Saturday, 31 May 2008

Battle of wills

Sometimes - ok, most of the time - I wish my children were like the Von Trapps, who wore uniforms, stood to attention and came when whistled for. (Until of course Maria comes along and ruins everything.) It's a case of the terrible twos and the feisty fours...

Scenario 1: Getting Dressed. E insists on wearing clothes 2 sizes too small for her, garments that would be perfectly acceptable on an 18 month old, but on her make her look like a teenager on a bad Saturday night. G changes her costume about 4 times a day, but her preference is nudity.

Scenario 2: I'm bored. Every afternoon around 4pm, after Glory's nap and Emma's "rest time" (fat chance), the cry resounds "what now, Mummy?" Indeed. For it is about now that I too have run out of ideas, we have done colouring, made cards, played on the swing, read stories and avoided anything that involves anything like exceptional creativity and mess (painting, basically.) 4pm is when I frantically phone round everyone I know in Kampala (I am terrible at forward planning) asking if we can come, have tea and trash their house. These days it is more difficult as everyone disappears over the summer. If we don't leave the house there is about an hour of wailing, breast-beating and general naughtiness. And that's just me, ha! ha!

Scenario 3. I'm tired. Emma has given up her nap, but by the third day of no daytime sleep she gets to around 6pm and completely crashes wherever she is: on the floor, standing up, she doesn't discriminate. The safest strategy is just to get her into bed, fully dressed if need be, and retreat noiselessly. Wake her accidentally, and she cries loudly and inconsolably for ages...then decides she would like to stay up late after all.

Help me, Captain. (Don't listen to the nun.)

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Things I wish I'd done before moving to Uganda:

1. Done a car maintenance course.

Cars. Doncha love em? Big, expensive hunks of metal, destined to go wrong. And so it goes with our useless Japanese tonka toy Rav 4.

For weeks we have been having battery trouble. Well, the battery terminals to be precise, get furred up or judder loose every time you go over a pothole (which is often.) So now, were you to ask me 'what do you never leave the house without?', I would answer wallet; phone; water; snacks; nappy; wipes; spare babygro; number 10 spanner; wire brush. I am getting good at whipping the bonnet up, scrutinising the engine as if I have an idea what I'm looking at, scrubbing furiously at the acid fur and then fiddling with the spanner, unsure whether the thing has been tightened or in fact loosened further. We have applied vaseline to the affected area - snigger - poured boiling water on said terminals and rammed bits of tin foil/copper wire/chocolate wrapping to try and get the thing to spark.

On Monday I will be on the blower to the smiley-but-makes-me-wait-in-all-day mechanic.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Blogger's Block

Hello, I promised I would write properly and so I shall.

What's been going on down Ganda way? Well quite a lot of mundane stuff, the sort of thing that goes on in middle-class homes all over the world. Which is probably why I haven't written about it. I've changed a lot of nappies, done a lot of breastfeeding, drank lots of cups of tea, drank even more glasses of water, had other mums over with their children and compared developmental notes, commented on the weather, been shopping. I've also swanned around in my 4x4, told my staff what to do, removed gekko droppings from the kitchen sink, forgotten to get fuel for the generator, visited various international schools, spoken Luganda badly, led an Alpha discussion group, visited a tailoring school in the slums, not seen the neighbours and felt guilty about it, drank more tea, ordered some kikoys from Nairobi, been frightened by an excel spreadsheet, got lost in a very rough area of Kampala (also frightening), discussed theology over lunch, made heavy inroads into our stash of Swiss chocolate, listened to my fantastic iopd shuffle (thanks bro), received an exciting parcel from America (thanks sis), read Private Eye, watched several episodes of Lost (still don't get it), wiped Gloria's nose, laughed by the pool (but didn't get in), held K as she was given 3 injections by a nervous nurse, spoken crossly to the builder, raged against Barclays, raged against our dodgy electrics, but rejoiced at the regrading of the road. I've written emails, stared into space, missed my friends, wished I were in Zanzibar, wished I were in damp, misty Dorset, but not really wished I were in rip-off miserable London.

Business as usual. We're OK.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

In all her Glory

Will write something proper soon. Busy busy.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Chop, chop

Gloria and Emma have had their hair cut. They both sat quietly and compliantly for the hairdresser, no need for the usual blackmail with sweeties and ice cream. It was over in minutes.

All this would have been great only mummy was absent, the hairdresser in question was 4 years old and the result was....jaw-dropping. On one side, Glory looked like a normal toddler: on the other, her hair had been all but hacked away apart from the fringe and rat's tail at the back. Think East Germany. Think Limahl from Kajagoogoo, those of you over thirty. Emma got away slightly better with some thatchwork at the fringe - the same fringe I've been growing out for months.

Don't ask for photos. I am traumatised.