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.
Yesterday was another busy day. In the morning I met with two moms from our playgroup at the Pavillion Park, and the kids spent a great time in parallel play. Robert took turns on the swing and climbing up the slide and basically running around.
In the early afternoon I took delivery of our new furniture. The rest of the day was spent trying to organize and store things in their proper places and getting rid of the boxes. I have recently posted a photo of my chaotic lounge area and now I will have to post another one demonstrating the great change. The tidy-up process is still ongoing, because after the bulk of the work is done there is always the fine-tuning and the subsequent disposal of unnecessary bits and pieces, which were simply squirreled away out of laziness or because there was no time to deal with them immediately.
It is difficult to do such work with Robert running around, and the time he spends sleeping is hardly enough to get the necessary work done, but getting organized remains my one major objective for this holiday. It would be nice if I manage to update my blog as well, but this latter job is still sadly lagging behind.
Robert helped me organize yesterday in his own way. Pulling out books while I tried to put them on the shelves and emptying the drawers I painstakingly ordered. At the end of the day I was really frustrated, and as soon as I got most major stuff out of the way we took off for a quick visit to the beach. After a full day of being stuck in a hot apartmernt, Robert played happily and enjoyed the nice mild weather of the late afternoon. We headed home at sunset and Robert slept in his buggy all the way home.
It is always a delight to have a warm day after a cold and rainy spell. On days like these I feel so blessed to be living in sunny South Africa, where it is warm even through the middle of winter.
The park was full of moms, dads and babies. They sat together in several small groups, and there was a total confusion of toys, snacks and children. A boy picked up a ball that dropped near us and left his chip packet instead. Robert hijacked it immediately and started munching on corn pops. Later he borrowed a purple ball and tried to keep it for himself. Then he joined another family and challenged their little girl to share some of her toys and food with him. I never prevent Robert from exploring and interacting with other people and children, as long as I am watching closely. I try to keep track of where the toys and snacks come from. I don’t think being strict with a ten-month old is productive, I just stay close by to keep him out of bigger mischief and danger.
The new lightweight buggy is proving to be very useful. We walked very far today along the beach before we came to the park. On yesterday’s walk a middle aged woman commented that poor baby had the sun in his eye. The problem is that Robert hates hats and takes them off as soon as I put them on his head. Today I went through the effort of attaching bonnet style strap on a new hat, and was pleased to see it remain safely on Robert’s head, defying his fierce tugging. However, I underestimated my son’s tenacity and his unequivocal dislike of sun hats. Twenty minutes after we left the house I discovered that my innovation with the straps was useless. The hat was gone, and Robert was happily squinting against the low winter sun. This is now the third hat that we lost. The first was taken by the sea breeze, and the second was stolen with the baby bag. I will give hats a break for now.
Some images of the day:
Robert having his first taste of chutney corn pops.
Standing at the fence bordering on the dog area. The children were fascinated by a beautiful big Labrador who was exercising in the dog run. Unfortunately this picture does not show the dog.
Today my computer arrived safely. Jackie helped carry it to and back from rehab at my favorite computer technician at the moment. I haven’t lost ANYTHING and to me this is a miracle. From here on my life will start to get some semblance of normalcy. I set up my computer workstation -again with Jackie’s help. It now occupies a corner of her desk, it is kind of cramped, but I cannot complain. I mean she could have easily said, she doesn’t want me using her work space, therefore I am eternally grateful. Living with Jackie is relatively easy. She does have her own set of rules, but they are nothing compared to the regimented style I was used to with my ex. The only problem we have is the limited space, and the need to find innovative ways of storing our things, while keeping them accessible at the same time. Some of my beloved book boxes ended up in the top shelf of the cupboard, where I need a step ladder to reach them, but there are plenty of books still on the ground, where I can easily get to them. My dictionaries are also close by ready for action when I finally get the elusive work I am half-heartedly looking for. I say that because I am still not all here, and reeling with the effects of my separation. It will take time until I am in a really productive frame of mind. In the meantime there are things to write about, feelings to deal with and finances to consider.
At the beginning of the month I received a date for my divorce case, and it is scheduled for Monday the 26th. This is the final nail in the coffin of my marriage, and I try not to dwell on it too much. Ron wanted me and Robert out of his hair, and I wanted to make the separation final and legal because I recognized -and he spelled it out to me- that he no longer wants to be with me. I see no point in staying married in name only, when there is absolutely no hope in reconciliation. I believe I did the right thing, and I will get used to the outcome.
Meanwhile life goes on. I try to go with Robert to the park on sunny days. The walk to the park is now much longer, but we both enjoy chilling there which makes it worth the effort. Here Robert also gets to socialize with some little friends. I like especially the little tomboy Nina, who loves playing in the dirt, and must be a handful to her patient nanny. I let Robert crawl around in the park and get down and dirty sometimes; this is vital to the learning process. Another thing that I want him to learn is interacting with animals. Jackie’s cat loves playing with him, and tolerates his rough handling – up to a point of course. He already received a swipe or two from her claw when he tugged too hard on her fur. Most of the time though they play or dance around each other, which is quite funny. Robert is starting to cruise; he walks from one side of the sofa to the other while holding on to its edge. He can also stand by himself for a few seconds. The interaction he has with me, Jackie, the cat and everyone else is much more lively and animated. Lucy enjoys being with him and he very comfortable around her. The few negatives that come to mind are a light episode of the flu, and some negative attitudes from Robert’s dad, but we will get over these in time.
Too much thinking makes the head ache, and sometimes makes you physically ill. Robert is not the culprit this time; there are too many things to consider as far as our life in general is concerned. Needless to say, it has been a tough week.
Ron’s birthday was one bright spot there, but after it things started rolling downhill. Ron was under the weather for days, and therefore avoided contact with baby . As a result the three of us ended up feeling pretty down, and the oppressive heat made matters even worse.
On the up side, Robert is starting to have some social life. There is a tiny park about ten minutes from our place, where I escape during the hottest times of day. I met some moms, dads and nannies, and Robert made a few young friends. The friendship is a little one sided at this point, because my little one is rendered speechless in front of his young admirers, but it is still a start. The park has half a dozen benches, and is surrounded by a few big trees that provide shade. The grass is well maintained, and clean. There is also a dog training area adjoined to the park, but a fence separates it from the main park area. Dogs aren’t allowed in the main park area, which helps keep the place clean of land mines, but they still need to access their area through the park, I had to protect my little pup from wet tongues and noses, a couple of times, before owners took charge of their four-legged friends.
In addition to social development, Robert is becoming more tolerant of the wide world outside. He has very few objections now to sitting in the stroller, and is comfortable enough in it to fall asleep when tired. Yes, he still cries and fusses before he finally nods of but that is not so bad.
His other skills are developing rapidly, he sits up with support now for a long time without any problems, and if he has something to hold on too he can even keep his balance for a little bit without support behind his back. This week he also started rolling over onto his stomach before falling asleep. I still try to put him on his back again, but when I check on him one final time before turning in myself, I sometimes find him sleeping on his stomach or more often on his side. Robert is also more vocal with razzing and babbling. I think of his razzing as a form of singing, he goes onto a long session of it when he is relaxing in the bath. As for his play, it is getting more interactive as he explores the principle of cause and effect: He lets stuff drop to the floor so that we give it back to him, he grips the handle of the cupboard to pull it ajar, or swings the gate back and forth. These games are played under our close supervision of course, and he is content to play them for a long time, or for as long as our patience holds.