I met a friend for lunch today. A friend who I've known for years who I used to meet for drinks that went on for hours, for a coffee that turned into dinner and who hosted the best ad hoc new years eve eve party I've ever been to. We used to meet and chat and chill and linger. Then she selfishly decided to live abroad so I'd get a call saying, "I'm in London until Sunday, are you free for coffee tomorrow ?" I always made sure I was available and we maintained a mad friendship that endured her inability to pack until hours before a flight and my inability to finish a hot drink. The main thing we always had was a conversation that never finished. It would just pick up from the last time we met. Today, however, was different. I last saw her a few months ago when the baby was still small so we had tea and cake while he slept. So when she asked if I was free for lunch today I looked forward to seeing her and taking my son out to eat as he sits up now and eats really well. I love taking my son out to eat. He's hilarious and entertaining and actually not a fussy eater so it's not such a big deal. I dug out something clean and almost dry from the airer and managed to get some lip gloss on before I left the house. Once we got there the conversation went something like this:
"So how have you been ? Khushbir sit nicely until your food comes. No you can't have a snack, your food is coming. Oh really ? Where has he been travelling ? Ok you can have one sweetcorn ring. Ok you can have a carrot puff then. Ok stop dropping them on the floor or you can't have any. So is he seeing anyone these days ? What was her name again ? Right, if you keep dropping them on the floor you can go back in your buggy. I mean it. When did you last see her ? Oh she's getting married ? That's wonderful. Look the nice man is bringing your doughballs and salad so sit nicely. Is he much older than her ? Oh that's nice. Can you just eat them please ? (as baby expertly flicks half a cherry tomato making it spin on the table I make a mental note to tell Daddy that his Subbutteo champion status is safe in the hands of his son and heir.) So how are you folks doing ? No you don't need to drop the doughballs on the floor (doughball flies across room and lands under buggy) Ok so you don't want to eat those then Do you see them that often ? No you like pasta, you eat it all the time. Oh you want your own spoon - sorry I'll get your spoon then. Do you think you'll come back to London any time or do you think you'll stay abroad now ? Right, the next thing that you drop on the floor is the end of your lunch young man. Sorry, what were we talking about ? Oh yes, no place to grow old… Yes can I have a cup of tea please and his meal comes with a chocolate cupcake so I'll share that. Oh it's ok he won't have any. Right in your buggy now while Mummy has her tea. No fuss please. Ok, do you want blue bear. No keep your shoes on please. Ok I'll just put blue bear under the buggy then for safety shall I ? Ok I'll put your shoes under the buggy as well. No keep your socks on please. (waitress tells my friend it's the last chocolate cupcake). Do you want this one love, I can get him some gelato or something. Are you sure ? And how is work going ? Ok you can have a little taste of chocolate cake then, but only one tiny bit - here (baby smiles) ok one spoon for Mummy (baby yells) ok one more tiny taste for you then (baby licks lips and puts foot in mouth with sock still on) I don't usually give him chocolate of course. Oh so you like chocolate - great. Ok you can have a little bit more, but no more. (sweeping sense of doom at what I have unleashed on my poor child as he is genetically pre-disposed to chocaholism on my side) Shall we get the bill ? Sorry you still have your coffee - what time is it ? Oh it's only 1.30 - wow that is early isn't it ? Have you done a poo poo ? Oh dear. Is that what all this fuss is about ? Do you need me to change you ? (picks up child and tries to be discreet while sniffing his behind) I'll be back in a minute - just a quick change and we'll all be happier… Well we're going shopping for cotton wool balls, but you're welcome to join us. Is that chocolate on your socks ? Just wait until Daddy sees the state of you later. No I don't blame you. See you soon love.
I have paraphrased, of course, but really this is by way of apology to anyone who has experienced this with me recently. Of course if you have done the same then you may be sympathetic to that realisation a few hours later, when the baby is asleep usually, that you started about 6 different topics of conversation and didn't finish any of them. Apparently this will only last another 18 years, please bear with me :o)
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Someone said something the other day that made me feel that my parenting was inferior to a friend's. It was an innocent remark and nothing was meant by it - in fact she was complimenting the other woman's child. I took it personally on behalf of my son. Then someone sent one of those feel good email stories featuring a heartwarming tale about the innocence of youth. I wondered if this really was a story about cute innocence or a comment about how foolish the child was to think that God was taking her photo when lightning flashed.
Feeling offended on behalf of others could be a full time occupation for me if I didn't have plenty else to do. I used to get offended by every little thing and then I realised it was pretty pointless. After all, just as I have an opinion about every little thing so does the person who's saying something critical to or about me. Instead of arguing the toss I'd rather try and find something vaguely amusing about their efforts.
The vehemence of atheists always interests me as they spend an inordinate amount of effort criticising something they don't believe in. I do have a faith and if someone doesn't it really isn't something I feel bad about. I'm not going to spend energy convincing someone to believe in God if they don't want to - that's like trying to get my husband to eat cauliflower by calling it gobi instead. If you spend time espousing the wisdom of Richard Dawkins, why not just go the whole nine yards - wear a nice suit and knock on doors to tell people to believe in him like you do.
Similarly it baffles me that there are meat eaters who get very irate about vegetarianism, as though it's a personal affront. Why does someone else not eating meat in any way affect your life ? Do you secretly feel bad about it or is it a way of asserting a primal urge now that you don't have to go out and chase your food to death ? It just isn't the same when it's already dead and packaged nicely in convenient portions delivered by Marlon from Waitrose in the strawberry van now is it ?
I'm not militant about food or about religion - it's personal. However, one of many points of intolerance for me is when a person says they don't vote and justifies this decision with "it makes no difference, they're all the same." Well, so are people who don't vote. You have rendered yourself ineligible to express an opinion if you can't even be bothered to take part in the process. Just as I judge anyone who writes 'could of,' 'alot' or 'definately' as illiterate, if you tell me there's no point in voting consider anything said after that as having disappeared into the ether as I just stopped listening to you.
For the same reasons not everyone will have made it as far as this sentence (unless you're one of those 'speed reader' types who reads the last line to see if it's worth reading the bit in the middle) - if you did, thanks :o)
Saturday, 10 September 2011
Being on holiday means doing things you just don't do otherwise - these include:
1. wearing flip flops to dinner
2. smiling at and talking to complete strangers
3. eating about 5 times as much as usual
4. drinking during the day
The last of these is the one that I find causes the most controversy. On a flight to Vancouver with friends for a skiing holiday Harriet leaned over to me and whispered, "are we drinking ?" as they wheeled the drinks trolley through the cabin. It was 11am in Heathrow and I'd already been traumatised at being told I needed at least 6 months on my passport to enter Canada (I had 5) and because an older Asian man who had taken 20 minutes to check my passport before we got on the plane had told me to carry a second form of ID 'just in case.' So I replied, "Well we are on holiday."
In America they have a very different relationship with drinking and see it as a form of sociopathy to drink like we do over here. My friend Steph has a Scottish father and a Californian mother. She moved to San Francisco about ten years ago and after 2 months in her new job her work colleagues staged an intervention as they were worried about her drinking every evening after work. In order to alleviate their fears she explained, "It's ok I'm not an alcoholic, I'm British." When me and hubbie went to Las Vegas we had some explaining to do as 'Sin City' seems to also have an issue with what they consider problem drinking. Ironic really for a place that sells a jug of margaritas for $1 and where you can drink for free so long as you keep playing the slots.
I blame my own delight in drinking during the day on a poor start to my drinking life. While it's customary to have a youth filled with illicit cider drinking and getting into pubs when underage I did no such thing. I went to university ill-prepared for the nights out and had no idea what to order when someone asked me what I was drinking. For one term I drank only Martinis and for another pints of black Russian. Not only was this bizarre, but also very, very expensive. It also meant that my traditional Sunday night out left me so hungover that I routinely fell asleep during lectures on Monday afternoon. Well what do you expect when you timetable 6 hours of history for a Monday ? I told everyone I was narcoleptic, but I suspect they didn't believe me as I slid down my chair then snored like an asthmatic Alsation while Trevor tried to drum up interest in the crusades.
Not being able to hold my drink was also my downfall at work functions so I decided to just tell people I didn't drink as it was much simpler than explaining that later I'd fall asleep in the loos at Paddington so that my male work colleague would have to send a woman in to find me and ask if I was alright.
In the last few years I've been drinking a lot less, first because I was dieting, then because I became pregnant and chose not to drink at all and subsequently because if I had a drink then fed by son he'd be up all night like a loony. So it makes me laugh when I see my in-laws as they always offer me a drink before dinner with the explanation "of course we don't usually drink on a (insert day of the week here) it's only because it's Xmas, Easter, the Queen's birthday, the end of the bottle." They needn't bother of course, but for some reason they feel the need to justify it. It's almost refreshing in a culture where if you don't drink everyone thinks you must be a bit weird. When hubbie stopped drinking someone asked him (in all seriousness) if it was because he had the clap. I might try that line next time someone says "Oh go on, one won't hurt."