The Party Post

Robert’s birthday went better than anticipated considering that he had a temperature in the morning.

We first had a party at his school. He was very proud to put on his crown, which Melanie made in green, and I am sure he requested it specifically, because it is his favourite colour.

He blew three (pronounced by him almost like free) candles

I baked the cake and the cupcakes for the schools and prepared little party packets for him and his classmates.

and the best part of the party for all kids including Robert was eating the cake, and here he is doing just that.

We went home after the party and decided against sleep-over with his father today because of his cold/flu symptoms. I took him out of school early and after we bought his present, a box of lego and some Disney DVDs we went to his 2nd birthday party at Britt’s house. There I took the remainder of the party packets and the other cake, which I was too lazy to decorate this time. Britt, Maria and the girls did the rest. There was another lovely cake there, two other friends and Robbie had lots of fun. I never noticed it at the time but he was indeed the only male with a harem of little girls fussing over him.

The day was warm and the kids played in the garden, and when Britt finished teaching for the day we sat down a little with one of the moms and shared a glass of red wine. It was a pleasurable conclusion to a lovely day. I couldn’t be happier and I am sure Robert felt on top of the world as well.

Happy Birthday my son my sunshine. I love you more than anything in my life, you are the reason I take every breath. God keep you for me healthy and happy forever.

My Little Boy Turns Three

After all the milestones of first smiles, first steps and first words I can tell that here is nothing more remarkable than the milestone of turning three. It all happens so fast, one day I am dealing with a little toddler with moods and tantrums and the next day I am listening to instructions, opinions and stories from a little boy. This is not to say that I am not dealing with tantrums anymore but the little personality is getting itself established very quickly.

I had put cream on my sore nose one day, and the little boy came up to me instructing me to rub it in “wob it in mommy” he said. Another day I was hugging and tickling and rough-housing with him and in between giggles he said: “I call the pleese” (I will call the police – a line I discovered later that he picked up from 101 Dalmatians, and used almost appropriately).

He is aware of himself growing, “I am biiiig” he tells me on a daily basis, and my heart expands with my love for him, and I wish to tell him, do not be in a rush to grow up because growing up is a tough job indeed. He will have his tough days ahead. Along with turning three he becomes a pre-schooler, no longer a toddler and he will be leaving his baby class, his beloved teachers Melanie and Yvonne, and all the little friends he got used to. There is no denying that he is ready as far as educational development is concerned. He is way above the level of the 0-3 class already.

When I speak to him he answers like an adult. Did you have a good time at school I ask, and he answers : Yes I did. Always in full sentences, never a yes, no answer or a nod of the head. He can count from one to ten, and recognizes almost all number digits and many letters. He has been able to recognize his own name for almost a year now in upper case and he now knows it in normal print writing. Recently I introduced him to the computer and he can use the mouse skillfully. He can also operate the DVD player on the computer and navigate some of the simple menus.  He always impresses me with his quick learning, but whether he will be emotionally ready to change into another class and later next year to another school is another matter.

I have been suffering with a bad flu all last week, and I tried diligently not to pass it on to him as an evil birthday present, but for all my attempts he woke up today with a little temperature and I was in doubt whether he will be fit enough for his party. Fortunately everything went well and he had a double birthday party, one at his playschool and another at Britt’s place. It was great fun for everyone.

Potty Update

I know that I should have reported on progress with this earlier, but my silence in this case means that there were no more incidents. I can safely say that Robert was potty trained by the time he turned 32 months. One more milestone completed.

Potty Training Frustration

I am sure that given time I will revise this opinion, but so far potty training has been THE most difficult parenting task I had with Robbie.

First of all it was very hard to convince him to sit on the potty or do without his nappy. Second it is near impossible to get him to understand that No.2 belongs in the potty and not in the nappy, or underpants or on the couch and flo0r for that matter.

I tried various strategies, from bribery and cajolery to brute force persuasion – the latter resulted in the both of us spending a whole afternoon “stuck” in the bathroom, because we were only allowed to get out once the potty is used successfully.

Initially I tried to put him in underpants : He thought the underpants were a good substitute for a nappy and used them as such.

I tried bare bum – and I am still doing it, which resulted in the accidents I mentioned earlier on the floor and the sofa.

In the evening I used to put his sleep nappy after a bath and just before I tucked him in, but he quickly learned to time his poo for this, and sometimes filled the nappy from the horizontal position, which is a great feat in my opinion for someone who claims that doing it on the potty is “hard”.

Meanwhile the tricks of rewards have done very little to convince him: So far my child has done without chocolate, and his beloved radio, and he still hasn’t graced the potty with a substantial product – He did not have any bowel  movement for the last 48 hours and I finally resorted to a mild laxative. Hopefully I will not regret this.

What is finally working for No1 is a potty toy. A small musical wind-up box that plays a German song : Hänschen Klein. It has accompanying colorful cards, which contain a few dozen of other songs, most of which are familiar to him from the German tapes and CDs he loves. At least this worked magic for the appeal of sitting on the potty to make a wee. At the creche he also has no problems or accidents and they have their own methods of convincing the children to do what they are supposed to. Also the peer pressure (or should I say pee-er pressure) of other potty-goers probably helps. But we are still waiting for the other monumental achievement, of actually making a poo on the potty.

So exasperated I was from all of this that I actually promised my boy to tell the stories of potty-training failures one day to his girlfriend, to which he replied smugly : “Gina is my go-fend”, so it seems like I missed that one.

Another little thing he told me today while arranging his table and chair to resemble a huge speaker (have no idea how he saw they did) – he said: This is “fuss-tate-ing” – I am sure he picked it up from my up-beat vocabulary during this experience.

PS : I was interrupted while writing this by another accident of major proportions on the floor. All I can say is thank god I have no carpets in my flat. And the battle continues, this is now week three.

Going Potty..

Yesterday was officially the first day of Easter Holiday for Robert. The creche has holiday care for about one week of the school holiday and remains closed for a week after Easter, but this time I opted for him to stay home with me because I wanted to finish his potty training.

I think I underestimated the task, and my confidence was boosted by minor successes at introducing the potty and keeping Robert’s underpants dry of pee. It is, however the big stuff that I am battling with. Robert insists on making a poo in his nappy/pants. There was even the memorable episode on Sunday when he stubbornly sat in the buggy, soiled pants and all for over half an hour.

This setback demotivated me and made me question my method. I am ashamed to admit that I even started to taste some resentment against my son.  Somehow his aloofness and refusal to communicate on the matter of using the toilet brought back memories of his father, and the way he used to behave.  I had nightmare scenarios in my mind of the son I love beyond reason turning into a carbon copy of his father. The prospect made me want to scream, run away, hide and even give Robert up to his father – Thankfully these black thoughts did not persist.

The whole situation may seem comical now, but I was definitely on the verge of depression, and I always teeter on the brink of it with the onset of PMS.  So for all of yesterday I was battling these emotions of resentment, depression and anxiety. I think my son reacted to my unbalanced state and added his own mix of naughtiness and mischief. Yesterday marked several disasters on the home front: One liter of yogurt spilled all over the table and floor; One of my two Yucca plants completely denuded of leaves and the other missing half of them; and floor tiles lifted in one section of the lounge. That, in addition to the normal set light to medium misbehavior, such as throwing toys and screeching tantrums, all of which did not contribute to enhancing my mothering instinct but made me rather more inclined to fight and/or flee this little terror.

Today things look much better. The battle for the potty has been removed to a lower priority and with the pressure off I think I will have better success. Robert is sleeping peacefully like an angel, and my feelings for him are back to normal. It is all a matter of attitude.

Apart from taking a step back and de-emphasizing the problem issue, here are some of the things that made the difference for me today: Venting off to my parents on Skype, fixing the chairs that Robert broke ages ago, and good old comfort food of Macaroni and cheese for lunch, finishing off with a cup of chococcino in the evening.

A friend of mine told me today that the difference between a good day and a bad day are only a bunch of chemicals in the brain, and I bet these small doses of comfort fixed the imbalance in my brain – You are absolutely right G !

Heartwarming Moments

On days like these when I am rushing, fighting loss of sleep and nervous at the choices and responsibilities ahead, I have to stop and appreciate what I have, and pause to take in the joys of being a mom to a small child

Sometimes I want to stop time and capture these rays of happiness and sunshine he gives my life. I want to capture every laugh and every smile, because I am so aware of their precious transience. Every time I hold him and smell his sweet innocence, I realize that one day the child’s softness will give way to the rough edges of boyhood, then the distance of manhood. And just as the smell and sound of baby Robert is now something to remember and smile about, this toddler Robert gives me at least one reason to smile every single day, and most of these smiles are worth mentioning and remembering.

Today Robert was carrying his books in one hand and his little green chair in the other and following the cat around. Mommy, I want cat he said to me. Why? I wanted to know. I want to read to cat, he said.  I tried to cajole the disinterested Pete, and I managed to get him to sit at my feet while right across Robert sat on his chair and started “reading”one of his books to cat, all about Bo-Beep who lost her sheep. The cat, being  his arrogant self, walked away quickly to the other room with Robert in tow, books in arm and chair dragged behind.  He tried time after time to sit on his chair next to Pete and read to him, until finally he got tired of the futile task.

I was amused and happy at the same time. At least my boy has learned the love of books from his mom and was trying diligently to teach this to a smaller creature.


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.


As an antidote to yesterday’s unsettling experience with my neighbor from upstairs I had another unsavory incident with an unfriendly anonymous male person from -I assume- one of the houses next door.

I was determined today to keep my volume down and did my usual negotiations with my toddler with firm but low tones. My control, however, did not extend to his volumes and tones.

I had the usual difficulty, with him sleeping late, waking up late, and showing up late for his first day of the new school year on one of the hottest summer days.

Things continued to go wrong when he missed (or firmly resisted) his nap, and I thought that the best solution was to take him out in the late afternoon and let him walk off excess energy. I was hoping he will quickly settle to sleep after a shower and supper. But when we returned home he was in over-tired mode and started howling in the shower. I was doing my best trying to keep cool and weather the storm when someone next door shouted :  SHUT UP, SHUT YOUR CHILD UP !!!

That made me mighty angry. I had a couple of foul-mouthed retorts ready in my mind, but mostly I wanted to tell the smart-ass that I was glad he was suffering.   I was ready to let my child continue his tirade out of pure spite.  I do not know the guy, or where he lives, but I recognize him as the voice who often barks at dogs to SHUT UP as well; I do not consider this normal behavior.

Perhaps this happened to bring yesterday in perspective and protect me from placing too much blame on myself. I will still try to keep my volume down, but some people will keep complaining no matter what..

Almost Home

Yesterday Mr. Handyman came to install my washing machine,  my stove and a security door. This last one is kind of mandatory in South Africa, although the house break-ins in our area are neither more nor less than the average place in the world, or so we like to think. I ended up paying the handyman too much, and I was the one who solved the problem of connecting the washing machine to my hand basin, by suggesting the correct fitting : a simple T junction. They wanted to sell me a new tap, that would have cost a fortune and would have probably ruined the handbasin, and I do not want to talk about the mishap with installing the security door either, which the apprentice screwed in the wrong way while the master handyman was busy making small talk.. Ah well, all in a day’s work in South Africa.

Since I ended up paying a fortune yesterday for the privilege of owning and using my appliances, I wanted to make use of them as soon as possible,  hence we made pan cakes for breakfast and for lunch we fried fish cakes and fish fingers, but the highlight of the day was inaugurating the washing machine; I think it is truly a mother’s best friend. The handyman thought the dishwasher was too, but I beg to differ, because there are disposable substitutes for dishes should one want, but they haven’t invented a socially acceptable form of disposable clothes. In theory you can eat take out, from the pot, or from the container to minimize on dishes, nobody would notice unless you invite them to your home to watch this anti-social behavior, but everyone would surely notice if one chooses to minimize on clothing or go completely without… Therefore the washing machine is definitely non-negotiable.

Today it is two weeks since we moved here, and I am definitely not in a frenzy of ordering. Things are getting to their places in their own good time (or in mine). I  have been busy with a number of small jobs and I was keeping strange hours, such as sleeping at seven with my boy and then waking up after midnight to translate, review or proofread as the case may be.  Now I have a bigger job that will demand my attention for the next four week.. I am a very busy woman.. touch wood.

That said, things on the day-job front do not look that great. The atmosphere is getting increasingly stifling there are more rule-writers and micro-managers than I can tolerate, and I keep wondering how long before I just throw in the towel and concentrate on spending my time in more rewarding activities, like making my flat feel like a home for example..

Now it is almost home with a few touches missing here and there. There are many positives to the new place : It is closer to Robert’s play school, so I normally walk with Robert there and back,  this dramatically reduces my travel time and transport expenses.  The down-side is that it is far away from my favourite food stores; I definitely need transport to do the shopping or I need a high degree of enthusiasm to walk back five kilometres or so with a heavy backpack. This is the only way to go though if I was going with Robert since it is too difficult to get him, his stroller and my shopping bag(s) onto a minibus, or even a bus – our city buses are horribly inaccessible with a half a dozen steep steps to the passenger deck and very narrow seats and aisles.  Still, I can do this. Shopping is not an everyday affair, unlike taking Robert to the day-care.

Robert himself seems to be heading towards a difficult time for me. He has developed an interest in the Micky (Music in our language) and asks for the radio the moment we step into the flat. One would like to think that he wants to listen to the songs, but no, not Robert. He wants to move the CD player about, plug it in, then out, then carry it to the floor, or put it on the table. Later he starts pushing buttons indiscriminately, and opening and closing the tape deck, taking out the CD and then putting it in again… drives me absolutely insane.

I tried to ask him to promise me to leave it alone, not play with it or move it. But his only concession to my demands was learning a new phrase :”promise mommy”. It is actually so cute when he stands in the lounge and asks me for the radio, then says to me “promise mommy, promise me” while slowly nodding his head in affirmation – makes me want to give in.. I am thinking of buying him a cheap tape recorder to break, and I will make tapes of his favorite songs so that he will stop scratching the CDs. Oh, the things that this boy is making me do, but I love him so much.



Originally uploaded by momranda

Robert got hold of an onion today from my shopping bag. The following conversation took place:

Mom : Robert is the onion nice, do you like onion ?
What are you doing with the onion ?

Robert: Take the onion off the peal, take it off, take it off

Mom: And then what are you gonna do with it.

Robert (chomps up on the onion and starts chewing for an answer)

The onion is missing a little chunk and sometime after his first few bites his enthusiasm waned. I am amazed that he put up with the sharp taste of raw onion. He still smelled of onion as he went to bed.  I wonder what his teacher will think if he still reeks of it tomorrow morning.

Incidentally, this is not the first time Robert displays a liking for the strong biting taste of onion. Last year, during our holiday in Germany he happily crunched a green onion, perhaps it gave him a anesthetizing sensation on his gum as he was teething.