plans and thought we could take Robert someplace. I arranged for him to meet us at the library then to go to the Company Gardens.

Today Robert and I were the only attendants for the Pram Jam and the session was suspended until my son perked up from his nap in the buggy. Thankfully we were later joined by a three-year-old boy and his dad, otherwise it would have been such a waste of Ronnie’s efforts, trying to read and sing to Robert who always has his attention somewhere else. The library provides a fair amount of distraction with toys, stuffed animals and rows upon rows of book. Robert takes pleasure in pulling books off the shelves, always from the Afrikaans section for some reason, and thus keeps me busy tidying up behind him.

When  Robert’s father joined us,  he suggested that we make a stop at his place in town. He came from gym and wanted to have a quick bite to eat.  My curiosity about my ex’s dwelling was finally satisified. He does not live next door to his girlfriend, but in ground floor flat in a small city block. The flat has a small private garden but no parking.  When I took my flat, price and proximity to local ameneities and transport were the main criteria. Therefore I sacrificed a lot in the area of presentability and creature comforts.  My ex in contrast worries most about presentability and creature comfort, and apart from the missing dedicated parking the flat is modern, well appointed and immaculate; at least in my humbled estimation.

My ex lives within walking distance of the Company Gardens and this is where we headed. He took charge of Robert, carried him around and showed him the bird cages and the squirells. When Robert got too antsy I managed to get him into the buggy, plying him with some snack and we set on a brisk walk into town.  The idea was to get him to sleep in the buggy, and as soon as he did we headed back to the Company Gardens for a drink.

The drinks turned somehow into a lunch (nothing fancy just a couple of burgers). It was the same as the old days, but so totally different.  We still had the same brands of bear and a frugal meal, but we split the bill and the tip. The toast I proposed was “to a better 2009” and he agreed. We talked a little about how terrible 2008 was. I related some of the story of my ordeal and the subsequent fallout with Jackie. My ex chimed in that he felt sorry for me, for the treatment I got there, he said he was sorry. I did not know how to respond to this, yes perhaps I have chosen to bury the hatchet and move on, maybe I will eventually forgive, but I will never forget.  My ex showed me little or no consideration at all in 2008, and in fact his maltreatment made me an easy prey for others.  What can I expect from other people, when my husband of nine years literally throws me out? How do I measure the damage this has done to my self-image and self esteem? Will I ever recover enough trust and courage to be able to surrender myself into a new relationship? – Even the way I pose this question betrays the extent of the damage you do not “surrender” yourself into a relationship.

It is perhaps surprising that with all these questions and emotions boiling under the surface I manage to appear completely neutral towards my ex. On an intellectual level he is quite interesting, and great to talk to, but he does not appeal to me as a mate anymore. The only relationship I want with him from now on is one that revolves around Robert’s best interests, and that is how things are going to be from now on.

Robert started crying and clinging to his father when we arrived home, so I relented and invited my ex in for the second time.  In my disorganized place -among the mismatched assortment of old, new, borrowed and cast off furniture- Robert got to play some more with his father, and on impulse I decided to share my Christmas Pudding. This treat was so symbolic for me because I never got to enjoy it when I was married to the man – too extravagant he considered it.  We both had a second helping and even Robert took a liking to brandy custard and started asking for “mo”. Later we still managed a quick trip to Queens Beach, and returned as soon as Robert looked tired. I wanted to get him ready for bed as quickly as possible to enjoy my solo New Year’s Party.

So Much for Easy

I am ready for the beach now Mommy
I am ready for the beach now Mommy

Surprisingly, Robert’s father sent me an SMS today to ask whether I have plans with Robert.  I was just thinking of a gentle stroll along Main Road in Sea Point, doing some light shopping, but since his plans included taking Robert to the beach I thought I might as well get my long delayed visit to the Traffic Department over with.

Since I lost my wallet in October (the one I really lost not the one I thought I did) I started the slow process of getting all my cards back and the last was my Driver’s Licence. There was no urgency because I am not driving at the moment, and it is unlikely that I would start in the near future, since I can ill afford buying a car at this time.

My last visit to the Traffic Department  was recorded in this post, which I imported from a defunct blog I started an eternity ago. I am happy to say that the experience was far less spectacular this time.  I mean who would waste a perfect day of sunshine and holidays to stand in a queue and get rankled by ill tempered government workers who would rather be at the beach instead. Well, apparently there are quite a few of us losers out there, but not enough to make the visit a whole day excursion.

I skimmed a local magazine while waiting at the first queue, then was quickly rushed through eye test and finger prints.  There was a substantial queue before the notorious counter 8, but it was moving quickly since the cashiers of other counters were also chipping in; there wasn’t really that much work otherwise.  I pocketed my temporary licence and the receipt for the permanent one, roughly two hours after I entered the department. Before Robert got dropped off I also managed a quick trip to the shops, to buy supplies for my New Year’s Eve solo party.

Robert apparently had lots of fun on the beach. Before his father left him he said that he might see him again tomorrow. I carried a sleeping Robert to our flat, but he only slept for a few more minutes and carried on spinning until about eight. I am not sure I want to do the same thing tomorrow. I am planning a party !

Silly Season Stories and Christmas Eve

The glorious South African weather apparently always turns to the worse (cold, wind, rain) for Christmas. Perhaps because heat and humidity are hardly fitting companions for the celebration, or maybe in sympathy with the housewives and kitchen employees who do a tremendous amount of cooking for the occasion, I mean who would even want to think of a roast when it is roasting hot outside.  This held true this year, as Cape Town witnessed gale force winds, unseasonal rain and almost wintry temperatures in the past few days.  The rough seas brought some unexpected consequences for a coastal resort, as people were treated to a white Christmas landscape on the beach, with the ocean foam that settled on the beach. The cool weather which was with us since late Sunday afternoon was an excuse for me to take a break from my daily jaunt to the shops.

Sea Point is becoming crazy in these days. There are tourists, holiday makers, and shoppers and the Main Road is covered with bumper to bumper traffic. These are the days when it is good to be on foot.  Like everyone else I had a busy day today. Robert and I made to the library for story time then off to the bank for some unfinished business. I was grateful that this boring stuff was dispenses with while Robert napped in his buggy. Later I nipped into the post office for some late mail – this is quite a habit with me as you will notice, everything to the last minute.  Actually all the work that I have done today (except for the holiday mail) could have easily waited until after the holidays, but there is nothing like a long weekend to put you in panic. Some of the shops are even open during Christmas day for some time, but still there is a sense of panic to get everything done and bought because some of the businesses close and the shops are not open for twelve hours. Humans are really strange.

As I write this I do not need to buy anything anymore. This year I went overboard, maybe it is to compensate for the long months of hardship, or to prove to myself that there is life after divorce. Perhaps to spite my ex I went out and bought all the things that he did was loathe to waste money on, it is kind of retail therapy I guess.  The last few days were no different, and I was running around for last minute shopping trips even as far as the Waterfront.

I did my last shopping trip to the Waterfront on Friday as Robert was with his father. And on that day I witnessed an unfortunate exchange between a bus driver and an irate would-be passenger, who tried to hail the bus to stop at a traffic circle near the Waterfront shopping complex. The driver did not stop and the irate South African continued running after the bus through the traffic and knocked so hard on the door that he shattered the glass.   Like a horror movie scene the same guy waited with his bloody hand and the next bus stop and screamed at the driver to wait on the side of the road because he had just called the police.  The driver, he claimed had risked injuring him gravely when he drove on as he was holding on to the bus, and his hand got stuck.  I was in the seat next just by the door of the bus, and I remarked that I could not see any of that. The man had irritated me so much with his crazy outburst, but he was adamant that from my vantage point I could not see everything.  The bus driver drove on and did not heed this man, but I can tell that he was shaken by the incident and he took my cell number for reference in case he got further questioning from his boss.  This crazy incident and the total lawlessness of the shopping frenzy at the V&A Waterfront made me vow to avoid it until the end of the holidays. It is a pity because Robert and I could spend a lot of time at the Aquarium, but we will get much more out of it if we wait until the out of town crowd leaves.

My shopping was later restricted to the supermarket in my direct area, and I started planning elaborate but easy menus for a quiet Christmas at home. I bought Stollen, Christmas Pudding, sparkling wine and some cold ham (no roasting for me thanks, I do struggle with simple cooking). But my plans where altered when I received two different invitations for lunch on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day.  Two different moms from my playgroup with Robert, which would be quite nice.

Last Sunday I noticed that the Church on my street ( literally two houses away) is holding a Christmas Carol evening, so I thought I could go there with Robert. We went directly after he went for a walk with his father on the beachfront.  I expected music and a lot of hymns but what I got was somewhat disappointing. The church must have been one of the less famous ones, since the congregation consisted of barely a dozen coloured people.  When I arrived the band was “rehearsing” Silent Night, and there were many miscues and mishaps, and even when they managed to get through a segment without someone dropping out, it just did not sound right.  In the end Robert and I managed to stay for roughly half the prayer evening.  I started out in the last pew but the Pastor asked me to move forward, as it was a relaxed prayer session today. The children, he said, can walk freely and look around, because this is a house. All fine and good but when Robert started chattering in front of the pulpit, I thought it was perhaps getting too much. Although I swear the little one provided some entertainment value for those who could not concentrate on the religious message.  I did not get to hear Silent Night, but managed about half of Joy to the World and one hymn at the beginning.

Personally I like the prayers that offer a universal message of peace, kindness and love, but the intricate issues of Christian faith are rather beyond me. Perhaps I cannot comprehend these ideas because  I was raised in a Monotheist faith.  This is neither the time nor the place to throw my religious convictions (or the lack of them) around so I will desist right here. Next year I will go to a proper Carols by Candlelight, either in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens or in one of the more glamorous Churches in town.

After all these adventures this week, Christmas Eve is finally upon us. Robert’s father took him again today for a walk on the beach front, and this time I spent most of my break from baby at home. I did tidied up and wrapped up all of our presents, I only had one present to go by the time Robert came back.  As Robert drifted off to sleep I decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to invite his father over for breakfast on Christmas Day, he struck a dejected and sad figure as he dropped off Robert. Maybe I am naive but I am hopeful that he we will maintain a cordial relationship that will benefit our son.

Staycation Report

As of Monday Robert and I are on summer vacation, and I cannot believe we have been at it already for five days now. So what have we all been busy with.

Monday I met one of the mothers from my playgroup at the park. This is a mother from my Friday playgroup, which I used to enjoy so much because there were moms from many different backgrounds, and almost none of them a native Capetonian.  This apparently can raise the temperature of personal interaction between moms to a comfortable degree.  Perhaps this is a gross generalization, but I must admit that the Thursday group was decidedly frosty for me, and that was one of the reasons why I decided to quit the play group, it had served its purpose.

On Tuesday Robert and I took the window shopping route, along Sea Point Main Road. We went to the book sale held at Sea Point High School. Robert was excited by the number of books he saw.  He started to babble : book.. book; I am pleased to announce that this is now one of his favourite words. He especially asks for “book” when it is time for sleep, and his favourites are usually the ones that I am keeping away from him until I get a chance to repair the destruction they received at his hands.  Today, I found a couple of books that I thought he would enjoy.  On the way back I bought us lunch at the supermarket and we had an impromptu picnic at the Mount Nelson Park, which we visited together today after a very long time. The park had changed and I had trouble getting in there because they added an invisible childproof lock at the back of the gate, and I had to push and strain at the gate for almost ten minutes before I realized the problem. We had the park to ourselves, which was really strange considering that the day was a public holiday.  But being summer it is safe to assume that everyone was headed to the beach. It is a good thing that I did not go to the beach on that day because I received my first light sunburn of the summer on my shoulders. It is also a good thing that I always put sunscreen on Robert.

Yesterday though was the strangest day of all. In the morning I took Robert to the Pram Jam at the Sea Point Library. It is a story and song session hosted by the children’s librarian, and attended by young tots and their moms (or their caregivers as was the case with most the attendees this time).  Robert’s father picked us up from the library and he took us to the Waterfront.  It was the first time we go on an activity for Robert’s benefit since our divorce and I must say that it was a little surreal for me.  The sights and sounds were all the same, but the dynamics between the three of us was completely different. Robert was on his father’s arms the whole day, and was behaving most of the time.  First we stopped at the toy shop where Robert spends a lot of his time with his dad. The array of toys is mind boggling and they all vie for the attention of children of all ages, and it is a great way to waste time with a toddler even if the intention isn’t really buying. I got a chance to go shopping for some discount items not available in our area, and also for a sandal for Robert. Lastly I got to replace my lost Aquarium card, but we did not get to visit the aquarium because Robert was starting to get over tired.  When we finally got home we were both exhausted. I thought Robert would sleep for hours but he only managed one hour and then continued to spin around the flat until about half past eight, and this time we both dropped to sleep dead to the world.

The next morning my ex had sent me an SMS telling me it was nice to see how much of a mother I was to Robert, and that he felt strangely removed although still close to him. He suggested we go to the beach next time. I really do not know about spending time with my ex. On the one hand the peace is good for the soul, I spend less energy fighting with him and more on being myself and mother to Robert.  However it is still exhausting on another level, because I have no idea who I am dealing with. I have seen so many faces of the man it keeps me wondering what next. Wait and see, that’s the only thing to do.

Progress with a side order of Setbacks

Little One Sleeping

It is this time of night again when all is quiet except for the mosquitoes buzzing around my head. I feel a sense of peace and accomplishment today; little one is sleeping, the dishes are done, the toys are picked up from the floor, with all bits and pieces accounted for, and I have fixed one of Robert’s toys – the stacking rings which he destroyed recently. I still have a stack of books that need urgent care and attention after a close encounter with toddler terror; it is hard to catch up.  However it is nice to know that I am ending the day a tiny bit ahead, who knows what setback tomorrow will bring.

I was at work yesterday and I handed in my sick leave, and had a generous helping of humble pie with management in the ivory tower. I saw with my own eyes the form where I filled in my part time option incorrectly; pretty stupid eh? The guy I called the blond cretin was on duty travel so at least I was spared his gloating. I really haven’t changed my opinion about the planning side of our office.  Even in the five minutes I spent there waiting for the person in charge to show up, I was acutely aware of the shallow intellect and inefficiency.. life is a never ending tea break up there,  while below deck, we strain and slave away so that the ship stays afloat, so unfair really. But staying with ther here and now, I have blown my chance to show superiority over the incompetents of the ivory tower; I was just as bad, I am even worse than them because I assigned myself, not somebody else, with a wrong option.

Today I had the day off, and Robert and I set out for some errands. We walked as far as Moullie Point, where I got some paperwork from Robert’s doctor and got to the police station where I signed a proof of address and inquired half-heartedly about the wallet that I really lost two months ago. On the way back I went to the library and got myself a replacement for the library card. Robert was asleep so I spent some pleasant time browsing in the library.  Membership to the library is free to South African citizens and permanent residence, which is pretty good, but the quality and the age of the books is not top notch for lack of funding, I would actually prefer to pay a membership fee if it means access to better and more varied books. The Sea Point library has a corner for kids and there is a children’s librarian who has a reading program every Wednesday and I am hoping to take Robert there next week.

We walked quite long today, but it was a sunny and warm day; a perfect day in Cape Town and a great day to be South African. We bumped into a friend and may people stopped to talk with Robert, and he had such a ready smile for everyone. This was such a contrast to my experience in Europe, but I guess it is easy to be friendly when the sun is shining and everyone is in a holiday mood.

Before we got home I also managed to do some shopping, and filled my backback with fruit and vegetables.  Last week I bought some peaches and nectarines and they were both really tastelss, so I almost skipped the nectarines this time, but I am glad I didn’t; they turned out fabulous.  Robert got his first taste (and sticky feel) of plums; I let him handle them and mess to his heart’s content.. Later he ate fruit yoghurt and then sausage, and contiued to sample with me everything I put on the table.

I am always happy when Robert eats well. His appetite hasn’t returned to normal yet, and the culprit this time might be teething; he is cutting two molars at the same time : top right and bottom left ( he already has one bottom right molar). Maybe I can also blame teething (in addition to my own sickness on Sunday) for his renewed interest in nursing. Even when he is ready for his daytime nap now he comes up to me and grabs my shirt saying : Mama. The funny thing is that he never called me this name before, so I think he uses the word to refer to the breast, really funny.

Today I also noticed that he is saying something that sounds like : danguda, dagoda,  as if he was speaking Chinese. Later I figured out that he is  repeating a sentence he hears from me all the time : don’t go down. Also today I think he reached a very important mile stone. He was playing with the pots and pans and using their lids as a mirror. He usually looks to his image and says baby ( baba or babbi) – and I said to him : Yes, baby Robert.He responded by looking at me and pointing to himself; he understood the  reference, and could identify his name.

So this is all fine and well, my little boy is growing and his cognitive skills are developing, it is wonderful to be able to watch that every day..

While we are still on the subject of progress, I received a phone call from the furniture shop and my things are ready in the warehouse, and all I have to do is wait for them to be delivered (and pay the balance of course). I will close on this progressive note, and will talk more about setbacks some other time.