Thursday, February 18, 2010

For Godness sake

New year, new resolve and along with giving up booze for lent (which I am regretting after one day), I also decided to try again to find a church in Hong Kong that suits me and Eve. I have started going to a rather good bible study group run by a colleague so asked around the members and one church was suggested. It struck me as being a bit happy clappy for high church anglican me, but I am willing to have an open mind so trotted off there this Sunday.

It started off well. I was quite warmly greeted and told that I had the option of Eve attending Sunday school or the service. Finally, I thought, I can worship with my daughter. There were lots of children in the service, which started with two songs and Eve and a little boy danced happily at the back while people looked on smiling. I was feeling really rather positive that I had found a place that we could call our church.

Then it all went wrong. "Will all children under ten now leave" came the announcement. Um, what, my child? I didn't really feel I could pipe up and say that the nice lady outside had told me that children could stay in the service. So I left. We were carted off to a classroom where the children watched a video about buying a cow for a village in China. All well and good, except Eve had seen the climbing frame outside and was refusing to sit still. The video, which was a bit too raw in its detail of life in an impoverished village in China for your average toddler, ended with a large, fat man coming in to tell us that every child had to bring in twenty dollars next week to send to the village. Um, hello? Shouldn't children do something more meaningful than asking their parents for money? Earn it? Do a sponsored swim? But then this is Hong Kong where money is supposed to solve everything.

Then it got worse. All the parents left, except me. Three teenagers then taught the Sunday school. Except it involved giving the kids a colouring book about Jesus and then trying to stop them hitting each other. For about half an hour all they did was keep the kids colouring. After about ten minutes Eve was trying to make a break for the climbing frame again so I took it upon myself to read her the story she was colouring and try to engage her a bit. Then we sang a song, by which point Eve was so bored and annoyed with her Mummy not letting her go to see the climbing frame that she just went and opened the door herself.

Then all main service finished and all the parents came to pick up their children. So, in effect, all this actually turned out to be was moderately religious childcare. The teacher even had the audacity to tell me that Eve was a bit too young to concentrate for that long and maybe I should take her to the creche instead. I bit my tongue and restrained myself from simply replying that she was bored out of her mind colouring for 45 minutes.

So we left and I will not being going back. The sad thing is that Eve really quite enjoyed it and has been showing the Boy and H her little bible book that she coloured with real pride. She is even talking about Jesus. This is enough to keep me going and try to find a church that Eve and I are both going to enjoy being at together.

Watch this space.

Pot, pot, pot, potty

Chinese New Year has been and gone and, if you've read any of the previous posts, you will know this was going to be P day. That is potty and pants. I hesitate saying potty because what we actually have is a toddler-sized seat that fits on our loo because we don't have enough space for a potty in our tiny Hong Kong bathroom - but the principle is still the same.

I was well prepared. Four days of Eve wandering around naked and getting used to going to the loo. Easy peasy. Except the day before the Chinese New Year break started a cold spell hit. In fact, the coldest spell for two years. It has gone down to ten degrees and usually sits around 13-14 in the day. I know it's not actually that cold, but in an apartment with no heating or carpets that is required, for ten months of the year, to stay cool and drafty, it is bloody freezing. Not, therefore, ideal conditions for Eve running around naked for a few days.

Undeterred, however, we went ahead with it. The star chart was stuck up in the bathroom at Eve height so she can see and colour the star I draw every time she does a wee or a poo. Disinfectant at the ready to clean up spills. We were ready to go.

Then it was all surprisingly easy in the end. After two initial accidents, now whenever she is in the flat she tends to ask for the loo before she wees on the floor. She managed to make it to the loo for her her poo yesterday and although half came out before she asked today, she did then hold in the rest until she was over the bowl. We still have her in nappies when we go out, but a few times she has suddenly asked to go home, which turns out to mean she actually needs a wee or a poo. I have introduced her to public loos in Hong Kong now, which are almost without exception so clean that one could eat off them.

It will take a few more weeks yet until she is properly ready to go without nappies in the daytime, but we are well on our way now. So, this weekend I am going to take Eve to buy her first knickers, at Marks & Spencer of course!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gratitude tag

Following on from my post yesterday I thought I would try something here. I am not very "in" with the blogging crowd and lingo so will rely on my regular blogger friends to read this and pass it on.

The idea is simple. Write about one thing you are grateful to your mother for. Or more if you would like, but at least one. Then tag a couple of people you know who blog to do the same on theirs. Hopefully then we will end up with a lovely celebration of motherhood.

So, here goes mine.

Aside from my legs, the thing I am most grateful to my mother for is the amazing example she set me and as a result the incredible self-belief she instilled in me.

Mum left full time school and went to secretarial college. She worked in numerous jobs she really didn't like because we needed the money. This was exacerbated, I suspect, when I got a scholarship to private school that covered a lot of the fees, but not all and we had to find the money for them from somewhere. My sister and I both went to University, when she and my Dad hadn't had that opportunity, so she kept working so we could afford that too. At every point in my school and university life I always felt that my Mum was right there behind me. She feels passionately that women should be educated. She has sponsored girls in developing countries for far longer than it has been fashionable and she supported both her daughters to achieve the maximum they were capable of. Let me be clear here, she never pushed either of us and always allowed us free reign to choose our own path, but we were always very secure in the knowledge that she would support us whatever we wanted to do.

That isn't it, however, she also led by example. While still working full time being a magistrate and sitting (for some time being Chair) of the family bench in one of the less lovely parts of London she also studied in her spare time for a law degree and then a masters. Most of this was while working full time, being a JP AND bringing up two teenage daughters. How the hell she found the time is beyond me.

So, I am grateful to my Mum for being the living breathing embodiment of focus, dedication, hard work and unconditional, loving support.

PS. Sorry, Mum for any factual inaccuracies. My teenage years were a bit of a blur!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Once you have a child of your own you finally realise what your parents, and mothers in particular, do for their children. I have a few friends, mainly male and single but not exclusively so, who have a habit of complaining about their mothers. I don't know why, but some people don't ever quite grow out of the adolescent rebellion that finds them thinking their parents are dull, boring and never did anything for them. Now, however, I am a mother myself I know just how much of oneself and ones life you give up for your children.

Just carrying a child and feeding it and changing it takes some commitment. For many people this selfless (and sleepless) act would be sufficient martyrdom. Add to that the many other commitments and sacrifices parents make to ensure that their offspring are sufficiently healthy and balanced to face the world and it would take a good few reincarnations for any child to be able to show sufficient gratitude to their parents (and don't let me go there on what parts of my body have also suffered!).

It was Fraught Mummy who got me to thinking about what parents do for their children. In her case a bad back and frozen toes. In my case, my list is quite a long one already and will undeniably get longer. I hate to think how long my mother's list would be, I was an awful child!

So, to my own Mum, thank you. I know that doesn't cut it but I don't tell you enough.

And to anyone who dares ever even mutter a complaint about their mothers, take a step back and think hard - what has she done for you?