My Home My Castle.. where are you now?

Another erratic week has passed, with rain and floods in the Cape. My life is no less flooded with news, worries and small irritations.

It started last week Monday when Robert had a fever again while at school. He was sleepy and lethargic, and appeared to have problems swallowing. The fever did not break on the next day and I was forced to phone work and simply tell the truth : My child is sick and I cannot take him to day care and therefore cannot come to work.  Before resorting to this I tried Robert’s father but obviously his work is much more important and critical than mine,  so I just have to take whatever management deals me for this since I have no sick days or family days left – or so I believed at the time.

Robert improved ever so slightly on the next day, mercifully an off day from work for me,  and I decided that we tough it out this time and do not run to the doctor, which proved to be the correct decision in this case since he was well enough for school on Thursday, although I took precaution and gave him a dose of fever medicine before school on the day.

My troubles for the week though were not over because last week I also received notice to vacate my flat, by latest August 31st. This came as unwelcome shock for me, even though I hate many things about my current place, mainly its dilapidated general state, filthy carpet, pealing paint and leaking plumbing, but I am the kind of person who puts up with a lot of inconvenience and I do not particularly care for major changes and upheavals in my life. No, I am not a mover and a shaker and I HATE moving with a passion. This will be the fifth time I move since I came to Cape Town in 2005, and that is too much for anyone.  It is even too much for me because I only moved a dozen times in my adult life.

Small consolation for me is that the whole block has been served notice, on the pretext of major renovation to the building. The place does look shabby even on the outside and there is no denying the need for a major facelift, and some serious maintenance, but the timing is very unfortunate, for me that is. For the landlord it is probably just right to get the whole place done up and ready to be rented out during the World Cup.

I am starting to think that this whole World Cup thing is a curse for us bottom feeders, and regular citizens.  Everyone with a little stake in this city thinks that the World Cup will be their chance to make a fortune.  Not only landlords are licking their lips, taxi drivers are also starting to flex their muscles, unhappy about the public transport system which will start running in 2010, since they expect that it will take a chunk out of their profits. Workers Unions are exploiting the opportunity as well, and pressurizing construction workers into a strike that has hampered the construction work at the Green Point Stadium. Of course the workers are normally unwilling participants in such actions, but do not dare to go against the unions and the threats from more belligerent members.

I was euphoric many years ago when South Africa won the bid for hosting this World Cup, but now I am beginning to think that the best thing that can happen to me personally is for this spectacle to move elsewhere.  The properties will be selling like crazy, rents will be cheap, transport will not increase in price and my city will be my own again. Now I feel like I am being squeezed out for some wealthy foreigner who will take my apartment, and maybe even sleep in my bed when I am on the streets. Yes, this is over-dramatizing the situation, but I am a wee bit paranoid about being homeless.

Ah well, tomorrow I am going on my first -probably of many- flat-viewing errands, I hope that this time Robert and I will get to stay in the same place for two years at least. I want to move as soon as possible and will not wait until the end of next month if I can help it, because I do not want Robert to spend another birthday in the chaos of moving.

On a happier note, today is Bastille Day, my father’s birthday : Happy Birthday Dad, and thank you for being a great father and role model. I am trying to emulate you as best as I can.

A Rough Patch

I ran into a friend yesterday as I was going back from a walk along a very cold beachfront.  She said she found this blog by chance and she liked it. This is the first time I get independent feedback on my writing in this corner, and I am really pleased.  She wondered -among other things- what happened after the cream cupcakes and why I have been away from this blog for so long.

The short answer is that I have been overwhelmed with so many things.  I figured out this month that while I juggle so many committements and responsibilities it is impossible not to drop one ball or the other at any given time.  It is challenging enough when things are running their normal course, but when things start to go wrong it is plain awful.

It all started in the middle of last month when I was called at work to get my son from school because he had pink eye. I haven’t blogged about it at the time, but this turned out to be the first of a chain of ailments. He later had diarrhea which lasted almost a week. The week after that he developed a cough, which turned out to be a pneumonia, we spent two days in the hospital for that.. soon after that he had another ailment a combination of stomach bug and sore throat with temperature.

Between the middle of May and today I visited the GP at least five times for Robert and once for myself, it has been rough. In the middle of all that I had two demanding freelance projects to work on and on some days I had to go to my day job… It was just too much.

At times like these, and I am merely human, things start to drop or come close to unraveling.  I needed leave from my daytime job to attend to my son in hospital, and I had to extend both my translation and proofreading assignments. The level of care I took at the household level went to near zero. The chores that did not relate directly or indirectly to the well-being of my son were postponed indefinitely. My clothes lay in a pile,  I wore the same thing two days in a row, and I ate whatever was left on Robert’s plate.  I know it sounds desperate but sometimes you do what you have to do. The worst though was the lack of sleep. I survived on four to five hours of sleep a day and worked every free minute that I had..

Even within my own set of priorities things started to suffer. My son had to put up with a preoccupied mother,  I arrived frequently late at my day job,  I had to phone sick once, and had to leave early at least twice because of my son falling ill at school. It is small wonder under the circumstances, that I neglected this blog.

During this difficult time I also came to realize that the way I am doing things is not working. Sooner or later something is going to give, and I do not want to breakdown or loose my health. I need to be here for Robert.  Some of my responsibilities and commitments need to be rethought, delegated or let go off completely. Maybe then I will have more time to devote to things that give me pleasure like blogging, knitting and reading. Amen.

Green Tea for Breakfast

We certainly have a stomach bug, and I mean both of us. Yesterday Robbie’s condition did not improve and I had to phone work to tell them I am not coming. Later we took the trip to the doctor again who prescribed re-hydration fluid, anti-cramp medicine and some pro-biotic.

The trip exhausted us both because among others we had very little sleep last night, and I crashed next to Rob on the bed. Later I got up to do some work and had to rush back to his bedside at the sound of retching. My poor boy threw up what little breakfast he ate all over himself, the pillow, the duvet and the mattress. It was a scramble to get everyone and everything in shape again.

Today my stomach also feels queasy and I have a terrible sore at the roof of my mouth -something I remember having often as a kid accompanying a sore stomach. I am trying to relieve my ailments by drinking green tea for breakfast.

Robert just woke up and I have to go through the routine of giving him breakfast and trying to force some medicine on him. Pharmaceuticals really have a weird sense of humor. The medicine against stomach cramps -which is clearly for little ones judging by the dosage information and the picture of a smiling infant- is so bitter, I think I would have trouble if I had to give it to myself, let alone a squirming toddler who needs convincing even when the (medimed) sweetly tastes of strawberry.

Unbelievable?.. Believe It !

Good Morning !

And this is the pretty sight that greeted my half awake eyes, as I wanted to put away the cups into the cupboard. I looked stupefied as slowly my brain comprehended what my eyes focused on; my “lost” wallet.. WTF ? And how on earth has it ended up there, among cups and bowls? Please do not ask me.

Is it the onset of old age? early Alzheimer? I have no idea. All I know is that I succeeded in hiding it so well that it took me over 48 hours to find it again.  I should perhaps blame Lucy for not cleaning properly, but I doubt it would have made any difference, because I immediately canceled all the cards. Later I found out that the stop on the credit and debit cards is permanent and cannot be reversed, so I just incurred charges for nothing.  Well, the good thing is that I do not need to buy another wallet and I do not need to reissue my bookshop membership card. I still need to get a new driver’s license and a new library card though, or perhaps I should go to the police station before that and ask whether somebody handed in my other wallet, who knows? I mean with my strange luck it might be even sitting there .

Today I also got an answer from work about my schedule. Apparently I have signed myself into the flexible shift option by mistake. Again, I am mystified at how this happened. I have to watch myself very carefully, it seems like I am losing it slowly.

Books, Catfood, Reading lamp and Radio, Conveniently on One Shelf

Today I took my flu-ridden body to the doctor, and she gave me only two days of bed rest.  So unfortunately I will still have to put in two working days before being off for two weeks. I really cannot wait to have some holiday, set up our Christmas tree and try to organize this chaotic existence. I am still living mostly out of boxes and have very little storage space, and this contributes hugely to my problem of losing things (see below).

Disorganised is an Understatement
Disorganized is an Understatement

In other news: This is the first post I am writing from my new laptop, which I am slowly setting up. First I got rid of Windows Vista and downgraded to old trusted Windows XP Professional, now I am setting up all the drivers and the programs. Working with a laptop is way less clutter than a PC, especially handyman’s special PCs which are a result of components randomly placed together by semi competent technicians. Not that I have anything to complain about the after-sale support of my PC Salesman, who recovered my PC many times up into its third year of service, but I digress.  My new laptop is a SONY VAIO VGN-BZ15GN, and it was a considerable investment, because I wanted it as a desktop replacement so it is not one of the lighter variety. The reviews place this machine in the fair to good category with criticism leveled at its display resolution, but after looking at a CRT for ten years this TFT display looks like the greatest thing ever.  The salesman warned me that this is not a powerful gaming notebook,  but gaming is the least interesting function for me. The most important thing is a good keyboard, a built-in camera, good processor speed, and reliability; I believe I will be getting all of that from my new machine.  Soon I will be able to retire and sell my old noisy machine and enjoy the wonderful liberty of working, anywhere anytime, by marrying the notebook technology with my mobile 3g modem; life is great.

An additional anecdote: It turns out that I am a closet SONY fan. In addition to my notebook there is my (almost lost) Sony Ericcson K810 cell phone, and my SONY Radio, Casette, CD, MP3 Player.

Starts, Stops and Stupidity

I recently read an article on Babycentre about extended breastfeeding and it calmed down my increasing feelings of guilt at my lackadaisical approach to weaning.  Most of the time I am letting Robert drive the process, and I have no intention of covering my nipples with chili sauce to put him off – which is a remedy I vaguely remember from the less worldly mothers of my native country. Robert is actually very mature about the whole thing, he rarely requests to be nursed during the day and I have managed two nights in a row to put him to sleep without resorting to the comfort of breastfeeding.  I feel comfortable that weaning will take place sooner or later, perhaps even before the end of the year.  A month ago I managed to reduce breastfeeding to nightly sessions only, but then his prolonged sickness was a setback; breast milk was the only food he wanted, and it was the only thing he was able to keep down when he had the stomach bug.  Today I am having another setback because I am suffering with an incapacitating flu (yet again), and breast milk is an easy meal to offer when mom is bedridden.

I believe my frequent bouts of flu are intimately linked to my emotional and mental state. The flu hits when I experience an emotional setback, a conflict at work or a disappointment, this weekend has witnessed two such incidents.

I guess I am not so lucky after all, the black cloud that my ex husband purported to float around my head is still very much there. Never mind my near miss with the cell phone; On Friday I lost my wallet for the second time in two months. Since this follows so closely on the heels of similar incidents, I can hardly make any excuses except for perhaps stupidity, confusion and absentmindedness.  I mean this is now the third time that I have something fall out of my pockets (from the same shallow-pocketed pants I may add) but I never really took notice of the problem until now. Well, not many people are this dense.  In the aftermath of the event I made a quick google search with the sentence “I always lose my wallet” and all I got was writings from party animals and people who generally get themselves too intoxicated to remember what they did on nightly revelry, let alone where they lose their wallets in the process.  Ah well, shit happens I guess.

My bad wallet jumped out of my pocket early Friday evening somewhere en route on Sea Point Main Road, and I only noticed its absence early on Saturday morning when I was getting ready to go to work.  I was too frustrated to go to work and I actually phoned to get out of it but a very nice Duty Manager was on the floor in the morning and she asked me to try my best to get there and I couldn’t say no. Lucy did not have any small change to lend me for the taxi and I do not have a change box at my little flat, so in the end I picked up a two-Euro coin and used it for my transport. At work my friend the Duty Manager gave me some money to tide me over until Monday when I will be finally able to go to the bank and get a new bank card.

The day progressed like a normal day at work usually does, no disasters, no major happenings. As I was ready to leave my Team Leader indicated that he wanted to speak to me for ten minutes about my quarterly review.  The review was encouraging, despite the fact that I made one serious mistake involving the transport of Dangerous Goods, and another less serious one which resulted in a complaint from a customer airline. I also had two incidents of late comings recorded during the time; it is hard to punctual when I depend on public transport and the early arrival of my nanny, and things easily spiral out of control when anything else goes wrong.

As I was leaving the little man from productivity planning, the star of my previous woes with the work schedule showed up. He had apparently been putting in extra time on this Saturday to prepare the shift roster for January. I went to get my copy and was unable to believe what I was seeing there. After all the trouble and the degradation I went through trying to explain to my situation to management, they put me again on flexible shifts, working afternoons as well as mornings.  I think I went straight to the little man and showed him my schedule, and he gave me a puzzled and uncomprehending look : “this is what I had” he muttered, and the only thing I could do was retort : “You guys are really funny, you know that?”. I just walked away, trembling with my pent up rage, and the desire to strangle and trample the blond cretin.  At the water cooler I bumped into a colleague, who pointed out to me the futility of getting mad and letting my mouth run away with me, whinging only as I usually do. He put into my head the idea of filing a formal grievance, which I definitely intend to do.  I cannot even begin to describe my feelings of utter rage at the incompetence and inefficiency of the people who plan our working schedules.

My worries about this recurring problem made me forget momentarily the problem with my wallet, and in any case my cards were safely canceled by then and there was nothing left for me to do other than casually ask at some of the places I passed yesterday, if anyone had handed in a wallet. At the first Supermarket I asked, there was strangely enough a wallet but it wasn’t mine. The fact that people seem to find things and hand them in, encourages me to ask further. I do not like it because it makes me relive my stupidity again and again (every time I ask) but I hope that the exercise will be humbling enough for me to learn a useful lesson.

Robert’s dad brought him home at three, and he was burning up with fever, presumably the side effect of his MMR vaccination, so I was caught up with this problem for the rest of the night.  Sponge baths and suppositories absorbed me with wallet and work forgotten for while. However I still managed to email my incompetent management to ask about the scheduling; my tone in the email was not as poisonous as I felt. I am saving all my wrath though for the grievance letter which I have started to work on.  Another battle for the walking wounded… life can get too interesting sometimes.

Lost and Found

My absent-mindedness almost caught up with me today ( yet again).  This happens two months after losing my wallet on board a bus – a situation I haven’t recovered from yet, I might add, since I haven’t had the time yet to replace my driver’s license. The near miss today was my cell phone.

The day started in the usual rush to get Robert to day care and myself to work. I had arranged with his father to pick him up early today so that we can take him for his immunization, but in the rush I forgot to take his immunization card.  So the day did not bode very well from the start.

At the Cape Town Mediclinic Robert sat through two injections on each shoulder crying only for the second one. He was however very fidgety as I carried him to the parking lot. I took out my cell phone to call his father who was out of sight as we returned to the car, but before I could use the phone, my ex showed up and we quickly got into the car and headed home.

I only discovered that I misplaced my phone two hours later as I was ready to leave with Robert. I went through the usual routine of phoning it and was dismayed that I did not hear it in my flat. The next check was to phone my ex, which is rather embarrassing for me, because my ex always lambasted me for my absentminded and disorganized nature. Surprisingly this time he was rather accommodating and went through searching the car twice, and then offered to walk to the Mediclinic and ask at the desk. He came up with nothing and I resigned myself to the fact that I have seen the last of my cell phone. The only question in my mind was when should I actually give up and order a new one ?

I researched and located a replacement at a cost of R2500, it could have been worse I thought. Then I remembered with dismay all the photos I took yesterday and never had time to download. I also realized with shock that I lost everyone’s number including my nanny’s. I managed to find her number somewhere else, which was somewhat of a relief because my only contacts to her -Jackie and her mom- are not talking to me anymore. In the end and after futile phoning to my lost cell, which was always ringing forlornly somewhere, I decided to go to the shops. For some reason I started buying the things that I was putting off, never mind the fact that I was going to have a huge bill for a new cell phone shortly.  Robert was oblivious to my trouble and slept peacefully in his buggy. Today he wore a lime-green shirt on top of his army camouflage pants and looked so cute, and again I thought of my missing cell phone and its camera.

Shortly after our return from the shops I made one more call to my cell phone and to my amazement someone answered, saying that they found my phone on the sidewalk; I had dropped it right in front of our block. The kind man explained that his housekeeper found it and I was so pleased I told him I would give him all I have in my wallet as a reward, he said that his housekeeper will be pleased.  A few minutes after this phone call the kind man arrived with my cell phone, and he only took part of  the money I offered in gratitude. My good Samaritan lives and works a few blocks away as a children photographer, so I am certainly going to see him again for photos with Robert.

What a surprising and pleasant end to another misadventure. Thank you Cape Town, there are still good people out there.

Update on Robert: My worries about Robert’s eating calmed a little after his measurements at the clinic. He actually put on a few grams since he recovered from tonsillitis.

Today his stats today are as follows:

Weight:  10.35 kg

Length: 82 cm

Guilt Trip

My mother wrote to me today. She has had a bad dream about Robert. He was walking the street, barefoot and crying, and she thought he badly needed a bath and some attention. Her email took me again on a trip I very often travel, the road of feeling guilty. This particular penchant of mine, finding fault in whatever I do and examining my very life made me stick around for nine years with Robert’s father. Now I am torturing myself with the guilt over my son’s state of health when it is completely outside my control.

Yesterday I took another trip to the GP. Robert is still suffering from a runny nose, and his eyes keep getting infected whenever I stop the antibiotic drops. Dr. J. thought that my concerns were valid and wanted to see him again. This time he sat quietly through the test, perhaps he became accustomed to the proddings from doctors, or maybe he is just comfortable with Dr. J.  Even the people at the pharmacy know me now. The woman who burst into tears at the checkout just because her son had a bout of vomiting. The cashier asked me how long I have been in South Africa, I must have looked terribly lost and out of place that day. The adventure at the doctor and the medicines cost me over R500, which is of course a small price to pay for my son’s wellbeing, but still, I am feeling the pinch now that our Medical Savings Account has been depleted.

Now I am an expert at treating the ailment of children. I know that a babies hate eye drops, but the can occasionally be taught to accept their fleeting discomfort; nose spray, in contrast, is a waste of time and no amount of cajoling can make a toddler accept it even near his nose. My futile attempts landed the spray on his cheek and eyelids but never near his nose. I know that every anti biotic requires a pro-biotic, because the medicine kills all types of bacteria indiscriminately, another medicine has to keep the good bacteria alive. Each medicine of course has special techniques of administering : The pro-biotic drops are surreptitiously added to a spoonful of food, while the antibiotic dose has to be given quickly and decisively with the right amount of encouragement before, and overabundant fanfare and hand-clapping after.  All of this of course is exhausting to this poor mother’s nerves.

Still I question whether I am giving my son enough time, perhaps my worries and stress are robbing him of precious bonding time. Maybe I shout too much at him when he plays with washing machine door, destroys his board books, or breaks unbreakable plates. My mother’s email did not help this self doubting side of my personality. I badly need someone to tell me that I am doing my best under the circumstances.

Enough Already

Every so often there comes a time when it feels that things are falling apart and I run out of resources to deal with my problems, yesterday was one of those days.

A few weeks ago I found out that Robert’s daycare will be closed for a full month over the holidays; namely from December 16th to January 16th. During the same time Lucy will be away in the Eastern Cape, and Robert’s dad may not be available either because he wants to travel to Canada. This throws a spanner in the works for me, because apart from paying a month’s fees for the daycare and getting only half a month, I will have to resort to the holiday after-care and pay additional fees for that. I thought I pre-empted the situation by reporting to my planning department early and working out a suggested schedule. I described my predicament in detail and got the usual bland response : “we will let you know”. I wasn’t surprised when I did not hear any feedback from the planners but I was in total shock when I showed up on Thrusday and saw that according to the December roster I was allocated a completely random schedule with a mixture of early and late shifts and with working days on Christmas and Boxing Days. I cannot describe my feeling of anger when I saw that, but the actual slap on the face came when I read the agent briefing online stating that they delayed the schedule in order to give 20 agents vacation over the holidays. I read in disbelief that they actually gave 20 agents vacation over the holiday, and why not me too ? and why the heck did they give me afternoon shifts again when I specifically requested morning shifts? Somebody obviously cares a lot about me and my situation in the ivory management tower. The management team member I spoke with about my problem showed up on the floor and when I asked him what happened there, he just shrugged his shoulders and informed me that he referred my problem to his superior S. and they were still going to speak to me.. This is supposed to make me feel real important, happy and relieved.

Thursday was the day when I made my first really stupid mistake at work, it has been a long way coming. This comes closely after a written warning I received for a safety relevant mistake with the loading of radioactive dangerous goods, so things do not look good for this load control agent. I left the office quickly because I could not stand the place for another minute.

The Global productivity manager or whatever his name is in this company called me on my way home and set up a meeting for Friday after the end of my shift to discuss my situation.

Yesterday was the greatest day of my life. I am awarding management the best accolades for caring and for helping me. I think they just wanted to make a point. Not only did I have the pleasure of Global productivity but also Global team leading on my case. They both started what can be best described as a sermon. Lambasting me because I was not showing flexibility and of asking for stuff that is not practicable. When I tried to point out to them that I have problems and I have no idea how I could make them fit in the scheme of their rules and policies they said everyone had choices. When I said that they did not even come back to me with feedback and just hit me with a computer generated roster, they said they were sorry but they had to get the roster out. When I said that they awarded 20 agents vacation over the holidays why didn’t they consider me? They said my initial request was not for a vacation. Yes, they do understand my problem but company policies and contractual obligations etc. Mr. Global Productivity chirped in by saying that they always helped me before but I did not show any appreciation (was I perhaps being punished in December for my lack of appreciation since April?) I have no idea. What followed was complete breakdown from my side, because I felt I was talking to a wall, while they continued to dance round and around rules and regulations : I can swap shifts with other agents, I can swap three shifts within my roster, I can try perhaps and ask for vacation ( a pathetic two days) and perhaps a few comp days -compensation days for public holidays worked (of which I have a few but I cannot waste since I still owe the company so many working days). Mr productivity did not want even to promise me the possibility of working consistent morning shifts, because they have no ideas what the scheduling will be like. How can they expect 100% flexibility from someone who has so limited options, I have no idea. In all the bosses wanted me to know that I am only one of 170 people, and every one of them has personal problems.
The bosses did not agree with me when I pointed out that the privilege of sitting in their managerial positions entails dealing with lesser employees problems and addressing them; they figured that all they need to do is address the needs of the corporation. I am sorry they have got it wrong. Productivity is not a one way issue from the side of the corporation, it is the people who have to be productive. Productivity requires putting the correct person in the correct place at the correct time. Making the employee happy is also key to productivity, yet this is something that these people in their ivory towers haven’t figured out yet. We have an extremely high staff turnover, and of course it is always the brightest, the most intelligent and those with the highest self esteem are the first to leave. Those who stay are normally the less bright, those with low self esteem, and those who like me cannot afford to leave.

The meeting took almost an hour and I know in my heart that they only wanted to make a point. Lest I forget that they are helping me out and “bending” the rules to do so. The chose the wrong person to exercise their sense of authority, and in the process they made me lose some of my dignity, and I resent them for that. Just before I left I asked them about the new shifts they were planning for part time employees, I was just grasping at straws and looking for any solution. They presented me with a leaflet that had just been made public today. I stuffed it in my bag and rushed to catch a taxi to the daycare to pick up my son.
My resentment towards management grew when I glanced at the leaflet on the way home, to discover that it contained no less than 20 different part-time working options. Couldn’t these people realize that at least one of them would work for me? If they cared enough perhaps, but my guess is that they just did not think about my situation, it is my problem after all. Well, at least productivity is going a step in the right direction by offering people options and modules according to their preference. I am surprised it hadn’t dawned on them before that 170 people would certainly have different requirements and by giving each person a schedule that suits their requirements they end up with efficient planning and real productivity. Not a randomly spat out computer roster. I just wish they produced this wonder somewhere at the beginning of the meeting, it would have helped me keep my composure.

Yesterday’s trials have taken their tolls on me and I succumbed to the flu. Robert is still suffering with it; I had to give him two suppositories for fever last night. He still has no appetite and routinely spits out my food offerings. I am starting to get really fed up with this whole thing, the worry, the mess and the constant nightly vigil. If my boy doesn’t get better over the weekend we will have another trip to the doctor on Monday.

More Childhood Illnesses

After our visit to the pediatrician last week I thought we had the worst behind us. Robert’s appetite was returning ever so slowly and his nasty molar has finally cut through, but things took a turn again to the worse.

Robert went to day care on Thursday and Friday and his father took him on Saturday. The routine now, and because my ex husband doesn’t want to be bothered too early is as follows: When I work on Saturdays Lucy comes at five thirty in the morning to sit with Robert until his father shows up. On the Sundays she also shows up at the crack of dawn, but stays with Robert the whole day while I am at work. It is another temporary solution until I figure out a better way to deal with the 8-hour shifts I work on some weekends. I am starting to think that I should tell management that I just cannot and do not want to work weekends, end of story. I wish I had the courage to that sooner rather than later, my style however is too try anything, no matter how inconvenient it is.

On Saturday my ex complained that Robert’s nose was running “like all the kids in the playschool”, and on Sunday I noticed that his eye was gummy with puss. Before she left Lucy advised me to put some of his wee on the eye(the remedy of course is familiar). The weather on Sunday was beautiful and Britt had invited us over for a braai, but I felt guilty taking a sick child to other children. Britt solved the issue by telling me that both her children have runny noses,  the rest was easy since I was keen on the visit.

There was a small group for supper: Trish, whom I met before at the Aquarium; her daughter Gabriella is now six months, and later two other male friends. Robert and I enjoyed our time as best as we could under the circumstances of runny nose and itchy eyes. Robert in fact surprised me by eating some vegetables and meat. He is still on a fasting routine and only likes fruit yoghurt.

When Robert woke up on Monday morning his left eye was swollen and glued shut. I took him to yet another GP whom Britt recommended. This doctor was good and obviously familiar with younger children, she mentioned that she had two small ones. So another bill for the doctor and another trip to the pharmacy, this time for eye drops and nasal spray. The doctor advised me to keep Robert away from daycare until his symptoms calm down, especially the eye infection.

Two days later and Robert’s nose is still running like a tap. Yesterday I took him out to the shops in the howling wind, which was almost strong enough to carry a grown person off his feet. Today the miserable weather continued with streaming rain and gale-force wind. The mere thought of carrying my child to the taxi under the rain and then to daycare gave me a shudder; I simply wasn’t that desperate to show up at work today. My valid excuse is my son’s sickness, but I am hoping that by tomorrow he will be well enough to spend half a day at creche.

The Pediatrician Speaks

We met Robert’s dad in town, and he gave us a lift to Cape Town Medi-Clinic where my son was born. I was determined to make the effort of seeing a proper pediatrician this time, because it seems like too many GPs and medical interns have tried their hands at treating my boy recently.

Robert did not throw up again yesterday, but he still had no appetite and gagged on almost everything I tried to feed him, he even snubbed his favorite foods such as yogurt and baked beans. He did not even accept his milk bottle and reverted to nursing three times a day. Of course my attempts at weaning him were abandoned two weeks ago already, when he had the ear infection.

I forgot how pleasant the practice of Dr. I was. The waiting room looks like a comfortable living room with many oversize teddy bears and toys thrown around. There are also toddler size chairs and a REAL telephone for the kids to play with. During the examination Dr. I produced a toy stethoscope which kept little one busy as his doctor listened to his chest.

The doctor pronounced Robert well, and free from ear infection. The anti biotic was unnecessary, he said, and he expected his appetite to return gradually to normal. Unfortunately, Robert’s prolonged fasting made him loose at least 200g of his weight. He is now under average in weight, while he remains above average in height.

The measurements for today:

Weight : 10 kg (less than 75% of children his age)

Length: 80 cm (more than 75% of children his age)

Circumference of Head: 46 cm.

Dr. I also made notes about Robert’s general development. Stranger anxiety was the norm for toddlers his age, but it made examining him difficult. A toddler only becomes more tolerant of doctors’ poking after two-and-a-half years of age. Robert’s ability to point, indicated his attempts at communicating and along with his vocabulary (half a dozen words or so) meant that he is an intelligent child, of course I knew this one already.

Good news all around it seems.  The biggest event in the world today is the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. This gave many people something to smile about. I am in the happy crowd today.