Don’t you just hate it when your child makes a BFF and then said friend disappears off to Hong Kong / Saudi / Singapore / back home and you end up spending every bedtime for the next year wiping tears from the lashes of a child who can’t understand?
DS made a best friend before he was two. He’s always been the kind of child to single out one BFF rather than play to the crowd, and this other little boy wasn’t only in his class at nursery, he lived just down the road – they played together in the park every day once nursery was done.
But then, when the boys were two and a half, the friend moved to the US.
And I – shoot me now – I lied. “He’s on holiday,” I told DS as he searched the park each day for his friend. I hoped that, after the first three months, he’d forget his friend and move on.
But he didn’t.
So, after three months of sobbing, “I miss X!” I admitted that the friend had actually decided to stay in the States.
“I want to go America,” said DS (fat chance, I thought).
But then amazing news – the friend was coming back to Dubai on holiday, 18 months after leaving. I wondered whether DS – who has truly moved on now – would care.
DS cared. He was beyond excited all week before the scheduled play date. But I couldn’t let go of my scepticism. They won’t remember each other; they’ll be shy; they won’t like each other anymore… I couldn’t have been more wrong. Within seconds of seeing each other they were playing like the past 18 months hadn’t happened; like they’d never been separated at all.
Now I’m working on the mum to move back to Dubai… well, with a friendship that special, wouldn’t you?
It’s lovely, isn’t it, when your children start to make proper friends at school. I love that first sign of independence when they tell you they want to go home from school with a friend for a play date, and they don’t mind that you won’t be there to pick them up or go with them.
We’re sort of getting there with DS now he’s four.
And, while I’m overjoyed at the thought of having a little peace in the afternoon while he has a great play date, I have to say, letting him go home with others does bring its own set of problems.
Our school isn’t a five-minute walk away; neither is it a quick drive through the local community – it’s a 20-minute drive at 140kph on the road formerly known as Emirates Road (now technically known as Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Rd – not to be confused with Sheikh Rashid Rd or even Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard).
To get an idea of what the road formerly known as Emirates Rd is, take the M25 in rush-hour, supersize it to 12 lanes, then plonk the world’s supply of village idiots on it, in badly maintained cars capable of driving at 160kph.
That’s our school run.
Is it any wonder that I’m a bit anal about insisting that DS is always in a proper, age-appropriate car seat? But sometimes I find it difficult to ask other mums outright if they’ll be putting DS in a car seat. Usually I ask nonchalantly if they have enough car seats or should I drop one off for DS to use? But other times I barely know the mum so I resort to sneakier tactics.
This involves lurking in the car park until I’ve watched her put her own kids in her car. If they’re strapped into car seats, we’re cool. But if her own children are flying loose in the car, their heads bobbing about between the front seats as her driver accelerates the Range Rover out of the car park in a cloud of dust, poor DS finds his play dates stone-walled – unless the other child comes home with us. If that happens, we’re usually subjected to a barrage of four-year-old outrage: “What? I have to sit in a baby seat?”
Um, yes dear: You’re not going through my windscreen.
I thought I’d write a post about this given the number of mums who texted me before DD’s birthday to ask what she might like. Obviously, all girls are different but here are the gifts that went down well with DD:
- Perfumes and body sprays.
- “Real” makeup (blusher, pale eye shadow).
- Anything to do with Trashpacks (don’t ask if you don’t know – you’ll wish you didn’t know).
- Costume jewellery of the adult variety (not kiddie jewellery).
- Grown-up gifts like photo frames (thank you A) and CDs and – from me as her main gift – a radio/CD player for her room.
- Cash and/or cash cards to spend in the malls.
And, if you’re interested in hearing what an eight-year-old girl says she wants, it would be: Her own laptop, her own iPad, an iPhone 5, loadsamoney and a car with her own driver so she can go wherever she wants. Oh, and Justin Bieber to perform a private concert. On time.
Dream on, babe – especially on the last one!
I was telling DD last night that she must wash carefully under her arms because, after a day in her poly-crap school shirt (why can’t they make them in 100% cotton?) with a polyester blazer over the top, she can get a little pongy.
But then I don’t want to give her a complex about it, so I started explaining that she only smells, a bit, because the school shirt’s not a natural fibre.
“It’s made from a manmade fabric,” I told her. “Not a natural one. It’ll make anyone’s armpits smell – even the tooth fairy’s. If it were down to me, I’d make your school uniform in cotton because it doesn’t make you smell.”
“It’s the fabric,” I added, “not you.”
I was desperate not to give her a complex. But it’s a fine balance between not saying anything and teaching her why she needs to wash properly.
“Is it still called manmade fabric if it’s made by women?” she asked. “Or is that called lady-made?”
Good point, I thought. And what about those school uniforms made by children in child-labour sweatshops? I didn’t say that, though. She’s only eight and it was bedtime.
“Maybe it should be called human-made fabric,” she suggested. “Then everyone’s covered.”
DH writes from a conference he’s at in the south of France (I know, seriously, the south of bloody France): “Hi darling, how are you?”
Me, from home: “Glad the week’s over. How about you?”
DH sends me a couple of photos of the view from his room: “I’ve just checked in. That’s my view.”
I’m looking at the photos – they’re all palm trees, Art Deco architecture and bright blue Mediterranean Sea. I can even see a cruise ship anchored offshore in one of them.
Me: “Looks gorgeous. It’s been a tough week; I’ve been working till 11 every night. Obviously up at 5.50am to do the school run. Can’t wait for you to get back.”
DH writes: “Oh, hold on. Got to go, they’ve just told me I’m moving to a suite…”
Messaging resumes the next day – Saturday.
DH: “Hello, conference is finished. Suite’s gorgeous! I’m sitting in Cannes old town, having a beer. So what are you up to?”
Me: “Oh you know. Usual Saturday. Screaming loud kids’ birthday party. Now I’ve just dragged two bickering children round the supermarket, fighting with them all the way. When are you back?”
DH: “After the weekend.”