Friday, March 27, 2009

Circle of life

After our trip to the zoo (they have new pigmy marmosets, which are the cutest little things) and the aviary, we hung through the big pond in HK Park. Lots of fish, a few terrapins, frogs, and Eve can get so close that we have to watch that she doesn't leap in. All rather lovely. Until an unusual moment today.

"Look Eve, a mummy terrapin, baby terrapin and a froggie"

"Ah, the froggie seems to be held in the jaws of the terrapin and desperately trying to swim away"

"Hmm, maybe the mummy terrapin wants to eat the froggie"

"Oh, the skin on most of the other leg of the froggie seems to have been ripped off by the terrapin, although it is still gamely trying to kick away"

The Boy then says "Look, the terrapin is trying to drown the frog"

There then continued a discussion between the Boy and I about whether the terrapin or the frog would need to breathe first.

"Well, Eve, let's go and look at the pretty fish".

Cultural differences

As Eve gets older, more mobile, more vocal, I can't help noticing how different she is from most of the Hong Kong Chinese children in that she is, well, more mobile and more vocal.

Prime example today. We took Eve to the zoo and aviary today, she loved birds and animals. We then decided to take her to a local hotel nearby for the buffet lunch because it was raining a bit. After about 10 mins she decided she was bored and no number of toys, different bits of food, cutlery or a gift of the hotel's branded teddy bear, would stop her complaining about being seated. Once we took her out and let her run around (and trip up the occasional waiter) she was fine. However, she refused to be stationary without screaming at the top of her lungs. Normally I would ignore her tantrums, but this was a rather nice hotel.

As I carried out my wriggling, chatty baby, who had munched the nose of the nice branded teddy bear to such an extent that it was looking like it had been out in the rain itself, I couldn't help but notice all the nice, quiet, well behaved chinese children. I am clearly doing something wrong.

Waste not want not

Our apartment in HK is small. All HK apartments are small, and ours is probably considered quite big, but with two small bedrooms and no storage to speak of it is starting to seem smaller as Eve acquires more stuff.

If we were in the UK then this is when the loft and those funky bags where you can vacuum seal them would come in useful. We could put everything into the loft and forget about it until if and when number 2 comes along. My sister did this and, despite having a boy as her number 2, she has managed to offload all the pink clothes onto us and I have not had to buy a single outfit for Eve yet. However, in HK this option isn't available to us.

Most of the clothes we are giving away, although all of my friends have had or are having boys so not much luck there. H, our nanny, has given some to her niece who has just had a girl. This still leaves us with big stuff like the baby rocker, Eve's first car seat. All of this causes us two problems. Firstly, it is big and we don't have space as it is surpassed by the need to store rocking horses and pink bikes. Secondly, it was pretty expensive and I would quite like to use it for number 2 if it/he/she comes along so I don't want to give it away.

One of the Boy's colleagues is about to have his first and has only just moved to HK. After a bit of a spring clean the baby rocker has gone to them and they seem very grateful. We can take it back should we need it in the future and until then it becomes their storage problem. The car seat was relegated to under the dining table (like we ever have dinner parties anymore!), where the cat has adopted it as just about the only place in the flat she can sleep where Eve can't get to her.

Number two - wise advice

Got to love Mums, they just know how to say the right things just when you need good advice. Email from Mum today.

"I was always told to wait 2 years post birth for another pregnancy to allow the body to recover completely. Knowing that advice changes with the seasons I offer it as a suggestion only. Two are more than twice the effort and it is more like running up the down escalator than many people imagine".

Mum, I love you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bah Mother's Day humbug

Eve forgot it was mother's day today. She is only 14 months, so could be forgiven. The Boy, however, is not. He forgot last year too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

And then there were two?

Before I had Eve I was not in any way maternal. When friends ask me how I decided to have a baby, I honestly tell them it was because I had always promised the Boy that when I turned 30 I might be willing to have a child and because I had run out of reasons not to. Of course now I think Eve is the best thing I have ever done, but I was very happy with my life and it felt complete without a child.

Which means I am now experiencing broodiness for the first time and it is all a bit scary. I find myself thinking that I would rather like another child more often than thinking about it with horror. Eve is at a adorable age, she is lots of fun, and I think that doing it again and having two would be really special. However, I am not entirely convinced about it. The problem is twofold. Firstly, I hated being pregnant. I have only just got back my pre-pregnancy fitness and vaguely approximate my pre-pregnancy shape and I am not quite ready to give it up yet. Secondly, the first 3-4 months of Eve's life was by far the most miserable, hardest, and sleep deprived of my life. I am so glad that phase is over, and I am not sure I have the patience or mental strength to do it all over again.

The Boy is keen for another.

So, I am taking some baby steps to get a better feel for whether or not to take the plunge again. I have placed our copy of the Rough Guide to Babies in the bathroom to read on the loo. I am trying to engage a bit more with the babies in the playground to remind myself that they aren't all that boring. I am figuring out career choices to accomodate a possible second pregnancy and thinking about what might be timing that would work for all 4 of us.

Watch this space.

Young love

Jeremy, my playground admirer, has been a little less attentive for the remainder of the week. The other boys have finally let him play their games and so he has been mucking around with footballs and playing tennis with boys his own age, with not so much as a vague look in my direction. I was starting to feel quite rejected.

Until, that is, last night when from the top of the climbing frame he shouted out to me to watch him as he made what is known as the "ten foot jump" off the top of the climbing frame. He did it, was unhurt, I clapped, and he seemed pleased.

If only relationships were always so easy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Postscript to women's day

In the playground this evening Sophia (age 6) was upset because the girls had been playing with the boys but it had got a bit rough and now the boys wouldn't let the girls get in the rocking whale, but had been pushing the girls off. She turned to me for help.

To which my response was "Don't worry about it. When you get older you will get better results at school, a better job and probably earn more money than they do. It won't matter then."

While the first one is true now, I can only hope that by the time Sophia and Eve get to my age the other two are true too.

For Mummies and daughters everywhere, Happy Women's Day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Not so secret admirer

The more enjoyable part of the playground yesterday, other than playing with Eve and having a lot of fun with her, was that I have finally been recognised as having superior ball skills after many years of disparaging comments from the Boy.

Jeremy, aged 9, thinks I am brilliant at both football and basketball (the bar may be set quite low). As a result, I am now occupying the role of his first love.

At one point, while we were throwing the ball around together, he said that the problem with the playground is that too many babies always want to play. I politely pointed out that the said baby enjoying our game with us was, in fact, my daughter and so that was OK. He looked rather miffed at having to share his new buddy.

Shoot 'em up

Having restored my work-life balance for the second part of this week, last night found me in the playground with Eve at 6.05, having worked all day from home.

I was a little unsettled to find that many of the bigger boys (age 8 or 9) have taken to playing with guns. I have never really approved of guns as toys. Guns are possibly the one thing in the world I would like to abolish if I could have anything. The idea that someone could take the life of another with no more effort than a finger on a button, and the cheapness of life that this implies, scares me. I find the glamourisation of guns a horrible development.

I don't subscribe to the idea that toy guns or TV violence prompts some of the dreadful child gun crime we now see, such as the German school massacre this week. Undoubtedly this had nothing to do with toy guns and everything to do with a deeply disturbed teenager, however there is something about boys this young running around trying to kill each other that I find very unsettling.

After about 20 mins I heard one of the boys complaining to his friend about how the game was getting dull, and asking if they could play police and thief (the global version of cops and robbers I would imagine) instead.

Maybe this means I am getting worried about nothing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sistahs are doin' it for themselves

It seems only fitting that when my office is celebrating international women's week (or day), I have chosen this week to assert myself with regards to this whole co-parenting lark. Although I too have a serious job, I think my company and role are just generally more flexible, not to mention having a fabulous and family-friendly boss, so I tend to be the one who ends up doing most of the Eve-care during the week.

In my more churlish moments I get annoyed about this. The Boy and I did, after all, have a discussion before I got pregnant about this and how we would share the role equally. However, like so many other couples I know, this doesn't quite worked out. It seems to be a combination of the fact that women seem hard-wired to make the whole bloody show work, and that it is still more socially acceptable for a woman to say she will be in late/leave early because of family commitments than it is a man.

So, since Eve has been born there has been an unspoken assumption into which we seemed to fall without ever discussing it that I would be home to put her to bed unless I specified otherwise. I sometimes get resentful of this inequality, but then I realise it means I adjust my life so I can see my precious daughter for at least a couple of hours every day and I am the winner in all this.

However, tonight I had to stay late. It was not life or death, but it related to a big project in my new job with a tight deadline and I wanted to be able to finish the meeting rather than, at 6pm, say I had to go. So I told the Boy this morning that he would have to get home to put Eve to bed. Then I sent him an SMS reminding him of this commitment.

Guilt-free, I had a great meeting with my boss and the team. For once I wasn't rushing to fit it all in and had some great ideas and all were happy.

Now the Boy is cooped up in the bedroom on a con call (having not been able to work while he bathed Eve), just like I had to last week while he was away. And not before time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's like thunder, lightning

I've never really liked loud noises. I grew up in a house where nobody really shouted and so, to me, extremities of noise are unusual and usually a sign of foreboding. I used to hate fireworks, the bang used to really scare me. I remember spending almost all my childhood fireworks nights inside watching the local display from my bedroom window so I could see the lights but not hear the noise. I also hated thunder and used to hide under my duvet during storms.

As I have grown older, however, I have learned to love storms. I think this is largely to do with being in Asia where the sheer overwhelming nature of storms demands to be admired. No grey clouds, a bit of drizzle and a long distant rumble, but swirling, wild, magical clouds flying past, forks of energy sparking at random and huge bangs coming from nowhere that make your heart miss a beat. I will often sit and watch a storm in the middle of the night, reveling in its beauty.

Today is the first storm we've had since Eve has been old enough to really notice things. I was working from home. As the storm hit and covered the hills in clouds, rain flooded down the slope behind our apartment, lightning forked down and huge claps of thunder enveloped us. Eve, transfixed by what was going on, sat on the balcony with me and giggled every time there was lightning and squealed with glee at every clap of thunder. She was fascinated by the rain curtain blocking out most of our lovely view.

As with so many things, I am finding that viewing things through Eve's eyes brings such a new and lovely perspective.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Passive smoking

After six years of ignoring the smog and dirt that is Hong Kong (and telling people that I grew up in London in the 1970s when it was pretty similar) I have finally found myself admitting that, yes, HK is a terribly unhealthy place and spending more time outdoors doing exercise makes it less rather than more healthy. I am even wondering whether I should spend a silly amount of money on an utterly pointless air purifier.

The cause of this?

Eve has had a horrid cough for the last two months and can't shake it.

Heads, shoulders, knees and boobs

Ever since Eve was born, each night she has bath time with either Mummy or Daddy. We are unusual in HK in that we have a large, deep bath that has the taps in the middle so is ideal for sharing. It is great fun, and after a hard day in the office good bonding time before the bedtime story.

As Eve gets older we have also been helping her to learn her body parts. She likes nothing more than, when asked for her feet, picking them up to be washed with a flannel. She is learning what her nose and eyes and mouth are too.

Tonight, while playing together in the bath, Eve pointed at my chest. I wasn't quite sure what she was pointing at, I thought maybe a toy was there, but when I asked her again, she leaned forward and prodded my nipple. "That's a booby" I told her, slightly perturbed by this recent interest in my tits. She smiled, and then pointed at the other one, "that's a booby too". She kept on pointing and trying to prod them until I distracted her with a bottle full of bubbles and her attention went elsewhere.

I am not quite sure what to make of this. Admittedly she drank from them for 8 months or so, but now that she doesn't I feel a little uncomfortable with her noticing them but I can't quite fathom why.