Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 12

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I haven’t written anything new because it’s all a bit Groundhog Day around here these days. Just like that strange week between Christmas and New Year, only with cake rather than cheese.

But today I feel like I won the Golden Ticket in Willy Wonkerland: I’ve got a government permit to go to the grocery shop at three o’clock tomorrow. I might even pick an outfit tonight and wash my hair! Whoo-hoo! Party like it’s 2020!

Meanwhile, in other news: I know everything there is to know about Shakespeare (37 plays; allegedly died on his birthday. Thank God that project’s finished), I can do ratios in my sleep, even the lockdown’s locked down, and home-schooling’s going to continue 10 days a week till 2065.

How are you getting on?

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, I know you’re working, but can I just…?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak (only, I think I’ve read it before?!)

Permission to get groceries at 3pm tomorrow #winning

Written by mrsdubai

April 6, 2020 at 5:01 pm

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 6

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I suppose it was inevitable. There was always going to be a bad day – and today was it. 

DS and I got through last week powered by the novelty of home-schooling, the joy of technologies newly discovered, the exhilarating freedom of video-chats and the excitement of swimming in our own pool after ‘school’ – not to mention the stern figure of DH working from home for the first time in his life.

But today it all went to pot. DH disappeared upstairs to work, and DS had to reach inside himself and yank out enough 11-year-old enthusiasm to get dressed, brush his teeth and start his maths lesson alone. 

It didn’t help that DD’s now on Easter holidays and prancing about in silk pyjamas eating waffles and making Tik Toks… DS, on the other hand, had to begin his day with a two-day maths project that he claimed not to know how to do, followed without a break by the continuation of the Shakespeare project. I mean… poor guy. The closest I get to liking Shakespeare is watching Upstart Crow.

So, I helped. But apparently not very well. We did the maths project: so far, so good but, during English, there may have been tears. There may have been a stand-off that led to sulking on the sofa. There may even have been both of the above – but, eventually, DS sidled back up to me and wrote three really rather good paragraphs straight off the cuff without any input. So, what on earth was that drama all about? Was your day any better?

Phrase of the day: ‘I just want to go back to school!’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer (DH is in charge of that)

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (different to anything I’ve read in a while)

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder (‘the last book on screen-writing you’ll ever need’ – let’s hope!)

Anyone else watched it?

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 4

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DS has discovered Zoom. I’ve no idea what witchery this is and prefer to keep it that way, but Zoom appears to mean that my boy can fill his iPad screen with the happy little faces of his classmates and chat with them about all the things that fill their 11-year-old boots with joy. Fortnite, obviously, and what they want from the Item Shop, and Minecraft and Tik Tok and crushes and how boring the Shakespeare English project is, I imagine, not that I’ve been listening in. Not at all.

            And I have to admit, it appears to be a wonderful thing. They’ve had a little pet show where they’ve paraded their pets for each other; I think there may have been a dance-off involving Renegade (if you’re that way inclined, you can learn it here); I’ve heard rumours of a talent show… and today I found DS video-chatting with a girl in his class as they did their maths together. Props to the switched-on class mum who got them all interacting in these strange times. 

            But, of course, I’m not used to having a son videoconferencing at the dining table. Oh no I’m not. 

            ‘Mummy,’ DS said today as I pottered about the kitchen singing along to that self-isolating version of ‘I Will Survive’ that’s gone viral. ‘Mummy, you do know everyone can hear you?’ 

            So, of course I went over to say hello to DS’s friends. 

            ‘Hi!’ I said, waving happily from behind his head and doing a little dance move of my own. Tik-Tok-famous, here I come!

            ‘Who’s that?’ asked a lovely girl who’s in our house so often I sometimes think she might actually be my own daughter (she’s not).

            ‘It’s my mum,’ DS said in a resigned tone, and then I caught sight of my image on his screen: post-exercise hair, no make-up, dark eye bags accentuated by the dreadful angle, several more chins than I thought would ever be possible on a human face, and a strangely grey skin tone – I should be glad his friend didn’t associate that face with the, cough, ‘real’ me.

            ‘Enjoy maths!’ I chirped, diving off the screen as fast as I could while DS shook his head sadly at me.

            ‘Oh, Mummy,’ he said. ‘You’re really going to have to learn to stay away when I’m on a call.’

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, you’re good at English. Can you give me five ambitious conjunctions?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Those People by Louise Candlish (not far to go now)

Save The Cat by Blake Snyder 

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 2

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There was a certain calmness in the household today. DH was in charge of the morning alarm and, as I slapped him awake at 7.50am thinking we’d overslept by a couple of hours, he admitted he’d only set it for 8.00! Eight o’clock! 

Honestly, I can remember when we last woke at 8am on a school day – and, for sure, I had a lot more oestrogen and a lot less grey hair and back then. It was back when DD – now pretty much 15 – was two-and-a-half years old and still wearing twirly skirts and sparkly shoes (not Lelli-Kellys but that’s a whole different blog).

In fact, I’d thought her nursery teacher was pranking us when she suggested with a smile that we got the babies into nursery by 8am in order to prepare them for ‘big school’ which, over here, starts at 7.45am. I’d probably laughed and nudged her in the ribs – ‘Good one! Haha ha!’ – but no. There was no pranking and, ever since that dreadful day, we’ve been getting up at six. School holidays mean a lie-in till seven – so what in God’s name was DH thinking setting both the alarm and the coffee-maker for 8am? Oh, that’s right: he was Working From Home too. Ye gods, this COVID-19 has a lot to answer for.

DS was unfazed as we trundled down the stairs way later than usual. 

‘I can do my learning whenever I want,’ he said without looking up from his killing spree on Fortnite. ‘The stuff’s posted at 9.00 but I’ve got till 4.00 to do it, so…’ 

One shoulder shrugged in that annoying way Tweens have and, as I stood there looking at him, I realised that this was an Important Moment.

This, my friends, was a slippery slope and, I was teetering at the top of it, right at the start of Day 2.

It was a slope that could, by Thursday, result in DS spending the next sixty years, or however long we’re going to be socially isolating, lying on the sofa all day playing Fortnite and WWE wrestling and racing supercars on Forza whatever else Tweeny things he does, then bashing through his entire day’s curriculum in the frantic minutes between 3.50 and 4.00. 

I could see it happening. I could so see it happening. 

I pictured his teacher and tried to channel her no-nonsense approach. 

‘No,’ I said. ‘Maths, English, science and PE before lunch. Languages after. My way or the highway.’

And you know what… bar a ‘headache’ during Arabic, that’s exactly what happened.

Phrase of the day:

‘Can I have more V-Bucks?’

At the moment we’re reading:

Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Those People by Louise Candlish (still).

The garden today. There are worse places to socially isolate.

COVID-19 Distance-learning: Day 1

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As someone who usually works from home in absolute silence, I’m finding it #interesting to have at home a 10-year-old (‘Leave me alone; I know what I’m doing’ / ‘Mummy, how do I do this? Mummy help!’) and a 14-year-old whose lessons from her school in the UK don’t begin till 1pm (‘Mummy. I’m going to make the whipped coffee off Tik Tok this morning… it’s fine, I know what I’m doing. Where’s the instant coffee? Where’s the whippy thing? Can you just film me doing this? Oh, and what’s for lunch?’).

Today DS was supposed to log in for a video chat from his teacher at 9am before starting lessons. We’ve had two weeks to prepare for this moment… but have we prepared? I’ll just say he’s a 10-year-old boy and park that there.

On the timetable: Maths, English, Social Studies, Spanish, PE, ‘optional tasks’ (the spirit shrivels – oh, how the spirit shrivels at the word ‘optional’) and 20 minutes of reading.

‘I’ll be ready at 8.50,’ DS said at 8.30, sprawled on the sofa with his Nintendo Switch glued to his face. He’s just made Level 70 of Fortnite, which meant he could get a new skin – the gaming equivalent of getting ‘Star of the Week’. I should have known not to tell him to get up and clean his teeth.

At 8.57am, DH buggered off to work before I even managed to say ‘Is that really necessary?’, and DS was still swanning about the world of Fortnite in his fancy new skin instead of sitting, poised, ready and logged-in, at the workstation I’d set up for him at the dining table.

There was shouting. I’ll own it.

But then something strange happened. DS logged in. Grouchily, he got out a book and burrowed about among the stale remnants of long deceased packed lunches that live at the bottom of his school bag to find a pencil. He did the maths. It was easy! He did the English. Even easier! He even did the extension! Glory be! This may actually work!

I wasn’t so lucky with my own work. While what I do is not ‘serious’ in the way that the work of, say, first responders, is, it does involve a lot of thinking. Thinking that usually gets done in silence but today was punctuated with: ‘Mummy, how do I upload it?’; ‘Mummy is this right? Mummy, why don’t you know? I thought you knew everything!’; ‘Mummy, look at my Shakespeare answers!’; ‘Mummy, how many kilometres in a mile? Can I have a snack?’

By 12pm, not only had my phone had pinged itself off the desk with a hailstorm of Seesaw updates from teachers and DS’s classmates but I’d developed a nervous twitch from DS appearing behind me in the door brandishing the iPad, then it was time for the daily PE video: 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest; eight exercises; two rounds. I joined DS to do it in the family room… I’m fit. I managed. Better than the PE teacher, if I’m honest, but then she was doing it outdoors and I suppose it was quite warm…

So – Day 1 and I’d give us an 8/10 for success. But I fear for my own work still lying, undone, on my desk. I fear for the never-ending piles of house admin that constantly need attention; I’m nervous about the strange patch of damp that’s appeared on the ceiling above my desk; I fear for how distance-learning will continue when the novelty’s worn off – and I haven’t even dared remind DS he still has homework to do.

At the moment we’re reading:

DS: Land of Stories (Book 2) – The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer

Me: Those People by Louise Candlish (it’s a great book but I warn you now, I’m a slow reader)

Phrase of the day:

‘Mummy, how do I do this? Mummy, go away!’

IMG_5497
The damp patch: not looking good, is it?

The Christmas wish-list of a 6-year-old boy

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I try to bring my children up not to be materialistic.

Yes, in Dubai.

You'll find him in Aisle 6 of Hamleys...

Aisle 6 of Hamleys…

We do public beaches and pools, not malls. But still, the materialism permeates like soggy rain: the children want things their friends have. They want things they see on TV.

(I’m a child of wartime parents. My children don’t often get what they want.)

So DS today writes a Christmas wish list.

‘There’s only six things on it,’ he tells me.

Wow.

I read the list:

Guinness Book of World Records – 2016.

Guinness Book of World Records – 2015 (why?).

Lego City Police sets (‘But DS, you have the police station?’ ‘I know, but there’s loads more I could still get!’)

Laptop (he is six).

Phone (I repeat: he is six).

Toy-maker.

Now it’s at this point that I start to get embarrassed, for I am the mum who Googled ‘toymaker’; only to realise two minutes later that there is no such thing. It is not something he’s seen on Disney Channel. It’s not something he’s seen on the ads on Channel 5; it’s something out of his imagination.

‘If I get that, Mummy, I’ll be able to make every toy I ever want and never ask you for anything again,’ he says. ‘Please?’

‘Sure,’ I say. ‘Just tell me where to buy it…’

Written by mrsdubai

October 13, 2015 at 9:17 pm

There’s lentils in the biscuits aisle

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It’s clear as soon as we reach the supermarket that something’s wrong. People are wandering around looking dazed and confused. By the kitchen roll, there’s a woman in tears, her shopping list hanging useless from her hand. A man dashes past. His eyes are panicky and his gaze sweeps left and right, searching – searching for what? Has there been an atrocity at the butcher’s counter; a cereal killer in the breakfast aisle?

'Take me to the crisps!'

‘Where are the crisps?’

I’m just about to call the children and suggest we leave, but then I realise what’s happened: the supermarket’s changed its shelves around. Not only is nothing where it used to be, but even the aisles themselves have moved, and nothing in the new regime makes sense.

You come out from cleaning products and go straight into cereal bars. There are lentils in the biscuits aisle, tinned tuna alongside breakfast cereal. It’s as if the shop staff threw everything in the air and let it fall randomly onto the shelves.

Heaven forbid they actually intended to shelve the goods like this. I can just imagine the planning meeting:

‘Where shall we put the tinned tomatoes? With the ketchup, pizza sauce and tomato paste?’

A burst of laughter.  ‘Where’s the fun in that?’

I hate it. I’m a creature of habit. I write my shopping list in the order in which I’ll find the stuff around the shop; now, I just wander around feeling lost and go home with 50% of my list.  But there have been benefits to the new layout: 1) My step count’s gone through the roof, and 2) It’s been three weeks and I still haven’t found the chocolate.

Written by mrsdubai

October 11, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Bouncing boot camp

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So, despite knowing better and despite trying my best not to let it happen, I managed – somehow – to put on 3kgs during the summer holidays. To be fair, the holidays were 10 weeks long and I spent four of those weeks in England eating pies, plus two weeks in the States. Yes, two weeks in the States – come to think of it, it’s actually a wonder that I only put on 3kgs.

So this September, as I do every September, I weighed myself, tried on my benchmark white skinny jeans and cried silently into my skinny black coffee, then drew up a plan to shed the extra kgs.

Classes.

bouncefit-02

Plenty of space to hide – right?

I never do classes. If there’s one thing I hate more than the gym, it’s classes. I drew up a schedule. Four classes a week.

So today was the first class. Bounce Fit. Says the website: ‘The opposite of a gruelling ordeal, our classes are all about high spirits and awesome soundtracks. Most of all, it makes you smile, laugh and is great FUN!’

Sounds okay, no? Especially the bit where it says you can burn up to 1,000 calories a class!

Hahahaha.

There were five of us there today. That threw me. Having looked at the pix on the website, I’d imagined there might be 30 people and I could hide at the back, panting quietly into my baggy T-shirt and maybe even sneaking out for a doughnut half way through, but today there was no place to hide.

bouncefit-03

See her pain… I’m not as fit!

So we started. We bounced, we jumped, we leapt about till my heart was pounding out of my chest and my sweat was decorating the trampoline beneath my feet. I stopped for a breather.

‘Ahem,’ said the instructor, a guy who looked like he’d competed in the last Olympics. ‘We haven’t started yet. This is just the warm-up.’ I laughed. ‘We’ve been here eight minutes,’ he said. ‘The class is 60 minutes.’

Had I have been on a trampoline nearest the exit, I would have left. Really, I would.

The class then started in earnest. Bouncing boot camp is all I can say. I’ve never worked so hard in my life and the instructor took no prisoners. If someone faltered, we started the set again. There’s a fine line between feeling motivated and vowing never to go back, and I bounced that line for the whole hour (usually on the side of ‘never again’).

‘Remember! We’re aiming to burn 800 to 1,000 calories!’ shouted the instructor.

‘I think I’m going to be sick,’ I whispered to my squats partner 40 minutes in. Having bounced on our knees, our tummies and our arms, done sit-ups, press-ups, mountain runs and all sort of other nasties, we were holding hands facing each other and doing bouncing squats for 20 before dropping down to plank for 10. Three sets of each. Plus some more because someone dropped their knees in plank. My partner didn’t answer but I didn’t blame her: she looked like she was about to pass out herself.

But I did it. It was close, but I got to the end without dropping dead. The instructor high-fived me.

‘How was it?’ he asked, bouncing about on his endorphin high.

‘Great,’ I wheezed. Then I went home and had a lie-down.

This is not a sponsored post.

Written by mrsdubai

September 1, 2015 at 8:22 pm

The lovey-dovey real estate developer

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We often get messages from the property developer that originally built and now maintains our community.

Aww, shucks, Emaar

Aww, shucks, Emaar

Ramadan Mubarak. Eid Mubarak. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Happy Diwali. It’s sweet how inclusive it tries to be.

But today, for the first time in 10 years, I saw a post-summer message. And it made me smile. It’s good to be back.

Written by mrsdubai

August 31, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Who’s ready for school?

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Like most parents, I’m trying not to skip about the house singing as we look down the barrel of the new school term. Yes, my lovelies, after 10 weeks off, my little angels go back to school tomorrow.

Tomorrow!

Are you ready? I am!

I don’t mean mentally. I’ve been mentally ready for school for the last four weeks. What I mean is that I’ve done all the necessary back-to-school prep to get the kids off to their classrooms with suitably stuffed pencil cases and spanking new lunch boxes and water bottles, as well as kitted out in school uniform that’s correct, fits and is labelled.

And please, non-parents, don’t underestimate how much effort that takes, from the tedious “trying on” of old uniform (budget at least half a day if you’ve got an uncooperative wriggler) to the sizing of the new uniform, wherein the sizes printed in the clothes bear absolutely no resemblance to the sizes of the actual clothes meaning your child has to struggle in and out of four different PE shirts labelled anything from age 6 to age 14 in a room with an ambient temperature of about 56C (or maybe that’s just our school’s uniform supplier).

And that’s before we negotiate the social minefield that is admitting on Facebook that you’re ironing in the name labels as opposed to sewing them in tiny backstitch. Yeah. Hands up to that one.

"Dahling! Did you see her  nails? Dis. Gust. Ing!"

“And, daaahling, did you see her nails? Simply Dis. Gust. Ing!”

We’ve also come up with a tick-box menu for daily packed lunches; we’ve baked “pizza rolls” for the days when sandwiches are just too “meh”; and we’ve pre-made batches of morning pancakes. We’ve shopped for snacks and agreed that, for one fussy eater (I’m looking at you, DS), school lunch is the only way to go (never mind about that camo-print lunch box I lugged back from the States in my handbag!).

It’s fair to say – it really is – that we’re ready for school.

But then I look in the mirror and realise that, in all the prep, I’ve overlooked one thing.

My toenails.

In the rush of sorting out the children – in the excitement of getting them back to school – I’ve overlooked my pedicure.

My toenails are pale. They are unvarnished. They are in their August resting state. They may be neat, but they are as bare as the day I was born. This, in the circles of Dubai school mothers, is social kamikaze. What woman allows herself to be seen within the school grounds without at least two coats of TITO’s London Calling? DH, my love, my sweet… you’re on drop-off duty.

Written by mrsdubai

August 29, 2015 at 6:47 pm

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