Friday, 19 December 2008

Dear Santa

My son has come home from school with his neatly written letter for Santa.  Here it is, in all its glory, spellings and all.

Dear Santa

Please can I have a choclate orange, a Nintendo wii (with Mario and Sonic at Olimpic games), a big tV, mario and sonic at the Olimpic games on DS, a pokemon ball with a cuddely toy Picatu in side, some the collection of the atrosaur books, a aroplane, one of your Elves, a real! Koala, Kung fo panda DVD, madagasta 2 DVD, Lourel and hardy DVD, Totankumhons death mask, a time mecian a pet unicorn, and Gold.

PS A plastasion 2 (and games) Xbox 360 (and games)

Love, xxx

Now I'm just worrying about how you look after a Koala and a pet unicorn in the same house...

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A very special lady

Last Friday I went to visit my Gran. She is my mother's mother and a very special to me.

She is 95 (and a half, as my son tells me: he's at an age when this matters, as is Gran). Dad met me at the station and took me over to the home she now lives in. We found her in one of the communal areas, actually being visited by a young couple whom I didn't know. I greeted her with a bright cheerful, "Hello Gran!"  There was a brief silence, then, "Oh, if it isn't Michael!" That is my father.

We went back to her room with her. A parcel had been delivered: a plant, a delightful Christmas present from her nephew. She sat in her chair while I battled with the box it had come in and then the hoover to clear up all the soil I had managed to scatter across her bedroom. She studied the card that had come with the box. "Happy Christmas, with love from..." she read slowly, deliberately, clearly. At the end she remembered who they were, but I had to tell her that her great-nephew was grown-up now.

She told us that the staff were on strike that day. There was no evidence of this: a very cheerful lady cleared away the hoover (I had left it as a health and safety hazard for the geriatric population) and brought us a cup of tea.  The manager was on holiday and that seemed to be unsettling Gran.  Then she told us that all the people were leaving.  She told us that they were talking of shutting the home down. She looked around the room and said, "Well, I suppose this is my space. I suppose I shall be all right." "You'll be fine," I reassure her in a confident voice. I look to Dad in case there is any local news of the home shutting down but, along with the suitcase that is permanently laid out on the table by her door in case she has to leave, it is just another confusion in her mind.

She sits in her chair, white hair elegantly coiffured, tweed skirt and cotton shirt. I note her knee-length tights, a style that cries out 'old! old!' Her skin is paper-thin: when I visited in the summer my daughter had sat on her knee and, in jumping off, managed to scrape a large flap on her arm without doing anything untoward. It was the first time in twelve years, so she claimed, that she'd had to make use of the nursing care that is available to her in the home: they had to put a large plaster over the cut. Physically there is nothing wrong with my Gran, although in the last six months she has started to use a walking-stick.

On Friday, though, she turns to my father and asks how his parents are. Dad answers this gallantly: they have been dead for nearly twenty years. Gran says, "I wondered if they were..." then returns to her concern that the home is going to shut down.

I give her our Christmas present: a family photo. She recognises me, for which I am grateful, and can figure out that they are my children, but points to the strange man next to me (my husband) and asks who he is. "Do I know him?" Gran made my wedding dress eleven years ago.

Eventually Dad and I leave. We are quiet, lost in thought, as we walk to the car.

"Not one of Gran's better days," I say.

"No," he replies.  A pause. "The funny thing is, despite all her confusion and forgetfulness, it is still uplifting to see her."

And he is right. She remains a very special lady.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

No more cholera in Zimbabwe

How can this be? I'm spitting mad at the blindness of the statement!

The UN declares that there are more deaths today because of cholera in Zimbabwe, over 16,000 people infected with it and (so I understand from an email from a Zimbabwean friend) there are now no functioning hospitals in Zimbabwe - no drugs and insufficient pay for medical staff meant they were unsustainable.

Yet Mr Mugabe declares that "cholera has been arrested"! 

How I fear for the people of this beautiful country, where so much has been ruined by political greed. Let's pray for peace there this Christmas: the peace and prosperity that we wish each other as the New Year approaches. Let's hope that a non-violent solution can be found so that the suffering of so many innocent people ends.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Taxi stress

Two events this evening.

We were in a rush (nothing new there) so I got a taxi home from Rainbows with my daughter, then on to my meeting in town.  I'm stressed when rushing, when I have deadlines, when I realise that the event will start on the dot of 7, not just at some point when we feel enough people have arrived.  So when my daughter starts playing some silly game with me in the taxi I cut her short, rather abruptly - followed by her long upset silence.  

So I apologise.  I say I'm sorry, I'm stressed, we're in a rush, and I'm a terrible mother [for not wanting to play with her].

She says, "Not terrible, Mummy, but ticklish Mummy."

Interesting if only because I'm actually not that ticklish either.

Having dropped her at home with the babysitter, I dash back to the waiting taxi - ever conscious of his meter and my meeting.  He says there is no need to worry, I'll be in plenty of time, now that I've dropped off my granddaughter.

Granddaughter!!  Do I look that old?  I know I was no teenage mum but I've not yet hit forty!

Clearly my children have aged me more than I thought!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Mega mega punch punch!

My son has introduced a new game to the family.

If he sees a Mini then he says, "Mini punch and no returns!" - and punches me on the arm.

If he sees a Mercedes then he cries, "Mega mega punch punch!" - punching the arm in time with the words.

It is amazing how many of these vehicles we pass (or pass us) on our 5 minute walk to the bus. One of the Mercedes is abandoned on our road (last road tax 2006, I believe); the house round the corner has a Mini in the drive; I have learnt that a lot of vans and lorries are also Mercedes. All in all, I generally have a very sore arm. Somehow he is always quicker at spotting them and I lose nearly every competition.  

So, to rescue myself a little, I introduced the Honda Splat: every time I see a Honda I use my open palm to splat him on the head. Now, of course, he tries to do that to me too, but I'm too tall for him.  And he's added in a 'VW dance' and a 'Purr, purr, purr, Peugeot'. This morning he was upset because he has nothing for Audis - he feels something for them would keep him busy (as if he's not busy enough!).  Interesting reflection on the state of car sales: he started to introduce more punching for "58" registrations ... but there aren't enough out there.

It seems I am left with a steep learning curve to recognise makes of car from a distance, but a boy who is very happy to beat me - in more sense than one!

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