Cream Cupcakes, Not Guilty ?

When I emailed my mother yesterday and mentioned Robert’s runny tummy, she said maybe he is teething.  I dismissed the notion immediately, because my boy is almost fully grown, how could he be teething again? Besides I was too busy blaming the cream cupcake. I guess I was brainwashed by my ex, who used to claim that even a small ice cream gives him indigestion.

When I picked Robert up from school today he looked tired and unhappy. His teachers told me he has slight temperature and he hadn’t eaten. One of them mentioned teething as well because they noted that one of his cheeks was red and hot. I was still unconvinced until I tried to investigate his gum this evening, and sure enough the gum is swollen on the right bottom side his mouth, so I think we are both going to have some interesting times ahead.

Eating has been almost non-existent, and the runny tummy continues. He also has a little temperature, we are in for some challenging time.

Apart from that the weather in Cape Town is still great, it reached 28 degrees this afternoon. So we did get to the playground, runny tummy and all.

This is another picture of today’s sunset from the playground on the promenade

Teething and Biting

Teething starts from six months, and sometimes earlier, and the battle with sore gums and dribble continues on and off thereafter until all 20 milk teeth make their appearance.  Robert’s big teeth are starting to sprout, and it looks like they are hurting big time. Apart from randomly using me and anything else close at hand as teething aids, Robert is also biting his fingers a lot. I once even detected bite marks on the heel of his hand; it was one of various marks and bruises he sometimes comes back with from school.

Twice already his teacher left me a note to explain bite marks on his arm. Apparently one of his classmates takes frustration on others, which left Robert with a couple of bite marks.  When I first received the note I found it quite funny it went as follows:

Dear Mom,

I was bitten today by one of my classmates on my left arm. (Teacher name) put ice and lotion on it. The biter was put in time out and was told not to bite his friends.



When I got one of these notes the second time I thought it less cute, especially if the biter was the same person. But then I thought, I would rather get a note that my child was bitten rather than one telling me he is biting his classmates. At least I know that he shows some discrimination in what he uses as teething aids.

Two Definitions for Nasty

Robert and I both can attest to the definition of nasty this week.

The little one has been teething and his canines (eye teeth) are giving a lot of trouble. At the beginning of the week I noticed that his top right canine has cut through, and two days later the bottom one followed.  Then of course it was the turn of the teeth on the left side. I saw him during the week rubbing his gums, and even resurrected the teething ring which was a gift from his ex-aunt Jackie. He now frequently asks for it, calling it “bite” and rubs it vigorously against his aching teeth.  I always heard that canines are the worst, and now I know that this is probably true, because this was the first time I saw Robert crying with teething pain. This did not even happen when his four molars erupted at once.  On Thursday, he developed tiny red spots of rash which were localized to the left side of his face. I did not think much about them at the time but on Friday the teachers were worried and asked me to get the ladies at the office to have a look. One of them gave me the diagnosis of “measles” and I was extremely annoyed with her.  She is already out of favor with me because she keeps calling me Mrs Jxxx, which annoys me to no end because I never took my ex-husband’s surname while we were married,  and was definitely not going to start adopting it after I divorced him. Her grim diagnosis not withstanding, Robert was allowed to stay at school, because he simply did not have any other symptoms. The principal said that they will call me if he developed a fever.  As my luck will have it, Robert did develop a little temperature, but only when we got home, and we spent some miserable time on Friday night and all through Saturday. I still maintain that the teething is the culprit, because it is obvious that only his gums are hurting.

While Robert slowly gets used to his teething. I am suffering my own teething pains with the translation project I am currently working on. I have never experienced such slow progress since I started freelance translating. I sleep very little, I eat on the run and only get out to buy the necessities,  but still I cannot seem to catch up. A good friend of mine is in Cape Town on holiday at the moment and I was only able to meet up with her for two short visits, I feel bad but I cannot help it because my deadline is looming and I am not even halfway there. All I want is for this job to end, and I promise myself and my son that I will never ever accept such horrible work.

Seventeen Months

My baby is growing into a toddler and his personality is developing rapidly. The re-introduction to school at the beginning of the school year was much easier, but I hope his health will not suffer much this time around. Today I had a scare when the school supervisor called me to fetch Robert because he was not feeling well and had a fever. As I walked to the school I was so despondent and unhappy and started seriously thinking again quitting work. It is really not worth it to make my little one suffer in this way.

Robert’s father is now working full time and I cannot rely on him too much for looking after Robert and even the situation with my nanny Lucy seems a little tenuous as her employer(s) do not like her to come and help me out even in her off time, so I really did not know what to do. When I arrived at school my spirit was somewhat lifted when I saw that Robert was fine and I did not feel that he was feverish. His teacher told me that he perked up as soon as he heard that I was coming to get him. I don’t know what could have been wrong this time, the adverse effects of teething should be gone because his fourth molar cut already last week. He has a little bit of a runny nose but I am hoping that this time his body will fight it out, we will wait and see.

His teachers at school say he is always busy in class especially pushing the little chairs around. This is his favourite activity at home as well and it is quite unpleasant for me and my next door neighbor when he starts at it first thing in the morning. Also I am noting his increased independence; the daycare encourages that, for example at snack or meal time the children sit in on little tables and chairs and start feeding themselves. Robert is starting to get good at eating by himself, but I can still tell what he had for lunch by examining the stains on his shirt. He also insists on “brushing” his teeth on his own. I usually start out the proper brushing then I leave him to bite and suck the toothbrush for a few minutes.

Robert’s verbal skills and his diction continue to improve. Instead of Naah for no he now says noo, it sounds quite cute like a little kitten miau. I still speak to him primarily in English but I encourage German vocabulary sometimes whenever I feel he is receptive.
The most obvious advantage to his growing verbal skill is his ability to tell me what he wants. He names the books he wants me to read “oppodi” (Opposites) and tells me that he wants “gam” (jam) or egg.

It is interesting to note also the way he perceives things and people. His father told me that he exclaimed “dada” when he spotted a picture of George W. Bush in a magazine. I am surprised that my ex even mentioned the story to me because I am sure he was not impressed. I cannot ask Robert why he made this comment but maybe he sees his father as an older person who is not too bright.
One morning he watched me write his name with a marker on his milk bottle and sippy cup as I was preparing his school bag. I pointed to the writing and said Robert, and the next thing I know he surprised his father by pointing to the writing and saying : “bobbet”.

Another area of marked improvements from previous months, is Robert’s appetite. He eats regular meals and does not snub his food after the first bite. The experience of feeding him is still quite messy, because he loves to try feeding himself, and explore the texture and substance of food with his fingers, but most of the food ends up in his stomach rather than on the floor and the furniture.

One thing that I am still procrastinating at seventeen months, and this might come as shocker to my family, is complete weaning. Robert still has a nightly breast milk dose and sometimes he wakes up twice for a little sup.  I believe that it is time for him to move on, but I do not have the heart to go through with it. For one I still enjoy the special loving connection of breastfeeding and secondly I find it easier just to give in to his demand at night, rather than tolerate his prolonged crying. I think I should get some backbone and be firm about it, I do not want to break any records on extended breastfeeding.

Robert’s Adventures at Sixteen Months

The most remarkable progress Robert made in the last month was with his vocabulary and with recognizing himself as a separate entity.

When I recently ask him where is Robert, he points to himself and says: Ah-Peh, which is what he calls himself these days.

Among other words and vocabulary: , Out, hat (at), ball, up (refers to both up and down for him), water (Ah-ti), book, back (he orders me to put back the food he does not want), bike – the new toy he received from his father(sounds exactly like back), Apple (ah-pi, and refers to all round fruits), open (ah-pi), baked (for baked beans), head (ed),  hug (ug), kaka (anything dirty), tick tak (his name for the clock or anything that looks like a clock) bucket (bah-ki refers to the small play buckets he has), cup (for his play cups) and baby. This in addition to his favourite sentence : don’t go down (dungoda).

Britt gave Robert a big picture book of all the animals and among those he recognizes are : dog (pronounces it like duck), and puppy. The cat in the book looks remarkably like Petey, and perhaps this is why Robert points at it and just grunts. Him and the cat do not like each other that much.

There are other words that he says, that I do not remember at the moment. He says car (cah – which is the same sound he uses for cow referring to the milk bottle), and he says papa, but unfortunately whenever he says mama he is referring (and demanding) the part of my anatomy that still provides him with a comforting snack. Lucy said that perhaps this is his pronounciation of nana (with a Xhosa click sound) which is their baby language for food, but I do not think my son is that gifted to speak Xhosa as well.

Gregarious as my little one is, his new flair for words sometimes only makes for new frustration for both of us.  There are many words that sound the same in his diction, and for them I go through a process of elimination. Robert’s patience sometimes runs out and he does not understand why it takes me so long to get him what he actually wants.

Apart from the words he can actually say, there are many more he understands. Today when I said Christmas he turned and pointed to the Christmas tree, and when I asked him whether he wanted music he pointed to the radio.

I am starting to notice patterns of behaviour as well:  He gets very impatient and frustrated when things do not work, and this is when he has a fit with a pointing finger. He also cannot tolerate any dirty hankies in his vicinity, this includes the paper towel which I keep handy at feeding time. He keeps, however, throwing it to the floor with the exclamation: kaka !

When he wakes up and finds me working on the laptop he starts trying to get my attention, and usually demands : Back ! ( I should put away the laptop I guess).

During these days we spent at home Robert’s appetite returned and he started picking up weight again. Maybe it is because he is away from the daycare and all the germs from other kids, but it is could also be attributed to less teething pain, as two more molars have already cut through (he now has a total of three). When it comes to food, Robert is very hands-on. He opens the fridge himself taking out the food he wants (or the food he thinks he wants).  Baked beans are by far his favourite food and he calls them by name, or finds them in cupboard, fridge and pantry and brings them over. He amazes me by holding the can from the top using only one hand.

Today and after our busy time at Christmas and Boxing Day, we got to the beach, and this coincided nicely with Robert’s 16 months birthday. It was an outing sponsored by Robert’s father who bought him a bucket and a shovel to play with. We went there in the morning and it was a perfect day for the beach, the sky was clear and we could even say the cable car on Table Mountain from Clifton Beach. Robert enjoyed the cold water, he still hasn’t learned the word for ocean but he recognizes it as a body of “Ah-ti”. His favourite game was to fill the bucket with water and then walk with it back to the shade of the tree where we set up our temporary camp.  He made quite a few walks back and forth and was whipped tired by midday. I let him sleep sandy nappy and all until three in the afternoon.

Another Tooth and No Trouble

Yesterday Jackie told me that Robert must have cut an upper tooth. She realized that because he gave her quite a sore bite on her arm. On closer examination it is confirmed that Robert has one of his upper incisors already out. The good thing is that he did not have or give too much trouble with this tooth. His teething, we hope, will be uneventful from now on.

Last night we had company for dinner. The last time I saw Jason and Fiona was at he hospital where Robert was born. Nine months later they are newlyweds and very much in love, while I am a recovering divorcee . When Robert was born Jackie came also to visit with her boyfriend, she broke up with him shortly before I moved in with her; life is really strange. Jackie is still trying to find Mr. Right, but speaking for myself, and after nine years of living with Mr. Wrong, I am calling off the search.

Back on Track

Some rough weeks are behind us. Baby and I are both recovering from the flu, and I am out of a severe depression that hit me in the past weeks.

When I moved here over a month ago, my house-mate kindly offered me the use of her computer for my daily email checking. I did a few blog posts as well using her machine but it was quickly getting on my nerves with its lagging slowness. The whole point of blogging is to write without really thinking about it, and just let the fingers fly over the keyboard, and words rush to the screen. With her machine you have to wait for the letters to show up well after the fingers have typed. Worse still if I needed to backtrack on a couple of words, holding down the backspace key often led to disastrous results, leaving me a couple of paragraphs short, when I only want to delete a sentence. On one such venture to this blog, I also noticed that my header went out the window and I had no way of replacing it, since I was working on a strange machine.

I thought I will forget everything as soon as my machine was happily set up in its new corner, but I was in for another unpleasant surprise. The crash of my trusty computer was the last straw, and it really hit me hard. At stake were almost three years’ worth of work data, painstakingly downloaded and collected software, e-books, craft patterns, emails, and most painfully my beloved boy’s pictures from birth until the day before I moved out. I was inconsolable at this terrible loss on top of everything else.

I wasn’t doing well either on other fronts. Baby was sickly and irritable because of teething. I succumbed to moral pressure and bought a music CD; a present I couldn’t afford for my house-mate. Soon afterwards I discovered that my choice was a terrible, and the CD not exchangeable. My cellphone charger decided to quit on me, only a month after switching to pre-paid.  I was ready to crawl into the nearest cave, and just hibernate for the rest of the year.

In the midst of my desperation, a friend took pity on me and invited me to spend an evening with her family. Baby and I went and had a great time. For me, it was a great privilege to spend time with normal people, because I was getting sick of hanging around with misfits like me. It is a great comfort to know and see that there are people out there who make their relationships work, and not everyone is recovering from a broken relationship or looking for a new one.

The dose of love, caring and normalcy I got from my dear friend gave me the courage to seek help for my damaged computer. Another friend came to the rescue and my valuable history was saved. Now I am sifting through my electronic files to restore the software I worked with and put back all the knickknacks I am partial to using. It will take some time before everything is back to its old order, but at least I am halfway there.

Baby has two little teeth, they were his first Mother’s Day present for me. I fixed my problem with my cell phone charger. My experience with my unsuitable present taught me a lesson, and for my other friends I will either give a handmade present or a voucher.  For my own birthday I want NOTHING. Life is too short to keep collecting and passing on unwanted gifts.

Happy Mother’s Day

I would like to think that my first mother’s day present from Robert was his first pair of teeth. He will now get a little break from teething pain, and I have a rest for a while from washing poopy mattresses. I would have loved to spend the day with my little boy, but unfortunately I had to work, which meant that I had to face Robert’s dad. The experience is rarely pleasant as we tend to argue whenever we meet.

I am still troubled, but the sadness is lifting slowly and giving way to hope. Yesterday I called my computer expert and next week Jackie will help take the computer to him. I am hoping for some good news then; maybe my photos will not be lost after all.

I received many greetings for mother’s day from friends. A duty managed declared that he sympathized with me for working on my first mother’s day. The hardest thing to face however was a greeting card from my mom, where she congratulated me (us) on being a family. It made my anger against Ron erupt again. In my mind he is still responsible for this breakup and because of him I had to write a long and sad letter to my mom. In the meantime I tried to prepare my parents for the bad news.

With all this happening, I am a little bit in a reflective mood today. The blogs I read were full of Mother’s Day anecdotes, and they helped me -again- appreciate the blessings of motherhood. I liked this blog post from The Keyboard Biologist Knits. This mother’s experience resonated with me and made me smile:

This year will be my first “real” Mother’s Day. Last year, I was about 7 months pregnant and waiting for the arrival of the baby that I had worried would never be a part of my life. Although I was…View Original Article

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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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