I did not plan to foot it all the way to Camps Bay today, but the weather and the scenery beckoned me along. I only wanted to avoid a desperate situation such as yesterday’s when I wasted so much time trying to get Robert to catch up on his daytime naps without success, so today I decided that we would both be better off if he nods off in the buggy.
We started right after breakfast, and headed towards the ocean, and soon I found myself pushing a sleeping baby past Clifton 1st Beach, and towards Camps Bay. The weather was perfect and there was a non-stop stream of traffic into the area. The beaches themselves were very busy with holiday-makers and locals enjoying the last few weekeneds before the end of school holidays. I had brought a book with me, but it is usually the case that my little man wakes up as soon as I stop for a little break. This is most inconvenient when I arrive home with my backpack and full shopping bags, and just want to catch my breath from the heat. Well this time was no different and my book languished in the backpack unopened as we spent some time on the beach. We mostly clung to the shaded park belt on the periphery of Glen Beach in Camps Bay, but I allowed Robert a short time to play in the sand with his “bucket”.
It was too hot to walk all the way back so we took a minibus taxi home. Later in the afternoon Robert managed another short nap, and we continued our routine as usual. Later we played and read books and enjoyed a stress free afternoon. This was so much better than yesterday when both of us were out of control; Robert was spinning around because of his lack of sleep, and I became frustrated, tired and angry as a result. Needless to say that this is a lethal combination that leads to unhappiness all around.
As of Monday Robert and I are on summer vacation, and I cannot believe we have been at it already for five days now. So what have we all been busy with.
Monday I met one of the mothers from my playgroup at the park. This is a mother from my Friday playgroup, which I used to enjoy so much because there were moms from many different backgrounds, and almost none of them a native Capetonian. This apparently can raise the temperature of personal interaction between moms to a comfortable degree. Perhaps this is a gross generalization, but I must admit that the Thursday group was decidedly frosty for me, and that was one of the reasons why I decided to quit the play group, it had served its purpose.
On Tuesday Robert and I took the window shopping route, along Sea Point Main Road. We went to the book sale held at Sea Point High School. Robert was excited by the number of books he saw. He started to babble : book.. book; I am pleased to announce that this is now one of his favourite words. He especially asks for “book” when it is time for sleep, and his favourites are usually the ones that I am keeping away from him until I get a chance to repair the destruction they received at his hands. Today, I found a couple of books that I thought he would enjoy. On the way back I bought us lunch at the supermarket and we had an impromptu picnic at the Mount Nelson Park, which we visited together today after a very long time. The park had changed and I had trouble getting in there because they added an invisible childproof lock at the back of the gate, and I had to push and strain at the gate for almost ten minutes before I realized the problem. We had the park to ourselves, which was really strange considering that the day was a public holiday. But being summer it is safe to assume that everyone was headed to the beach. It is a good thing that I did not go to the beach on that day because I received my first light sunburn of the summer on my shoulders. It is also a good thing that I always put sunscreen on Robert.
Yesterday though was the strangest day of all. In the morning I took Robert to the Pram Jam at the Sea Point Library. It is a story and song session hosted by the children’s librarian, and attended by young tots and their moms (or their caregivers as was the case with most the attendees this time). Robert’s father picked us up from the library and he took us to the Waterfront. It was the first time we go on an activity for Robert’s benefit since our divorce and I must say that it was a little surreal for me. The sights and sounds were all the same, but the dynamics between the three of us was completely different. Robert was on his father’s arms the whole day, and was behaving most of the time. First we stopped at the toy shop where Robert spends a lot of his time with his dad. The array of toys is mind boggling and they all vie for the attention of children of all ages, and it is a great way to waste time with a toddler even if the intention isn’t really buying. I got a chance to go shopping for some discount items not available in our area, and also for a sandal for Robert. Lastly I got to replace my lost Aquarium card, but we did not get to visit the aquarium because Robert was starting to get over tired. When we finally got home we were both exhausted. I thought Robert would sleep for hours but he only managed one hour and then continued to spin around the flat until about half past eight, and this time we both dropped to sleep dead to the world.
The next morning my ex had sent me an SMS telling me it was nice to see how much of a mother I was to Robert, and that he felt strangely removed although still close to him. He suggested we go to the beach next time. I really do not know about spending time with my ex. On the one hand the peace is good for the soul, I spend less energy fighting with him and more on being myself and mother to Robert. However it is still exhausting on another level, because I have no idea who I am dealing with. I have seen so many faces of the man it keeps me wondering what next. Wait and see, that’s the only thing to do.
This week Robert was busy with many monumental developments, and both of us were kept on our toes keeping track with him. His grasping skills are improving rapidly and he now reaches out to take a toy held to his fingertips. He spends a lot of time just looking at his hands, or regarding them, which is considered a very important step in his awareness of himself and how his body works. Grasping is becoming a conscious effort rather than a reflex. The little hands have been busy as usual exploring around his face and mouth, and now his ears have been added to the repertoire of toys. I saw him tugging at his ear a couple of times.
His exercise sessions on the play gym are becoming more eventful as well. He now likes spending time on his tummy and has mastered rolling from front to back, and attempts rolling from back to front using his hips and legs. Sometimes however he gets himself in a pickle while trying to do this. He was fussing at bedtime on one hot evening and ended up on his side. Ron came to the cot to find a very angry baby trying desperately to roll forward or backward without success.
Robert’s awareness of his surroundings is now very clear. He reacts to things he sees and hears and lets us know, in a not too subtle manner, when he dislikes something. Ron is sure for example that Robert recognizes the jingle of our daily South African soapie “Isidingo”, which we watched frequently while I was pregnant, and while in the past he did not react to television he now looks at it and shows interest in following the movement of pictures and colours.
The weather continues to drive us crazy. A blistering hot day is followed by a cold one, and the morning sky is never and accurate predictor of the day. Sunny mornings often give way to rain and thunderstorms, while a misty and cold dawn can later enfolds into a hot and humid day. On Saturday we witnessed the most amazing sunset, the pink hues of the sky turned the ocean purple. We only viewed this spectacle from our balcony, but it must have been amazing at the beachfront.
On one particularly hot evening I put Robert to bed without his shirt, and he was still too hot, and only when the air cooled down with nightfall. The next evening it was cool and I had to put him in a shirt and zip him up in a sleeping bag. This is not normal at all, looks like we will have interesting holiday weather.
We surely had the strangest weather this year. One day we complain how cold and miserable it is, then the next day we pray for a respite from the heat and humidity.
The days however are still getting longer and we have more daylight hours than we know what to do with, especially when baby wakes us at first light at four thirty in the morning. As of this week I am on holiday again until next year. I am dragging out my crochet and books and relaxing when Robert allows it.
Thanks to Ron, Robert is getting a lot of exercise. He now enjoys spending time on his play gym, and is learning to roll over from his tummy onto his back. His favourite position though is upright on his short little legs. He only needs a little support to his arms to carry the rest of his weight and he can remain upright for a minute or so before he slumps down. He can also now sit in his “Bumbo” seat for longer periods. He is always in a good mood, fusses only occasionally and then for a good reason. His routine for sleeping at night is now established, he is normally asleep by eight, provided he doesn’t get himself overtired. There are also the rare occasions when he is too hot and uncomfortable to sleep.
This week Robert got a chance for his first swim outdoors. We put his bathtub outside, filled with lukewarm water, and he enjoyed it immensely. He kicks the water with both legs pedalling so wildly that water splatters all over his face. His shock at the water hitting his face makes him splash even wilder, kicking his legs fiercely. We got the same reaction when the water was a little bit too cool, he started splashing wildly with arms and legs, but did not give a single moan of complaint.
Another important event this week was the arrival of his detailed birth certificate by registered mail. It was delayed in the usual muddle and inefficiency of Home Affairs. Perhaps this time though they had a genuine excuse; their offices in town were flooded due to a leaking pipe. We are actually lucky that the whole paperwork wasn’t lost in the confusion. The next important step will be registering Robert at the Canadian Embassy to get his Canadian passport, but this can wait until after the holidays.