No wonder we have to sweep the floor so often

I like having a ten-year-old in the house, because in the space of ten minutes the conversation can move from this:

‘Mum, I was just wondering, when you’re doing a story, do you like to use mostly declarative or imperative sentences?’

to this:

‘Mum, have I got a chip on my nose?’


‘Cool. That means I got it in my mouth. Can you do that? Throw a chip up in the air and get it in your mouth first time?’


These last few days I’ve been writing about homesickness and the different types of homesickness and its potency at certain times, and the way that homesickness can change or come upon you even when you’re sitting in your own well-loved loungeroom.

I don’t think it is any coincidence that I caught myself singing this song to myself.

I’ve always loved these lines, especially:

‘Somebody come with me and see the pleasure in the wind
Somebody see the time is getting late to begin’

By the time I had my children, Australia had a lot more of its own television and anyway, I pretty much limited their television exposure to PlaySchool, so my children don’t really know Sesame Street. I think that’s a pity.


Mwa ha ha ha ha

Last year when the note came around I said to the lads and the mister, ‘No, no we will not be part of the Halloween trick or treating the Norte Americanos are organising in our apartment complex’. I was all American Imperialism this and culturally inappropriate that*, but in the end, they joined the rounds because it’s pretty hard not to let your kids be part of a candy-fest when they can see it all happening outside their window, and not to mention the other parents sort of insisted that our children joined in and I ended up feeling bad because we were all take-take-take and nothing to give.

So when the mister went off to the do the shopping on Friday, I said, ‘Can you get some boxes of sultanas and some muesli bars that we can give out for trick or treating?’ and the lads are like, ‘What? Sultanas?’ and I was like, ‘You’re always saying, “Why can’t we have the little boxes of sultanas, why do we always have to buy the big bags?”‘ and they were like, ‘Yeah, but it’s supposed to be candy,’ and I was like, ‘Last year, you came back with FIVE KILOGRAMS** of compressed sugar between you, so this year I am saying you can go trick or treating, but I am giving out sultanas,’ and they were like, ‘mutter, mutter, mutter,’ but what can they do because me and the mister were agreed and you don’t want to argue too much with Mum when she gets like this because who knows what she’ll say next and obvs they aren’t going to be spending their allowance on candy that they have to give away and anyway they aren’t allowed to spend their allowance on candy.

Then we’re sitting at tea last night, and I said, ‘Can’t wait til trick or treating tomorrow night when we give out all those boxes of sultanas,’ and the lads said, ‘Muuu-uuum’ (except youngest lad had a bit more of the Mom to it, and in that explanation I was going to write Moooo-ooom except it made it look like he was imitating a cow, which he wasn’t) and I said, ‘Do you know the best thing about giving out sultanas? The best thing is that everyone is going to say to you, “Your Mom is hopeless and she only gives out sultanas” and I am not going to care because I am 41 years old and no longer care what others think about me, whereas you are 8 and 9 years old so you still care a lot about what your friends think.’ I sounded a lot like my own mother when I said that.

There was a tiny moment of silence and they looked at me with the look I particularly love which is all ‘fark, she really knows her shit’, and then they laughed as much as the mister and I were laughing, and one of them (but I don’t remember who) said, ‘Mum, you’re hilarious.’

And sometimes, not often, but every now and then, I’m exactly the mother I wanted to be.

*I just want to qualify, that I’ve been to Halloween parties in Australia and even organised one myself when I was young, and I’m not really into the ‘we’ll all be rooned’ carry on about whether or not we should have it in Australia, because why not, it’s just that it felt a bit wrong doing it here…I know, consistency, I’m totally on top of it
**yes, I weighed it, which just goes to show that sometimes instead of being the mother I wanted to be I’m just the mother I was always destined to be.

One thing leads to another

On the same day my child had to go to school and tell the teacher, ‘My mom threw my homework out because she thought it was rubbish trash,’* because I did and so I did, I read this in the paper.

You really need to follow that link, yes, yes you do. Read on its own, that article actually gives a false impression of higher education here in the UAE. I don’t have the figures and things to hand right now, but young women are taking up higher education opportunities at a very high rate. I would tell you more about this, but I don’t have time right now. It’s 11.26 and I have promised myself that I will be at my desk – the one without the internet connection – ready to work at 11.30.

*serious language influences at work in youngest child’s vocabulary

And to think, I used to be a librarian

Now, we’ve just spent a few months living on the favours of others, and so perhaps I am more sensitive to this than I need to be, but my children do seem to be extraordinarily noisy. Staying in and visiting other people’s houses and spaces means I’ve spent a lot of time on edge, trying to make sure we’ll be invited back and/or not evicted on account of their exuberance.

Why the school opened this week I will never know, given that the end of Ramadan and thus, the Eid holiday is now upon us, which means another five days of me and them, but this time with the added bonus of heat. And me, once again noticing that my children do seem to be extraordinarily noisy.

I didn’t hear you

We went to Turkey for ten days which yielded all manner of surprises including a balloon ride, and a sumo wrestler in front of the blue mosque.

Here is a photo of eldest lad absorbed in a Charlie Bone audiobook. Also sprawling and taking up what seems to be a lot of space. It wasn’t at all difficult to get a photo of eldest lad, sprawling and absorbed in an audiobook. I just had to point my camera at him at any random time.

From miscblogphotos

I really wanted my children to love stories and narratives and losing themselves in other worlds.

Except, you know, for goodness’ sake. We’re in Capadoccia. You could listen to Charlie Bone in the plane.

Which is pretty much how things are between me and eldest lad right now.

Saturday morning, 10 am

Last night, I went to a party and had a very good time indeed. As a sign of my age, I can say, of the very same event, ‘I had a good time’ and ‘I do not have a hangover’. Though I did not get up and go to the 9.30 pump class.

Of course, I may never get invited to another party again, as the mister spent a fair amount of time talking about my, and my family’s, relaxed attitude to swearing. Apparently, he assumed that people would already know that about me. I am consoling myself by thinking that someone’s children need to be the source of such information and it may as well be mine. Not exactly the kind of parental role I was dreaming of playing, but there you go.

I don’t want you to think I’m starting to settle in here or anything, but I just thought I should let you know that I am at least trying not to be a complete misery guts.

The search for meaning

I feel the fragility of life more keenly these days than I ever have before. This is my age and the impact my parents’ deaths showing. But it’s being away from home as well. Living here, I am way outside my comfort zone on about a gazillion different levels (I know, you might not have noticed, I’ve been keeping it to myself).

If I were to tell you each of the reasons I feel uneasy here, for many of them you would scoff. No, really, you would. There’s the obvious reasons and one or two of them are big, important things, but mostly, it’s a never-ending succession of small, tiny, itsy-bitsy things that leave me, each day, flabbergasted, trying to understand, but increasingly certain that for me, the place is incomprehensible.

Look at this article for example. In the town where I grew up, lads, young blokes, however you describe them, would have done the same kind of thing. I’ve been in cars that were driven by boys doing dumb things. This is not a culturally-specific event.

Only where I grew up, it wouldn’t have been so…I don’t know, so in your face. And plus, we were a working class community, with not so much money to burn on the roads.

I don’t know what it is that I’m trying to say here, what conclusion I’m trying to draw. The mister drives along that road a couple of times each week, my mother died in a car accident, I have my own two young boys to guide, I like public transport…of course watching this makes my heart race, my breaths shallow, the shoulder muscles tense.

But there’s something more to it than that. Something about my powerlessness that re-awakens or, more precisely, reinforces, my uneasiness. Perhaps it’s just that all over the world, middle-aged women are invisible to young men in cars. And it worries me.

Interestingly, if we try to go directly to the clip on youtube from here, it seems to have been blocked, but we can view it through the newspaper just fine. I don’t understand.

When I were a girl, I spent my pocket money on redskins and choo choo bars

So we’re driving down to Marina Mall, because that’s where my knitting group meets, and we drive past the Emirates Palace and I tell the lads that there’s a gold machine inside, and the lads ask about the ins and outs of it as lads are wont to do. I tell them the smallest sliver costs 175 dirhams.

And youngest boy, who spends all of his pocket money the minute he gets it, (in fact why do we call it pocket money when as far as I can tell, not a cent has ever reached his pockets) says to eldest boy, who never ever spends a cent,

‘Oh my God, you could buy some gold!’

And eldest lad (who, remember, never spends a cent) says, ‘I could buy heaps.’

So then they start bouncing up and down, and youngest child is saying, ‘Can we go? Can we go? So he can buy some gold?’ And eldest lad is saying, ‘Gold! I could buy gold. Heaps of gold.’

And the mister looks at me, and I look at the mister, and neither of us know what we should say. Or even think.

Oddly enough, his belief in her is unwavering

So, this time, the tooth fairy remembered to come (that very night); she found the note; she did not leave a return note saying that she try again tomorrow when the room was a bit less messy; she made no judgements about how the cash should be spent; she left the right amount without asking that the child leave some change for which she would return; and it was generally all round the best job she’s ever done in this place. Except she forgot to take the tooth.

There’s probably only two teeth left of the ones that are supposed to fall out. She should be able to get it right at least once.