I appreciate that in yesterday’s blog I may have sounded a little bitter about the distance I have to drive to and from school each day – sometimes up to three times a day.
It’s actually up to 138kms a day. Just on school runs.
It’s my fantasy that my children can cycle to our local school, which is 2kms away. But that won’t happen unless my husband ditches his job and gets a job working for Emirates (the children of EK employees have priority at my community school).
Anyway, today DS was telling me how much he loves me. We like the book ‘I
love you to the Moon and back’ and it’s become a bit of a family joke to make inter-galactic declarations about how much we love each other.
So tonight I said, ‘I love you to the Moon and back infinite times, plus to the Sun and back and then to Abu Dhabi and back. Then I love you to England and back every day for the rest of my life.’
Impressive, no? But DS trumped me with the ultimate accolade.
‘I love you…’ He said, struggling for words that were big enough, distances that were great enough… ‘uh… to school and back.’
It’s not just me, then.
We had the bi-annual parent-teacher meetings last week. DS’s and DD’s were on largely the same days but – hallelujah – the school provided a form on which I could identify both children and the school would endeavour to coordinate the two parent’s evenings for me.
Before you laugh, remember this is not the local school (we’re still on the 10-year waiting list for that one) so it’s a big issue – each return trip to school is 46kms and takes the best part of an hour. I was already doing two of those return trips a day – three with a parents’ evening thrown in. To be able to fit two parent-teacher meetings in in just the one extra trip would be fabulous!
So I handed in the form and waited to see what my two neatly dove-tailed times would be.
Tuesday 4pm and Wednesday 4.30pm.
‘What?’ I screeched to my friend A, who’s a year higher up the sibling tree than me. ‘I thought they were supposed to coordinate them?’
‘No,’ she said with the deadpan expression of one long resigned to such administrative stickiness. ‘Your expectations are too high. You have to understand: by coordinate, all they mean is “not clash”.’
I’m not great at buying mother’s day gifts for my mum. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t forget – I just never know what to get so end up plumping for a big bouquet of M&S flowers and a card.
This year, though, the solution fell into my lap before I even realised mother’s day was approaching. The thing my mum misses most about us living abroad is the children. I email her photos but all she can do is open them on her computer; she never manages to print them out. She’s not on Facebook.
Sometimes I send her prints but, even then, she misses out on seeing the silly snaps I take to mark our progress through the year: Book Day costumes, International Day costumes, Egyptian Day, Roman Day; the children on Christmas morning; DS winning the obstacle race on sport’s day; DD heading off to camp with a backpack bigger than herself; an afternoon messing about on the beach.
But not anymore. My gift to Mum this year is a digital photo frame. Not just any digital photo frame, but the “Grandparents’ Frame” from Johnson’s Baby. It consists of a Sony digital photo frame (or any compatible WiFi, email-enabled digital frame), which Mum will take back to England with her, and the Grandparents Frame App, which I’ll keep on my phone here in Dubai.
I’ve already paired my App to Mum’s frame, which means that I can now send the latest photos direct from my phone or computer straight to Mum’s digital frame in England at the tap of a button. All she needs to do to see the latest pictures is make a coffee, switch on her frame and wait to see the photos I’ve sent. Beautiful technology for the un-technologically minded. I love it.
Go to www.johnsonsbabyme.com/grandparents-frame for more information. Download the App via the Apple or Android app store.
My mum arrives tonight. Given we’ve lived here several hundred years and my mum is a fan neither of shopping nor of lolling about in the sun, I take a few minutes before she arrives each year to draft a list of new things we can do together between the school runs. To be fair, in that respect, Dubai is a great place to live: every year there’s at least a spectacular new mall, the tallest tower in the world, a new dinosaur skeleton, a new theme park, park or garden, a new ski slope, a new island or a new five-star attraction of some sort.
On my list for this year is a visit to Bastakiya (she really loves that old part of town), a visit to the Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi and a dinner overlooking Dubai Fountains – I’ll time the dinner to coincide with Emaar’s Festival of Light, which will see artistic light installations light up the gorgeous Downtown area.
I’m also going to ask mum if she’d like to see the international horse extravaganza Cavalia, which is on while she’s here. Since she saw and loved the Hoofbeatz Al Saheel show a couple of years ago, I think she’ll like it but I’d rather get her confirmation before I buy the tickets.
“But we have to go!” said DS, when he heard me discussing it with DH. “My class has to go.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because on the radio, when the ad’s on, it says, ‘Cavalia – come, Seahorses.’”
“Mummy, you’re the best mummy in this town,” says DS during his bedtime cuddle.
It’s dark but I raise an eyebrow. Only the best in town? Seriously? I cooked his favourite chili tonight; I’m making chocolate cupcakes with milk chocolate tops tomorrow; I drove 138kms to and from school today for various things. As far as he knows, my days are dedicated to him and his sister.
“Best mummy on EARTH!” he says, squeezing me tighter.
“You’re the best son in the universe,” I say.
“What’s a universe?”
“Not just the earth, but the Moon and stars and planets and all the space in between,” I say. DS cuddles into me, his arms tight around my neck. I kiss his peachy little cheek. He’s nearly five but he still smells of baby. It’s a tender moment.
“You’re the best mummy in the UNIVERSE!” he says. “But now can you get off me? I need to go to sleep.”