I can hear banging from downstairs, which is very alarming, as only Domino, my 5 year old daughter, is down there.
The banging increases. BANG. BANG. BANG.
"Domino?" I shout "What are you doing?"
As soon as a 5 year old says they are doing nothing you know they are doing something.
I leap up from my desk and rush down the stairs.
I find Domino with a hammer in one hand and nails in the other. A HAMMER AND NAILS.
If anyone had found her alone with a hammer and nails I would have been fired as a mother.
"Look" she says placing our i-pad onto her creation.
I forget about illicit hammer and nails. This is good. It might even give Uncle Ashley's TréPad
a run for its money.
The 5 year old came dancing through the door, face alight with excitement "I have a present for you" she said.
"How lovely" I replied, as she handed me a little plastic stick.
"See, it has a mermaid on the end and its to stir your juice"
I peered at the end. Indeed a little mermaid.
"Stir your drink, stir your drink" she squealed.
Into my sacred fresh green juice I placed the stick and began to stir.
"Where did you find this?" I asked
"On the road, just outside school" she told me.
"Domino, it’s bedtime"
"Just five more minutes?"
"No, you've already had five minutes. It’s bed time now."
"Noooooooooooooooo. I ate you." (Yes, the 'h' is dropped)
"I ate you so much."
“Who are you? And what have you done with my angelic little girl?” I think to myself.
This is what happens when your child turns five. Suddenly, bed time becomes war time.
Domino is now lying on the floor crying pathetically and flailing her legs around. She is my fifth child, and therefore I merely step over her and go upstairs, as though she doesn't even exist.
Now, I wouldn’t have dreamt of letting child number one lie on the floor. What if they caught something? What if someone saw? What if the tears were actually real, and they had some psychological scarring later, with years of expensive therapy to repair the damage? “Okkkaaaay sweetie, just five more minutes," I would say to child number one. And then I would learn that five more was never really five more—further negotiations only ensued, and with no UN peacekeeper insight.
Between child number one and child number two, bribery makes an entrance: "If you just let Mummy put you to bed then tomorrow we can get ice cream." But even as you are saying the words you know that you have fallen off the good parenting path. You know this is forbidden, you know you must never confess to anyone that you bribed your child with ice cream so they would go to bed.
By child number three there is no time for negotiations. After all, it’s no longer one child you are putting to bed but three, and that could really take all night.
So you try different methods. Encouragement at first: "If you just come to bed now...." followed by threats: "You won't get to watch Sponge Bob tomorrow," and finally, when the body on the floor has not budged, anger: "Now I am really beginning to lose my temper"
By child number five you don't even bother with bribery. Because you're so darn tired you're happy if they fall asleep right there on the floor.
I don't have any concrete answers to the bed time question, but the two teeny bits of advice I would offer after 16 years of putting children to bed is to make sure you leave a lot of time to do it, and to make the bed as inviting as possible. That way, even if they "ate" you whilst you tuck them up, you're tucking them up into something lovely
Photo by Brittan Goetz
Sixty years ago a woman, with five small boys, turned up on my mother's doorstep. She had been mistreated by her husband and had left him, taking with her their children. She was looking for work.
So my mother took her in. And the five boys.
Pat, who stayed with my mother for sixty years. Who brought me up when my mother was away, who stroked my hair and put me to bed, who dried my tears and steadied my teenage years. And the only person I ever knew to face my father's temper. A person with enourmous kindness and patientce. In her late seventies Pat married again, to Steve, my parent's gardener, whom she had quietly loved for all those years. My mother, also in her late seventies, was their bridesmaid. An unlikely image.
Along her way Pat faced the deaths of three of her children. A blow most of us could not sustain. So inconceivable. And then Steve, her husband, also died.
Hardly surprising that Pat would become physically weakened and contract phneomia ending up in hospital, a few months ago, just before Christmas. When I went for the first time to visit her I passed by the bed she lay asleep in, not recognizing the barely breathing skeleton that lay beneath the sheets. Redirected by a nurse, back to the bed I had passed, I saw her name, Pat, printed on the medical record hanging above her head.
I stood and wept. How could she ever recover, so diminished and frail was her appearance. I thought death must be imminent. And then her eyes opened, she looked at me and whispered "There she is, there's my girl"
I returned to The Bahamas and was kept up to date by her oldest granddaughter. Pat did recover, she fought the phenomia and regained her strength but her mind had sustained a blow too great. Thoughts became muddled, names forgotten and simple tasks became monumental mountains to climb.
A care home was found and Pat was moved. Only a few weeks later I returned to see her again. There she was, dressed and looking fit, even walking a few steps here and there. But this was not Pat. In a those few short weeks Alzheimer's had slipped in and stolen her away. Before our eyes Pat was disappearing into a world of fear and paranoia, where confusion and worry ruled.
One only hopes that our government in Britain, and British care homes, work together to lift expectations and call for tougher minimum standards to boost the quality of life for those in care, as recent reports reveal poor treatment of residents. And in some severe cases suffering horrifying humiliations.
I pray for Pat, that she finds some light in this dark place. She does not deserve anything less.
My mother, her 87 year old sister and I, went to the theater to see the great Helen Mirren play The Queen. And brilliantly so. Peter Morgan’s new play The Audience reveals the delicate balance of power between Monarch and Prime Minister.
A modern constitutional monarch reigns but does not rule. She has influence rather than power. Her influence is exerted by means of three fundamental constitutional rights: the right to be consulted, the right to advise and the right to warn.
The Queen exercises these rights primarily through weekly meetings with her Prime Minister. The purpose of 'the audience' is to enable the Queen and the Prime Minister to speak to each other in perfect confidence, sure that their comments will not reach outside ears.
Of course several Primes Ministers have likened the weekly audiences to visits to the shrink.
My Aunt only snoozed through part of the play but woke with a start when my grandfather, Mountbatten, was loudly mentioned by a formidable Winston Churchill.
The play ended and arm in arm, walking sticks in hand, my mother and Aunt tottered out of the theater. Contemporaries and cousins to The Queen. Tottering history them selves. Out onto the bustling Shaftesbury Avenue and into a Black Cab, driving home past Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.
A very British evening indeed. For more Britishness click here…..http://pinterest.com/indiahicks/being-british/
Remember the kitten? The one found in the rain storm? Who then went and broke her leg, got an infection and began a terror attack on the dachshund?
Well it turns out she is a right little minx. And that is putting it politely.
Top Banana took her to the scheduled appointment to have her neutered, and low and behold, when the vet had a look inside he discovered she WAS PREGNANT.
PREGNANT.....I only found her in October, when she could not have been more than a few weeks old, it is now only the beginning of March.
That makes her more than a minx wouldn't you agree?
Remember the little half drowned kitten I stumbled across, during a rain storm, and hid from David who has put a ban on any more legs coming into our home?
Well, once he discovered the kitten, I assured him it would be no trouble at all, because cats aren't. And then it somehow went a broke its leg. And lots of expensive vet visits followed. Back and forth to Nassau, three islands away.
Well Kitty's cast was finally due to come off and the vet promised he was making a trip to our island, so no plane, train or automobile would be involved, the vet would come to us. And then he didn't. And Kitty got an infestation of appalling fleas, so I washed Kitty, careful to wrap the broken leg in a plastic bag, yet a teeny dribble of water must have got into the cast and unbeknownst to us began to fester inside.
Finally the vet arrived and the cast was removed. The broken leg had healed nicely but the paw was now rotting. Black and stinking. Injections followed, medicine three times a day and clean bandaging every other day.
"Good God, I am bored of this story" says Batman, our other cat. Which is nothing compared to what David is saying.
David says Valentines day is a pile of commercial crap. Possibly invented by makers of Hallmark card. And now-a-days has very little to do with that widely recognized third century Roman saint.
He's right of course, but now as a mother I see the day differently altogether. I see it as a day of Love. A chance to remind lovers and parents and children that we are connected, that my heart beats in their lives.
Photo By Brittan Goetz
"I reaaaaaly need a pink cowboy hat", said Domino. Need, not want, seemed to be the point.
When I was next in New York, I went to the dreaded Toys R Us. A life-sized Sponge Bob came over to help me. "Pink cowboys hats?" I asked hopefully. Apparently not. Next door at Disney, Minnie Mouse directed me to the dress-up section. No pink cowboy hats but there was a red sparkly one, with matching cowgirl boots. Plastic, red, sparkling, cowgirl boots. With Super Woman gold trim. How could I resist? David always says I am to blame for the appalling dress sense our children have.
Domino is delighted. The boots have hardly come off. Her feet happily sweating in vinyl. However, it does not stop there. Domino has become so taken with the boots and hat that she is changing her name to Jessie (Buzz Lightyear's girlfriend of course) She has carefully written notes that explain the name change and delivered them around town.
And becomes really quite angry if anyone tries to call her anything else.
IMAGINATION: We seem to loose our imagination as we grow older. Its disappointing really. Who wouldn't want to wear a Batman outfit to go grocery shopping, save a place for your imaginary friend at the supper table, and believe in the Tooth Fairy? And why don't we use our imagination a little more when getting dressed in the morning. Adding on a pirate belt and sword, over a crisp cotton dress, with sparkly gold Ugg boots and flower power jacket, all topped off with an oversized mask and dazzling tiara for instance.