Yesterday I was contemplating the coming mounting expenses and thanking my stars that I had at least one outstanding payment arrive into my account. Yes, the exchange rate was horrible, but at least it will pay for the upcoming rent and appliances until I receive money from selling my own unwanted furniture and the deposit from this flat.

I went to the cash machine to withdraw money for the nanny, who is looking after Robert at Britt’s house, and at once I saw that I had more money than I should have, not a few hundred, but a few thousand more, and I did not have any more outstanding jobs that amount to a few thousand Rand.

I was so anxious I went to the bank to enquire, and lo and behold I actually got a refund from the Receiver of Revenue. I was so happy I almost cried, it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time !! I also got paid my regular salary on the same day, so I have all the money I need to get my through the terrible expenses of moving, I shouldn’t have worried.

Yes, I am lucky. Somebody out there is looking out for me and I am so grateful for everything I have.

I realize that every day when I look at my son, and when he snuggles against me at night, and says : Mummy I love..

22 Months : Willful

Stubbornness is rearing its ugly head and my sweet little toddler is sometimes not so sweet when he insists on doing things his way.

The pattern of returning home from the day care is getting more challenging for mom as I try different trick to convince, cajole or even force Robert to head in the direction of home.. Of course he needs to show me many things along the way, the signs of the security company, where he points out the zeros and some letters he is starting to recognize (namely X and E ). Sometimes he just gets frustrated with something and throws himself on the ground which makes my patience and nerves fray.

Once we reach our gate he also has to take the keys from me and find the key himself to put in the lock.  He normally takes his time, especially when I have a heavy load of groceries or when I am in a hurry to get to the bathroom.  At least he learned now not to linger too long at the gate of our building because I always remind him that there is another key to turn at our front door. I have to think up new tricks and keep him interested and moving in the correct direction.

I am still learning to deal with this new toddler stage, and it is difficult sometimes to control my anger at my son’s unruliness.  When he is frustrated, he sometimes gets into fits of anger, or looks me straight in the eye as he does exactly what I warned him not to. It gets hard sometimes not to respond with my own fit of temper, even when common sense tells me that it must be real tough dealing with the world from his perspective.

Today was another beautiful day in Cape Town, a welcome change after all the storms and rains.  I wanted to take Robert for a walk and perhaps to the park, but we never really made it as far as the park. Once we arrived at the promenade he insisted on getting out of the stroller and pushing it.  We did not make much progress because he would refuse my help in steering and then end up hitting the roadside or the garbage bins.  Later he started collecting small rocks and pepples from the sidewalk and depositing them in the stroller, and of course this was the most interesting activity, and no amount of encouragement would convince him to  move forward towards the playground.  At sunset I took matters into my own hands and we headed back. I still needed some things from the shops and it normally gets cold once the sun sets.

Real shopping was done quite late because I made the mistake of going past the bookshop which had its winter sale, which meant that we arrived at home late and had to fast forward to bedtime routine.

Green Tea for Breakfast

We certainly have a stomach bug, and I mean both of us. Yesterday Robbie’s condition did not improve and I had to phone work to tell them I am not coming. Later we took the trip to the doctor again who prescribed re-hydration fluid, anti-cramp medicine and some pro-biotic.

The trip exhausted us both because among others we had very little sleep last night, and I crashed next to Rob on the bed. Later I got up to do some work and had to rush back to his bedside at the sound of retching. My poor boy threw up what little breakfast he ate all over himself, the pillow, the duvet and the mattress. It was a scramble to get everyone and everything in shape again.

Today my stomach also feels queasy and I have a terrible sore at the roof of my mouth -something I remember having often as a kid accompanying a sore stomach. I am trying to relieve my ailments by drinking green tea for breakfast.

Robert just woke up and I have to go through the routine of giving him breakfast and trying to force some medicine on him. Pharmaceuticals really have a weird sense of humor. The medicine against stomach cramps -which is clearly for little ones judging by the dosage information and the picture of a smiling infant- is so bitter, I think I would have trouble if I had to give it to myself, let alone a squirming toddler who needs convincing even when the (medimed) sweetly tastes of strawberry.

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

The Gross Out Phenomenon

Yesterday was another day off school for Robert. He started the day with a terrible bout of diarrhea and went on like this for the rest of the day. I spent considerable amount of time at the changing table trying to prevent a leaking nappy disaster.

Scientifically, an ailment of this nature can only be caused by a virus, but I do not know why I am still blaming the cream cup cakes we both consumed greedily yesterday. I was buying our usual stuff from the supermarket when he saw these ones on the discount table and started crying out : muffin.. muffin, and of course I had to buy him something. Perhaps I made him my excuse because they were discounted and I fancied something sweet.  I think next time there are more wholesome options, and I can buy him ONE bran muffin instead of a whole tray of cream cupcakes.

If it was not for another pressing translation assignment I would have enjoyed today’s break with my son a little more. It was a glorious warm autumn day with blue skies and sunshine, something that this part of the world is renowned for.  I took Robert in his stroller up Victoria Road in the direction of Camps Bay and after a brief rest taking in the views of the Twelve Apostles and Clifton beaches we headed back towards our part of the world, and Robert got to walk as well on the promenade.

We do not get this fabulous weather all the time, though. This past weekend was disastrous in the Cape. The rain and gale force winds wreaked havoc in informal settlements (shanty towns) and on the Cape Flats (where flood damage is always greatest).  I had quite a challenging time because I had to go to work and I was scheduled to drop off Robert with Britt’s nanny at their place.  As is always the case Britt came to the rescue and offered to come and pick us up. She gave me a lift to work and back on that day too, something I only got once from my ex husband since our divorce. Compassion was never one of his strongest points.

On Sunday Robert was due to be with his father and the weather was better. I had the chance to put the laundry out in the sun for a few hours when I came back from work. My ex dropped off our son late and my poor baby was drenched in mud water from the knees down. My ex insisted that I not mention anything because Robert fell in a puddle and was very upset for at least half an hour after that. At home Robbie protested bitterly at being carried into the bath and the subsequent cleanup, but I did not sense anything was wrong, our afternoon proceeded normally with the usual bath-time and bedtime routine.  I was very surprised when my ex phoned just as we were both drifting to sleep to ask how Robert was, it makes me wonder whether my ex was telling me everything about Robert’s misadventure.

Speaking of the tyke. I think he is starting the boy tradition of fascination with the gross. Whenever I change his diaper (and yesterday I had more of this experience than I care to count) he would give a comment on this, either: bum hurting (hetin) – meaning he has a nappy rash , ka ka toiten (he should have used the toilet) or just nappy on/ nappy off. Lately however he started commenting -I think- on the actual contents of the nappy.. gross.  As I wrinkle my nose at the disgusting diapers and try hard to keep the squirming toddler from smearing it everywhere or putting his hands on his dirty bum he would go : “like avocado”… Yuk… Last night he volunteered: “Like Hummus” … I had a hard time fighting my gag reflex while laughing at the same time.

Mother’s Day and other Stories

Yesterday was mother’s day in this part of the world, and the weather was truly magical. We had sunshine and clear skies and a temperature of 28 degrees. On days like this it is hard to imagine living anywhere other than the beautiful Cape.

Robert went to the beach with his father in the morning, and later in the afternoon we went for a walk on the promenade and to the playground. At the playground he played on the swing for some time which is his favourite, then he insisted on going up the slide. Now this is not the little baby slide but something that goes up for about 2 meters, and my heart was up in my mouth every time he went up there. The playground was full so I could not really follow him up there, and I had to give him instructions to put both his legs forward as he sat ready to slide. Somehow he got it, but he is a careful little fellow always breaking with his foot against the sides of the slide, so it was not a very fast ride once he launched himself down. I was able to stand the suspense for three horrifying climbs and rides on the slide before I called the game off.

Looking after a little child gets easier and harder as the days go by. Now he runs ahead of me in the park and on the promenade and I have to be on the alert every single second, prepared for surprising actions. I can only relax when he is safely strapped into his stroller.

I had planned to go with Robert to a Mother’s Day lunch at the Aquarium, but I thought it was too much excitement for him after the beach. Yesterday we spent the day at home, and played in the garden, but it was a bad decision in retrospect because my little one missed his nap and got very rambunctious, throwing things around in our little flat, and basically getting on my nerves.  He went to sleep at around seven but by then I was also exhausted. The only treat I got for mother’s day was a little present and card from Robert’s playschool.  It was a heart-shaped pendant in a dainty little bag along with a handmade card. The teachers and the children contributed in making cards for each mom with beads glued on them. When Robert got hold of the card he managed to take off most the colourful beads, before I could caputre the present in a photo.

20 Months : The Chatter Box

I will remember this phase in Robert’s life most as the phase of developing conversation. He is now at the stage where he watches people and things and gives running commentary about what he sees.

The other day I was walking with him at the beach front and one of the information billboards was about seals and how they can be strangled by fishing ropes or even plastic bags if they get stuck in them, since they have no arms to release themselves. I was amazed that he explained it to me by saying : rope hurtin’ seal… I think that his dad showed it to him before. It doesn’t take long for him to register information and new vocabulary. After a brief introduction to pitta and Humus he now regularly asks for : pitta bread (bed) with Humus or pitta with avocado. He also learned the word “cucumber” in one afternoon after filling up on it at his dad’s place.

At night he gives me a run down on his day, or remembers past events. Last night after he mentioned his teachers and his friends in class, he said suddenly : Noma .. gone. Noma is his teacher from last November who left without notice at the beginning of this year. I think his memory and power of observation in already better than mine. He knows exactly where to find certain signs on our daily walk from the taxi stop to the house, and he points without fail the gate behind which the “doggy dog”  is to be found.

It is very hard to fool him as well. While he was sick last week I tried to give him effervescent cough tablets by adding them to his juice. I thought the taste of the juice would mask the medicine, but he always detected it at the very first sip, and gave me back the sippy cup with the single comment : medimed,  so there was no cough medicine for him.  Yesterday he made me laugh when for some reason he flashed back to these incidents as he was enjoying a drink from his sippy cup, and he said : no medimed !

Another amusing behavior he started this week was wearing my slippers and trying to walk with them.  It is funny for me because I remember my younger sister doing that very long ago. He is also starting to get bossy, trying to impose his sense of order on me – for example he tells me to : put cap on.. or  orders : “sunglasses on”, “shoe on”. These orders do not always imply that he wants to go out, he just feels that this is how it should be at a particular time.

Although his development amazes me on some aspects, he is still far behind on the subject of toilet training. He knows what the toilet is for, and he observe me (and other kids at school I believe) while using it – so he knows sitting toilet (toiten), but it is something that other people do at the moment, and he does not associate it with himself yet. So it seems that more effort is required from my side in this area.

Winter For Sure

Today it rained almost for the whole day and Robert and I stayed at home. We listened to oldies on the radio, we built tower, and I tried to knit.. I had soup for lunch and finished with chocolate pudding with custard – not healthful at all. I hate to admit it but Robert liked the pudding and finished almost half the custard by himself, I hope I am not developing his sweet tooth too much.

Just before sunset there was a little break in the weather and we went out to the shops. Shopping used to be uneventful with Robert, but now it is starting to get more interesting because he is now noticing the things that I try not to buy… Today he said again : want chocolate bar (in his own pronunciation) and I successfully diverted his attention until we headed towards checkout, passing through temptation alley, where all the sweets are strategically placed, and then it became a nonstop call for “open chocolate bar.. open chocolate bar” and this time I ignored his whining completely – it was a small whine really nothing like some children’s tantrums I had the misfortune to observe. Yesterday I bought him a nut and fruit bar when he did the same stunt at Woolworths, and he ate it all on the way home. But even though I would love him to eat more I am not turning this into a habit.

Playing Catch up … Again

I had so many plans for my time off which started on Monday, but apart from an almost complete thorough cleaning project, defrosting a fridge that closely resembles an ice-age glacier and scheduling long-delayed dentist and ob-gyn appointments,  I managed very little progress elsewhere. Needless to say that my blog is one badly neglected area.

For one thing it seems that I do far more reading than writing, and reading the web has become one major time-suck for me, and my problem is that I am addicted to my reading from Slate, Salon and the New York Times in addition to a number of “selected” blogs in my numerous areas of interest, it is the curse of the curious I suppose.

Apart from this little window for my curiosity and my little ray of sunshine I have a very boring life, so lets move on to the real and metaphoric sunshine.

After a brief cold spell, then a few baking days of 30+ temperatures that are more worthy of summer, the weather has now mellowed into my favorite seasons, the beautiful autumn, we have settled on pleasant mid-twenties with golden warm sun and just a whisper of sea breeze cooling us down early morning and late afternoon.  Perfect day at the park weather.

Robert has come out nicely from a nasty episode of ear infection, flu and cough, but just as I thought we had the worst behind us he started on with an eye infection which I treated with a little of left over eye-drops from a previous episode. Once the eye cleared I decided to keep him home an continue treating the eye with an over-the-counter ointment, because I cannot stomach taking him to the doctor again, we have been there twice already this month.

The teachers at school are all very nice to my little one, and school seems to bring out the sunniest parts of his personality,  giving him a lot of space to his curiosity and urge to explore without allowing him to wreak havoc in the surrounding. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for our home environment, where the limited space and the existence of “adult” tools make it a potentially dangerous grounds. I either have to frustrate his every effort at explorations, or put up with collateral damage. This week’s list include:  Breaking an almost full bottle of my favorite bubble bath, smearing bum cream all over our duvet cover, and of course the very frequent accidents with food.  So I find myself constantly wiping up greasy hand and thumbprints from table, and all baby-height surfaces. The clean-up of my late beloved honey-almond bubble bath was a little less complicated, but at least I got to enjoy a sweet-smelling lounge for a couple of days.

Apart from being a mess generator and a very physically demanding toddler,  I am proud to notice Robert’s developing social and mental abilities. I bet this is the reason why his teachers love him so much, because he is an absolute charmer. One of his teachers said that he learns new words every day, and it does not take long for him either. Yesterday he insisted that I give him “denta foss”. I can hardly remember teaching him the word.

His observation of the world and his surrounding has also improved. When I went to pick him up from school on Monday, he was sitting in the hall in the middle of a row of children, watching some cartoon movie on the large-screen television. He was so absorbed in it, he never noticed me at the door. This is the first time I see him showing any interest in television content, and his teacher said so as well.

He has also taken to watching and noticing what other people are doing. Whereas in the past there were only isolated observations of likeness – I still chuckle when I remember the story his dad told me : Robert pointing out the picture of George W. Bush and saying: dada-  He still does that of course, when he calls any oriental woman he notices : A-man (his name for my neighbor May-Lan). Now he also points out people in action, yesterday morning he pointed out a man walking ahead of us “man walking”, then a woman eating a banana in the minibus : “eating a-bana” and then when she finished “A-bana gone”. I am waiting for the day when he points out potentially embarassing things… He always comments that “bus boken”, but that somehow escaped the notice of the proud taxi drivers/owners.

He might be developing some sense of humor as well. Today I took a picture of him which I called “peanut butter face” and it amused him so much he wanted to see it on the camera time and time again.  The picture of course is cute, but it gives an idea why a toddler mother does not have much time for anything else when the little ones are awake. Yet like every mother I am torn between taking him to school for the day or enjoying his company on my day off.  I am all too aware that these toddler days are very short, so I might as well enjoy them while they are here, mess and all.

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.