My Little Boy Turns Five

I received my last age-based email from BabyCentre today. The site congratulated me and Robert on reaching this great milestone. The implication was that the parenting journey is still long but it can now be enjoyed at leisure, as the years rush by and the little boy slowly evolves into the man he is destined to become. Robert was just a tiny bean when I registered to receive weekly updates, describing in breathtaking detail every development my tiny yet unnamed baby has achieved, deep within the warm darkness of my womb. I would read them with a sense of wonder, grateful at my ability to procreate and nurture, after years of hardly daring to picture myself as a mother.

Shortly after Robert woke up today his father called from South Africa. Lest I confuse myself endlessly with this unexpected generosity, he was quick to explain that he was calling from an office internet phone. He pointed out that he can hardly believe it has been five years. Reminisced about the first time he saw Robert, just before he gave his first cry.  “I remember the doctor saying, what a serious little guy”, he said, “Do you remember that?”. I had to make him repeat this over the static of the line, and then told him honestly that I never heard that, immobile from the waist down as I was, with my head at the opposite end of the table. Robert turned out to be quite a funny little fellow, he cannot resist using daily objects as comic props. Walking along one day on 2nd avenue he picked up the handle of a public phone and mimicked lathering himself in a shower. He cannot stop clowning around at school, but deep down he remains a serious little guy. After posting yet another picture of him on Facebook, a distant friend commented, “does he ever smile?”. Only then did I realize that his smiles on camera are very rare.

If I take a snapshot back at this last year I am amazed at the progress my little boy has made. Only a year ago he was a little more than a baby, who cried almost every morning when I left him at school. Today he walks in happily, starts immediately working or interacting with his friends, and cheerfully waves me goodbye.

A week before his fifth birthday I took him for a playdate with his friends at the Victorian Gardens, a small amusement park for kids exactly his age. Initially I thought that I would have to force him on one or two of the more docile rides, and steeled myself for having to go along with him. To my surprise he ran along with his friends and went on all but very few rides, we left when the last of his friends had to go home.  A year ago this was not possible.

He is still shy with strangers he meets for the first time, but he quickly warms up to people, and I watched him make friends easily with peers and some adults.  I have no worries about him socially as the day of starting in the big new school approaches. He would have some difficulties though in a team environment. He can be sometimes very stubborn, and that could prove detrimental in any group setting. I believe that this fierce individuality cost him a Kindergarten spot at the only private school I applied for.  But I also think that he will be better served in the Gifted and Talented class, amongst equally bright kids. I also have plan for enrolling him in sport, and other creative team activities on the island. The first step is soccer practice, then perhaps creative drama for kids. I think he is a natural performer, I used to be like that as a kid too, but shyness got the better of me.

I know I am starting to sound like an ultra-competitive North American mother, but I will never push him into anything he doesn’t want. This is a time for exploration and experimentation to discover his aptitudes, and his talents. I will be happy when a few years from now, when he would start to tell me what he wants, even if he concentrates on one or two activities he really enjoys, or is very good at. I just hope to help him develop to his full potential, and I am optimistic that I am at the right time and place to do so.

Review of 2010

The year 2010 is for me definitely a watershed year, where I tested the ropes on great many things and I am glad with the way they all turned out.

Early this year I finally made what I have been threatening to do for a long time, namely quit my office part-time job and concentrate on my home-based translation business. The decision was brought on after long consideration, and quite by chance on the day I handed in my resignation I found out that I qualified for an interview for a translation job with a high-profile international organization.  Of course, this did not mean I got the job but at least I travelled to the interview unencumbered by excuses to an employer, and I faced my interviewing panel as an independent language practitioner.

In April I found out that I passed the interview too and I braced myself for a long wait, loitering in a roster, without any idea when or where I will be called, but this did not concern me much at the time, there were other things to look forward to.

In June the World Cup came to South Africa, and my desire to live the experience to the full was also one of the reasons behind quitting my job. Robert had a prolonged holiday from school and we had our fill of the festivities, street parties and the fan walk. I was also fortunate enough to see two matches live, including the one Semi Final held in Cape Town between the Netherlands and Uruguay.

I am a World Cup baby, and I celebrated my 40th this year in style. And  a ticket to Algeria Vs England was a present to myself (the match itself a dud though). My birthday month also saw me sign a contract for buying a tiny new flat in a brand new block just around the corner from where I am renting. It was a huge leap of faith as I was not sure whether I can afford it, but my parents stepped in and rescued me with a generous loan that saved me from resorting to the banks (and risking getting turned down by them). My flat was scheduled for completion in February 2011.

Later in the year I had some stress with deadline and projects but in general I gently plodded on doing my work, looking after Robert and not forgetting to have a good time.

Late in October the saga with my lengthy job application progressed one step further and I was nominated for a job in New York. The rest of the year I spent doing some paperwork and speculating about how long the process will take.

I finally told Robert’s father of these plans in November and he did not take it easily. I had a few days of emotionally exhausting talks with him, where I stood firm on the fact that my life is going on – without him. He understood that the move will only benefit Robert in the long run.  I met him halfway, by offering him to rent my new apartment at a rate considerably less than market value.  Of course he was very pleased with that. He saw the flat with me a few days after Christmas and was involved in suggesting some minor changes.

Befitting my new amicable relationship with my ex we had a picnic on Christmas day at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and he was with us to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

We had a simple celebration at home with music and dancing (provided by Robert). We had champagne then walked downtown to watch the Christmas Lights on Adderley Street. Later we came home and had a quick late supper then walked up to Ocean View Drive to watch the fireworks at midnight. It was a quiet end to a wonderful year and I hope 2011 will be just as great.


After more than a year of taking my son to creche, I am used to the routine of settling him in for the morning which is mostly a difficult process, as I have to deal with clinging, mood change and occasional tantrums. Most days I struggle to extract myself from this, suffering guilt feelings and changes of mood myself, which leaves me emotionally exhausted before my day at work even starts.

Today was a blissfully different experience. Robert was greeted by one of his classmates, and also his favorite friend Gina. She quickly whisked him away towards the playground and they started chatting and running around cheerfully. As I left the school I glanced back at Robert; he was totally engrossed in following Gina around as she pedaled along on a scooter-bike. He was happy and unaware of me watching him.  This is the first time I see my child as a social being, interacting with friends and classmates; he is growing up.