Friends: My Saving Grace

Today is my fiftieth blog post. 50! I am having a little party for myself on my office chair with my old man of a dog, Piccolo. It’s making me reflective. It’s making me think of all the friends, enemies, and frienemies I have made through my blog. I still find it fun, I can’t imagine that I would ever stop doing something that is so much fun.

Piccolo has been my best friend for eleven and a half years and plenty of people will, do, and have made fun of me for loving a dog so much, and yet sometimes I am a bad best friend leaving him home alone too much, taking him to the vet a few months late for his annual check up and making him have an expensive and painful dentistry, but never mind, I do my best and at least I have stopped dressing him up in ridiculous costumes. I do my best with Piccolo, at my blog, at raising Eva, at life and sometimes that’s not good enough but I have an outlet of course.

It’s fun to watch Eva grow up and make friends, and negotiate her own relationships. She loves older girl friends, a girl named Maeve and Matilda, and Sienna and Scarlet who live next door. Eva is a favorite with the boys and she mucks right in with their rough and tumble play. Caelen’s mother and I have already discussed china patterns, and a wedding date, impatient to see what happens. Occasionally I see glimpses of more adult emotions like sadness and jealousy.

Eva said to me last weekend, “I want to get a kitty cat, I want two kitty cats, because they don’t bark like dogs.” And then later on she said, “Sometimes I like Piccolo.”

“What do you mean, sometimes?”

“Mommy, he is your best friend.”

“He can be your best friend too, I can share.”

“I don’t like it when he licks me.”

“Eva that’s a kiss.”

I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead, which she promptly wiped away, convincing me she is two going on sixteen and those moments parents dread when their teenager makes them drop them off at school around the corner, were already happening to me. When she is sixteen I will remind her about the bracelet she gave me when she told me I was her best friend, and how I changed all her diapers and took care of her when she was sick and all the wonderful horrible details of being a mother that a child will never know, remember, or appreciate.

On Monday morning she said when she woke up, “I wish every day was Sunday,” and I told her I wished the same thing, but big girls have to go to school and mommies and daddies have to go to work. Later in the week, two friends came over and Daddy had to put her to bed and she said to him, “Daddy, I don’t like it when mommy’s friends come over, it makes me feel shy.” But I know Eva does warm up but it takes some time, sometimes three years, and most of the time chocolate works.

Eva has finally accepted my friend Reza, and when we arrive at her house every Saturday morning she screams and yells until I unclip her car seat.

“Mommy, Mommy, I want to come in.”

“We are only picking up Piglet. I’ll be right back.”

“No mommy, I am coming in to see Reza.”

“Okay, fine”

Our visit delays our regular and inevitable trip to the playground, but I am secretly happy that Eva has finally warmed up to Reza.

Reza is my dog walker and we met probably five years ago, when my dogs Piccolo and Piglet were fighting horribly and we needed the intervention of a dog trainer and his pack walking service. Enter Reza. The first time I met her, it felt like taking earplugs out of my ears and hearing the world for the first time, she was loud, a bit crazy and utterly charming.

She drove way too fast down the drive way in an old jeep beeping her car horn wildly, windows down with about seven dogs hanging out of the sides drooling. There was a fluffy medium sized red haired dog, a grey Weimaraner, a Rhodesian ridgeback, a Rottweiler, and a Labrordoodle and a couple of mutts. I had second thoughts about putting my little babies in the back seat with this motley crew of canines, but I did and she sped out of the drive way in an equally manic way which made me concerned for their well being but I felt I had no choice. If I left them at home they might kill each other. As the jeep teetered on its axel speeding around the corner, I noticed the back bumper hanging off and sparking as it dragged behind, like an unwilling accomplice.

Reza could never fade into the background, I am sure everyone knows who she is, if they don’t know her personally. To say she has presence is not enough, meeting her is like getting run over by her car, which is equally an extremely possible way of making her acquaintance.

I always love a character, so in a quiet unsure way I was besotted with Reza from the very beginning. She might be the only person I know who doesn’t have an email address, but there is something appealing, simple and ahead of her time on that front. Reza keeps it simple, and she is also loving, generous and believes that God will always take care of whatever problems arise. She has faith, more faith than I do.

The dogs soon started to hide when they heard her car horn honking her arrival outside the front door. I was a bit worried about this, so in the typical behavior of someone who does not have human children (at the time) and possibly too much time on her hands, I consulted my animal psychic. I put it to her this way, the dog walking seems to be working but I am worried that the boys are frightened of Reza as she is quite different to me, and our general quiet environment (this is pre Eva). The psychic said that they loved Reza, they might not want to go on the walk but they feel much better after they come back, kind of like the way we all feel about exercise. She also added that if our walks stopped for some reason it would cause a real problem, and specifically if Reza stopped walking them they would be upset. It was this moment that I began to realize that Reza was not just a friend she was part of the family.

Much like I get a notebook account every evening of what Eva has been up to at nursery, if she successfully negotiated a fight, who won the argument over the yellow swing, how long she napped and if she did a poo or not, Reza would appear back at front door with the dogs with a report on their behavior.

“They both did their business. That piglet is a character.”

“He sure is.”

“He doesn’t take any messing. Portia ( the Rottweiler) tried to get in his way, and boy Piggy he put her right in her place, snapped at her with all his teeth bared.”

“That sounds like Piglet.”

“He is a real so and so.”

I laughed, a so and so might be how I would describe Reza.

A year or so in Reza confessed to me something I had long expected,

“Piglet is my favorite. He is my little man. Such a So and So.”

As we got used to Reza as part of the family, we grew accustomed to expect the unexpected. Usually in the form of something odd strapped to the car, or someone odd in the car. Reza has a heart bigger than anyone I have ever met and it is often her downfall.

She lives on a budget, but she has a car which she knows is a privilege that not everyone enjoys, and she is always giving lifts to people, no matter how shady or down trodden they might appear. Personally I have never given a lift to anyone I didn’t know out of fear, yet fear doesn’t seem to sway Reza but she does get hurt from time to time. Once someone stole her phone, a blackberry my father had handed down to her, and because she never locks her door other things sometimes disappear. There will always be someone out there who will take advantage of a generous person.

Reza fills up her car in fifteen dollar increments, and the other day when she went to the station to get her regular she met a man who could not buy his kids dinner, so of course she gave him the fifteen dollars. It was a normal day for her, but probably not for the man that happened to come across her loud screeching vehicle full of dogs.

Every Sunday she bakes for the neighborhood kids and takes care of them after church. And Yes she goes to church every Sunday. I can’t remember the last time I went to church.

A month or so ago when she picked up Piccolo for his walk she tried to give me a flyer and invite me to her church’s prayer picnic that following Sunday.

“Oh I have to work on Sunday.”

She took the flyer back and could probably tell I was lying. When she brought Piccolo back from his walk, she handed me something else, a small pamphlet.

“Read it and think very hard about the message.”

I looked down and something about the cheaply printed comic book made me think it was a Jehovah Witness mini watchtower booklet.

“Reza, I thought you were an African Methodist Episcopalian (AME), not a Jehovah Witness.”

“Of course I am a Christian, hun.” She said looking offended. “Promise me you will read it.”

“Okay I promise.”

I went inside and read it. This was the jist, an elderly couple who are missionaries happen to sit next to a convicted murderer who just got out of prison on a plane flight. The plane catches on fire and is about to crash and incinerate everyone, and the murderer asks the couple to take this opportunity to trust Jesus Christ. They respond by saying that they have been good people all of their lives spending fifty years in Africa building schools and hospitals for lepers and “fed and clothed thousands of dear natives.” (that is a quote) “doing good works for God.” The Murderer tells them that good works are only fine but that they have to save sinners to get to heaven. They disagree. The Plane incinerates, and then the sweet good charitable elderly couple burn for eternity in hell but the murderer goes to heaven. The message: save a sinner or burn for eternity in hell.

I still don’t go to church so I suppose the scaremongering pamphlet didn’t work on me. I wonder if it works on anyone? Was Reza trying to SAVE me? Does she think I am a sinner?

Reza is so charitable she takes in people who have no place to stay, even sinners, and lives with complete strangers in order to give them a helping hand. She is the kind of person who would give away her last dollar knowing it would come back to her. I would never be so confident.

My husband, who makes fun of everyone, calls her a Magpie, because in addition to at least seven dogs, she usually has a car full of bags of clothes, toys, candy, chips (all bulk size), anything she has found on the side of the road and once an inflatable boat. I would not blink twice if on my way down the driveway I found her digging through the trash. She has always brought me bags of second hand clothes when she finds something in my size, but the other day she ended up bringing me an entire suitcase of clothes, shoes and of course negligees and took the time to draw my attention to the sexy bathing suit which she instructed me I should be wearing when Chris comes home from work. I still have the swim suit, its on my dressing table, more as a hilarious ornament, rather than anything I would actually wear or even be able to fit into but I couldn’t bear give it to anyone else, maybe in another lifetime I will be that thin and do as Reza instructed.

I stopped buying clothes for myself after Eva was born, and Chris just buys me the same t-shirt in a different colour every time it’s my birthday, Mothers Day or Christmas. I have had to put a moratorium on t-shirts but not the designer second hand outfits Reza finds. Its like having my own personal shopper, just not at Saks Fifth Avenue – at Thrift city or as we call it The Barn. I do occasionally wonder if the new additions to my wardrobe were out of a dead person’s closet.

I get compliments too.

“Where did you get that?”

“From my dog walker.” I used to say and people looked at me funny like we swapped shirts or something, so now I just say, “From my friend Reza.”

Reza keeps it real too. In a moment of trying to economize Chris suggested we cut back on our expenses and cut the dog walks back from three times a week to twice, so when I told Reza she was really disappointed.

“But you can afford it.” She didn’t mess around. “Look at the size of your diamond ring, its HUGE.”

“It’s not HUGE Reza.”

“Yes it is.”

Well its not, but I guess everything is relative especially when you don’t have a diamond ring and if you did you would probably pawn it. Still, she had a point to make and so did the dogs, because within a week of missing their third dog walk they went bizerk and began warring with each other again, forcing us as the psychic predicted to reinstate the third dog walk.

Reza never married but her love life was long and varied as I came to find out about a year after she began walking the dogs. One Friday afternoon in December I was all dressed up and wearing makeup, no one would recognize me, who knows me now, and I was waiting at the bus stop to catch the number 11 into town when she saw me and stopped.

“What happened to your car?”

“Nothing, I am just taking the bus so I don’t have to drive.”

She looked at me like I was crazy.

“Why?”

“ Because I am going to have a few glasses of wine, and I don’t want to drive my car home.”

“Get in the car, I will drive you.” She looked at me sternly.

I obeyed.

“Drinking will do you no good, you shouldn’t drink, I don’t drink, not one drop.”

“Okay”

I wondered whether I should try and convince her that I was actually doing the responsible thing by taking the bus, but I figured that it would be a pointless argument and of course she was probably right.

It took thirty minutes to get to town and I think she talked the whole time, somehow she ended up telling me the story in detail of how she lost her virginity. I think I just responded with the simple yet articulate, “Oh really, that is ummm nice.”

My extra large glass of red wine when I finally arrived tasted especially good.

When Eva was born Reza showered her with gifts, unnecessary but very very kind. Eva who like her father is very sensitive to sounds was completely afraid of Reza and we had to have a talk to Reza about trying to control herself and to stop beeping the car horn wildly when she arrived. She remembered some of the time.

When Eva grew into a toddler, she ran and hid from Reza when she arrived, and then broke into a high pitched wail when Reza tried to approach her, speak or look at her.

“She is shy” I would say embarrassed, but I knew she was also intimidated by Reza’s loud, kind of crazy energy.

As Piccolo and Piglet racked up a decade of years each, their relationship began to sour as they grew more and more grumpy and there was not much three dog walks a week could do to change that. We rigged the house with a series of gates and a strict protocol of behavior for the humans that we were hoping would rub off on the dogs. It didn’t. For once Reza could not help.
Finally one day Chris had enough, the dogs tried to kill each other again, Eva had to be locked in a closet and there was so much blood, it looked like someone had been murdered on the stairs. He said to me, “Enough is enough, one of the dogs is leaving the house and not coming back.” Of course I knew he was right, but I would never have reached that point myself without someone losing a finger or the tip of their nose, and god I would never forgive myself if it had been Eva.

We put Piccolo because he is the nicer of the two dogs with my parents for two months, while I tried to work out a solution. I hoped Chris would mellow but he didn’t, and I was forced to find a home for Piglet. I think I cried myself to sleep for a month before I could even cross that bridge but I did. I did something I never thought I would do, rehome my dog. I found a candidate but at the last moment I backed out, it wasn’t right, something wasn’t right about it. I begged my parents to adopt Piglet but their answer was a certain No.

Around the time my entire family came down on me for stalling in finding Piglet a home, Reza was wrestling with her own tough decision. Her dog Sergeant was old and had lost the ability to walk, so in January she had to have him put to sleep. And after a few weeks of grieving she suggested a timely solution to my own problem.

“Why don’t I adopt Piglet.”

“You would do that?”

“Yes, and he would still be your baby.”

“When I pick up Piccolo for a walk I will drop off Piglet for a visit.”

And so we came to a co-parenting agreement. Reza would become Piglet’s mother and I would become more like a god mother. I would pay the vet bills, and visit him every Saturday and take him on an outing and Reza would drop him off to see me a few days a week. This solution had in many ways been under my nose the whole time, ever since she first called him, “Her boy,” he had always been her favorite charge.

It’s been almost a year since Piglet relocated, and almost three years since Eva was born. Eva became smitten with Reza when she discovered that she has a bowl of candy in her house that she doles out to the neighborhood kids. Eva is now first in line on Saturday mornings when we pick up Piglet for an outing. Although I make her, her own organic raw cacao chocolate at home, I am not a stickler for anything so every Saturday before lunch she has a mouthful of chocolate courtesy of Reza, who she now calls “Auntie Reza.” And on occasion Reza sneaks her a packet of potato chips, which she happily scoffs and then erupts in an allergic reaction to the processed MSG. I try to say no but it’s hard to disappoint them both as they have discovered what they have in common, a love of chocolate and chips and a new friendship has been born.

Reza calls the house now quite often when she needs to talk something over. After the hurricane when she was sitting in her house ten days without power, she had obviously had too much time to think, so she called me.

“I am thinking about becoming a bone marrow donor. I give blood but I want to do something more.”

“You know you have to go away for that, and it’s a dangerous operation.”

“Yes but I want to help people.”

“Do you know anyone who needs bone marrow?”

“No but someone might need my bone marrow and I would happily give it away.”

“But you would be risking your own life, it’s a complicated operation.”

“Its just something I have to do like a calling.”

“Would you give it to a Jehovah Witness?”

“Yes I would give it to anyone.”

“Okay well don’t rush into anything we need to research it first.”

“Can you look it up on your computer.”

“Yes.”

Click

Now I am thinking she has really gone insane, but that is from the viewpoint of someone who has never even given blood, forget a kidney or my own marrow. But you got to love her; she adds sparkle to my life.

Reza really solved a terrible situation by adopting Piglet, and we will be friends forever not only because she did for me something my own parents flatly refused to do but also because she just can’t help being herself. She has a loving heart of gold even if she does think I am a wine guzzling heathen with an ostentatious diamond who needs to be SAVED. I know who I will ask if I need a bone marrow transplant and it won’t be my parents it will be Reza of course!

I am considering letting Reza save me, just to see what happens.

Xx Derelict Mom

Reza and EvaFlight 144001Piccolo on his walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

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

Busted

In an uncharacteristic moment of gratitude, I want to say that I am really thankful for the growing network of parents of young kids in my small historic town of St. George’s and it makes me happy that Eva will have nice friends to grow up with, and it makes me even happier that I won’t have to trek up to Warwick parish for a play date and back. Hurrah!

Two weeks ago, a new friend and our neighbors invited us out for a cocktail cruise on Friday evening with the kids. I couldn’t wait, so I rushed home with Eva and got her prepared for the occasion. I had RSVPed for Chris saying that he would probably not get home from work on time, because Fridays are always his busiest day when he has to close off but the press continues to print over the weekend. He said he would call me when he got home and maybe the boat could swing back and pick him up if he wasn’t too late.

The boat slipped into our dock at 6pm sharp, and as I am always running late perpetually, Eva and I were the last ones onboard around 6:30pm. Chris was nowhere in sight, he had as expected missed the boat.

The plan was to pick up pizzas at the Wharf Tavern for the kids, so the boat motored into the dock of our local pub and restaurant a little later than planned. Sarah hopped out to pick up the pizzas, leaving us on the boat. When she came back, she came back with pizzas and a huge surprise for me. There standing on the dock in his Bermuda shorts and work blazer was Chris. I was stupefied. Chris was stupefied.

“What are you doing here?” I said as my mind began to whir.

“What are you doing here?” he said buying time.

“We picked up pizzas, that was always the plan.” I say stating the obvious.

I look over at Sarah who is holding the pizza, standing a few feet away looking as if she had grabbed him by the ear like a naughty school boy and dragged him off the bar stool to have a very public scolding by his wife.

“What are you doing here?” I ask again.

“I went to Somers Supermart and then stopped in to have a beer with Gunter.”

“Really?” I said still confused.

“Who stops in to have a beer with Gunter?”

“You do I guess.” I say answering my own question.

“You were supposed to call me and we were going to pick you up.”

“It’s 6:30, I thought you would be long gone by now.”

“You know I am never on time! “

“BUSTED”

Everyone chimed in, insisting that he board the boat immediately. He tried to hesitate and I gave him a glare. So he went back, poured his pint of beer into a plastic cup and boarded the vessel.

“Now you have me wondering how many times you do things like this?”

“What?”

“Pretend to be at work while having a sneaky pint at the Wharf?”

“Never.”

“Never except today.”

After first being really annoyed I realized that he never gets to have five minutes alone ever to be his own person, not someone’s boss, not someone’s employee, not someone’s wife, not Eva’s father, not Daddy monster, or Eva’s horsie, or Daddy shark. Sometimes, even Super Daddy needs a break, even if it is a stolen few minutes over a pint of beer with Gunter of all people!

On Sunday morning the same weekend Chris went into work to prepare for the week ahead so when Eva woke up he had already left the homestead. The first thing she asked me was,

“Where is Daddy?”

Annoyed I sucked my teeth at her and demanded that she first say “Good Morning.”

“Good Morning Mummy.”

“Good Morning Eva.”

“Daddy is at work.”

“Once I found him hiding in your bedroom.” She said

“You can check if you want, but I am not lying,” says the mother to the child.

She toddled into our bedroom and looked high and low for him.

“You see no Daddy.”

“WAAAAAAAAAAA.”

“He will be back later, we can call him if you want?”

It was the moment when she accused me of hiding her Daddy as if he was a stuffed toy, that I realized it could be worse, Sarah could have caught him in a Hawaiian shirt, with a suitcase, and a travel itinerary. And if Chris wants to sneak around behind my back with Gunter- of all people, it is okay by me. But I have one condition, and that is that he continues to be Daddy Monster, continues to model Eva’s Hello Kitty Jewelry line and give up all his beer cozies for her bottles. I think that is an agreement we can broker and anyway Eva loves you more than me, or so she says.

Xx Derelict Mom

Sarah took a picture of us on the boat cruise to immortalize the evening.

Boat Pic copyIMG_1703Hello Kitty

The Dangling Conversation

If you have read my blog posts in the past you may have followed my interest in digging into my family tree. A few months in I realized it was more of a life long interest and not a temporary project, so I convinced myself to take a break. I have also been run off my feet with my living relatives especially the little one, who has no idea she has third cousins thrice removed who died in 1897 and lead a life full of intrigue. For Eva, Mommy, Daddy and Auntie Zoe are the most important people in the world and despite a few friends and her grandparents she is not sure why anyone else matters. Her biggest problem is that her mother, me, finds everything fascinating.

When my parents received a phone message from a long lost relative we had never met, I was eager to call the person back. As soon as my mother listened to the message she gladly passed it on to me, check that box! But I did not have a chance to call her until 7:30pm when Daddy came home from work and was playing with Eva.

The woman I called will be henceforth referred to as Shirley, which is not her real name in order to protect the guilty.

I dialed the number, she had said she was staying with some friends: let’s call them the Haywards.

I dial the number.

“Hello, is this the Hayward residence?”

A long mumbly pause.

“Hello.”

“Oh, um… Yeeeeeeesssssss.”

“May I speak to Shirley who I believe is staying with you?”

“Well, my dear, I am SHHHHIRLLLEYYY.”

“Oh” I say surprised that she would answer the phone so nonchalantly when it was not her home.

“You called and left a message for my parents Rick and Jane Spurling wanting to ask about the Davis family, I am their daughter and I am calling you back.”

“Oh, wow you called me back.”

“Yes.”

A long mumbly pause

“Hello???”

“Oh yes Oh yes, now who are you again?”

“Lucinda Spurling.”

“Who are your parent’s”

“Rick and Jane Spurling.”

“Why did you call me?”

“I called you because you called them?”

“Oh, I did?”

“Yes, this morning.

“What did I want?”

“You were looking into the Davis family. My great grandmother was May Davis Gurr.”

“Oh, and you are?”

“Lucinda.”

“Oh yes Lucinda Davis, I think we have met.”

“No we haven’t and it is Lucinda Spurling.”

“Who was your father?”

“My father is Rick Spurling, his mother, my grandmother was Marion Gurr, the

daughter of May Davis Gurr.”

“Huh?”

“May Davis married Frank Gurr, and their daughter Marion is my grandmother.”

“Who is your husband?”

“It does not matter, my husband is British, and I kept my maiden name- Spurling.”

“Yes, Lucinda Davis.”

“No Lucinda Spurling.”

“Whatever, well what I want to know is to look into the Davis side of the family.”

“We don’t know much about that side.” I say trying to discourage her.

“Well I am really serious! “

“I can tell.”

“I have been here two weeks and I am finally starting to call around. Did I call you or did you call me?”

“I called you back.”

I hear something that sounds very much like a swig.

“I am from New Mexico.”

“Oh that is nice.”

“Who is your husband?”

“It does not matter, he is British and I kept my maiden name.”

“Oh My husband thinks he is Bermudian.”

She giggles, “ I am from ALBUQUERQUE NEW MEXICO.”

“I know, you told me.”

“Did I call you or did you call me?”

“I called you back.”

“No one ever calls me back, you are so SWEEEET.”

So is that cocktail you are swigging I think.

“Do you know Bill Davis?”

“Yes”

“Bill Davis is going to help me; he is quite elderly.”

“Yes he is now.”

“Are you related to the Shelly Bay Davis’s or the Bailey’s Bay Davis’s’”

“Shelly Bay.”

“Well, we are related to both sides.” She says giggling again.

“Oh really, that is interesting.” By now I am wondering how to put myself out of this misery.

“I am 73.”

“Oh good for you, I am 38.”

“Is your name Ann?”

“No, Ann is my aunt.”

“Oh COOOOLLLL, I spoke to her today.”

“Oh you did, then you know everything you need to know.”

“Ann is a COOL lady.”

“Yes she is.”

“Ann was a Davis, what did Ann tell me, I can’t remember now.”

“Oh well,” I say sighing.

“ My mother, Kate married Harry Davis, Kate was a Barnes so I am related to everybody.”

“Everybody?”

“Everybody! So what is your mother’s maiden name?”

“Youngblood.”

“What is your father’s maiden name?”

“He doesn’t have one.”

“I want to ask you something, as I put my life together, can you help me put my life together?”

“Yes” enormous sigh from me.

“What is your number.”

“297-0221?” I gave her my old number that was disconnected many years ago.

“I am really serious about this, I will call you.”

“Okay.”

“So Who did you say was your husband?”

“It doesn’t matter, he is not Bermudian.”

“Did you call me or did I call you?”

“I called you back.”

“ No one ever calls me back.”

“I really have to go now, I have a two year old I need to put to bed.”

“Oh a two year old, I don’t have any of those anymore.”

“Okay, goodbye.”

“Goodbye, you will hear from me again- I am serious.”

CLICK.

The first thing I did was laugh, call Ann, and wonder what I would have done with those twenty minutes if I had not been on the phone with “Shirley.” Ann and I agreed that the drinking gene in all of our convening family lines, had many expressions and one of them was Shirley.

I have to admit that this is the first time I have given out a fake number to a drunk grandmother, which made me perversely nostalgic for the days I gave out fake names and numbers to hoodlums who tried to sleaze up to me- I guess I have lost my touch, or maybe just my youth. I also realized the danger of having years of dinnertime, bath time, and story time and then when the babies fly the nest replacing those activities with cocktail hour – even at age 73. Maybe I won’t wish for an empty nest so quickly.

Xx Derelict Mom.

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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

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

P1020185 P1020199

 

 

Fair Warning

It is officially the middle of July, its hot, the social calendar is full, it seems I spend most of my free time trying to teach my two year old how to swim so she doesn’t drown if someone leaves the gate open. I gave up exercising when it hit 80 degrees and 99 percent humidity, but some how my day seems more full, and when your days are full the forward planning gets much more complicated. My motto when Eva was a baby, was “wing it” but now that she is two, that plan isn’t really working anymore and I have come to the begrudging realization that I need to be more organized, kind of like my sister who has probably already filled her kids Christmas stockings six months in advance. Part of my disorganization comes from my eternally changing schedule of employment as what I do everyday often changes on a clients whim, an unexpected equipment failure, and other more important people’s schedules which can be tricky with a two year old. Many people are astonished when I say I am not available except between 9 and 5pm, as if there were no such thing as a working mother, or like I grew another head right in front of them.

The phrase “summer holiday” used to bring images to mind of relaxing in a sun lounger reading a stack of books sipping a pina colada, and I know that I did this back when I was a young bronzed teenager before real life hit like a rogue wave in a horizon pool. When I heard the words “summer holiday” for the first time this year back in January it was from Auntie Zoe, Eva’s second mother when she let us know of her plans to take a holiday for two weeks in July, of course I winced dreading Eva’s last day at school but we all need a holiday, especially Zoe. Back in January plans were hatched to go away at the same time on our own summer holiday, therefore minimizing our own work days without daycare for Eva. My plan was elaborate, it was six months in advance and it involved three countries and as many airlines. My plan was to fly Chris’s parents from the UK through Ireland to Boston Massachusetts where they would stay overnight then fly onto Bermuda, after a week in Bermuda, they would fly with us back to Boston, and we would drive up to my parent’s house in New Hampshire for a week. We could enjoy our “summer holiday” with an adult to child ratio of Four to one, which if we couldn’t abandon Eva all together, was the next best thing. The plan was flawless, my mother in law booked their Aer Lingus flights to Boston and I booked our five non refundable sale tickets from Bermuda to Boston and back on delta. I had checked the: plan our summer holiday box in January I was ahead of the game, or so I thought.

About a week later I asked Zoe,

“Zoe I just thought I better double check with you, you are going to be away the first two weeks of August- right?”

“Oh no we changed our plans slightly we are now going away on July 16th and coming back on the first.”

“Oh shit.” I said I booked our tickets to leave on August 1st.

When Chris came home we discussed it.

“Why does it matter you don’t have a job anyway.” At the time a project had fallen through.

“I don’t think I will be unemployed six months from now.” I said ever the optimist.

“Oh really how can you be sure?” Chris said, ever the pessimist.

“Maybe we should see if we can change the plane tickets?”

“Why would we do that and pay more money?” Chris said.

“Because otherwise I will have to take a month off of work between our summer holiday and Zoe’s.”

“You don’t have a job.”

“Okay.” I relented I was not going to win this one.

I started to realize that planning in advance might not only be not my style, it was fraught with its own innate difficulties. There was one innate difficulty that always seemed to crop up in my life, my very own mother. She was especially good at appearing when everything else was going wrong already and deciding that the most important thing at that very moment was that I was in desperate need of a new shower head, or lawn furniture. If I spent $8,000 dollars on a new patio set at Island Trading all my problems would miraculously go away. She also had a knack for ruining plans and she was beginning to rub off on my father.

At some point she decided to bring an important detail to my attention.

“So have you booked your flights for your summer holiday in NH?”

“Yes I told you we booked them a few weeks ago.”

“Did you do it in time for the Delta seat sale I told you about?”

“Yes mom.”

“Are they flexi tickets?”

“No.”

“You might want to call and check or see if you can upgrade them.”

“Why?” I started to get suspicious.

“We just put the house in New Hampshire up for sale, it’s on Sotheby’s Real Estate.”

“What? !!! Mom I just bought five non refundable plane tickets six months from now. What am I going to do?”

“It won’t sell.”

“Why did you put it on the market then?”

“To sell it, eventually.”

“What if it does sell tomorrow?”

“There is usually a period of exchange.”

“Not six months! “

“You will have to make other plans if that happens. It won’t happen.”

“Oh my god, I thought you were going to give us all a year or so warning.”

“This is fair warning.”

As we are about to set off on our holiday next week, my mother was in fact right the house has not yet sold but it could have. It is usually my mother that takes pains to deliberate what might happen, in fact it is one of my mother’s favorite excuses for her least favorite activity, babysitting, which I will explore more fully next week in Part II, GiGi Goes AWAL.

“But Eva might throw up?”

“But Eva might not eat dinner?”

“But Eva might not go to bed.”

“But Eva might not be as good as Sadie and Trystan.”

Xx Derelict Mom

The Witching Hour

wedding day may 31

The word “witch” comes from the Russian word that means, “one who knows,” but all the witches in my family seem to know everything, except when to go home. Therefore having my brother’s wedding at the other end of the island produced many heated discussions about when our taxi was going to be booked to take us home. Eventually the Wicked Witch of the East decided to keep our options open and hire a few staggered through the evening so we could have options. Options were good. Midnight was always a good option for me to call any party to an end, even before I had children, and the hour is thus referred to in modern lore as “the witching hour,” because after the clock strikes twelve witches and evil spirits come out to play and are at their most evil. Midnight was also about the time when my mother had had a few too many vodka flavored potions, and the Wicked Witch of the East would be at her most powerful, but she was under heavy manners to be on her best behavior, after all this was not “her” wedding because of course, the grand affair was being hosted by the other side of the aisle.

When the wedding ceremony ended, the guests filtered out into the garden for cocktail hour, otherwise known as hour from hell for mothers of toddlers. After wedding pictures which always take forever, I spent the rest of the hour trying to dodge conversations while chasing a toddler and trying to stuff her pre packed dinner down her throat. There were highlights of course, like when she threatened to throw her self in the Koi pond because someone said it was a fish pond and she adamantly insisted that toads not fish live in ponds. Of course with two year olds, the word is full of absolutes and not just for toddlers. Meanwhile while my mother was necking absolute vodka and sodas in celebration, Eva, Chris and I started to move toward the wedding tent.

Koi Pond

Finally they rang the bell for the next phase of the evening, the dinner. We found our table number. We were sitting with a bunch of Eastenders including the Gruncles, because if the family is separated for too long we get anxious, so we had all been carefully divided. Chris and I, Gruncle Michael, Gruncle Michael, Oralene and Betty who were practically family because they had worked for the family for so many years (think the witches’ familiars,) and friends Barbara and Bob Lee, and of course Miss Eva. Each table was named after an East End landmark, and ours so fittingly was “The Unfinished Church.” Fitting because we were all unfinished in our way, and some of us were very certainly heathens.

Unfinished Church

Before dinner we saw the Reverend’s bright yellow car screeching out of the narrow driveway, escaping rather than spend another minute with a witch, a witches’ familiar, or a Spurling, and he had probably been seated on the table plan next to my mother. At about the same time, someone at our table popped a champagne bottle. The vicar was gone; the party can begin.

My father was MCing and to begin the evening he introduced the wedding party. As he called each persons name they walked through the party to their seats. After the bridesmaids were seated, they called for “The Flower Boy, Trystan Hocking,” and he walked through the party to his table. I wasn’t sure he would be too happy being called a Flower boy, but never mind.

“And the Flower Girls, Sadie Hocking.”

Sadie ran and somersaulted into the party, which was met with a roar of applause.

“And the smallest flower girl, Eva Worsick.”

And then it happened, the tantrum we were fearing and expecting earlier in the evening began.

Eva started throwing punches and slaps in my direction, then kicks.

“Can you do a somersault like Sadie?”

“No!”

I tried to pick her up but she fought me until Daddy scooped her up and paraded her through the party screaming and kicking in a fitting display of toddlerhood. I was thankful later that she hadn’t taken me up on the suggestion to somersault into the wedding as she wasn’t wearing any underwear, as with her multiple objections to clothing at the beginning of the evening, we had called a truce at underwear and happily forgot she missing a significant part of her apparel. She was only the latest in a long line of women who had “forgotten” to wear underwear. I can remember getting a note sent home from nursery school because I had chosen not to wear any, and then there is my mother who just finds underwear a hassle because getting to the potty is so much quicker without them. I think that might Eva’s thought process as well, they had so much in common.

Girls on the dance floor

After Eva, the smallest flower girl’s uproarious introduction, and the introduction of the now married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Spurling, it was time for the speeches.

My father introduced the Father of the Bride and the Mother of the Bride to start the evening. The Mother of the groom, Wicked Witch of the East actually refrained from giving a speech at the wedding and gave up the spotlight to the Mother of the Bride, otherwise known as the Wicked Witch of the West. The speech drifted from teddy bear picnics to the musical Wicked and at the climax she brought out her brand new broom she had been given, complete with its own parking place outside Danielle and Giles’s Cambridge beaches hotel room. At least my mother had left her broom at home, in Alda’s closet. As the night went on I am sure she contemplated more than once if she should summon Alda to retrieve it.

When it was my brother’s moment to shine he opened with “This is the first time I have been able to speak without being interrupted by my mother, “ a reference which seemed like the same thing- an interruption by my mother. He continued with a tribute to his beautiful bride. During his speech he recounted the first time they met:

“ I first met Danielle at a 4th of July party at Coral Beach Club 13 years ago. I was 18 and she was 15. It was 2001. I was standing at the bar with my mate drinking a black and coke. I said to him, “who’s that girl over there?” he said, that’s Danni Chiappa.” I said “Who? He says,”Danni Chiappa, CHIAPPA, it means butt cheek in Italian.” I said “oh ya, well I like that set of butt cheeks.”

Danielle was going to fit right in with the Spurlings, with a last name like that she probably has a dislike for underwear too.

Lastly the groom introduced his best man, Nick. Everyone looks forward to the best man’s speech as much as every best man dreads it. Nick’s speech was so heavily edited for content that his jokes were about editing the speech with small hints at much more involved stories. He ended with the true and tested quote, “A happy wife means a happy life.” I think my brother has learned more than most in that department after a lifetime of watching my mother and father’s relationship mature.

When my father introduced the cutting of the bride’s cake he asked the Bride and Groom,

“Now who is going to hold the knife? Danni?”

The crowd peeled in laughter. I wondered how many of them were remembering when my mother and father were newlyweds and having their first argument in their first apartment. My father turned his head for one moment, and one of their brand new butcher knives, gifted from a kind relative or member of the wedding party, sailed through the air past his face landing upright sticking up in the linoleum floor. My mother had not been trained in knife wielding, therefore she missed, and now neither of them can recall the argument but they can both recall the knife sticking up from the floor. Knowing my mother she probably threw the knife when she realized the floor was linoleum and not real marble. It is scary to contemplate that the three of us came within a knife’s breath of being born and Danielle would have been a Chiappa forever.

My father’s next one liner summed up his experience of marriage perfectly,

“I was a fool when I married you, I was a fool I didn’t notice.”

And

“She thinks she’s perfect but I don’t always agree.” That was my mother inside and out she was oft heard saying to my father, “There must be some mistake I can’t be wrong.”

I am sure my mother was tutting at her table but I couldn’t see her from where I was sitting because the Gruncle Michael’s hand kept obscuring my view while he kept ordering fresh bottles of wine for our table.

Chris had missed most of the speeches chasing Eva around until two thirteen year old neighbor’s daughters appeared like out of a dream and offered (put up to by their parents) to babysit for Trystan, Sadie and Eva.

“Yes please” was our enthusiastic answer. Chris was able to return to the adult table and enjoy some of the evening until he decided it was Eva’s witching hour.

When Daddy finally collected Eva from our opportune babysitters, she was watching Finding Nemo with one eye propped open, looking like the Bride of Chuckie, with dark circles drooping down over the apple of her cheeks, and drool dripping down her chin whilst maintain a fixated stare at the TV screen. She protested when we collected her, but soon passed out, dress and all on Daddy’s lap, and Betty and Oralene who shared the taxi ride home did not seem to mind if Eva drooled in their respective laps as long as Chris continued to listen to them complain about how they weren’t allowed to make the wedding cake.

What remained of the “Unfinished Church” table continued partying until someone decided the taxi had waited long enough past midnight and that if our coach wasn’t going to turn into a pumpkin or run out of petrol from idling in the parking lot for so long, it was time to leave.

We gathered all the wayward family members and walked through the dark night, but not before Gruncle Michael went back for a roadie bottle of red wine. We did have an hour’s drive and there are traditions to uphold. When we got to the taxis we counted family members and we were missing my father so I was dispatched via hitching a ride in a van to find the missing Patriarch.

Roadie

After locating him, and forcing him to end the party, my brother, the groom, made one last attempt to remain a child forever.

“ You are going home, can I come with you?

“No I don’t think you can come with your parents on your wedding night, Gee.”

“But Danielle doesn’t want to leave, I just want you to drop me off at my hotel.”

“No Giles, you have to wait, not every night but tonight you do.”

So I left, Dad in tow, and Giles became for the first time a West End boy, and ever so much closer to becoming an adult, but as many of us know that only really happens when you have a child of your own.

The next morning there were more weary reprisals of the night before, phone calls made, post mortems had over eggs and bacon and that was only within the gates of Speakers Drive, then we all mustered enough energy to go to the post wedding brunch, the last party in a series of parties that was the wedding to end all weddings. Codfish and bananas and a side of coffee roll topped with bacon bits, you can’t beat a Bermudian spread. On the way home I snoozed in the back of my parents car, meanwhile my sister’s husband had driven home from the brunch and when he made it back to the East end he found that both his wife and two kids had fallen asleep, so rather than disturb them, he left the engine running and fell asleep, himself in the drivers seat with the radio blaring.

An hour and half later when he woke up, the entire neighborhood had tried to get through the shared driveway and had to accomplish forty point turns to negotiate their vehicles past the sleeping family, making them all inevitably wonder if they really were asleep or if they had witnessed the murder suicide of entire family by carbon monoxide poisoning, but no they were members of the Spurling family, they were just hung over from the wedding the night before.

And just because two parties is never enough my mother woke up two days after the wedding and started planning wedding number three in the east end of course. Why you ask? Who is getting married now? No one. She is planning another wedding party to invite all the people they couldn’t fit on the guest list at wedding one and wedding two. It is an eternal cycle, as long as there was still a party to be thrown, she would still have my brother wrapped around the handle of her broom.

Perhaps now that her three children are married, she might feel it is the appropriate occasion to stir the cauldron one last time and pass the broom on to a new Wicked Witch of the East. I am nominating Gruncle Michael, after he ate all the crucifix cookies my sister brought home from a Christening bake sale. But I highly doubt that my mother will allow any one else, certainly not me to determine her witching hour.

Xx Derelict Mom

Michael eating Cross cookie Holy Sacrament