Never Underestimate A Toddler’s Memory

One of Robert’s favorite teachers at school (actually the assistant at his class) has been absent for the last few days. I was chatting to his teacher when I picked him up today and I commented that he must have forgotten her already because when I mentioned her name to him he ignored it and just uttered another teacher’s name.

I guess the little tyke wanted to prove me wrong today. We got off the minibus taxi and started our walk home up the long hill. This is normally a very hard walk because I carry Robert most of the way, while trying to dodge the piles of dirt (and droppings). I also struggle to dissuade him from wanting to “wok” until we get to a cleaner part of the street. When I set him down, he usually walks quickly for a few metres then starts exploring sidewalks, walls, trees, fences and whatever else we pass (That is why I never set him down on the dirtiest part of our street).

I have a rule that whenever he starts touching the dirty street, he gets carried again (no walk , in his language), which inevitably leads to arguments and crying. He was having one of his fits when an African lady came towards us down the streets. She must have been a nanny or domestic worker finishing her day at work, and those women are usually very sweet to young babies, but this one came straight to me and took him in her arms, pretending to take him with her. She started saying: “bye mummy” and I played along for a few seconds. Of course, in the face of this new calamity Robert forgot his distress about wanting to (wok) and his bottom lip stretched forward as he looked at the “intruder” with distrust. Soon the woman set him down and said goodbye and went on her own way. Robert watched after her, a little puzzled, then blurted out “Woosie” (Lucy)… Waoo, the boy still remembers his nanny Lucy, even though it has been almost two months since we last saw her. She would be impressed if she knew.

On The Run

Oh I have done so many things in the last few days I do not know where to start.

On Wednesday I had Robert’s father looking after him again while I went to apply for the visa for a second time. I remember we went briefly before that to the police station where they certified his letter giving his “permission” for me to travel with his son.  I also managed to buy tickets, go to the lawyer and sign transfer documents for the Gonubie house, and order a bed and a washing machine. Needless to say that this took more than half the day and my ex was angry because he missed his opportunity to go to the gym, and “wasted his day”.  My day was far from wasted, and even with all the work and running I had the chance to visit with my neighbor/landlady, since her husband owns the block where we are staying.  We got to know each other over some coffee while Robert and Kiara got to socialize.

The past days were not all bright though, I  had a problem with the lawyer earlier this week because the transfer proceedings have been already initiated by conveyance lawyers in East London, and my lawyer was upset because he would not get his share of the deal this way, especially since it is stated in the divorce order that they will take charge of all the property transfers (obviously I missed on this one in all the excitement that the house sold). I pleaded ignorance with my lawyer and thought I let myself off the hook with them, how little did I know about the nature of these lawyers.

I also had a minor problem while applying for the visa. My photograph was out of date and I was so scared that they would send me back for a second time, but they told me to come back on Friday with the new photograph which just means that I have to stand in the queue again and not collect immediately.

On Thursday I had a few more loose ends to tie. I started early with Robert and we traveled into town where I got a new passport photo, then back to apply for a phone line at Telkom and a private mailbox at the post office. I could not resist stopping at the book shop and buying some second hand books I fancied – it is an addiction with me.  I still had to work in the afternoon while Lucy looked after Robert.

This morning Robert and I took the trip into town again, this time to pick up the visa, and we stopped for a little bit to say hello at my office. I am still haunted by the reaction Robert had to my workplace last Christmas, when he went into an uncontrollable fit of crying. This time he just looked inquisitively around, but I could not register any negative or positive feelings on his face – he is obviously indifferent to the ninth floor.  We had to make our way back home quickly because I received a call from the furniture shop notifying me of the delivery of my new bed and the washing machine.

The people arrived an hour or so before I was due to work, and as usual in these cases, the workers start out slowly and carefully then start bashing their way around when their delivery schedule starts to pressure them. Unfortunately for me the slow part of their work involved putting the bed together while bashing around was the fate of the washing machine. It was moved between two different spots and then it became obvious that they will not get it right in their rush. The task was also complicated further by a loose toddler, and I simply could not supervise safe installing  while also keeping an eye on my son. I finally said that they can perhaps leave and hoped that I could figure it out with the on-site landlord agent who is generally helpful to my ignorance in home maintenance. I usually exaggerate my “incapable female” attributes to best effect.

Mercifully Lucy arrived in the middle of this upheaval and took  care of Robert, and then I had to run to work, late as usual. Lucy assured me she would sort everything out and I had no idea how she could, because I had the old bed, the futon mattress and the washing machine all in strange positions and a small space has very low tolerance to disorder.

I was so worried that I called later from work and Lucy assured me that everything is fine. The washing machine was put in place by the landlord’s agent and the flat was in order. I came home to a different place, and my son received me with a beaming smile, nice and clean from his bath. It is such a joy and relief to be home.

After all this frantic running, I have my visa, my ticket and I accomplished everything that needed to be done before my trip. I only have two more working days then it is off to a well-deserved holiday.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Lucy tells me that when a baby bends with his head towards the ground and starts looking between his legs, it means that there is news or a surprise on the way. Yesterday, I got the surprise; an overdue increase in my salary. I was speechless when I saw the note, because I have been working for this company for almost three years without a single increase on my basic salary. Furthermore, I was plagued since my return from Maternity Leave with a heavy monthly deduction, which management applied to recover what they paid me by mistake while I was meant to be on unpaid leave; these deductions will continue until the end of next year. In addition, I have a long road ahead to make up my short working hours this year, work back the leave days I owe the company from last year, and recover certification that lapsed while I was away from work. In short I was given a tough mountain to climb with very few rewards. But now I see that someone, somewhere was listening to my silent prayer, I was given a much needed and appreciated break. The increase will help pay for Robert’s creche in the next few months.

Things are slowly falling into place. Next weekend we will move to our own place, and I hope that by then the sale of the house in the Eastern Cape will also be finalized. The lump sum we will receive from the sale will give us a small income and help us buy the things we need for our new place. I am very excited. One more exciting event in the last few days is Robert’s first few independent steps. He wants to practice walking and gets very excited to walk towards me or Lucy. I am grateful for Lucy’s support and kindness. We have grown very close since my argument with Jackie last Sunday. I shared the news of my raise with her, not with Jackie. I have become wary of discussing money with Jackie, and in all honesty I am afraid of another calculating reaction from her if she knew my financial situation is going to improve. I trust Lucy on the other hand to be happy for me, and I draw a lot of courage from her. In her time she faced hardships as a single mom, and ended up raising fine children without the support of a man. She is still the rock of her extended family supporting her surviving children, and their children. And then she has the babies and toddlers she looks after, as a paid nanny/babysitter. What is amazing about her though, is that she really loves these babies, and doesn’t consider caring for them as only a job, she actually enjoys being around them. Robert is lucky to have a loving and caring African grandma. She calls him “mama wau” – in her halting English she translated it as someone she loves from her innermost heart. I believe she does, because Robert’s eyes light up when he sees her, something that rarely happens at the sight of his father.

Another Irrevocable Breakup?

The hardest days for me to work are the Sundays, because these are the days I leave my child into the reluctant care of his father, and today was an extra bad one in terms of work pressure.  As I was nearing home my heart sank further when I saw the car of Jackie’s “boyfriend” parked in front of the house. I simply despise the man; I find him vulgar, impolite and simply stupid.  On one occasion, not even my closed door hindered his imposition, and unfortunately whenever I tell him directly what I think of him, he laughs it off as an attempt to hide my weakness to his physical charm, or should I say his impressive physical attribute which he never ceases to speak about.  I was not looking forward to an evening of listening to his vulgarity, which somehow amuses Jackie.

There was more crap waiting for me behind that closed door, however, but mercifully I did not know that, and when my cell phone rang I took the call just outside the house. I remember looking at the afternoon sky when the real estate agent told me breathlessly that she sold our house in Gonubie. My heavy heart began lifting a little when I asked her for the details. She told me that she brought me the price I was aiming for after her commission, and promised to fax me the offer to sign early on Monday.

I did not get to tell Jackie my good news because when I entered the house she met me with that silly “boyfriend” in tow, there was also another friend of hers present. I saw her smile while she told me that Petey had left a present on my bed, and indeed the room smelled of it. I was just too angry to speak for a few minutes as I raced to peal off the sheets of my soiled bed, and tried to clean up the mess and the smell before my son arrived.  In one moment I knew that I had enough, I have had Petey for three years, and not once had he done this, not even while he was crippled from his fall out of my third floor window.  I just knew that he only did it this time because he was locked in the room, and was not used yet to getting out of the window. As I snatched the dirty sheets, and steeled by the knowledge that my days of penury are almost over, I blurted it out: Look, it is not because of this, but I cannot stay here anymore. I am moving out in two weeks, when she asked me what I meant I told her I am moving out and that she should put that in her pipe and smoke it. Jackie took this very hard and hurled accusations at me, attacking my integrity and implying that I deserved what my ex did to me because I lacked decency. It was not composure or good manners that kept me silent, it was just shock, she went on and on about notices, contracts and money for electricity that I “owed” her.  What about paying these? she said, I just answered we will see, and kept on topping my avocado toast. I marvel now at how cool I remained, but I simply had no recourse against her poisonous tirade.

In the middle of all that my ex dropped off my son,  so we took a break from the fighting, but then I heard Jackie speaking to her mother on the phone and I asked to speak to her after she finishes, because she was my landlady like my dear friend Jackie pointed out. I wish I could say that the mother was harsher on me than the daughter, but it is not true, we only get hurt from those we care about.  Mrs L pretended that she did not know the story, so I told her that I found another place and will be leaving in two weeks.  I was more or less prepared to her line of argument: The contract I signed (the piece of paper I insisted to have in order to apply for my own phone line coming back to bite me), and how supportive they all were of me, etc. The only thing that unsettled me was my landlady’s claim that she gave me her maid Lucy.  She said that Lucy will no longer be allowed to look after Robert, and this was something I was not prepared to think about since Lucy’s help was central to my ability to show up at work.  I was shaken, but I managed to keep a clear mind. I went immediately after this conversation -while Jackie was busy in her room with her friends- and fished out the “contract”. My copy was the only copy available, and I could not trust keeping it in the house, so I just shredded it to pieces and flushed it down the toilet.

Soon after this I took Robert out and walked with him to get the anger out of my system. But before I left I called Lucy and asked her to meet me opposite her daughter’s place. Lucy has been good to me always, I told her everything, and she calmed me down and told me not to worry. She said that Jackie’s mother cannot prevent her from working  in her own time in the afternoon, and if she insisted on preventing her then she has to pay her whatever I pay her. We both knew Mrs. L well enough to know that she would not do that.  Speaking to Lucy felt good and I was calm again.

I remember coming back to a darkened room and having to put my boy to sleep on a blanked on the floor to avoid contact with the still soiled mattress.. As my little baby snuggled against me to have his evening snack I felt so empty, drained and abandoned and the only thing I thought about was phoning my ex.  I had nobody to share the joy of unloading the house, or the pain of losing a friend. As I explained to him what had happened my voice chocked and I cried. I do not know what I expected from him, but old habits die hard, and after the ugly argument with Jackie I had nobody else to talk to.

When Robert slept safely in his crib.  I cleaned up the mattress and washed out the worst dirt from the sheets. I asked Jackie for new sheets and she gave me some. We talked somewhat,  and she tried a more conciliatory tone with me this time.  She claimed she cared about me, and there were a few tears shed from both of us. My tears felt cold on my cheeks, they weren’t the hot tears of remorse and healing.  They were tears of calm acceptance, something has been irrevocably broken.

Teething Pain

The first week of May was mostly associated with the pain of teething, it is also my first month on my “special” work schedule, where I don’t have to drop Robert off at his dad’s.

I almost wanted to miss my first full working Saturday, because Robert had a fever in the morning. I suspected it was an ailment associated with his inflamed gums, but I was still worried as I went to work. I phoned Lucy several times during the day to inquire about Robert, especially since I have been having problems feeding him. He didn’t have great appetite for cereal or solids, and did not take much of his bottle either. When I returned home Lucy reported that he ate well, and I was relieved. She says that he eats very well with her, which makes me somewhat jealous. This time she cooked him some vegetables with little pieces of chicken. The chicken -more specifically granny Jocelyn’s roast chicken- was a great hit with Robert. He enjoyed gumming it and was ready to open his mouth for the next big juicy sliver, while he was still busy chewing on the previous bite.

On Sunday morning we had company. Friends came for tea and cake, and we had an enjoyable morning. Our friend Monz came with her little daughter Olivia, who is a sweet little baby of six weeks. I would have enjoyed the visit even more if Robert wasn’t acting up because of fever. On Sunday afternoon he had a runny tummy as well, and I needed to change his sheets and sponge the mattress. I suspect that Robert’s first tooth finally cut through on Saturday (May 3rd). The fever however did not completely break, and he was still in pain. While previously he used to gum and bite everything in site, during these few days he couldn’t tolerate anything to near his swollen gums. He would stiffen and cry and not even allow me to rub them with soothing gel. During this trying time I kept him on a routine of pain drops, and tried in vain to give him some food, but he just accepted breast milk.

I did not expect to continue breastfeeding this long, but I still enjoy it. It is also much easier to give Robert his nightly feed from the breast rather than fiddle with bottles and formula at dawn. I always thought that once his sharp teeth start causing damage I will have to stop, but Robert seems to give mom some consideration in this respect, and there weren’t any biting accidents so far. My nanny said that she breastfed her older children until three years of age, I cannot see myself doing that, but as long as we both enjoy it I won’t stop. It is not an inconvenience for me at all, it is rather a special pleasure.

Today Robert had a specially bad day, he was tired and cranky. In the morning I had to deal -again- with a huge mess. Robert’s nappy had leaked and soiled his clothes, his sheets, and his mattress. I had to put him in the bath, and wash all the bedding and the mattress. During the afternoon I had to put him to bed on a make-shift mattress of blankets and towels. He finally went to sleep after a long crying session, with Canuck as his pillow. Later, when I put Robert down for the night did I noticed that something was not quite right with Canuck. At first, and in the dim light, I thought that Jackie has given him a new ribbon, but then I discovered that the pattern on the ribbon was dried up nappy mess from this morning. Disgusting to think that I allowed Robert to sleep with his face next to that filthy toy. Canuck had to be washed ! In fact he remained outside for a few days taking in rain and very little sun, until he finally dried a week later. Due to these washing disasters I had to enlist my ex’s help with laundry, he wasn’t too impressed. It is really hard for me to ask him for help and endure his sour reaction.

Robert is showing steady development with his motor skills. He tries to stand independently for a few seconds or lifts his butt of the floor from a sitting position trying to stand. I am starting to notice more emotional and social development. I think he is at the stage where he observes stuff closely and tries to learn how things fit and relate to each other. One day this week I was amazed at his interested reaction when I put my large hand next to his small one on the side of the bathtub; he examined them intently for a short period of time and then proceeded to examine the large hand with his tiny one. Most of the time I try to give him free reign as he discovers things; even when his journeys of discovery mean rearranging our room into a total mess. Sometimes the simplest object catches his attention; he might spend a few minutes examining the waste paper basket, a pamphlet, or the all time favourites: cell phone and keys. Sometimes he just spends time scrutinizing the tiny letters on a the label of his baby oil bottle, but to my disappointment he still hasn’t found great interest in books. I read to him often, but the colorful pages often end up in his mouth. At the end of Moms and Tots Class, the teacher always reads a story, and he shows some interest but he is rarely captivated long enough by the pictures in the book. The text of the story is only a mimic of animal sound to accompany their pictures. In addition to songs and story, there are many activities that we get to do with the little ones during Moms and Tots class. I get a lot of ideas for games and exercises to do with Robert. He also gets a chance to interact with other moms and babies, which is very important especially in our current circumstances.The pictures shows Robert in one of the moms and tots activities.

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The Daily Routine

I am slowly getting used to new rules and my new housemate. She is definitely not as demanding as Mr. Negativity, and simply lets me experience my freedom. The first few days were tough, I drove myself nuts trying to find my things, and kept losing every item after a few seconds of putting it down somewhere. I was trying to find spots for my stuff, in the fridge, in the pantry, in the cupboards and on the bathroom shelves. It is difficult to move into someone else’s space, and I have to keep reminding myself that my baby and I are simply paying house-guests here, and we need to adjust to this house’s rules. Still, it is far easier to be myself here than it was with Mr. Negativity.

I spent my first weekend in years without going outside the front door. This was unheard of in my marriage where one needs to get out for some exercise or fresh air. I am now eating generous helpings of food, after years of watching my portions. I always ate behind the man’s back just to spare myself his scathing comments about how much I eat. It doesn’t help pointing out my slim figure, or the calories I need as a breastfeeding mother. Now I can indulge my craving for chocolate without being asked whether I need it or not, and as the weather turns cooler I have a tin of hot chocolate close at hand,  not hidden in some inaccessible corner of the kitchen cupboard.  In short, life is getting back to normal for me. I am living -mostly- by my own rules.

The price though is considerable. I hand-wash our clothes every other day. I walk to the shops to buy things and carry the groceries home. I bargain hunt, and count our pennies. Worst of all, I have to tell my sorry story to the people at work in order to get suitable shifts, and working hours. I hate the notoriety of walking in and out of the floor at odd hours, and having to endure the questioning or the pitying look. It is especially humiliating since some people know that this is my second trip to breakup land (with the same man). I know that even some of my closest friends think that I landed into this predicament because of my rare stupidity. But, believe me, it is easy to be fooled by someone you love (or someone you want to love). We give those we love the power to fool us because we want to believe them. Regardless of what brought me here, I will get over it. I will survive my foolishness and carry on.

My little one and I survived the first few weeks. He had his first fever last week, and I had to miss work for two days because of that.  The next few weeks we endured the long walks back and forth to his father’s. Dropping him off before I went to work in the early morning, and picking him up after I finished. Baby is also getting used to Nanny. She will look after him three afternoons a week, when I am at work. Nanny brought up her fair share of young ones including my housemate. This arrangement means that I only need Mr. Negativity to babysit every other Sunday. This suits me fine, and I do not want to ask him for any more.  He has already metioned several times that is helping me babysit this month for free. Yes, he is the baby’s father, although sometimes I really wish it wasn’t so. I hope and pray my boy does not take after his sire.

A Little Help

Robert and I are struggling along and trying to cope around our busy routine. Things are starting to fall into place, albeit very slowly. I sat down with Lucy one Saturday and we worked out a schedule when she can look after Rob, then I came up with my own work schedule based on it. I presented the schedule to my managers at work, and they were nice enough to accept it. I will thus be working the same shifts every week: Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoons and then Saturday the whole day. I threw in a whole day on Sunday every other week, where dad has to look after Robert, to make up a 20-hour week. This makes me work every other day, with a two-day weekend only every two weeks, but I have no alternative at the moment.

Lucy is very good with babies and small children. She raised half a dozen of her own children and grandchildren, in addition to many others she cared for in her working life. On the very first day I left Robert with her, I came home to see him strapped to her back African style, and he seemed to enjoy it immensely. I am glad to have peace of mind in that area at least, my child is well looked after in my absence.

When we are not running around on some errand, Robert and I enjoy soaking the sunshine in the yard, on the beach or in the park. Sometimes Jackie came along too, and I took some photos. The effects of pregnancy, continued breastfeeding and the added stress of breaking up are finally showing. I look thin, tired and haggard these days. My hair has lost its luster, and has become brittle and dry. I received unflattering comments about the way I looked, and I know why. But, I am going to ignore my growing roots for now; I want to give my hair a break. If god wants me gray, then gray I should stay. The only reason why I dyed it before was in deference to my husband. Now I have only myself to answer to. I will find a solution that suits me this time, and I do not want to succumb to the pressure of looking younger and sexier, I am not young anymore, so who am I trying to fool. I am not scared of my scars or of my approaching forties. I have lived, loved, and born a child; I have smiled, frowned, laughed and cried and I have the scars and the gray hair as witnesses. I am not going to pretend otherwise.

I am not the only one trying to adjust to our new lifestyle. Robert is also going through this phase. He has started to wake up every night for a feed, and it is something else for me to get used to. It is good that I can survive on very little sleep, and I am also grateful that I do not have to work night shifts. I want to be the one to reassure and hold him when he wakes up during the night. My feeding routine has also been disrupted, back in the old flat I used to confine Robert to the Bumbo chair in the kitchen where he was stuck in a seated position until he polished up the cereal bowl. Here, I am struggling to keep him in place as I try to aim the cereal into his mouth. I do my best to anticipate the turning head and dodge the swiping hand, but we still end up both with splats of cereal on face, hair, and clothes. The solution came from the resourceful Jackie, who got us a feeding chair from the next-door neighbors. The family was in Israel for a holiday at the time, and the maid gave us the chair, but when they came back they were very happy to let us keep it.

Once Robert was strapped behind the tray of the feeding chair, he knew that it was mealtime and there was no more messing around. Since I moved in with Jackie I also started to let him snack with me on my food, so he has started on toast, avocado, rice, beans, and many different fruits.

In other activity news, Robert and I are going to Moms and Tots class every week. It is something that I can hardly afford, but I wanted to do it, to get some social interaction with other moms, and to give Robert a chance at some fun time with other babies. The first few weeks were a little challenging but soon Robert started to enjoy the activities and get used to socializing with other people. I also met many interesting moms and learned new games to play with my little one.

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Seven Months: Moving Quickly

I forgot to take pictures for Robert’s seventh month birthday. A lot of stress is going on in our lives at the moment and that is why it is hard to keep track of simple pleasurable things. However, I am still very aware of the time we spend together and how we spend it. I try not to communicate my negative feelings to the little one, and I put on a happy face when I am around him. Robert does his magic to my act and after some minutes in his company I feel genuinely happy and so blessed. No matter what else happens, I have him to love for the rest of my life.

This month Robert has become mobile. He is crawling all around and covering a lot of ground with increasing speed. I took some pictures of him wearing a small baby jacket I crocheted for baby Olivia, who was finally born on the 26th of March. One can tell that he is not overly impressed with wearing pink.

He is finally starting to utter da da da, and sometimes tha tha. I note, though, that he still has a marked preference for ma ma ma. Last week Ron had the late babysitting shift, and told me that the baby was whiny, complaining a lot, and calling ma ma ma. Obviously he had some stomach ailment characterized by frequent spit up and general indisposition. The food couldn’t have caused such a problem, and my only explanation is that he is now exposed to a wider variety of germs, tramping around on the floor, whether here in our flat or at Jackie’s place. Of course, the endless teething can still be the root of all trouble. I can feel the outline of the two little bottom incisors but they haven’t put in an appearance yet. It seems unlikely now that they will show up before the end of the month.

Another interesting development is Robert’s new-found ability to pull himself up to a standing position. This can happen anywhere but mostly in the cot. It follows that it is more difficult to keep him lying down when he doesn’t want to sleep. Because he pulls himself up to a standing position and continues to complain until somebody comes to the rescue. One morning I was waiting in vain for his cries to subside, and decided to check on him. I was surprised to find him holding on to the cot’s edge and complaining. It was the first time I saw this happen, so I burst out laughing at the funny pictures. Robert did not think it was funny at all, and started crying with bitterness and hurt feelings.

Miriam has gone AWOL. I think that she has finally found an office job, and frankly she is more than capable for a regular job, and overqualified as a nanny. Pity, because I really liked her and Robert did too. But I had a feeling throughout our acquaintance that she wasn’t really interested. I have to trust my instincts more, they are usually very accurate. Now I have some complex arrangement to look after Robert and they will probably work out for a few weeks in our new and evolving circumstances.

I am starting to take more pictures of Robert in the park. The nannies love him and often carry him and play with him. I am also starting to get more involved in our play together at the park. He enjoys being on the swing and crawling around on the grass.



Finally, here are some funny pictures of my little boy:

Standing in his crib and razzing with great concentration

A somewhat glum expression

Crawling into small spaces.

Reaching up for trouble.

Since he is capable of all this, I have removed the bassinet from the crib, and he now sleeps on the lowest level, and cannot possibly jump or lean out.

Kak Day?

In light of the ongoing developments in our life, it is a fitting title.
I planned that Miriam will babysit today while Ron and I were out attending to the legal issues pertaining to out impending divorce. The good woman, however, dropped me late last night saying that she had misunderstood the day. Of course this is not true. I think she has found another job and I will be surprised if I hear from her again.

Jackie was the emergency babysitter for the day. We dropped Robert at her house and went into town. The meeting was less stressful than I expected, and relatively painless considering the circumstances. After we finished, Ron dropped me unceremoniously at Jackie’s and left me there. I was so hungry and agitated, so we went out for an impromptu lunch. Robert kept us company in his pram while we enjoyed smoothies and wraps. I gave him some sips of the smoothie with a straw, and he enjoyed that immensely. We had just finished with our lunch when Robert delivered the package of the day. Unfortunately his diapers were already wet and could not absorb the stinky mess, and it leaked out, green and wet down his legs.

Jackie got me some additional napkins while I tried to stem the flow with our unused paper towels. Fortunately we were only a few blocks away from her house and we rushed home after covering baby’s diaper and the offensive leak with a blanket. Halfway home the funny side of the situation kicked in and we laughed all the way to her front yard. Jackie suggested that we hose Robert’s sticky butt right there on the front lawn. It was a good suggestion, and the little one enjoyed it. What followed was a meticulous routine of cleaning and disinfecting the pram, soaking blanket and clothes, and generally getting things back in order.

No pictures of the incident are available.


Miriam did not make it this weekend. She did not answer her phone, return calls or text messages. I was getting a little worried, so I phoned her husband, who told me in a muffled voice that she was in hospital with the little girl. I couldn’t understand anything else, so my active imagination went into over-drive. On Friday, and after many further unanswered calls, I received a message saying that she was in hospital looking after her daughter who has frequent nosebleeds. Of course her absence gave us a lot of problems, but I had worked myself into a worried frenzy, so when I finally heard from her I was relieved more than anything else.

Ron had to look after Robert for two days in a row, when I worked the long weekend shifts 14:00 to 23:00. I really do not like the long shifts anymore. The pressures of work and many other problems are taking their toll. I am trying hard not to transfer my feelings of stress to little Robert. He is getting less of me these days, so I have to make our time together count. The least disruptive shifts so far are the 08:00-12:00 ones. On these days I just wake up early and give Robert his breakfast. He stays awake while we have breakfast, and goes for his first nap shortly after I leave for work. I come home in time for his lunch and later we can take a stroll towards the ocean or to the park. Ron has to fill in for the bath and bedtime on the days when I work 16:15-20:15, and he doesn’t particularly like it. According to him, however, Robert enjoys their time together immensely. He bought him some new toys and clothes this week, and I can see how much he likes the new rattle toys.

These days he is starting to have some mobility, and when his rattle ball rolls he tries to follow it. The other day I put him in the middle of his play gym and went to fetch something from the kitchen. When I came back the play gym was empty, and the little one was on all fours underneath the table where I couldn’t see him from the door. I have to keep a watchful eye on him from now on. Soon he will start pulling things down or pulling himself up against coffee tables.

My friend Kirsten arrived from Germany on Tuesday; she is staying with Jackie. Robert has accompanied me on many visits with her, and whenever the weather cooperated we went for a stroll on the promenade or to the park. Kirsten manged to catch Robert in few interesting poses. For example his South African chilling mode: relaxing with feet up, and only the Castle Lager missing.

Kirsten brought with her some new presents for Robert: T-shirts, socks and a pyjama, all will be useful as the weather cools. Not to be outdone, Jackie chipped in and bought him a teething ring. It is the type that goes in the freezer or fridge and helps cool aching gums; Robert likes it. Mom bought a couple of summer things that he will use next summer at the beach.

Today’s funny picture: Robert crawling in the park. When I took the picture I did not see the comment that is showing right above his head, nor the wheel that he is dragging behind (the rattle ball).