Family Holiday Part II

Family Holidays should be a time for children and parents to reconnect outside of their regular routine and for those of us whose kids go to daycare it is time to find out what they are really like. For some reason although you have 24 hours a day together during a holiday it is always the necessities of life like eating and sleeping that become an enormous struggle for one main reason, you have abandoned your routine. The routine of paying someone else to look after them, while you work which most of the time feels like a vacation from your child. I think the only reason we take a family holiday is to escape the relentless drudgery of doing the same thing at the same time every day over and over again, and also to make us appreciate the life we have created and that routines are good even if they are boring.

We also have shopping to do, so when I arrived in Boston, Nana, Eva and I went off to the Apple store so I could have the keyboard on my laptop replaced after Eva the toddler turned computer eating tiger destroyed several keys. The young man at the genius desk returned with bad news,

“I am sorry Mame, but your computer is what we now term – vintage, and we can no longer replace parts.”

In the same sentence he called me Mame and called my computer vintage. I was left reeling by multiple disappointments.

“So what you are telling me is I have no choice but to buy a new laptop.”

“Yes.”

I felt like an insurance company that had just been told its client was going to have to undergo an organ transplant. I wish toddlers came with a warning alarm, one that would sound when they were about to cause you $3000 dollars in damage. Eva the pretend tiger was getting a lot less cute by the minute.

This horrible realization was made worse when the Apple genius bar tech called all his friends around to look at the dinosaur computer I had brought in.

“Take a look at this machine, it has about 30 seconds of battery life.”

“What year is that from?”

“2008” I say preempting their About this Mac search.

“Look,” one tech says to the other, “ She has no apps on her computer!!!!”

“Listen boys, I know I am old, and my computer is old but I have never had any problems with it.”

“They are built to last.” one of them answered.

“It’s that over there I have problems with.” I say pointing at Eva with Nana playing with the apple ipads on display on the Kids table.

“Are you sure you want her playing with your ipads?”

They walked me through the specs of my hypothetical new laptop, hypothetical because I had no idea where the $3000 was going to come from or when.

When we finished Nana and I had to pry Eva off of the ipad where she had discovered the kids app “Endless alphabet” which helps you learn letters and spell different words and had the unexpected bonus of increasing her vocabulary which I discovered when trying to feed her dinner that night.

“Yucky”

“Yucky”

“Yucky”

We gave up and ended up going out to eat at Legal’s seafood. They gave me a kid’s menu but I ordered Eva a meal off of the adult menu since she preferred real food to pasta and fish sticks, and maybe just maybe mommy was schooling Eva to be a food snob in the fine tradition of food snobs in the Spurling family.

I ordered her smoked salmon with toast points, and Mussels for myself. In an unpredictable toddler rage, she began shrieking at the top of her lungs, making the nearby childless diners grimace and wince and cut their eyes in our direction. If I could have anticipated her screaming fit, if I could have done anything to prevent it,

I would have. So Instead I cut my eyes back at the wincing childless diners next door. I later discovered through sobs that I had done something terrible. I was guilty of precipitating the toddler rage because I used the blanket attached to her bunny to wipe up a spot of milk she had dripped on my lap. Well I won’t do that again.

This scenario and in fact the whole trip, made me realize the problem with toddlers, you can’t lock them inside, nor can you take them out in public, so you do each equally and terribly hoping to spread out the torture of other people’s ear drums.

My solution is that when I am old and grumpy and don’t want to be around children, I will not choose to go out to dinner at a family restaurant like Legal’s seafood, and I will certainly think twice about trying to catch the early bird. There are so many thousands of restaurants in cities like Boston, if you can’t take the screeching choose somewhere else. People without children have plenty of choice, but those of us with kids are limited to restaurants with kiddy menus and highchairs- there aren’t nearly as many or even enough.

And my darling Eva just to be unpredictable for unpredictability’s sake sat on my lap and ate my entire order of mussels and I got stuck with the salmon. Our waitress brought her, her very own seafood bib, and she moved up a ranking in food snobbery. She will soon be coming out with bumper stickers that say “Say No to Fish Sticks.”

mussels

The other thing with toddlers is that like horse and miniature daschschunds, they need to be exercised and when visiting a city, you have to find the nearest park. The next day Nana, Eva and I decided to head down to Boston Common to find the free yoga class Nana had spotted on a flyer. We hadn’t read the fine print and missed the yoga class by 24 hours so we found a grassy spot and did a little bit of stretching ourselves.

Our yoga class soon turned into sprint training, when Eva realized that there was miles of green space where she could out run her mother. When I was close to exhaustion a man appeared with enormous magic wands and began blowing bubbles the size of me, and sending them floating in the sky over the park. Like the Pied Piper children flocked around him as he dipped his wands in buckets of bubble juice and sent them off chasing bubbles from big to small and everything in between. Eva’s eyes lit up and she chased the bubbles around with all the big kids for at least thirty minutes while I tried to make sure she didn’t run out into oncoming traffic, and trailed behind her apologizing to all the little boys she mowed over chasing a bubble- there were a few.

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When it approached twilight and the bubble man had had enough, he started to pack up and I took Eva up to him and asked her to say Thank You.

“Thank you for the bubbles” came a little voice.

Then in an instant he made my entire holiday when he said,

“Your little girl, she will go far in life because she is so persistent.”

“Yes that is her to a T, you can tell that just from bubbles?”

“ Yes, I see children all the time, and very very rarely do you see a little one like her, I have only seen a few myself over the years.”

“You are just saying that because I look tired.”

“No, its true, she will go far.”

I know he is just a bubble man, not a child psychologist but it made my toddler induced exhaustion bearable and it was a lot better than getting eye cutting glares from other people. Yeah! For the bubble man.

I also asked him to tell me his secret recipe, which he did, for the perfect Bubble Mixture:

Here it is:

Home Made:

Ingredients:

1 Part      Dawn (Classic)

1/4 Part  Vegetable Glycerin

1/4 Part J&J Baby Shampoo

12 Parts water

 

On humid days use  13 to 14 parts water

How to make:

put into container hot water

gently  add and mix the Dawn, Glycerin, Shampoo

best if left uncovered one day before use

 

For the rest of our time in Boston, we hit Marshall’s a tourist attraction if you are from Bermuda, but also made time to go to the Boston Aquarium. There were more people there than there were fish but we were able to satisfy Miss Eva’s craving to see a shark. We found a perfect spot in the window of the large several story coral tank, at the top where we could watch the sharks lap the tank and the enormous turtle taking a nap on a coral bed. Eva was frightened by a fish which swam right by her head, and I think she in turn frightened the fish, but it made for a fun day out even if Eva refused to pat a sting ray but insisted that mommy pat one instead.

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The following day when Daddy and Pops flew in from Bermuda, we went for a duck tour and they had to detour our route because of the annual Puerto Rican parade, so after we got off the duck boat, we walked a few streets over to catch the parade.

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“ I feel like we haven’t left Bermuda.” I said watching the majorettes.

“I always wanted to be a majorette in primary school but my mother wouldn’t let me. In Hindsight I think she must have known I would have been really really bad at it.” I thought as I watched the young girls in tight sequined jumpsuits twirl batons.

“We watched a parade back in March when we visited Madeira.” Nana said.

“ Really, was it anything like this one?”

“No.”

“What was it like?”

“Well, I was a bit shocked.” Nana Giggled.

“Why?”

“The Madeira people paraded down the street, not with floats or cars or majorettes but enormous paper Mache penises.”

“Really! “ I giggled

“Like a Bacchanalia?”

“ I couldn’t really believe it myself, but there were huge effigies of the penis.”

Eva looked up and pointed and yelled “Penis! “

She has a point I thought, especially as the parade went on and on, the cars got bigger and bigger and the sound systems got bigger and bigger and louder and louder and louder. I wonder if the paper Mache penises got bigger and bigger too. Certainly the final car that came through, even though I didn’t have my measuring stick out ,was very impressive… Check out my phone snap below, yes those are speakers. Yes it was loud. Yes there were men driving it.

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Then Eva announced

“I have to go pee pee.” So I weaved her through the crowds to the Lennox Hotel and used their bathroom. Eva took her undies off and then very loudly told me,

“You and I are girls so we pee like this.” And she squatted in the stall.

“But Boys pee like this with a penis” She whipped out her imaginary penis and held it over the toilet bowl then shook it dry.

“Yes you are right Eva.” I said wondering if it were me, Nana, or Endless Alphabet who had taught her the anatomical name for the male appendage but what did it matter she was building her vocabulary. At least Eva wasn’t a repressed Catholic.

The next day we drove up to my parents house in New Hampshire: mountains, quiet, bliss = no cell phone reception.

When we arrived Eva said, “ I remember here, there is an orange and green froggy potty.”

“Really?” I said.

I hunted around the house, and what did I find in one of the bathrooms, but an orange and green froggy potty. She was right. Now I believed the Bubble man- my child is brilliant, she remembers the color of the Froggy potty she used a year ago. Sign her up for Junior Jeopardy.

The only thing missing from our week in New Hampshire was sleep, because we decided to put Eva in a big girl bed with protective sides. Looking back it was probably a mistake but what followed was a week of not napping, not wanting to go to bed and frequent night wakings paired with early morning rises. Holiday? Send me back to work.

Sleep deprived Eva loses all of her charitable nature and so she became a fussing Mommy hater, insisting that Daddy put her to bed, sit next to her, and otherwise become her sole parent and entire world. I would try to put her to bed but she would scream until Daddy came running, we would switch places and then she would look at me with her big blue bossy eyes and point at me from the crook of her Daddy’s arm.

“ You, You go downstairs and on your way out turn off the lights and shut the door.”

“Yes Mame.” I answered and Little Eva nestled into her favorite person in the world.

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Later on, I said to Chris, “I think Eva is your soul mate and you must have known each other in a past life.”

Nana said, “That could be true.”

“Who is my soul mate then?” I asked.

Chris without hesitation answered, “Your soul mate is Piccolo.”

“That could be true.” I said imagining my overweight aging Miniature dachshund who spoons me every night at home.

“I miss him.”

A few days later we went to the summer festival at The Fells, a historic house, and park. We patted Alapacas, and built a fairy house. Eva learned how to paint watercolors with real food, using black berries and spinach to create dies and paint a picture on a card. Then she frosted a cookie with spinach frosting, and devoured it. We waited and waited and finally the Face painter arrived, and Eva patiently waited her turn to be metamorphosed into a tiger. When we got home horseplay went to another level. I became the Tiger’s prey, and Eva stalked me around the house continually, catching me off guard and sinking her teeth into my leg and arm flesh.

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The next day was my birthday. I woke up with Strep throat- it had returned. The night before I asked my husband to bring me coffee in bed in case he wouldn’t think of it. Before we had Eva, Chris used to bring me coffee in bed every morning, but our life is different now. My birthday morning started off on a caffeine high with little Eva coming to jump on my bed and give me her present. I unwrapped it, and it was a hot pink Bermuda t-shirt.

“Thank you little Eva.”

She smiled proudly.

“Mommy and Eva can dress in matching pink for mommy’s birthday.”

“Yes” she replied.

Eva is obsessed with pink, if anything I encouraged the opposite. Her favorite colors in the past were purple and red, but now that she has settled on pink, everything has to be pink. She will only wear pink and if I try and dress her in something else she complains,

“But Green isn’t my favorite.”

I used to hate pink, but not anymore, now I accept it and even wear it if it will make her happy. Later on, on my birthday I ordered a bright pink dress for myself off the internet to make Eva happy. I also added a wonder woman bathing suit, because even if I don’t feel like a super hero, I might as well dress like one. It was my present to myself.

When I came downstairs my in-laws gave me their birthday gift. An ionic hairbrush, promising : brilliant shine with active frizz control ionic generator, releasing conditioning ions directly into the hair to remove static and smooth the cuticle for noticeably softer hair that looks and feels, shiny and manageable.

Yes my hair really is that bad, to brush it I need something with an on and off switch. They used to call me: Hairzilla in college. Those were the days. Some people’s hair thins when they get older, I think mine has just gotten worse, added by the infrequency of having time to wash it.

Their gift inspired me to tackle the mane, and I retreated with an army of bobby pins in an attempt to style my hair in pin curls, let them dry for seven hours, then brush them out with the ionic hairbrush and wala… I would reappear more Lauren Bacall than Hairzilla.

We didn’t do much on my birthday, we took the trash out, filled up with gas for the return trip and took Eva to the playground, and on the way back stopped off at the graveyard, just the way to make me feel every year of my thirty eight, and in pin curls no less!

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When we got home I told Eva that Bunny was going to make mommy a birthday cake, but unfortunately Bunny didn’t know how to bake yet, mommy hadn’t taught her.

Later on I tried to brush out the pin curls, and a few minutes and a lot of static later I looked exactly the same as Lauren Bacall- Nope- not even close, I looked exactly the same as I did the day before.

“I think this hair needs a professional.” I said to my disappointed family.

“I just have too much hair.”

The next day we drove back to Boston, when we got back to the apartment I started the never ending process of unpacking and repacking. At some point in this process I managed to knock the bottle of hot pink nail polish my mother had leant us for the trip to paint Eva’s nails with, and it shattered on the bathroom floor, splashing me from head to toe in hot pink paint spray. Unfortunately nail polish is not meant to be easily removed, so I sighed and accepted my new splattered look as part of my derelict mom décor.

A little while later the concierge called up to the apartment.

“Hello, this is Shucredev downstairs, I was calling to let you know that we just received a very important federal express package addressed to you from Pin Up Girl Clothing.”

… Pin Up Girl Clothing… I sighed. You know as a mincing nosy front desk man, he took pleasure in making calls like these and imagining what kind of whips and chains were inside.

“Would you like me to bring that up to you, or would you like to collect it.”

“I will collect it thank you.”

When I went downstairs, I had the elevator ride down eight floors to contemplate how sometimes people just get the wrong idea about things. I looked down at myself, covered in splattered hot pink nail polish, called “Kiss Me I’m Brazilian.” If I drew his attention to it, Shucredev might have been able to recognize the shade. As I felt for the edges of my hair to see in what direction it was frizzing and I kept finding stray bobby pins in my hair suggesting some previous attempt at decorum. Then I looked over my arms, legs, and neck, every visible area of skin was covered in bites, not mosquito bites but human bites, from a toddler impersonating a tiger. I could have tried to cover up the bite marks up with band aids, but all we had, were- you guessed it- hot pink Peppa Pig plasters—and I figured covering myself in those would do more to draw attention to my wounds than to distract. Looking at my reflection in the elevator door, it occurred to me that I looked like I had spent the last two weeks in some kinky sex camp instead of on a family Holiday with Eva’s grandparents. I couldn’t wear a turtle neck in August, like we used to do as a teenagers when we came home with hickies from an eventful date. I could have covered myself in concealer but I didn’t have the time or effort left after the last two weeks with Eva and the last time I bought make up was in 2005.

I approached the front desk.

“I have come to pick up my package.”

Shucredev went hunting through the Land’s End, LL Bean and Talbot’s packages.

“Ahah, here it is, one package from Pin Up Girl Clothing.”

I saw him feel the package up, trying to discern its contents.

“It’s a wonder woman bathing suit.” I said satisfying his curiosity but disappointing him as well in some way. But he still had plenty of time to wonder about the bite marks.

The next day we flew home. When we arrived, Hamma and Gigi greeted us,

“How was the trip, did you have a good time?”

“We had a great time, Eva cost me a 3000 dollar laptop, She bit me, ruined my reputation at Trinity Place and she might have left a scar.” I say pointing to my neck.

“What did you expect, you went on a Family Holiday.” Gigi said.

“We have made you dinner, come over with Eva tonight for your birthday cake.”

Derelict Gigi had really pulled out all the stops, she might even have missed us.

“Hurrah we are home and Bunny learned to bake! “ I said.

A couple days later when my wounds had healed and the hot pink nail polish had flaked off my skin, I asked Chris, “So where are we going next year?”

Xx Derelict Mom.

 

 

 

Family Holiday

If the title of this week’s blog sounds like a Peppa Pig episode – it was intentional.

“I’m Peppa Pig, snort this is my little brother George. Snort snort, This is Mummy Pig snort and this is Daddy pig, snort. Laugh. Peppa Pig. Snort.”

Ad infinitem.

In case you don’t know who Peppa Pig is, which probably means you don’t know anyone who is two- here is a link to one of Eva’s favorite episodes “Night Animals.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSJx-c32J4A

The Peppa Pig obsession/ TV watching/ ipad watching got so bad even the grandparents asked us to turn the volume down. All I could think was:

Gigi can you take back the ipad. Gigi? Gigi?

But we were on holiday in the U.S. with Chris’s parents Shelagh and Duncan and Eva. If I had one regret in my child rearing experience it is that I ever let Eva watch a cartoon ever. After one cartoon they are hooked. It has to be worse than crack. Although not all kids are born addicts. My sister’s kids (the perfect ones) happily watch thirty minutes then go and do something else. For Eva there is nothing else to do, there is just things to do to waste time until she can watch some form of television. She is an addict and part of that is my creation.

I probably should have probably seen this coming as I was called square eyes as a child and could never get enough TV, which may just perhaps have had some bearing on my career choice. This vacation made me realize that if I didn’t break Eva’s TV habit soon it would not only drive me around the bend but she might, god forbid, grow up wanting to become a documentary filmmaker, and I just can’t have her do that.

In baby class they tell you a child must not be in the vicinity of a television for the first three years of its life. I did what I was told, almost. I did not let her watch television until she was two and a half and when we started letting her watch it we tried to limit her exposure to certain times or situations, but soon the monster otherwise known as Peppa Pig took over.

I used to say, “You can only watch toons when you are sick,” which is such a first time parent trap. From that point on, every day when she woke up she said.

“Mommy, I am a little bit sick.”

“Where are you sick?”

“My tummy. Can I watch toons?”

And if that didn’t work,

“Mommy, I have a boo boo, I need a plaster.”

Peppa Pig plasters- flown specially in from the U.K from her long-suffering band aid buying relatives.

As soon as I had affixed the bandage, she would say, “Can I watch a toon?”

Her manipulation hit an all time high, before our holiday after I surfaced from my bedroom after being sick for two days.

As soon as she saw me, she announced,

“Mommy I am a little bit sick, I am not sick like you are sick, but I am sick like me.”

“What do you mean how is Eva sick like Eva?” I asked

“I am a little bit sick so I can watch toons.”

After that elicited no response, Eva began to wail in agony.

“What’s wrong?” I said.

“An ant bit me, I need a plaster.” She lifted her right foot onto the chair.

“Can I watch a toon?”

“No.”

She began to fuss and cry so Hamma picked her up to cheer her up.

A few minutes later, she tried again.

“My foot is sore, can I watch a toon?”

And she propped up her left foot in false agony and tears.

“Is that the foot the ant bit?” I asked her.

“Yes” she said with a painful yelp.

“No it was the right foot.” Hamma said with a giggle.

I had to give her credit for her persistence, a reoccurring theme.

While still popping antibiotics, Eva, Shelagh and I boarded a plane for the U.S. for our summer holidays. Daddy had found a way to have three days off at home for Cupmatch before joining us to watch cricket with his dad.

I was a bit nervous, as we had not been away for about a year and travelling with Eva at this age was entirely different than the year before, but I was armed with the ipad- all would be okay even though we were travelling on the busiest day of the year in Bermuda, the Wednesday of Cupmatch. It was also the first flight that Eva would have her own seat. The long queues were tempered by little Eva excitedly tiptoeing so she could see out the window at the airplanes on the runway.

“Airplane, I am going on an airplane.” She sang and danced and ran around, while mom and Shelagh dragged the carryon luggage through the airport. I had done her hair in pigtails so that when she had a tantrum she would at least be the cute kid with pigtails having a tantrum, rather than just another snotty nosed kid losing it in a public place.

When we were leaving the house, I had been sure to pack Eva’s blankie in my carry on- because she was particular about the softness of blankets and she was as attached to her cuddly blanket as her bunny. It was not something that could be forgotten. After we checked in, I put Eva in the stroller and put the blanket over her, catching the distinct whiff, well it wasn’t a whiff – it was the persistent odor of pee.

The day before, derelict mom had had a moment of fluster when she put Eva down for her nap without a diaper and Eva had wet through the bed. I jammed all the blankets in the wash or so I thought. As it turned out, I had neglected to wash the one blanket that was making the trip and so make the trip it did. The odor of day old pee wafted around us, like the smell of an old folks washroom. When we approached security, I took it upon myself to warn them.

“We had a little accident on the blanket, so I would hold your nose.” I made it seem like Eva was guilty of wetting herself that very moment rather than draw attention to the fact that it was actually mommy that packed a pee soaked blanket without noticing. When in doubt, blame the toddler.

The security lady put on rubber gloves and gingerly sent it through the scanner. We carried the blanket around the airport, occasionally someone would catch a whiff and we would stand next to an elderly person and no one was any the wiser.

To my utter surprise and amazement when we boarded the flight, little Eva ran into her seat, climbed up and put her seat belt on like she had been a frequent flyer in a past life. I tried not to react but I was relieved that she didn’t fight the assigned seating like the anarchist most toddlers tend to be. I knew that it would only be a matter of a small increment of time on the hour and a half flight before Eva rebelled against the common order. She was good for about ten minutes, until the plane was fully boarded with 100 other people ready, bored and gawking ready to judge my parenting skills which I was always the first to admit were lacking.

Ding dong. The seat belt light went on, and the plane began to taxi back from the runway.

“Mommy, I have to pee.”

I sighed, and then like lightning I grabbed the toddler and released her from the seatbelt like taking a gun from its holster and I ran with her down the aisle to the bathroom as Eva clenched her hello kitty underwear in an attempt to stem the flow.

I locked the bathroom door and plunked her down on the potty in time. “Phew we made it. “

We were back in our seats, belts buckled before the jet engines engaged.

“Mommies need to be fast.” I told Eva.

“Airplanes are fast.” She said.

The rest of the flight she played with her mini peppa pigs, her sticker book, her quiet book, and then I decided to whip out the ipad, little did I know she would wake up out of a cartoon haze two weeks later with crossed eyes and a grumpy dependency on electronic entertainment.

About ten minutes after the pilot announced our decent into Boston and put the seat belt sign on, a little finger tapped my arm.

“Mommy I have to poo.”

I sighed again but harder this time and then repeated my holster release of child from seatbelt and began the illegal sprint down the aisle to the bathroom during landing.

“Wait” Eva screamed.

I paused, convinced I was going to have to go back for my change of clothes.

“I need my books,” Reading on the potty had become a habit at home, a habit which she could not let go of while on a plane in mid descent.

To avoid a tantrum and poo combination I ran back to the seat grabbed two Curious George books and sprinted back to the bathroom, not knowing when we would come out or if anyone would miss us when they boarded the next flight. I stripped her off and let her dangle into the potty while clutching my legs, and to my total shock and amazement and enormous perfectly formed poo emerged in record time and we were back in our seats, hands washed, and belted in before the plane hit the tarmac.

“Must have been the pretzels.” I thought.

“Maybe I need to feed her more fibre?”

With Eva’s history of plane travel no one was more shocked than me that we made it to Boston without being fined for some incident with excrement ( a near miss) or for refusing the direct warnings of the cabin crew- a habit of toddlers.

While waiting at the bag claim, I overheard someone say to the friend who picked them up,

“There were loads of kids on the plane, and I was surprised they were all really well behaved.”

Oh if only she had known how close it was from an entirely different outcome. I inhaled a large breath of pee blanket and sighed in relief when Eva, Shelagh ( Nana) and yours truly finally turned the key in the lock at the Boston apartment.

The following three days were a challenge as I like most Bermudians had a large shopping agenda. Imagine you get off the island once a year and have to do all of your shopping in three days, with a two year old, a stroller and her grandmother all in tow. Underwear check, socks check, CVS check, makeup check, shoes check, birthday presents check, weird health foods from Whole foods – check etc etc etc.

I am sure Nana, along with all the staff of the apartment building think Bermudians have a shopping addiction but what we have is shopping deprivation and we have to make up for it either online or in a three day metropolitan visit or both. To my surprise Eva liked going shopping even though she took to running as fast as she could through the aisles of Marshalls and hiding under the clothes racks but she couldn’t stay hidden for long because her little pigtails stuck out where ever she went. But the exercise of chasing Eva around a department store while pushing a stroller and trying to buy clothes gave rise to all my small town paranoia that my child would be baby snatched in the big city.

Nana and I, and Eva popped into a CVS drugstore one day to pick up some necessaries like lipsyl and hairspray. Eva wanted to get out of her stroller so I lifted her out and she ran ahead of me up and down the aisles. I followed her as quickly as I could but things happen quickly and as I rounded one aisle I found little Eva with a little old lady who had bent down and was giving her sweets. I ran up to her, bent over and snatched them out of her hand. Then I said, pretending to be nice to the potential childnapper.

“Mommy will decide when Eva will be allowed to have sweets.”

Which started the never-ending chorus of,

“I want my sweetie, I want my sweetie.”

So I made Nana buy her a package of M&Ms, which she scoffed the entire package in one sitting and then passed out in her stroller. I am not sure if the old lady was a childnapper but who in their right mind gives a stranger’s child candy. That was as close as I ever want to come to seeing Eva’s face on a milk carton and it was only day two of our two week holiday.

For Part II, of the Family Holiday tune in next week.

Eva on plane

A Reading

Derelict Mom, has been well – derelict – and not written a blog this week. Next week’s blog will be ” Family Holiday” because I was on holiday for the last two weeks. I will explain the italics later.

So this week please enjoy this video of my reading of an excerpt from my first publication, “A Real Mother.”

Thanks

Xx Derelict Mom

 

Gigi Saves The Day

As a working mother I seem to perpetually spread myself too thin. Although I try my best to avoid this it seems the world conspires against me, with an unpredictable job and a toddler’s unpredictable immune system. 2014 was always going to be a busy one, I dubbed it “The year of the visitor” as we had Chris’s aunt and uncle visit for ten days, his parents for three weeks, his sister and her family are coming for a week later this month, and then Eva’s godfather for ten days or so in September. When looking ahead I knew July was going to be a bit of a nightmare. My friend and co-co-director Kara could only come to do our shoot for our documentary, for ten days at the end of July, so we booked that out to shoot our many and varied interviews for our current film. During that week my in-laws would arrive, and the day after the shoot ended I would be flying with Eva and my mother in law to Boston. Nothing like leaving no time to pack, that was acceptable only before I had a two year old- if I forgot something like her bunny, then I might as well fly home. It was also the week of my husband’s 48th birthday, considering I forgot his birthday last year it was high time I made up for it, before Linked In beats me to the punch again with their scheduled happy birthday email- damn automation. Chris had reminded me several times of the date at the beginning of the month so I would not forget but I had my own version of automation- I decided to throw a party. I invited all the relatives who were in residence on the family compound to dinner for Chris’s birthday on Saturday July 26th, in the middle of our shoot and four days before we left for Boston. Hey at least I wouldn’t forget.

To make matters more confusing, I got the dates mixed up for Auntie Zoe’s holiday and she was planning to be away from July 16th through August 4th, not from August 1st through the 14th as I had planned for our holiday to coincide with hers. With my shoot beginning on the 19th of July I would not only have a shoot, guests, and a dinner party to throw and a trip to plan, but I would also have no daycare. This was an impasse. The only answer was to ditch Eva with daddy over the weekend of our shoot, which did not make me the most popular wife or mother, and then on Monday and Tuesday I had to ditch the shoot to take care of Eva, which did not make me the most popular co-director with my co-directors. To make matters worse both Eva and Chris were recovering from the summer flu, and I had finally made it a mission to take my old man of a dog, Piccolo for his yearly checkup several months late. At the vet appointment I learned that he needed an operation immediately to have several teeth removed before an abscess grew so in addition to everything else my firstborn had to go under the knife. So when my in-laws arrived fresh off the plane I ditched them not only with a two year old but also a dog recovering from surgery and disappeared to join my fellow filmmakers who I then abandoned at 5pm to run home, take Eva to swimming lessons, come home prep her for bed then cook dinner for four people and think about doing it all again the following day.

Around the same time every client I have had in the last two years called, emailed and asked for something to be done immediately and without delay, none of which was possible because my editing suite died and was stumping the apple technicians who could not figure out what of a myriad of possibilities was preventing my computer from even turning on. In the meantime, I resorted to leaving Eva watching cartoons on YouTube on my laptop in order to cook dinner, organize the shoot or otherwise get rid of client demands. When I came back Eva had not only chewed through the power cord, she had also removed five or six letters off of the keyboard, she was part toddler, part tiger or so she told me.

“Eva, mommy’s puter is not a toy.”

“But mommy I know it’s not a toy, but I am pretending it’s a toy. Roar Tiger” while making claws with her hands and trying to bite my arm.

What do you say to that? I just sighed. I wasn’t sure what was going to go wrong next but I ran around unplugging appliances sure that the house was going to burn down, well it didn’t but my fridge died, so we fed on rapidly defrosting mystery food for a week.

Amid all this chaos, there is always the unforeseen to tip things totally over the edge. In our case, it was a hostile take over of sorts, what happened next was that it rained. Although rain in and of itself is not a game changer, it invites a congregation within the house, which are unwelcome by the human inhabitants: ANTS. Five days into our shoot as I collapsed into bed I heard the distinctive ear flap of my dog Piccolo and then I felt an ant crawl out from my hair line, then another one on my ankle, then one bit my butt when I had the nerve to roll over. At midnight I flipped on the light to reveal the invasion, which had infiltrated the last bastion of peace for any over subscribed working mother, my entire bed. They were everywhere, I killed what I could see and tried to go back to sleep. Five hours later when they were biting my eyelids I gave in and got up without any sleep.

The following day I made it to my shoot, but almost crashed the car a few times, and found it difficult to finish my sentences but it was almost over, the next day I only had a dinner party to prepare and a forgotten birthday to make up for. I went to bed early, my husband very generously switched sides of the bed with me after I shared with him my thoughts that entire world, ants and all had turned against me, that or I was high on ant venom from the night before.

The following morning I woke up, momentarily victorious that I had slept through the entire night without being bitten by an insect or wild animal, until I got up and collapsed back into the ant’s lair. It was the flu, I was on fire and I could hardly speak but it was okay I only had a dinner party to prepare. I managed to eek out

“Happy Birthday” with a flu-ey exhale.

“I have to go to work” Chris said.

“On your birthday?”

“Yes.”

The day before his company had been taken over -not by ants but by another company, and the future was as uncertain as my dinner party. After Daddy went to work, I did as any hard working responsible birthday party host would do, I put my toddler in front of the T.V. and got to work making the starter course, and the dessert. After completing a culinary masterpiece tomato orange soup and chia seed pudding, I made Eva lunch and force fed her as the room spinned, my head pounded and the annoying Peppa Pig theme tune repeated ad infinitum. When the clock struck one, it felt like cocktail hour had finally arrived. I measured up a strong bottle of milk and gave it to Eva to sip until the heady eyelid drooping arrival of naptime dawned.

I propped her up in bed under a pillow and prepared to sneak out of the room. As I turned the doorknob Eva cried.

“Mommy I have to wee wee.”

It was her new procrastination.

“No you fucking don’t have to pee.”

Immediately I felt guilty, I didn’t think I had ever sworn in front of Eva. I am pretty sure she thought I was speaking Spanish anyway but she was a bit shocked by my tone of voice, and so was I, it was more than I had said most of the day.

I picked her out, put her on the potty, read her another book, and then put her back to bed. Within five minutes if anyone followed the trail of pain pill wrappers and Ricola sweets they would find me, prostrate on the bed surrounded by the dead bodies of about one hundred ants, murdered by me in fever fueled “fucking” rage and the few survivors drowned in a feverish sweat, even the ones that clung to my eyelids.

When Chris came into the room when he got home, he found the outline of a dead body drawn by the tiny black ant bodies outlining where I had collapsed. I managed to say “happy birthday “ in half enthused baby sign language. I didn’t cancel the birthday party, nor did I promise it would go forward. At four pm I surfaced to take the beef out of the working fridge so it would return to room temperature, something no one else would remember.

At 5:30, an hour and a half before the guests were due to arrive Chris returned to my flu lair and announced,

“Your mother, back from her trip, has taken over the party.”

“Thank god for mom.” I said and rolled over.

Somehow like a miracle worker, my mother was able to whip up a chocolate cake complete with home made cream cheese icing, roast potatoes and cooked my roast beef tenderloin to perfection. The guests were notified of the location change, and I was left in peace.

Chris had a birthday party after all and I survived the night.

The next day, I did not come out of the bedroom and I had only two visitors.

My mother came first to see if I was still alive.

“Thank you mom, for saving the day.”

“Not a problem” she said bringing me tomato soup, taking my temperature and checking my medicine dosage.

“I guess moms are really good to have when you are sick or you need to throw a party.”

“The show must go on.”

A little later on, a little face appeared at my bedside, it was my second visitor, my daughter Eva coming to check on me.

“They told me you went to work. You didn’t go to work!” she said with a tone of total disgust of having been lied to.

She played with me for about forty-five minutes bouncing on my bed and being generally worried about my wellbeing. When her father had been sick with the flu the week or so before, she had gone into see him and announced,

“Mommy will be very upset if you die.”

When I was sick I think she was more concerned about who would make her lunch and dinner.

About forty minutes later someone realized Eva had escaped from the playpen. She gave me a kiss to get better and was ushered out, but within the hour she was back checking up on me again.

“Mommy will you be better tomorrow?”

Amazingly I was much better the next day and although I had to cancel the rest of the shoot, I was able to leave on our family holiday a few days later.

And Eva also returned to her normal self.

“I like Daddy better than you.” She said the next day.

“Why?” I asked

“Because he is taller than you, and he has bigger hands.”

“Okay” I said knowing I would not be able to change that.

“I love you mommy, but daddy is more fun.” I might have been wiping her butt when she delivered that line. I was growing accustomed to her abuse as any mother must.

The day we left for our trip, my own mother showed up the morning to help us pack, she took us to the airport, gave us the keys to her apartment in Boston, my parents house in New Hampshire and the keys to their car. She made sure we packed the ipad she had given Eva and that we had all the right forms and passports. She also took Piccolo for two weeks at her house, allowing him to sleep in bed with her every night, so he wouldn’t miss us too much while we were gone. And when we get home rest assured there will be a carton of milk in the fridge she will have bought for us, because that is what mom’s do they save the day.

We were about to pull out of the driveway for the airport when she yelled,

“Wait, you have forgotten Eva’s bunny.” Picking it up off of the front stoop where it had been draped over a suitcase, fallen off and almost been forgotten, she passed it through the window to Eva.

“Thank God!” I said. “Thank God for Gigi.”

Thanks Gigi for saving Chris’ birthday and all the days in between.

Xx Derelict Mom

#Momcan’tgetsick

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Gigi Goes AWAL

Continued from last week’s post:

https://derelictmom.com/2014/07/26/fair-warning/

Chris and I don’t go out much, but when we do we USED TO ask my parents if they were potentially available to take care of Eva. My parents have for a long time had a busier social life than ours and so usually they are too busy, booked in advance.

Eva of course is my child, and my responsibility and I would never think to ask my parent’s to take care of her full time during the work day, although that is an arrangement that some grandchildren have with their grandparents, as good daycare is not only hard to find but expensive. But Chris, Eva and I are blessed to have Auntie Zoe in our lives making it only necessary to find a baby sitter when we have plans in the evening.

My parents did agree to take care of Eva for three whole days and nights while we were all on vacation in New Hampshire last year, and it was going to be Chris and I’s first chance since she was born to reconnect for a long weekend in New York for the occasion of a friend’s wedding. Two nights before we left Eva was struck with the stomach flu. You can see from this picture her “I am about to get the stomach flu” face. This was not the dreamed of scenario for the first time you leave your child and go on holiday but these things can only happen to a derelict mom.

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Luckily it was a 24 hour bug and she had recovered before we left but she had given me a parting gift. We arrived in New York with high hopes, but on the morning of the wedding I woke up with Eva’s stomach flu and spent the next two days in bed missing the wedding and happy only that I could throw up in peace and did not have the audience and responsibility of a toddler. Throw up ruins everything.

A few months after this trip, we decided to ask my parents to babysit again, she was two and other than a few hours here, a few hours there, and those three days in New Hampshire they had never really looked after her. This had transpired for several reasons.

  1. She is their grandchild and not their child so they have no moral or ethical obligation to help out.
  2. They are kind of old.
  3. They have an active social life.
  4. They have two other grandchildren to take care of, quite frequently.
  5. Eva is “difficult.”

In January we decided to begin a date night once a month where Chris and I would go out to dinner and my parents would take care of Eva, all they would have to do is feed, bathe and put her to bed at their house. I went to my writing group at 6pm and Chris came straight from work to meet me for dinner at 8:30pm. We ordered a bottle of red wine, browsed the menu and ordered our meal in toddler free peace. At 9pm the phone rang.

“Hello, how is it going, why are you calling.”

“Not well, have you eaten yet?”

“We just ordered, Why?”

“Eva threw up everywhere and she won’t stop crying.”

“Why did she throw up?”

“Your father fed her three Peppa Pig yogurts.”

“Why?”

“She wouldn’t eat anything else, she wouldn’t eat the avocado, or sweet potato.”

“But did you try the beets, and carrots and sausages I brought over?”

“No, why didn’t she eat the avocado and the sweet potato, because Sadie always eats the avocado and sweet potato.”

“Because mom, Eva’s name is Eva not Sadie and she does not like avocado.”

“Why is she crying?”

“She wouldn’t go to sleep so we left her to cry.”

“Did you read her stories in the bedroom for ten minutes before you put her to bed like I suggested.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Well Sadie goes right to sleep and she doesn’t need any stories.”

“Eva is not Sadie.”

“When are you coming home?”

“As soon as possible:”

We ate the rest of the meal in complete silence and Eva was still awake when we came home. That was our last date night and the last time my parents attempted to babysit for Eva. Fast forward six months, it was June and I decided to ask them to make one more attempt at having a babysitting relationship with their granddaughter.

“Yes we can babysit, what are you doing?” my father said. He always says yes but my mother has the power of veto.

“We are going out to eat with our neighbors. At a restaurant in town so we were within sprinting distance should Eva throw up or refuse to eat avocado. “

Two days pass and my mother sends me an email from France.

“What time do you have to be at dinner on our babysitting night, you see we have accepted an invitation for a cocktail reception from 5-7pm at the U.S. Consulate and its very important that we attend as they have an important visiting American artist.”

“8pm, so you can still babysit.”

Another two days pass and I get another email from my mother from France,

“I am afraid we will now not be able to babysit at all because the Michael’s will be moving into our apartment that night for a few nights and we will need to cook them dinner, so we cannot have Eva.”

I did not reply as we got the message.

Another two days pass and I get another email from my mother, “We will pay for your babysitter the night you go out.”

I did not reply.

Another two days pass, and I get another message, “We have bought Eva some Peppa Pig books in London.”

When they got home from London, they gave her the books and the other spoils from their trip. It turns out my mother is much better at shopping than babysitting but sometimes these past times over lap. Because they don’t babysit they would have no idea that Eva’s favorite book is “Peppa meets the Queen” and so they bought her another copy, but on occasion you do need more than one of the same thing, kind of like grandparents. So when it came to Auntie Zoe’s summer holiday we called in reinforcements and Eva’s other grandparents agreed to take care of Eva all day for the seven days they were in Bermuda before our joint holiday in New Hampshire leaving me with only seven days to cover before they arrived.

Meanwhile my parents informed me that they were taking down Sadie’s crib in their spare room because she no longer needed a crib as she was sleeping in a big girl bed. It never occurred to them that Eva still sleeps in a crib and might in some alternative universe actually spend the night at their house before she was big enough for a king size bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and an ensuite bathroom.

The problem was not just that Eva was persona non grata at my parent’s house it was also that the grandparents were barely ever home. One such weekend a few weekends ago my husband Chris suggested to my dad that we take out the inflatable run around boat that he had said we could use to boat Eva around in the harbor.

Gigi and Hamma had plans for a friend’s birthday and said they would be back at some point in the afternoon so Chris dusted off the boat but thought twice before hauling it out of the shed for fear that they would not be home in the afternoon to give us a lesson in operation. Sure enough as we were feeding Eva her supper, my mother came staggering through our yard with friends.

“Do you think we could get that boat up and running now?” Chris asked.

“Why do you want to do that?” My mother answered.

“Because Dad has been saying since last summer that we could use it if we wanted to and we wanted to take it for a spin.”

“I don’t know why he told you that, he sold it to Cousin Patrick last week.”

It was just as well Chris hadn’t spent too much time readying the craft.

About thirty minutes later my mother returns.

“What does she want now?” Chris asked.

I shrugged my shoulders and appeared on the other side of the chain link fence.

“Can you give my friend a ride home?”

It was a total role reversal and for a moment I felt like I was living the Disney Movie, Freaky Friday when the mother and daughter switch bodies. My mother, a senior citizen just asked me to drive her drunk friend home.

“Sure!” was of course my answer. I got in the car and obliged. When I returned down the drive way, I came around the corner and there was Cousin Patrick with all the kids loading their boating gear into the family van. They all had mystified looks on their faces, which confused me. I drove past them and at the fork in the road as I was going to turn right to return my mother’s car, there she was, in my way, a bit like road kill but more colorful.

GiGi was swaying underneath the Poinciana tree, with flowers behind her ears and holding a tray of cupcakes each with an American Flag flying from a toothpick. She was waving and she might have been singing. I think she may have lost not only her drunk friend but her mind as well or maybe she was having a flashback to when she was a teenager in the 1960s.

I paused and unrolled the window.

“What are you doing?”

“Waiting for you?”

“I made you some cupcakes.”

“In the last five minutes?”

“They were leftovers from July 4th, we made them for Sadie and Trystan.”

“Thanks.”

At that moment I realized there wasn’t much difference between Gigi and the teenage babysitters we hire for Eva. When Hamma and Gigi got off the boat they seemed shocked to see their house guest who my aunt had picked up from the airport earlier in the afternoon. It was clear they had totally forgot she was coming, kind of like they forgot they had a third grandchild, Eva.

With Auntie Zoe’s holiday imminent, a hung over Gigi questioned me the next day on her departure,

“When is Zoe going away?”

“Next week”

“What day next week?”

“Wednesday the 16th of July”

“What flight is she on?”

“The BA flight at 8pm.”

“Is she working a full day that Wednesday?”

“Yes. “

“When are Shelagh and Duncan coming?”

“The following Tuesday.”

“Okay”

“Why so many questions?”

“Oh no reason.”

A few days later Gigi announces that she will be leaving for New Hampshire on the morning of Thursday the 17th of July and returning on Friday the 25th. A coincidence? I don’t think so.

“Gigi has gone AWAL.” Chris announced.

Meanwhile Eva’s other grandparents arrive. They bring Eva a new pair of Peppa Pig pajamas, which she is proudly wearing when Daddy gets home from work.

“Who gave you those Peppa Pig pajamas Eva?” He asked her.

“Hamma and Gigi” she answered.

“Huh?” He looked at me.

I shook my head.

“It’s classical conditioning, like Pavlov’s dogs.”

“What do you mean?”

“Eva is conditioned to think every gift is from Hamma and Gigi”

“Oh, they buy her things.”

“They are better at shopping than babysitting.”

We spent the evening in the garden drinking wine and playing with Eva.

The phone rang, it was Gigi from New Hampshire.

“What is that noise in the background?

“It’s Eva and her Nana playing the cymbals.”

I looked out the window, and Eva was running around in my orange sarong clanging cymbals and Nana was teaching her a new song.

“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna…” dancing like Hindu fairies.

I wondered if when Gigi got home if Eva would have shaved her hair into a solitary pigtail and also be wearing Birkenstocks.

“What is that dreadful sound?” my mother asked.

“Its Eva and Nana singing Hare Krishna”

There was dead silence on the line. I figured my mother was reconsidering her last minute trip, and wondering how many Peppa books it would take to get Eva to take the orange robe off. I could hear her eyes roll back in her head.

The evening prayer continued outside after I hung up.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama

Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Peace, Love, Freedom, Happiness.

When I took Eva to the bathroom, I saw daddy’s electric shaver and seriously considered for a moment that if I turned Eva into a mini Hare Krishna that GiGi would hold a parenting intervention and thereby become a grandparent at last.

In pursuit, Eva, Nana and I have taken up Bhakti yoga on our holiday in Boston. Hare Krishna! Krishna Krishna!

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Tune in next week for “A Hostile Takeover and Gigi Redeems Herself.”

Xx Derelict Mom