Hurricane Recovery and a Naughty Halloween

What should you do after a Hurricane? After you finish cleaning up?

It took us a week to finish and after the dust settled I decided to….

Enlist the indentured servitude of my two year old, and her handy Radio Flyer wagon, to collect the fallen fruits of Gonzalo’s labour, our family crop of limes.

Radio FlyerEva's lime

When we surveyed the damage from the Hurricane and ventured into the citrus garden to check on Eva’s much adored and feared Bee Hive to find that the wrath of Gonzalo spared the lime trees but not its crop, but for a few scraggly weather beaten ones that managed to hold onto their stems by some godly miracle. Looking at the two that remained on the tree, reminded me of how I felt after the first year of motherhood, and Hurricane Eva. Now that she is nearly three I have learned to buffet the changing wind and tide of motherhood, but now the monstrous storms have clinical names like salmonella, septicemia, or hand, foot and mouth and impetigo. As Eva has made it through the alphabet of diseases I have gotten less and less freaked out by disaster and to more or less expect it. So when Hurricane Gonzalo set its sights on us, all I could think was thank god I don’t have a breast pump dependant infant anymore, there was always a worse time for a Category 4 Hurricane or a better time to stop pumping if that had been the case. Anyway now that Eva is almost three, and we had a few dropped limes and missing trees, we were happy eventually to celebrate the passing of Hurricane Season 2014.

Super Eva and her radio flyer amassed several wagon loads of limes, which after a few rounds of pressing them on my juicer to freeze in little jars with a broken hand like the penny pinching artist I should be, but am not — I thought F…THIS… lets break out the Tequila. I was given this idea, by my aunt who informed me we are going to make my uncle’s 60th birthday party a Tequila party.

Patron Silver was the perfect muse to bring us all back to reality, after spending most of the week cleaning. In the true spirit of coming clean I have to admit that I had almost never cleaned Eva’s play pen in the several years it was in operation. After taking everything apart in preparation for the storm surge, when we came to put the playpen back we sorted through every toy and missing puzzle piece with the idea of restoring it to its former glory, just cleaner. To this end Chris cleaned the multicoloured padded flooring which had come apart into a million pieces in letters and numbers and weird corners and parts. After all the parts dried we did not have the heart, or could not be assed to put it back together so we normalized the living room and called it Eva’s big girl playpen. And she bought it – Phew.

The other casualty of the Hurricane recovery week was Eva’s unspoiled vocabulary. She has always had a robust vocab for her age, ever since she said her first word at the early age six months; it was “mama” of course. We almost made it to three without a terrible word escaping Eva’s mouth, or anything worse than “yucky” or “poo poo” until a terrible event spoiled everything. Last weekend, Eva was perched on Daddy’s knee while he watched the Spurs vs. Newcastle game. When Newcastle scored, he yelled “Fuck Off” and the little parrot on his knee echoed him back “Fuck Off” she roared toward the T.V. I laughed, finally, we had a bad parenting moment I did not have to take credit for!

Great I thought, in another six months she will be shouting “Yid army!” be wearing camo cargo pants and be unrecognizable underneath the Spurs regalia and swear words. It was probably predestined that I would give birth to a football hooligan and it was beginning to materialize before my eyes.

Maybe I will become one of those really bad parents who dress their kids up on Halloween as a football lout to explain away their potty mouth. But I am not sure that I will be able to explain why my two year old dressed up as a turtle is yelling “Fuck Off” to the princess and the witch instead of chewing on lettuce leaves.

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I am sure Daddy won’t appreciate this revelation on the blog but he does have his own way of seeking revenge. Like when he came home from work last Friday and made a mischievous promise to Eva.

“Eva I promise that Mommy and Daddy will both dress up for Halloween.”

“Don’t make a promise to a two year old you can’t keep.” I said

“I bought you a present.” He said with an evil grin.

“What?” I asked in dread.

He went out to his motorbike and came back with an unsuspicious plastic bag, and gave it to me, still grinning.

I took a deep breath and opened it. Inside was another plastic bag, one of those all in one costume packages. I pull it out, and with one word, ruined my Halloween.

“VELMA!”

“You are dressing up as Velma Dinkley for Halloween.”

I looked back in the bag.

“If I am dressing up as Velma, where is your Fred costume?”

“They didn’t have any other Scooby characters.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It’s true I looked.”

“Then we will make one up, we need to get you a yellow ascot.”

“Okay. Will you try on the red wig?”

“This is not Naughty Velma is it?”

“Maybe it is Naughty Velma!”

And so Naughty Velma was born a week ago, out of revenge and a plastic bag.

And so it was that the morning of Halloween Friday, I dressed Eva in her first of three costumes, the turtle and took her to school. When I left I made her my own promise.

“Eva when mommy picks you up from school I will come to get you in costume.”

She was so excited.

When I pulled out of my driveway at a little after five in a red wig and glasses my neighbors gave me a triple take.

“It’s Halloween people!”

More and more people stared at me as I drove by them in my familiar car with an unfamiliar look as if I couldn’t possibly be doing something as innocent as going trick or treating, they looked at me as if I was going to rob a bank, or maybe to everyone else in the world, Halloween is just for kids.

When I arrived at Eva’s school she burst into tears.

“Eva it’s mommy I’m dressed up as Velma.”

“I wanted you to dress up as Mommy Turtle.”

“Oh dear. Next year I can dress up as Mommy Turtle.”

After I wrestled my baby turtle into her car seat we headed home to unpack her school bag before heading out Trick or Treating. On the way home we passed a young woman on the side of the road dressed up as a playboy bunny, now I am sure she got a lot of looks, and I am equally sure no one thought she was going to rob a bank.

“Look Eva it’s a Naughty Bunny.”

“He He” she giggled, “A Naughty Bunny!”

“What are you dressed up as Mommy?”

“I told you Eva, I am dressed up as Velma.”

“Naughty Velma.”

“Okay fine, Eva whatever you want, Naughty Velma! “

We trick or treated our way down to Eva’s classmate’s house where Eva resumed their ritual fighting over toys, while Naughty Velma had a glass of wine.

When Daddy finally turned up from work right in time for trick or treating he showed up looking every bit as dapper as he usually does on a Friday evening.

“What happened to Fred?”

“I ran out of time.”

“You broke a promise to Eva.”

“Naughty Velma is more than enough of a surprise.”

“It was the yellow ascot, you weren’t man enough.”

“We need to immortalize this moment with a picture.”

Chris photographed Naughty Velma at the party, to which my only response following the lead of my naughty turtle, was F*CK OFF.

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On a side note, I have long wondered if hoarding was genetic and I think it is. Eva did not want to be just one thing for Halloween, so she dressed up as both a Turtle and a witch, and then when she went to bed she had to wear her skeleton pajamas because what is a holiday without at least three costumes. Or perhaps just perhaps my little Eva is turning into my mother and is already designing her future walk in closet.

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I hope everyone had a HAPPY HALLOWEEN.

Xx Derelict Mom aka Naughty Velma.

Hurricane Gonzalo: A Lucky Escape

There are times in life when you feel downright lucky and today is one of those days. Bermuda survived Gonzalo without any loss of life, and we personally escaped with only minor property damage. We anticipated a much worse scenario, flooding, possible roof loss, which was widespread in 2003’s Fabian. It was 15 degrees of separation between a blow from the South like Fabian and a blow from the East that we had with Hurricane Gonzalo. As I watched from my unshuttered kitchen window I was thankful I was watching the waves crash to the side of the house rather than over the house. As a precaution we had sealed up all the doors with a caulking gun and moved most of our belongings on the bottom floor up to the top. We hunkered down in my office, playing a new game of “Candlelight Lego” and waiting for the eye to pass. When it arrived it was dark but we ventured outside anyway to investigate and our world had an eerie orange glow. We checked in on our neighbors, shared a glass of wine and then discovered all the planks from my father’s docks had washed into our bay so before the storm returned, yours truly went for a swim in her clothes and fished out all the planks, partly so we could reuse them, and partly so they wouldn’t sail in the opposite direction causing unknown harm to property or people. Chris and I had a large bottle of wine, a gift from Uncle Michael and Another Michael which we had been saving for a dinner party we never got around to hosting, so we decided to crack it open for the special occasion. We still haven’t finished it but it is helping to ease the clean up process.

After we woke up at dawn the following morning to the ominous drone of coast guard planes flying overhead in an eerie stillness without the traffic, birds chirping, or the chatter of people that usually accompanies a weekend sunrise, we got up dusted ourselves off and did a survey of damage. To our utter amazement our power came back yesterday, making us one of the lucky ones, and enabling me to post this Hurricane aftermath update. We found the St. George’s Ferry sign in our yard amid the debris, many downed trees, and a hut from the garden thrown into the air but miraculously without hitting anyone’s house, and sparing Eva’s cedar tree by a few feet.

Later on, like many of the fortunate, we partook in Bermuda’s premier spectator sport, Hurricane damage sight seeing around St. George’s and St. David’s. From the vantage of my father’s boat, which emerged unscathed from its storm mooring in Mullet Bay we counted about forty boats either sunk at their moorings or on the rocks. Here are some photos of the damage around our house and in the East End area. Amazingly, the Settler’s Dwelling, which my father and volunteers built at Carter House, using tools and material from the 1600’s as the first settler’s would have done, withstood the Category 3 hurricane without damage. Unfortunately the St. George’s charter fishing vessel, Messaround, sunk at the St. David’s dock, although the boat next to it, Lucky Charm, weathered the storm. Not all vessels were so lucky, not even Lucky seen in my featured image aground at Ferry Reach. I hope “Lucky” has insurance.

I had better get back to raking leaves and clearing debris. Until next week. Enjoy the images.

Xx Derelict Mom

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October 2014 103 October 2014 102 October 2014 101

Gonzalo: Force Majeure

When I started my blog in January and committed to blogging once a week, I thought it was a tall task I would have trouble committing to, therefore I made it a New Year’s Resolution. I imagined all the obstacles that would come my way, a sick child, surprise work deadlines, holidays, exhaustion, a family wedding. Until today all of those things have happened and been successfully negotiated, and my blog has gone up every week either on a Thursday, Friday and on one occasion a Saturday morning. Its 2pm on Friday October 17th, I was supposed to be filming Founders Day at the Berkeley Institute but instead I am hunkered down with shutters closed. We just finished moving the bottom floor of our house up to the top floor in anticipation of the inevitable flooding which will be coming along with Category Four/Three Hurricane Gonzalo. Eva is supposed to be napping but she is instead crying from the comfort of her crib in the safest room in the house. Chris and I are exhausted already and we are taking a break while Eva naps to take advantage of the power while we still have it. I am writing, Chris is watching tv. Whether or not I make my blog posting deadline this week, depends on how fast I type and how long the electricity stays on. It is a race.

If I don’t make it, I am claiming an Act of God or Force Majeure, that clause in a contract you never think will apply for you which may extend to next week too because who knows when the power will be restored. It is a miracle I got any work done this week, as just five days ago we were all surprised while we were sleeping ( or partying) with an unforecasted small hurricane, Fay. The week before, Chris was away and Eva had vomiting and diarrhea, in the midst of my evening workshops, and one of my closest friend’s weddings. I couldn’t do it all, it was one of those weeks I was just trying to show up and deal.

Last Friday, I became very concerned about Eva’s condition, her belly swelled up, she wouldn’t let me touch it and my mind jumped around before landing conclusively on the assumption that she had an obstruction because who could possibly have stomach flu for an entire week. I considered taking her to the emergency room, and I half packed a bag for an overnight in the Gosling ward, but instead I took her down to the doctor’s office, having to wait a few hours for an appointment. Right as we were about to leave, she requested the potty and after several minutes of contortions, noxious fumes, and loud echoing boofas (farts), her stomach became less of a pregnancy and more of a soft toddler belly. The occasionally diligent derelict mother that I am, I photographed the toilet explosion, partly to show the doctor and partly to show Chris what he missed while on holiday, I mean while on his trip for his Grandmother’s funeral.

Rushing down to the doctor, they looked shocked to see me five days after I had called, concerned with what seemed a worse than usual stomach flu. After close examination but without looking at my diligently photographed documentary evidence, he concluded that Eva may not have a case of the stomach flu, but rather be suffering from a seven day case of Salmonella poisoning. There is no treatment.

When Eva and I returned home and looked up salmonella poisoning on the internet I saw that it is most often contracted by consumption of raw eggs. I racked my mind, and remembered that on Sunday, only my second day of single parenting with eager enthusiasm and a desire to become at least for a day or two, the fun parent, I made her eggs benedict for lunch. Toast with butter, smoked salmon, a poached egg and home made hollandaise sauce made from…raw egg yolks. Eva helped me crack the eggs, and somehow contracted salmonella, just the perfect little microbe to ruin our week and make a derelict mother even more derelict. I poisoned my child.

By Saturday though I felt Eva had recovered enough for me to leave her at home and attend my friend Elena’s wedding, as I had missed a cruise and several parties and if I missed her wedding it would have been a disappointment for years to come. I am not sure many parents would have done the same, but I did not want to be a derelict friend in addition to a child poisoning mother.

Chaos follows us so, enroute to the wedding we managed to leave someone behind. The weather had picked up early in the day because they had forecast a bit of a blow so the bride at the last minute had to move the entire wedding to the tent on front street at Pier 6. It was an amazing act of organization that they were able to pull it off, and pull it off they did. The wedding went off without a hitch, by the witching hour my mother was dancing on stage with Uzimon. A perfect night.

But it was an imperfect morning. I wasn’t sure at 7am if it was the banging in my head or if it was the shutters banging that woke me up. Within a minute or two of consciousness and noticing that the power was off, I realized that we were in the midst of a hurricane. Home alone with a small child, and a large hangover I wasn’t even sure I had shut the front door the night before never mind moved Eva’s toys, or the lawn furniture. We had no choice but to wait it out.

When the winds subsided, we realized that no one knew more than we did, and that there were winds recorded up to 155 mph, a Hurricane. It was a frightening thought that I went to bed, husband less, having had too much to drink, in charge of a small child recovering from mother induced salmonella poisoning and completely unaware of what was happening. However Hurricane Fay was but a warning.

I could not have been more happy when a world weary husband walked in the front door at midnight, fresh off the BA flight from London, the only flight that arrived the day after the freak Hurricane. I regaled him with tales from the wedding and boats upon the reefs, and showed him a picture of the wedding tent, which only a few hours after the party ended was but tatters on the ground.

When Monday morning dawned and Chris got up to survey damage to the house, he was pretty surprised to see that like the Hurricane had downed trees, and broken branches, that inside salmonella poisoning had wrecked the house. There were clothes everywhere and crayon scribbles all over the wall confessing all my derelict mom moments where I just let her take my sharpie pens and do so with them what she would- which was draw on the wall, probably while I was in the kitchen pouring my self a nice big glass of wine or a tequila and probiotic lemonade.

Little did we know that the next five days would kick the chaos up a notch. Within a day or so a grim forecast was issued by the Bermuda Weather Service, who we weren’t sure whether to trust or shun. All of the responsibilities of the salmonella week that I offloaded into this week were again cast off, in favour of spending way too much money panic buying with the rest of the island at the hardware store, and the grocery store. Chris would say I do this every week, but at least I could clear my schedule and be that parent, the one who organizes everything.

To make matters worse, drunk with the chaos of the moment, I tripped backwards over a paving stone and storm detritus falling backwards and hurting my hand which I reached out behind me to break my fall. The following day, while refilling a prescription I decided to show the doctor, who said it would be best if I had an x-ray because if it is broken I may have to have surgery to put a pin in to stabilize the thumb. Two days before the storm I rock up to the Fracture clinic without an appointment, after about an hour of arguing it was agreed I would be seen. Meanwhile in the waiting room I have visions of having surgery and being trapped at the hospital during the worst hurricane in a decade and separated from Eva and Chris. Although I would probably get more sleep than I had in the preceding ten days, it was not the best version of events. It was eventually decided that I did not need surgery but a brace was required.

I am not sure being one handed slowed my shopping down at all, but it did create a problem for hurricane prep especially considering my husband ever the loyal employee, did not arrive home from work to begin prepping the house until 4:30, approx. three hours before nightfall, whereas I had been preparing for at least three days.

So here we are on Friday October 17th at almost 3pm crowded into two rooms with a dog and a three year old, and all our worldly belongs waiting for that Force Majeure otherwise known as Hurricane Gonzalo and its wrath. Gonzalo was named for the character in Shakespeare’s Tempest famously inspired by the wreck of the Sea Venture in 1609 and the survival of the castaways in Bermuda leading to the island’s colonization by England. In the play Gonzalo was stranded on a remote island when Prospero conjures up a storm to wreck a ship. The conjuring is amping up now so I better sign off. Until next time. Waves are crashing in the garden and friends have lost power, I will post now or never! 1700 words in almost an hour- that must be a record. Lets see how fast I can cut and paste.

Forgot to mention, I have been on a cooking spree and made gluten free pizza, vegan fudge, ham, spagetthi squash, potato salad, gfree bread, quiche, deviled eggs, guacamole. We will not go hungry for days, and now I just have to decide if I am going to make gazpacho or bloody mary’s with my bottle of V8? Votes?

Xx Derelict Mom

Eva’s Law

The occasion of one of your best friend’s weddings should be memorable for all the right reasons but when you are the mother of a two year old Murphy’s Law applies more often than not to each day, week and special occasion. I now call it Eva’s law, if something can go wrong it will go wrong. And Eva has lived up to her rule for this week has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

I was anticipating a challenging week last Friday night when Eva and I dropped Daddy off at the airport for his nine day trip home for his Grandmother’s funeral. I could barely remember the last time he went away on his own over a year ago. It was to be my foray into single parenting, something many mothers do full time with multiple children, on one salary and in much worse circumstances but I can’t help feeling sorry for myself when the puking begins.

I made it through the weekend just fine, but then again it was the weekend and my energy was high and we even had a chance to go out on my parents boat on Sunday for an evening swim at Paget’s island in the middle of October. We live in paradise, how nice to have a moment to appreciate it I thought. Of course it was the calm before the storm. There were clues but I chose to ignore them, like the ill fated optimist I am. Eva was fussy when she woke up from her nap and had a tantrum about nothing. When we were on the boat she ate very little, and of course it is October, which always means trouble but alas I always pretend everything is okay.

As I was on my own, and did not eat dinner until after I put Eva to bed on Sunday night, I decided to stay up late and watch Boardwalk Empire, which I usually record to watch later in the week. Eva’s law applies here, because it is always the nights I choose to go to bed late that Eva gets sick, like it was always the nights I decided to go to bed with no clothes on that Piglet and Piccolo would get into a huge fight and I would have to try and separate them, wondering if I should let them kill themselves while I put a dressing gown on and call for help. At least on Sunday night I was clothed and caught up on laundry.

At 2am I bolt upright in bed and hear crying coming through the monitor. I race to Eva’s room ever the dutiful mother, determined that during Daddy’s absence Mommy would rise to the heights of favorite parent, the one that didn’t abandon her. It seemed to be working over the weekend and she even started calling me Daphne for a few moments, but after the sickness set in I was back to Scrappy do. I lift Eva out of her crib at about the same time I notice the tell tale stench of vomit. I immediately think of the hotdog she had for dinner, could an applegate uncured hotdog be at fault? I flipped on the light sat her on the bed and stripped her of her clothing. In fear I look into the crib at all the blankets, sheets, toys and books that are covered in puke and sigh. If Daddy was at home I would have woken him up and one of us would have cleaned up the puke and one of us would have tried to console the sick crying Eva. I put her on the big bed, and went about stripping her crib. Bundling the dirty sheets, toys and books into a ball and I tossed them out onto the lawn pretending they didn’t exist. Eva and I changed clothes, and I got settled in for what would be a long four hours till morning.

“Mommy is going to sleep with you in your big bed so we can cuddle, because you don’t feel well.”

“Okay mommy,” Said Eva throwing her little arms around me.

“Would it be okay if Piccolo slept in your big bed with us?” I asked.

To my surprise, “Yes,” was her answer. She usually never even lets Piccolo come into her room.

I had just finished tucking Piccolo in at the end of the bed, when Eva turned a shade of pale, became uncharacteristically still, and tilted her head over. I was a pro at vomit, so I threw a towel underneath her, as fast as a cowboy withdrawing a gun from his holster in a shoot out. Just in time. I bundled it up, wiped her mouth with a wipe, and took the surprise package to the growing bundle on the lawn. I then retrieved several more towels and lined the bed with them, before climbing in and draping myself with a sick crying child, it was at this moment that reality overtook my optimism and my denial and I had to admit that she had the dreaded stomach flu.

I think she vomited another four times before the sun poked its head above the horizon at about 6:45am and we got up for what I knew would be an even longer day. The pile of vomit laundry outside looked like Mount Everest to an exhausted mother of a sick child so I continued to pretend it didn’t exist, until my father came over to check in on Eva, and I took the opportunity to hose down all the sheets, books, toys, blankets, towels etc and begin the mountain of laundry of which four days later, I have whittled down to only one more load.

Now that Eva was almost three a pattern had finally revealed itself. Since she was 1, she ( and I) had contracted the stomach flu every April and every October. Evidently the virus springs to life and high contagiousness when the seasons begin to change. I promise to myself of future Aprils and Octobers to undertake some immune boosting measures before this happens again, as it will during another future, terrible, horrible, not so good, very bad week.

Needless to say work deadlines, schedules, errands, phone calls, emails and writing time were all postponed while Eva continued to vomit through the workday. It was far worse than usual so I put a call into the doctor’s office, who said what I expected.

“There is really nothing we can do about it.”

When the vomiting seemed to stop things got a little easier for a few hours, Eva laid on mommy watching Scooby Doo and then I put her to bed for her nap. When she woke up, I could smell something pungent but it wasn’t vomit, it was diarrhea. I am kind of on the fence about what is worse vomit or diarrhea, but my poor baby Eva had both making this virus the worst she has ever had.

By nightfall she seemed better and would be back to school the next day and we would both be rested, but at midnight she started crying again, and I rushed into her room only to find the same scene from the night before, a carnage of vomit. Like groundhog day I picked her out of bed, stripped her clothing, wiped her down, stripped the bed, added it to the now growing again mountain of dirty sheets, clothes, toys and books outside, and settled in for night number two in bed with Eva.

By Wednesday I managed to get back to work, and finally sleep through the night (both of us,) but by Thursday (today) the poor little baby is still having diarrhea. Today was scheduled as a day off for me, on a cruise boat celebrating one my best friend’s weddings, instead I am feeling like crap, writing this blog post and praying I don’t come down with the stomach flu and four day diarrhea, and god forbid- even worse give it to the bride – so I missed the cruise. I am hoping, however that Eva’s law does not continue its rule and render me unable to attend the wedding. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened, as last October Eva had the stomach flu and had just recovered before Chris and I flew for our first and last holiday without Eva for three days to New York for a friend’s wedding. Upon arrival in New York I contracted the same stomach flu and remained in bed for the duration, missing the wedding and barely making the plane home. I have no intention of reliving this experience. Of course, I am also looking forward to Chris’ arrival home on Sunday night and the triumphant return of co-parenting.

Xx Derelict Mom

Eva's Law

Scooby You and Scrappy Me

Eva’s imagination took off a few months into her second year, which is currently in its fall (she will be three at Christmas.) As a creative person I really felt this was going to be MY era or at least my best chance of being the favorite parent. Of course I was mistaken because in any good story there has to be a surprise and this was one of many in my own adventure in motherhood.

“Mommy tell me a story, tell me a story.”

“Once upon a time there was a magical fairy called Evangeline who was looking for a Rosemary bush to call her home.”

“No I want a story about a bunny.”

“Once Upon a time there was a mommy bunny who was looking for a den to raise her baby bunny in.”

“No I want a story about a daddy bunny.”

“Eva, I am your mommy, I DON’T tell stories about Daddy bunnies.”

“WAAAAAA”

This is how it went most nights when I put her to bed until at about age two and a half around her June 21st half birthday, Daddy and Mommy gave in to cartoons and Eva’s obsession with Peppa Pig bloomed. Soon much of her imaginative play had echoes of Peppa Pig episodes I had watched, half attentively, half blocking my ears from the annoying music. Officially children are not supposed to have any screen time until they are three years old, and part of me wishes she had never seen a cartoon or an ipad but you can only hold off technology for so long. Within a few months Eva can navigate my iphone better than her father who is still stuck on a blackberry.

In the Peppa Pig Universe, Peppa has a Mommy called Mommy Pig who is obsessed with working on her computer, which is very close to Eva’s reality. One night we were playing in Eva’s room before I put her to bed, and she held out the silver jewelry box she was given at her christening and said,

“Mommy, this is my secret box.”

“Why is it a secret?”

“It has a secret inside.”

At this point I began to remember the Peppa Pig episode when Peppa hid her favorite teddy in her secret box.

“What is inside, Eva?” I ask.

She opens the box and lets me look inside.

“Oh wow,” I said. “Your beautiful christening bracelet.”

Eva picked it out and gave it to me.

“It’s our secret Mommy, you are my best friend.”

Unsurprisingly I put her christening bracelet on my wrist and have been wearing it ever since in remembrance of the split second that I was Eva’s best friend. Of course my moment of glory was short lived.

I always knew Eva would be a tom boy but when her other best friend and cousin Sadie left her nursery leaving her, the only girl with three boys, it was pretty much the end of high heels, sequins, dolls, makeup, fights over the baby carriage and anything resembling decorum. Instead of being covered with lipstick she is covered with bruises, she can climb pretty much anything and is practicing her left hook. Soon she will ask me to call her Evan instead of Eva and want me to chop all her hair off, or finally convince me that she can actually pee standing up. The one thing that remains is her love for the colour pink- we will see how long that lasts.

Amid these changes she ditched another of her best friends, Peppa Pig and decided she would rather hang out with, and obsessively watch Scooby Doo. Scooby at least has more of a story than the Peppa Pig cartoons but for some kind of copyright reason full Scooby episodes are not on You Tube so if we are not at home and Eva has a craving, it is usually followed by a massive Scooby Doo tantrum and my commensurate frustration that she cannot yet grasp the concept of DVR and wireless internet technology.

Like Peppa Pig, the world of Scooby Doo crept into her imaginative play but in far less flattering ways. Last weekend we were playing what she calls her “clay-pen” because she can’t say “play-pen” properly or maybe she just can’t decipher mommy’s weird accent. While playing Eva decided to emulate her favorite cartoon.

“This is a treasure map.” She said, “Of South America.”

“Do you want Mommy to help Eva read the treasure map?”

“I am not Eva, I am Shaggy.”

“Okay, if you are Shaggy, who is Scooby Doo?”

“Piccolo,” She said referring to our miniature dachshund, and looking at me with a – you are a stupid mummy- look.

“Okay.” I said, “Can Mommy help Shaggy with the treasure map?”

“No, Fred has to help Shaggy.”

I look at her confused, “Who is Fred?” I ask.

“Daddy is Fred!!!!” She yells impatient with my ignorance.

“Is Fred going to help you?” I ask.

“Freddy! Freddy!” She demands from the other side of the playpen

“Read my map!”

Daddy reads the blank page and pretends to lead her to the buried treasure in South America ,which is what he has renamed the left couch in the living room.

“Can we get Mommy to help us Shaggy?” Chris/Fred asks Eva.

“You mean, Velma?” Eva says.

I choke on my water.

“Wait who am I, VELMA? Really… VELMA? “

“Yes Mommy, you are Velma and you don’t get to come to South America.”

“Oh,“ I say disappointed in being called Velma more than not getting to come to South America.

“Wait who is Daphne?” I ask.

“Bunny is Daphne.” She says referring to her stuffed bunny she carries around with her.

“VELMA?” I say again. Chris roars in laughter.

“I am no Daphne, but I am no Velma either! “ I say defensively.

“I don’t have glasses, I don’t have an old lady hair cut and I hate the colour orange.”

When Eva and Chris or rather Shaggy and Fred finally got back from their love affair in South America, Velma was ready to negotiate.

“Shaggy?”

“Yes?”

“In Scooby Doo, Shaggy and Velma love each other, right?”

“Yes Velma I love you.”

“Oh thanks Eva.”

“No, Shaggy.”

“Sorry, Thanks Shaggy.”

“Shaggy, would it be okay if Mommy was Scrappy Doo instead of Velma?”

Shaggy took some time to think it over.

“Shaggy would you like a piece of chocolate, Scrappy do has some in the fridge, but Velma is on a chocolate free diet.”

True to character she said, “Yes Scrappy I would like a piece of chocolate, a big piece.”

And so from that moment on Velma up-negotiated through chocolate to become, Scrappy Do which seems fitting to Derelict Mom as I have always been a bit Scrappy and Eva did not seem to mind as she was still chasing Daddy around the house, saying,

“Freddy, Freddy, Freddy! “

Eva’s attribution of Daddy as Freddy, Mommy as Velma, and herself as Shaggy made me wonder about self image, and when we should worry about our young girls and trying to lead by example. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so worried about being called Velma after all as she is the smart one. When I was young I wanted to be a boy and although I couldn’t wish that into reality, I did become a tom boy and Eva seems to be following suit.

I am not so sure what to make of my most recent finding from within her playpen, which is pictured below. Her cousin Sadie gave her some dress up dolls for Christmas and Eva has taken great pleasure not in dressing them up as was intended but in desecrating their naked bodies with scribbles especially the blonde one that looks the most like her. I wonder if I should I be worried?

Xx Derelict Mom    a.k.a  VELMA    Scrappy Do!

Eva'sBodyImageIssues2