Posts Tagged ‘UAE’
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Always push both the UP and DOWN buttons to summon the lift. Sure, the first lift that stops may not be going in your direction but at least you can while away the minutes saying ‘Going up? Oh no. I want down’ to a lift full of (irritated) strangers.
Always remember that there’s no such thing as a full lift. People are squashed in like sardines? Shove a little harder – if they got in, you deserve to be in, too!
- Don’t, whatever you do, wear deodorant.
- When you’re first into a lift with people following, don’t move to the back. You might not be able to get out!
- If you’re standing by the lift door, never ever use the ‘open door’ button to let the people at the back out. Timed lift-exiting is soon to be an Olympic sport.
- After the lift door closes, keep on talking on your Blackberry / iPhone / both at the same time. It’s important that you look important.
- Do utilise the lift’s mirror to apply your makeup / do your hair / inspect your pimples. What else are mirrors for?
- If you’re going above the 15th floor, try to start a conversation. ‘Do you know what material this shirt is made from?… Boyfriend material!’ is always a good line.*
* Hands up, I stole this line from the Laughing Cow cheese ad.
“I’m not buying that for you now: Christmas is coming!”
“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.”
Mid to late June is a funny time for mums in Dubai. School pick-up in the sweltering heat, as I mentioned here, requires the stamina of a carthorse, the endurance of Duracell battery and the patience of a saint but, beyond that, as the end of the year approaches, the children are tired and the mums are tired. Everyone needs a break.
And now, with the summer holidays so near I can smell the coconut scent of the sunscreen I won’t be needing in England, I picture myself crawling on bloodied hands and knees towards the finishing line of what is the marathon of the school year, and something strange happens: time warps.
I don’t mean to sound like Dr Who, but it really does warp.
The school year, which, in September, stretched out before us, an endless and, to be honest, quite tiresome ocean of homework, spelling tests, mental maths tests and packed lunches, concertinas up in the strangest way: now, with just 10 school days left, just as we should be sliding gracefully towards a gin & tonic on board our Emirates flight home, there are suddenly too many things to fit into the remaining two weeks.
In the space of 10 school days, I have two end-of-year concerts, two moving-up meetings, two mums’ nights out, the school ball, two mums’ coffee mornings, a shop full of leaving cards to buy, thoughtful end-of-term presents to buy and wrap, two school trips to remember (disposable lunches, PE kits and water bottles-on-a-string), next year’s name tags to order and still, of course, ten packed lunches to still to think about.
Oh, and did I mention: I have work to do as well? (How my laugh tinkles.)
I am, as I said, dragging myself towards the finishing line but – and here’s another quirk of the universe – even as I do so, I dread the last day of term. Why? Because it’ll mean the children are off school for nine and a half weeks.
And we all know what that means… on second thoughts, roll on September.
It’s that time of year again.
Having waded my way through two passport renewals, Gerlie’s visa and ID card renewal, DD’s visa and ID card renewal, the PO Box renewal and the hoopla that is trying to amend the perennial mistakes on the car insurance renewal forms, it’s time to renew DH’s alcohol licence.Only this year there’s a problem: Apparently, I can no longer use DH’s alcohol licence. I need one all of my own.
If you live anywhere but the UAE, you may think: fantastic – get one!
But, if you live here you’ll understand straight away what a problem that is. I’m officially a “housewife” with neither salary nor status – so to get an alcohol licence in my own name involves an Awful Lot of Paperwork.
There’s a “letter of no objection” from DH, for a start. Humiliating, much? Then there’s a certificate from DH’s office saying how much he earns (there’s a formula for how much money you’re allowed to spend on alcohol in relation to how much money you earn. Who said we’d never use our algebra?). Then there’s the form itself, which requires a stamp from DH’s office. A photo. A passport copy. A visa copy. A National ID card number. And a copy of the first page of the sales agreement of the house we bought in 2004 (seriously! For once I kid you not).
So I gathered those of the documents that I could get hold of – in duplicate, for DH and for me – and presented them to DH in a folder, a Post-It note explaining which signatures, stamps, certificates and so on I needed from him in order to submit the two applications. DH picked up a pen to sign the letter of no objection, then put it down again.
“Do you really need your own alcohol licence?” he asked, a glint in his eye.
“Yes,” I said, “Unless you’re willing to do all the alcohol shopping.” I currently buy all the wine, beer, cider and spirits we need for entertaining as well as for my own personal medication enjoyment (DH drinks about a pint of cider a month, if that).
DH rubbed his hands together. “What’s it worth?” he asked, suppressing a smile.
I may have whimpered.
“Weren’t you planning to stop drinking on weekdays, anyway?” he asked, eyes twinkling.
I did my best Vicki Pollard impression: “Yeah but no but yeah but no but… that’s not the point!”
I’m leaving the forms on the kitchen counter tonight and… well, we’ll see if he takes them in the morning.