Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘parenting

World Book Day number eleventy-million

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Hi all. Remember me? (waves madly). I know, I know. I’ve been absent for a while. But there was something about World Book Day that made me want to put fingers to keyboard. Maybe it was all those pictures on my social media feeds of mums with littluns dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2. It stirred the memory banks of all those desperate World Book Days past.

My kids are older now. DD is practically an adult and DS is deep enough into secondary school for me to be able to relax my hold a little. Suffice to say, World Book Day didn’t even cross my radar this year.

And then we got an email from DS’s school: the entire school – from kids still in nappies to 18-year-olds – was to dress up.

I can only deduce that the schoolteachers hate us. Really hate us.

I have a theory about dress-up days. I think mums come preloaded with only so many they can do before they give up. Ten years’ worth, maybe. And my bank is exhausted (not just my bank that’s exhausted, but that’s another blog). I just don’t have it in me anymore. I also think that, at 12 years old, DS needs to take some responsibility for this type of thing himself because, let’s face it, if it was up to me I’d dress him up as Angelina Ballerina and be done with it (I’ve just realised that was 10 years ago – see? It’s 10 years, I’m telling you).

So I asked DS who he wanted to go as and he said it was next week not this week, and disappeared back upstairs to play Fortnite.

            Last night I realised from the flurry of #worldbookday posts by better-organised mothers who’d already produced brilliant costumes (where do you find the enthusiasm, ladies? Is it HRT?) that it was in fact this week. DS was duly summoned.

            ‘I’ll go as myself, from the school yearbook,’ he said with a shrug. ‘I love that book.’

And I sat there thinking: why the hell didn’t I think of that all those years ago?

DS starring as himself in his favourite book.
Pic for illustrative purposes only. If only DS ever looked this tidy.

Written by mrsdubai

March 4, 2022 at 12:55 pm

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.


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).


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

Overheard in the Christmas holidays

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“I’m not buying that for you now: Christmas is coming!”

Wrap me and I won't be responsible for my actions...

Wrap me, munchkin, and I won’t be responsible for my actions…

“If you fiddle with those presents, you’re not having them!”

“No, I’m not buying it: Santa might bring it!”

“If you don’t behave, I’m taking one present out from under the tree!”

“Remember: Santa’s watching you…”

[“When does school go back?”]

“No, darling… it’s not a kitten.”

Written by mrsdubai

December 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Taylor Swift for mums

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DS is an early riser. At first, when he was a baby and used to wake at 5 or 5.30am, I used to comfort myself with the thought that he’d grow out of it; that as soon as he went to nursery / went to school / got older, he’d start to wake at a more civilised time, or at least stop coming in to wake me as soon as he was up. It never happened.


All I want for Christmas is…. zzz

I remember reading, in desperation one weekend morning when I’d been awoken yet again at 5am, an article on ‘how to deal with early-wakers’. The life-changing conclusion? Go to bed earlier yourself, or you’ll die of exhaustion, because your child is not going to change. An early-waker, said the article, will always be an early-waker.

Five years later, I have the black under-eye circles to prove it was right.

Still, since DS has been about four and a half, I’ve been buying myself a little extra morning lie-in on the weekends (say, till 6.30 or 7am) by placing some cereal and the iPad in his room along with the strict instructions every weekend night not to wake anyone up: not Mummy. Not Daddy. Not DD, and certainly not Gerlie, who quite rightly doesn’t take kindly to having DS knocking on her door pre-dawn on the weekends.

In fact, the last words DS hears at night are not ‘Good night, sleep well, darling,’ but ‘Remember: don’t wake me up.’

So today I was washing the dishes while the children played. Going around in my head was a bit of an ear worm: Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Getting Back Together. As I soaped the dishes, I sang: ‘Never, ever, ever…’

‘Wake me up,’ said DS.

My prediction for the next decade? Taylor Swift has two babies, followed by a re-release.

Written by mrsdubai

November 28, 2014 at 6:01 pm

The division of labour

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There’s a strict division of labour in our house. I’m not going to beat about the bush and pretend it’s anything it isn’t: DH earns the money, does the odd jobs / dirty work and drops the kids at school every morning, and I do everything else.

Of course that's me: note the waspish waist

Of course that’s me: note the waspish waist

And, in our household, “everything else” catches a lot of stuff, from meal-planning and cooking to managing the finances, maintaining the house and garden, planning the holidays, making sure the family paperwork is all up to date (passports, visas, alcohol licence, ID cards and so on), trying to make sure we have some form of social life – oh, and looking after the children with all that that entails. I’m sure you all know the score.

Usually, we all bob along nicely: we both know our place and our system works for us.

But this week there’s been a hiccup. DH’s car developed a flat tyre. In my job as sorter of “everything else” I took the tyre to the tyre place: it’s not a puncture, it’s a cracked wheel rim that’s causing the tyre to lose air.

So, in my role of sorter of “everything else” I searched for new rims for DH and presented him with a few options, which he – in his role of boss of “dirty work” – rejected. He found a place that mends rims. I took the rim in to be mended… and DH was left with no car.

As you can imagine, this lack of car has had a profound effect on DH’s ability to drop the children at school every morning, so the division of labour has shifted: I’ve added morning drop-off to my list of daily chores while DH has enjoyed an altogether more leisurely start to his days.

‘Mmm,’ he said this morning as he lay in bed with his coffee and I galloped about the house gathering children, lunches, homework and swimming kits while making sure I had two contact lenses in and at least some knickers on. ‘I could get used to this… and… you seem to be enjoying doing morning drop-off?’

If looks could kill, my friends, if looks could kill.

Written by mrsdubai

November 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

The birds and the bees

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DD, who’s now nine, has, to date, lacked any interest whatsoever in the facts of life. I know some people’s children start asking questions quite early on but I’ve managed so far to dodge the whole issue of the birds and the bees simply because DD hasn’t yet asked a difficult question.

That all changed on Saturday.

... or because she's not dating till she's 40.

… or, in DD’s case, because she’s not dating till she’s 40.

Picture the scene: all four of us in the car, going out for lunch.

‘Mummy,’ pipes up DD, apropos of nothing at all. ‘Why are there males and females in the world? I mean, why isn’t there just one sex? Why do we have to be different?’

‘Yes, Mummy,’ says DH, beaming at me and rubbing his hands with glee. ‘Why is that?’

I’m driving, for goodness sake! On the highway! My mind is otherwise occupied!

‘Well…’ I say. ‘Because… umm… goodness! What a good question!’

The thing is, DD is old enough to hear the facts of life and I’m happy to tell her (with the aid of an age-appropriate text book, of course). But we’re in the car with DS – aged five – who’s all mischievous ears and, to my mind, still too young to be told about any other wonderful things he can do with his willy.

I’d imagined this conversation would take place in DD’s bedroom – DD and I alone somewhere planned, not ad hoc in the fast lane of Emirates Road. I think about fobbing her off, but then opt for a halfway-house of a reply:

‘Well, because, to reproduce – you know, to have babies – you need a male and a female. And if you didn’t have both, the human race would die out.’

I nod to myself: well dodged Mrs D.

‘But,’ says DD after a pause, ‘what does the male do? What does he contribute? I know the female has the eggs and the baby grows in her and stuff. But why is the dad needed? What does he add?’

There’s a silence as I think about what to say, then DH jumps in.

‘The money,’ he says. ‘The dad contributes the money.’

Written by mrsdubai

November 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm

1-D… 1-Who?

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As I start writing dates into my 2015 diary I see that, back in about 2000, I bought tickets for DD, DS, myself and a friend as yet to be chosen to attend a One Direction concert in Dubai in April 2015. At the time of booking, DD was all over 1-D. Her room was plastered in posters of the band; she wore those rubbery bracelets with hearts and the names of Harry, Zayn (and who are the other ones?); her school book-bag bore badges of their greasy teenage faces.

Harry and pals... an expensive night out for the mummies

Harry and pals… an expensive night out for the mummies

When I booked the tickets – as I remember, at precisely 10am when the online booking opened and on a day I had better things to do given I was literally about to fly to London – I was the best mummy, like, ever.

But, as I opened my diary to April 2015, a little shudder ran through me. Would this be like Bieber-gate? Having bought tickets to Justin Bieber’s Dubai concert also about a decade in advance, I found that, by the time the concert rolled around, DD had completely grown out of him and had precisely zero interest.

(It probably hadn’t helped that I’d done a pretty comprehensive smear campaign using the Daily Mail as evidence of how unworthy the Biebster was of our time and money, what with spitting on his fans, rocking up late to concerts and getting done for drink-driving) – thankfully I managed to sell the tickets and no animals were harmed in the avoidance of said concert.

But is 1-D to meet the same fate, I wonder?

While eight-year-old DD, when I booked the tickets, was heavily into the band, nine-year-old DD – who will be 10 at the time of the concert – is into other things. Malory Towers (yes, I had a hand in that). Books by Louis Sachar (thanks to her school for that). American Girl dolls (DH brought one back from San Francisco; anything to keep her off the iPad)… and 1-D is suddenly 1-Who?

Well… if four middle-aged ladies would like to join me ogling Harry, Zayn and [blank] and [blank] next April, I suppose we’ll at least be able to see over everyone’s heads. Every cloud and all that.

Written by mrsdubai

November 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Back to school in 10 questions (at 6am)

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“Do I have to tuck my shirt in?” Back to school

“Which side does the zip go on?”

“Will I need my geometry set today?”

“Do I have to do up my top button?”

“Can you do me a plait?”

“What have I got for snack?”

“Where are my new shoes?”

“Can I have an omelette?”

“Who’s picking me up today?”

“What are we doing after school?”

Bye, kids!

Written by mrsdubai

September 2, 2014 at 11:49 am

The tooth fairy bites the dust – but where does that leave Santa?

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If I thought I was pushing my luck as the tooth fairy last time DD lost a tooth, I was really stretching it when she lost her first molar yesterday. I was toying with the idea of coming clean rather than going through the agony of creeping into her room and fishing under her pillow without waking her, but then she brought me a little note:

‘Dear tooth fairy,’ it said. ‘I’ve lost another tooth. It’s a special one: a molar! What do you do with all the teeth? Please write back as I love getting your notes.’

Fare ye well Miss Tooth Fairy - we got away with it for four years

Fare ye well Miss Tooth Fairy – we got away with it for four years

How could I disappoint her?

So I wrote a little note back to DD, turning my hand-writing into fairy-writing as best I could (if you’re wondering, the TF grinds up the teeth to make fairy dust, which she sprinkles on herself to make herself fly – right?).

Then I did a dummy-run into DD’s bedroom to check she was properly asleep. Convinced that she was, I slipped my hand under her pillow, did the deed, and skidaddled out of the room, relieved.

Fast-forward to the next morning. The bedroom door opened and DD came in brandishing the note from the tooth fairy.

‘Did she come?’ I asked brightly.

My daughter stood by the bed and looked me in the eye.

‘It’s you, isn’t it? You’re the tooth fairy?’

And what do you do? She’s nearly 10. I don’t want to make her doubt my word when it comes to Santa – a question I know must soon follow.

I needed to pick my battles. I went for credibility. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Sorry darling.’

‘It’s Santa next,’ said DH sadly after DD had left the room. ‘You know that question’s going to come this year.’

I sighed. I don’t want Santa to stop. I love being Santa.

Later that day, DD and I talked about the tooth fairy.

‘Are you horribly disappointed?’ I asked.

‘No,’ she said. ‘Not as long as I keep getting the money.’ A pause. ‘But now I know why you don’t get presents from Santa.’

I stopped dead in my tracks. ‘Why’s that?’ I asked carefully. Was this it? Was Santa to bite the dust on the same day as the tooth fairy?

‘Because Santa only gives presents to people who’ve been good,’ she said. ‘And you’ve been lying. Tut-tut, mummy.’

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August 14, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Classmate shopping

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It was DD’s summer concert today. I have to say, I dragged myself to it with about as much enthusiasm as I would, say, drive to the dentist: six classes worth of scratchy violin solos songs and poetry?  Four or five songs per class? And a three-song finale by the choir?

Hmm... bottom right looks nice...

Hmm… bottom right looks nice…

There was a rumour it lasted two hours.

But, I’m pleased to say my doubts were proved wrong. The concert was excellent. The children did incredibly well, the music was catchy, and we were in and out within an hour.

The best bit, for me, though, was opportunity to play a game of classmate shopping. Next year, the children of DD’s year will mixed into new classes and, for the first time, I had a chance to critically evaluate her potential new friends – and their parents.

‘I’m just trying to imagine who might be in DD’s class next year,’ I whispered to my friend A as we applauded yet another piano solo. A little girl stood up and confidently announced what she’d be playing next.

‘Let me guess,’ said A. ‘You’d pick her.’

I looked around for the parents – you could tell who they were for, while ‘Angel’ was playing, they were the only ones with a rapt smile on their face and two iPads in the air.

And one thing I’ve learned in my five years at that school is this: if the kids in the class are important, it’s the parents who are even more important.

It’s them with whom you’ll have to do ‘class coffees’ for the next two years; it’s they whom you’re going to see at the classroom door every day; they with whom you’re going to have to go for end-of-term drinks; and, of course, they whose children you’re going to have to invite into your home for birthday parties and play dates.

In terms of class changes, the kids are supremely adaptable.  It’s we mums who worry.

‘Yes,’ I said to A. ‘That girl (and her parents) look perfect.’

Now how to make it happen? If only the teachers accepted bribes…

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June 19, 2014 at 8:33 pm