Adventures of a suburban wife.

I’ve been talking about how tired I feel lately, just from being a mom and trying to get everything done with the kids. Not new, or original material – I realize. Women worldwide complain about fatigue every chance they get. Forget horse betting, I wanna be in a room full of moms and put money on who is legit the most exhausted. I’ve been struggling to settle lately. Well, since we moved to the school district, and the boys started attending a real-real school. Friends warned me about it – to enjoy the playschool days because things get very real in big school. I laughed them off. “I’ll show YOU” I told myself. “I’ll show those silly moms who obviously don’t know me or my children. We’ll be just fine!”

And here I am on the edge of sanity at least once a week. Sometimes I cry for just no reason. I cried in Coyote Ugly the other night. I mean what is that? People sent me that video of the guy documenting his dead dog’s life and I got back in bed, unable to face my life that morning. And you know, when you have a kid, people are like “Wow kids are such a big responsibility” and I always thought that was a bit of a sham. Feed them 3 – 5 times a day, make sure they bath now and then and put their shoes on the right way around. They pretty much raise themselves, if we’re being honest. All they want to do is play and cuddle and climb things and listen to stories. Not much to it.

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And then Noah got a homework book. Firstly, I couldn’t even cover the darn thing. I had a friend over and watched her do it while I sipped wine and took notes. We always used those ‘already folded’ book sleeves, but I couldn’t find any at the shops. She let me write the name on the label and everything. I remember the first time I got a notice from the school and I thought “lol they obviously don’t know me. This form will sit in my cubby hole for 3 months and eventually be used to mop up dog vomit or similar.” I try be a good school mom. I want Noah to be that kid with the melrose cheesie and juice box and apple slices and triangle cut sandwiches in his lunchbox. Crusts removed. Eventually I realized that I really should read the notifications and it started pretty slow. One or two here. “Theme in class this week is The Ocean” seems legit. Kids should know about the ocean. Fish and stuff. I imagined they had a poster up in class somewhere, nice pictures of dolphins and so forth. Kids love dolphins. Like 2 days later: “Children are going on an outing via train to the actual ocean to swim and discover and learn. We need help with lifts. Pack a snack and a towel and plastic packet for wet clothes and any medication and sunblock and this is all the paperwork. Sign this form if your child is attending. This one for indemnity and sign this form if you will transport a child to the station. Sign this form if you will be attending the field trip with your child personally or alternatively, sign this form if you’re a kak mom. And also send money for train.”

He’s in a top-notch school. Really, the best. They go ALL out and I love them for it. They go a lot further than any school I ever went to. That whole week at school, they had talks and visitors and one day when I fetched Noah he was like “Come check the octopus.” Yes. An octopus. It was in the school fridge and very much dead, but they’d sourced it somehow. I think the first time I saw an octopus was at the aquarium like, last year. Then the theme was “pets” and I figured maybe the teacher would bring her hamster to school one day. They had a full on dog show on the school field. And an educational talk from trainers and breeders and a vet, I think. Every day there were different animals at school, and one day I even took old Buttons in and let the kids pet him all day. In my old school, I imagine it went “Who can name pets” and some kids went “goldfish” “puppy” “budgie!” and that concluded the pet theme for the week.

Noah has a lot of things that he has to remember and of course he can’t remember all of it, because he is 6 and still little. Every day he has to remember his bag, a jacket, hat, umbrella (lately) and his homework book. His lunch, his juice box and a fruit. The kids all hand in a fruit at school, then they all share. It’s great! When he gets to class he needs to register, hand in his fruit, hand in his homework book and note his ‘mood of the day’ by putting his name peg next to the emoticon he’s feeling… like sad, happy, angry, sick etc. On certain days he also has to remember his swimming costume, plastic bag, cap, towel and spare clothes. Other days his soccer kit. Other days his library bag. On top of that, he also has to remember something or other that the homework book had notified us of, like a R10 for a fundraiser or raffle sheets or a cake sale or something.

By Noah I mean me. I have to remember this stuff. Me. And HE IS ONLY IN GRADE R. He doesn’t even have homework or tests or projects or real sports yet. He doesn’t even have subjects or school books. Or a pencil bag. Or a uniform! Then Ben will enter grade R next year and Noah will move on and who knows what will become of this family. You’d hope that the kids would help along, but the boys are getting to that ‘testing’ age. I have GOOD kids, but Noah can be stubborn like a donkey on a hot day. This one day, I’d packed him left over spaghetti for lunch. He is going through a phase where he does not want to eat spaghetti. In his defense, this has been going on for about two to three years but I can’t eliminate spaghetti from the family diet because it is cheap and quick to cook. He already won’t eat meat so the options you understand are quite limited. We argued all the way to school about the spaghetti and what I didn’t see was him taking his lunch box out of his bag and leaving it on the backseat. Off I go on my day of meetings, workshops and errands.

At 10:15 I got a call from the school. “You have not packed food for your child.” This is a school that I’ve been trying to impress for years with flowers, emails, begging, stalking, volunteering at sports days and borderline bribing to get my child in to the school at all. We moved house, moved Ben’s school, moved jobs and tried to impress these people for almost two years. “No, I’m very sure that I did pack him a lunch.” “No ma’am he says there’s no lunchbox in his bag. All the other children are eating right now and he doesn’t have any food.” It took me about 7 minutes to slap a sandwich together and drive it to his class, furious but also terrified that I was somehow in trouble. Heaven forbid the other moms hear of this, I thought. Bet the PTA has hidden cameras all over that place. I mean, how terrifying are the other moms? I’m sure they’re quite nice and kind, if you ever make eye contact with them. When I walk in and out, I imagine them thinking “There goes that mom that wears her gym kit every day and never goes to gym. Or showers.”

It’s taking a lot of adjusting. And I do feel pretty overwhelmed. I’m really enjoying Ben’s last year of ‘pretend’ school. Every now and then he brings art or a cupcake home and we’re like “how sweet” and that’s about all there is to it. This Friday Noah has to have a costume for dress-up, and I saw three more notices in his homework book that I haven’t the courage to look at right now. I’m so excited for him. He loves his school and he’s learning so much. He gets excited about every single brand new day and it makes it all so worth it!

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10 things I love about you

You’ve been at your new school for three weeks now. I watched you change a tiny little bit every day. You were excited and brave, then you got a bit shy and insecure about it. Being the new kid is tough – you don’t know where anything is and everyone else does. You don’t know anyone’s names or what happens on which day. I get it. And after three weeks I’d say you’ve settled in quite beautifully. Picked a few kids you like, toys you love most and you’ve slotted in to the routine like hot butter on toast. You’ve changed, you’re still changing. You’re six years old now, well six and one month and two days. Here are a few things I’m really enjoying about you lately.

1. Your insanely handsome face. Your stubborn, curly hair that you love too. You insist on doing your own hair in the mornings, and making a giant, flat curl across your forehead. You take such pride in your appearance. You love getting ready, looking good, brushing your teeth (you made me buy you mouthwash) and picking out a great shirt. I love that you’ve always cared so much about how you look.

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2. You’re still a vegetarian. Not that it has anything to do with meat. I just love that you have stuck to something. You stopped eating meat when you were three, and we all thought it was a phase. We still dished up your dinner as usual every night and I still put ham on your ham and cheese sandwiches. Every day I watched you pick the chicken out of your soup, tear the ham out of your sandwich and scrape the chops and steaks to the corner of your plate. For three years, you’ve stayed true to something you care about, regardless of anyone else’s opinion but your own. That’s incredibly admirable, my boy.

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3. You love solving problems. You keep telling me that you want to do this as your job, one day. You want to find solutions, solve things, be the hero. I love that from such a sweet, young age you’re enjoying challenges. I wonder if you’ll read this in ten or twenty years time and if any of this will mean anything to you. Did you end up being a problem solver little Nu?

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PS You just walked over to me and asked what I’m doing. I said I’m writing you a letter about how much I love you. Your face turned the colour of sunshine and you ran off. I asked what you’re doing and you said you’re trying to make a dog whistle for Jack that humans can’t hear.

4. You love putting on a show. No really – any show. You make tickets and invite us to magic shows, the circus and music shows all the time. You ask everyone to watch you, and you always start with “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to my show!” And you’re pretty good, too!

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5. You love learning, understanding and solving. You watch documentaries, mostly about the human body. You love watching those little science clips on youtube on how things work and how things are made. You watch clips on the ear, the inside of the nose, the eyes. You understand how your digestive system works and you’ve even watched a clip on birth. Well, it was part of the ‘Human Body’ documentary and I wasn’t paying attention the whole time. You love that kind of stuff though!

PSS You’ve just walked down the passage shouting “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for my amazing crazy dog show!” You’re blowing bubbles and Jack is jumping around trying to catch all of them.

6. The other day, we were talking about you and Ben fighting. I gave both of you a bit of a lecture on siblings getting along and how I really wanted you guys to stop bickering about silly things. You and Ben love each other so, so much but man you can fight over absolutely nothing sometimes. Anyway, after my whole little lecture, you kept quiet and solemn and you said “I’m trying to be better.” I was so taken aback by your maturity and genuinely wanting to be a better person. You’re wise beyond your age, little man!

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7. You love animals. When we wanted to get a dog, you fought us. You were so apprehensive about getting a dog and everything it would require. You were worried about your friends stepping in dog poos, you said. Once you met Jack you fell in love as hard as we all did. The same with Daisy and all our bunnies. You are such a dog person – you’re always looking for Jack and opening the doors to let the dogs in for a play. I have so many pictures of you two asleep on the couch together, playing on the bed, running around the house. I usually take the dogs with when we fetch you from school, too. Thinking about it now, Jack should be with us until you’re about eighteen. Oh I really hope so!

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8. While you’re quite serious, tidy and responsible in so many ways – you’re still just a silly kid looking for a laugh or a new game. Your charismatic, silly and goofy side has us in stitches on most days. You love making other people laugh! You like a good trick, tease and fart joke just like the next little boy.

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9. You’re loyal. An odd thing to say about a kid, I realize. You have a few close friends that you love very much. Particularly: Gia and Anna. On Valentine’s Day you made each of them a card and bought (mommy bought) them a chocolate. You insisted, and it was so sweet to help you with all of it. Anyway, I often tease you about your friendships with the girls and sometimes I’ve prodded about your little ‘girlfriends’  or asked “who do you love more” and you just won’t. You refuse to ever choose one friend over the other. “They’re both my favourite” you always say. In a world where kids can be mean and friendships are flippant and fleeting, I really admire how loyal you are to all your friends.

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IMG_20150207_17563210. You never take no for an answer. Frustrating as it is to parent this trait of yours, I also really respect it. You’re always asking for a compromise or trying to find some wiggle room on any rejections that come your way. No doesn’t mean “no” to you, and I think that’s something that’s going to take you quite far some day. Are you reading this as an adult Noah? Tell me… Was I right? Are you happy? I really hope so my boy.

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