A bit of vacation feeling on a normal week night:
The whole family having dinner together.
Caipirinha with lemon instead of lime.
explaining my life to strangers
I’ve been to one of these semi-compulsary parent-teacher things again. (And be warned, this post is epic, sorry.) It’s called ‘Eltern-Stammtisch’, and I’m sorry but I can’t really translate that. ‘Eltern’ means ‘parents’, and my online dictionary tells me that ‘Stammtisch’ means ‘regular’s table’ which is one meaning of this, but a ‘Stammtisch’ is also a regular informal meeting in a bar. Which in this case is a bit misleading since I always expect beer and merriment only to be greeted with an agenda (and this time there was even someone writing minutes).
So it works like this: the teacher tells the ‘Elternsprecher’ (insert long-winding explanation, that’s one of the parents of the students in my son’s class who was elected to be our spokesperson) that she wants an informal meeting, we all get nice photo-copied invitations, arrange for baby-sitters and such and meet at a restaurant. A greek restaurant this time which was a bonus. Especially since I had to go there directly after work without having had dinner. Then we have a meeting that doesn’t really feel informal while eating pita and feta cheese, and drinking wine. Then you chat, and then you go home.
In my case I chat, I feel bad, I drink too much, I go home, and then I grab my poor long-suffering husband only to rant about all the other parents, the system, and modern times. I was quite good at first. This time I only ordered water since I was really tired and exhausted after a long, long day of teaching, aka talking to people. I know what happens if I sit down in front of a beer when I’m tired. I a) don’t ever get up again, and b) talk about twice as much as usual which goes on everybody’s nerves, mine included. I like talking but really, I already know all my stories. Well, most of them anyway.
So I was good, I ordered water, I brought something easy to knit because that makes me more patient, I ordered something nice to eat because I was hungry. Also I knew that drinking water would bring me home earlier because I could have a beer at home later. So all was fine. Then the teacher announced that there would be a kind of spring celebration at the end of May. Everybody is invited to participate, maybe play a nice song (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I already knew about this so I was totally prepared to bring my guitar and sing the one song that I know by heart. It should have been something about spring or animals but I thought since this is a love song, in a way, all would be fine.
The celebration thingy of course would be held in the afternoon so that the parents who work (out of home) can attend too. Nice thought. It will start at four o’clock in the afternoon. On a Wednesday. – I’m sorry but I burst out laughing. Wednesday is one of my busiest teaching days, and my first thought was, “No way can I make this, well, you just have to celebrate spring without me.” Next thought (and the mothers among you will recognize that one). “If I only move three students, and then get home early I could make it.” I then made the mistake of saying that I might be able to reschedule something and come after all. Then I thought, “Susanne, are you crazy? That would mean prepare food for that while you don’t have time, move three students around, rush there, play a song nobody wants to hear anyway, grab my child telling him that we have to go now, no matter if everybody else is still staying because I have to teach my last student of the day, and then run home to work again.” Also there are no empty slots in my timetable to move the three students to.
When I came home and told my husband about this he said, “Are you crazy? You can’t do something like this on a Wednesday afternoon, you’re working Wednesday afternoon, why did you even think about it?”
Why I did? I did because I hadn’t seen my son for more than twenty minutes at a time that day, because I have the feeling that he will feel bad if everybody goes to the spring thing but him, or everybody goes with their parents and he has to go with a friend or with his grandmother, and that I’m a bad mother.
Of course. Again. Because, you see, all these other mothers know every single homework that their children had had, and how they spent every single minute at school. My son when asked about his day in school says, “It was fine. Can I read while eating lunch?” (To which the answer is no every single day but that’s another topic for another post.
I don’t see his homework nor do I want to, I don’t really know what he did, and it’s hard enough to coax him into giving me all those pieces of paper that I’m supposed to read or sign.
And my son doesn’t find school particularly fascinating, interesting, or challenging. Just now he is sitting outside in the sun, taking turns reading a comic book aloud with a friend. The other child is in third grade. Guess which child is the better reader.
Yesterday at the meeting everybody was going on about a test the children had just had about telling the time. Evidently only three or four students in the whole class had answered the second question correctly. When we talked about this yesterday I assumed every child had made the same mistake as mine but no – the mistake he made didn’t count because the others didn’t even get what the question was about.
All the other parents (well, all that talked at that moment) were all about how the test had been too hard, and how the children are too young to learn to tell the time, and how children are supposed to start school at a younger age than before but they’re still supposed to learn the same things. I did say something, and maybe that was a wrong move, because while the official policy is to have children start school earlier the unofficial policy that parents and kindergarten teachers seem to follow is having them start school later. When you look at the children’s birthdays you find that most of them aren’t that young. One boy is turning eight in May, my own son is already 7 1/2. That’s not particularly young for first grade.
So the general consensus is that school is too hard, and that the children can’t learn all this stuff because they’re too young. Like one of my student’s parents said last week, “He couldn’t do his homework, it was too hard.” To which I should have replied, “Madam, the homework is hard, I know, but I know that if you’re son who is more intelligent than you give him credit for would just try a little thinking now and then he could have done it. Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean he can’t.” What I did say is, “I have been teaching this for decades now, I know he can do it.” And rightfully so, he said down at the keyboard, started playing the song, it sounded terrible I said, “Why are you starting the right hand at G?” he really looked at the music and had it. Yep. Too hard, definitely.
I often feel like a bad mother. Right now I should probably be outside and share some incredible mother-son experience with my son, only he wanted to play with his friend instead. And I’m fine with that. Today I felt bad when he gave me another test they had had in school, math this time. He had everything right but two sums. And my first thought was not, “Wow, he was almost perfect.” my first thought was, “Why did he make these stupid mistakes?” Because those were only lack of concentration. He made those mistakes because he couldn’t be bothered to check. Now I get why my mother was always angry at me for not applying myself enough, like, at all. I also remember that it didn’t feel like that from the inside. So I didn’t share my first thought with my son, I said, “Wow! You were almost perfect!” but I couldn’t help adding, “Look at these two mistakes, I think those were lack of concentration. You could have had a flawless test here.”
When I was among all these other mothers yesterday evening I suddenly felt lacking because my life is not like theirs. Because comparing myself to them, which is a sort of sin in itself, I felt inadequate and as if I weren’t loving my son enough. Which is clearly bullshit. Sitting next to my son every day when he does homework does not make him a better person or even a better student. Quite the contrary. And it’s not as if he had to sit there doing it all alone, his grandmother is there, she makes sure that he does all his homework, and there’s always someone to ask. I really would like to have a job where I don’t have to work afternoons when my son is home but on the other hand he really doesn’t need me hovering about him all the time. Also I think doing homework together is overrated as a bonding experience.
The problem is that when I spend time with all these other parents, these ‘full time moms’ (there were a few dads too) I feel like an alien. I say something, they don’t really get what I’m saying, I feel inadequate, they probably feel inadequate too, you know how it is, and so my husband is right:
I have to stop going to these things. It doesn’t do anybody good. I usually go to show that I’m willing, and that I want to participate in school life but I’m fooling no one.
I really like the teacher, and I don’t have anything against the other parents, when the class is going on excursion to the museum I’m in. That’s easy to fit in for me because I have mornings off. For things like that spring celebration? I’ll buy a dozen bagels, and send my son off with his grandma while I teach. Everybody will have a good time.
Sorry, but I can’t be a full time mother. I can’t be a full time anything. But it’s still bothering me, of course.
And then I remember that I went to another ‘Eltern-Stammtisch’ the week before. A really informal one, and that I had a great time there.
So, yes, I am definitely happier than I was last year, I’m doing something right here. Of course, I’m writing this now after a night of completely uninterrupted eight hours of sleep. If I had written it yesterday it might have turned out a bit different since I had 4 1/2 hours of sleep that were interrupted four times.
As I told you last month I made a bunch of resolutions. Those were:
The other thing that makes me happy is that I’m starting to lose weight. Well, to be honest I’m down by 100 grams over the last month but still that’s something because over the last two years my weight has been climbing up every single month. Losing weight is something I hope to achieve through becoming a happier person but I’d say the goal of happiness is much better than the one of getting slim.
The thing that makes me even happier than losing a hundred grams is that I might be starting to exercise again. I did some yoga on Sunday (very slow, very easy yoga that made me realize how much out of shape I am), and yesterday I did my very first ever “Couch to 5k”-workout. See, I’m decidedly not a runner. I’m not built for it, not even when I’m a normal weight and fit, and I have never been able to run for any length of time. But when I was thinking about what kind of person I want to be I found that I’m really envious of people like my husband who just put on their running shoes and then go off jogging through the fields for an hour or so. And then I thought about what Mel had started some time ago, and then I read Kris’ post about how she managed to run a marathon, and that got me motivated.
I didn’t know whether I should talk about it here because all I’ve done so far is alternately walk and jog for a total of thirty minutes once, and I did it at home just staying in one spot (and I know that’s not quite the same as moving forward while doing it, but trust me I did work out and I can feel every single muscle in my lower body right now). I’m not about to go out on the street with this anytime soon, and I’ll never run a marathon for sure, ever. But still. I feel pretty amazing having tried out something new. I plan to do the next session of walking and running tomorrow in the morning.
So this will be the fifth resolution in my “happiness project”, exercise three times a week or more.
Well, most of last week was devoted to prepare my husband’s birthday party on Saturday. We started buying groceries on Wednesday, and just before we went out of the house I decided to check my e-mail, and – my computer froze on me and went dead. I tried to remain calm, did not frantically try to get it working again but instead went out with my husband to get vegetables, meat, and wine.
After we came back I switched my dead Macbook for my eight year old eMac, and hoped that I could use that for teaching. What a good thing that I had made a backup just days ago. The only thing that would have been gone forever where 1,000 words of the story I’m currently writing.
Wednesday was also the day my new notebook arrived. I absolutely love it. I have been tip-toeing around it for about a year now, thinking that I’d make one myself but it never happened. I even bought a poor substitute that I never was happy with, and that destroyed the lining in my favorite handbag with its sharp edges. I always carry a notebook, and I love that this can hold regular sized notebooks as well as loose sheets of paper.
Thursday morning I spent making lists of ingredients, and timelines for party preparations (in my new notebook), and copies of all the recipes we needed. Thursday afternoon I went to buy even more groceries. (In between I kept turning my dead computer on, and off again, and then I found that sometimes it booted from the installation disk, and that the diagnostic software claimed that the hard disk was still perfectly functional.)
Friday we did a little cleaning, then there was a great amount of teaching (as most days but that Friday was near insane). I was totally flustered because of both the looming party, and the fact that every single lesson brought up something that I needed on my computer. Also the eMac doesn’t work with my iPods. Or with any of my student’s. I started spending my free moments looking longingly at new computers. And I found that the new Macbook doesn’t come with a Firewire connection. Which I desperately need for my audio stuff.
In the afternoon one of my students suggested something for my computer that didn’t work but it brought me to a point where I googled “Macbook grey screen beeping” and found out that my problem was not a dead computer but faulty RAM. Bingo! I still had some RAM in a drawer because when I bought the computer I had immediately upgraded. And once I switched that for the old one the computer was working again. Phew! I immediately did a backup of everything.
My husband and I spent the rest of the evening preparing onions, ginger, and seasonings for next days party. And we rehearsed the Bach piece he had wanted to play for our guests. Through rehearsing we found out that the piano had de-tuned itself over the past two weeks. My poor husband had to try and match his violin to a piano that produced several pitches at once.
Our son spent the night at his grandmother’s place, very helpful. Saturday was spent cutting, and stirring, and seasoning, and cooking, and baking. In the end I barely made it into my “party clothes” and make-up, and I was really, really happy that I had insisted on setting the tables first. Which meant carrying the tables, and chairs, and plates, and glasses, and silverware down from my mother-in-laws apartment, before setting everything up. My mother would have been proud, I even had matching paper napkins.
We made Samosas, Pakoras, Naan bread, Lamb stew, fish curry, Dal, Almond Chicken, and mango creme. Doesn’t sound that much work, doesn’t it? Only we made everything from scratch, and somehow it took about nine hours to prepare everything. With the added bonus that all the dishes had to be ready at the same time, of course. I’m so not going into catering.
The party itself was very nice, only I didn’t enjoy it that much, I was just too tired. Our son managed to sprain his ankle for the second time that day, claiming that he had broken it. Well, it wasn’t broken but it wasn’t fully functional either. The party went on until three in the morning when my husband’s brother left. That conversation with him between one and three was the highlight of the day for me.
The next morning after about five hours of sleep we started cleaning and putting everything away. That went on for the whole day as well. In between we had an argument with our son who wanted to attend a birthday party despite his sprained ankle. In the end we caved in, and I took my mother-in-laws car to drive him over to that indoor playground about fifteen minutes from here. (And still I don’t know why it’s reasonable to have a birthday party where every single child gets carted around by his parents. I would have had to spend one hour in the car to get him there and back.) When we arrived at the playground thing and I got out of the car it smelled somewhat funny but I didn’t think about it. I got my son to the party, and left to go home. After some time the car started to behave in a weird way. Well, I barely got home and when I did the car stank and a woman passing on the sidewalk said, “Is your hand brake on? Haha.” Haha, very funny. At first I felt very dumb for not realizing that I had forgotten the hand brake but then I thought again, how I always check it at every single light I pass. Well, it seems that years and years of putting the car in a closed garage that’s not really ventilated might cause your hand brake to rust so that it can’t be disengaged anymore. Fun.
Now how to get my child back from the birthday party? My child that could barely walk? Before researching public transportation I remembered that there was one other mother that I recognized, and I had her phone number. I was lucky because she was home, and she agreed to take my son with her. Phew.
Monday was a quiet day, and we started to relax. Only the annex seemed to get a little cold. We didn’t think much of it and went our merry ways. On Tuesday it was clear that something with the heating was not right. But it was only the annex, not the main house. (This always sounds like we’re living in a mansion but we have a very small, very old house to which we built a three-room-annex for teaching.) So we decided to call the furnace guy the next day.
Just after teaching that day my son and mother-in-law came down the stairs and my MIL said she couldn’t bring him to do his homework. When my husband and I told him to do it right this minute he said, “Not yet…” It was six in the evening! So I threatened him into completing his homework (which took all of ten minutes, whining and crying included), and then he handed me a letter from his teacher. I’m to come in on Friday, it seem that we’re not the only ones having slight problems with him at the moment. (As an aside, we already have an appointment to get help, no worries.)
Well, we didn’t take that all that well. That evening I declared that from now on he was to sleep in his bed all night long, no exceptions. (As I explained in my last post we have a contract now, and this has resulted in him falling asleep in his bed but still every night he came over to sleep in the sleeping bag on the floor.) I had told him this but still he was very surprised when at 5 in the morning there was no sleeping bag in my bedroom for him. I told him to go back to his room and stay there. He cried, he started to bargain, but I had none of it, he had to stay. (By the way, he didn’t even mentioned being afraid that night. Seems like his fear was a convenient tool.) The rest of the night was somewhat unrestful, I had to put him back to his bed every 30 minutes or so but his protests became softer and softer.
The next day I realized that a) I had to find a way to get to the health food store without a car, and b) if I didn’t get to the big city that day the next time I could would be a week from now. So I left in a hurry while my husband phoned the furnace repair people. I went to the big city and ordered my new piano, something that would merit its own post if my life weren’t so full at the moment. We had realized that it would take us ages to save enough money for the piano, and that our regular expenses had gone down (no more daycare fee and one mortgage paid off). So I went in and ordered my new, shiny, black piano, and it’ll get here in two weeks or so.
Before leaving I received my very first shipment of the Rockin Sock Club, something really exciting but I didn’t have time to open the package yet. When I came back from my adventures in the city, laden with groceries and very hungry the furnace guy arrived and I spent the next thirty minutes helping him decipher the manual for the part of the furnace that controls the annex. Then my husband came to tell me that I had exactly ten minutes left to eat lunch before my first student arrived. (Then he spent the next hour or so helping the furnace guy who then phoned his boss who came also in.) For now we have heat in the annex again, and there will be a new part to be put in in a couple of days.
Then I taught for the rest of the day, spent the evening knitting for the first time in days, and fell asleep like a stone. I was waken by my son at 2 a.m. clutching his pillow, a blanket, and a big bag of stuffed animals but I sent him back to his room, and he didn’t even cry!
Today my husband decided to try the car again, and came back saying it went fine, nothing wrong with it. So I took it to buy groceries and get the beer cases from the party back to the store. The car acted a bit weird when I left the garage, and once I went down the street there was this “wup wup”-noise coming from the tire back right as if I had a flat. I turned around immediately and drove home again. Of course my husband thought I’d gone all female on him but when he checked the car again he barely got back into the garage after moving it for about three meters back and forth. So the car is clearly broken. Fortunately this is mostly my mother-in-laws problem since it’s her car but since we all use it we’ll pay half of the repair. Unless it’s very expensive which will mean it won’t be worth it. We already decided that we won’t buy a new car again. We’ll see.
So now I hope that the next week will be a little quieter. Tomorrow I’ll see my son’s teacher, some time the next week we’ll get our heating in order again, and then I’ll get my new piano, and then we’ll have “winter break” for a week.
How are your lives going? Exciting as well?
Oh, and by the way I have a piano to sell. It’s walnut, about thirty years old, and just had a complete overhaul.
It’s that time of year again, the time when my son is scared. When the days grow shorter and darker he traditionally develops a fear of – something. One year it was skeletons, one year it was masks, one year it was ghosts, one year it was robbers, this year it’s quite specific, a green skeletal devil with horns.
It all started at the beginning of November (yes, that’s three months ago, almost) when he sat in front of TV to watch something about a zoo. At 5 in the afternoon there was a trailer for a murder mystery. In this trailer there was a tiny blip showing somebody wearing a halloween costume with a green mask and devil’s horns.
The night before was the last night my son has slept in his bed since then. And if that wouldn’t have been unnerving enough he is also afraid of being alone. So when, for example, he is playing in his room, and I’m sitting in the kitchen, and then I want to get something from the basement, and I’d be unwise enough to open the actual door and get down the stairs there would be a wailing child running after me. And when I’d get up again he’d stand there, mad at me and screaming, “How dare you leave me alone? You know I’m scared!” On the other hand he will totally go to the supermarket alone and buy a toy. No problem there. It’s just being alone at the house. Or rather somewhere where he doesn’t see or here another person because we never ever leave him alone at the house.
When he is going to sleep there has to be someone with him in the next room (we have drawn the line at being in the same room) at all times. So I’m no longer allowed to watch DVDs in my very favorite chair in front of our big old TV, no I have to sit on the hard and cold kitchen bench with my laptop who then decides it doesn’t like this particular DVD. After that I go into my bedroom without having talked a word with my husband (who is in the annex, working on his new album) and get to bed, the bed I share with my son. I’m not allowed to turn off the light completely, and I have to push him back to his side of the bed repeatedly and with force because for some strange reason I don’t like to share my pillow. Also, repeatedly through the night there will be a clear, ringing voice calling, “Mama?” in near panic. Which makes me more awake than him and then, just when I have gone to sleep again, he asks again.
My husband and I have been taking turns in “night duty”, and once or twice a week he sleeps at my mother-in-laws place to give us a break. I only really realized how much I feel like being on a leash when yesterday while my son was away with his grandmother I sat in the kitchen knitting, and then wondered what my husband was doing. I sat there for a while and then it hit me: I could just stand up, leave the room and go over into the annex without someone yelling at me! Wow. Sweet freedom.
Now, for those of you not familiar with my son, he is not 18 months old, no, he’s 7 years. He knows perfectly well that he is safe in the house. Ever since he turned three we could leave him playing in one part of the house and go to the annex, at least briefly. He has always been afraid of the dark so he there’s a light in his room, and for quite some time now there had to be someone in the next room when he went to sleep. Once he had fallen asleep whoever was on duty that night could walk out, and then only return when it was time to got to sleep ourselves.
I have a big problem with this. I can’t sleep properly. When I hear anybody scream “Mama?” I have to suppress the urge to slap that child whoever it is. I have told everybody I’ve met for the past three months about this. I’d say I have a problem.
Now, I know that he is really scared. I know that his fear isn’t rational and I remember how it is at that age. That’s why he has a light on while falling asleep, and that’s why there is someone near. But then I also remember that even though I was afraid there were bears in the basement I still went there. Telling myself, “There are no bears in the basement, there are no bears in the basement.” all the time. And you know what? I never saw a single bear there.
My son on the other hand, my son who knows perfectly well that there are no strange devils lurking in the corners of our house, my son ends every talk about how we just please want to sleep again, and how we know that he is scared but that he is perfectly safe with the same sentence: “But I’m scared.” Yeah, we knew that already, thanks.
I bought nice educational books, I elevated his stuffed giraffe to a monster-slaying super-toy (worked for half an hour), bought him a magic slumber mouse (he was set on trying to sleep alone but then he went off to his grandma’s and the next night he was – too scared again).
Everybody we have talked to so far has said the following things:
And you know what? They might be right. On the other hand it’s not as if I didn’t know anything about behavior modification or parenting. And our son is really, really stubborn. You know, I’m a pretty stubborn person but that’s nothing compared to him. I talked to a student who happens to have a son the same age as mine about what to do when your son is really rude and threatens to hit you, and he said, “Well, then he has to go to his room until he has calmed down.” And I looked at him, blinking for a couple of seconds with a blank look, and then I said, “And he just goes there?” And he said, “Well, if he doesn’t I make him.” That made me laugh really hard. I can, of course, lift my son up and carry him to his room, and I might even manage to close the door behind him but since we don’t own a key to that door there is nothing to keep him in there. I put him to his room, he comes out again, I put him back, he comes out again, I start screaming, he’s howling, I put him back… One time we spent 90 minutes pulling on opposite side of the door both of us screaming, and then he was only three years old. And when everything fails he just runs off to his grandmother.
Still I have decided not to let him oppress me any longer. He wants to wail behind me when I’m leaving the room? So be it. I also told him that he has to sleep in his room again. He’ll get a sticker for every night he spends in his own bed, and after two weeks we’ll go ice skating. Yesterday he actually fell asleep in his own room. My husband was lying next to him, but still. I went to bed at 11. At 11.30 he started calling me. Then he called again. Some time later he started crying. Then he called again. At 1 o’clock in the night I allowed him to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor of my room…
Tonight we’re signing a contract, both of us. He will either sleep in his room alone without making a noise or he will go to my bedroom on tiptoes without disturbing me and stay in the sleeping bag. When he stays in his room until 6.45 there will be a sticker. 14 stickers equal a trip to the ice skating rink. There will be no discussions , no wailing, no nothing. I might have to add that we have a “no discussions about things I should do or buy for him after 6 in the evening”-rule. This child will have a debate about whether or not he will eat breakfast, come to the table or dress himself for school. I told him he’s free to not eat and walk to school in his pajamas, whatever he wants. Then he yelled at me for no making him stop reading when it was time to get ready. Very funny.
Wish me luck.
I was about to write a post called “things that fell by the wayside in 2009”. But then that was a bit depressing. I also thought I might do a post about the books I read in 2009 but since I already wrote a longish book post not that long ago, well, and 2009 isn’t really over yet.
The things that somehow didn’t happen this year were about all the new good and healthy habits I had incorporated into my life since 2004 or even before that: exercise, healthy and moderate eating, sleeping enough, cleaning, making music, writing, meditation, you name it. On the other hand I’m proud to report that I made music just yesterday, and last week I actually dusted and vacuumed half the house. Ahem. I’m on it, though. I’m slowly picking myself up again, I have started de-cluttering, and if I go on like this, who knows, maybe even my son’s room will be clean before Christmas.
Last week was even a bit more busy than always with my son turning seven on Thursday. Here’s the usual “table with cake and present”-photo,
taken at about seven in the morning without any light to speak of (and yes, that’s a pink unicorn, sorry, but he loves it), and here the “all his other presents” one:
Well, apart from the bike my parents gave him but we only bought that later in the day after school. As you can see my son has a well rounded personality, he loves both pink plastic princess things and manly machine things. I made the doll myself, it’s another Ysolda pattern. My son loves it so much that he insisted on taking the doll with him all day, and her hair is already starting to come apart. Also he says I need to make her a jacket. And a nightgown and underpants. The book on planes is from my sister (and he loves that too), the other book is a collection of poems for children. His new bike was carefully selected to be manly enough for now and the next three years. (And, but don’t tell him yet, he gets loads of very boy-appropriate Lego “Power Miner” things for Christmas.) And because I’m so proud of the doll (I had to embroider the face!) here’s another picture of her. My son named her Gabriele:
I am very, very happy that I could persuade him to skip the usual birthday party with seven friends, and cake, and games. Not only because I find that kind of children’s party exhausting and stressful, no, I distinctly remembered last year when the party was over and he said, “I never want to celebrate my birthday again!” He doesn’t like chaotic and loud any more than I do. Over the year, of course, he forgot all about it and wanted to celebrate at a fast food place, or an indoor playground or some other crappy and commercial place that other children are celebrating there birthdays at. There is even a local furniture store where you can have your child’s party, no kidding. Needless to say that I didn’t want to do anything like that. So I thought a bit. He was dead set on not staying at home (that would have been extremely uncool, obviously), and he’s new in school with only a few, very few friends. So I thought, why not take his best friend to a museum? And that’s what we did. It was splendid. We went to the Deutsches Museum. This museum is really interesting, and they have a special part for children. My son had never been there but his friend had been often, oops. It didn’t matter though, they both loved it and we went and tried things and looked at things and huge sailboats and airplanes and helicopters. We weren’t there for long, only about 1 1/2 hours but that turned out to be perfect. Afterwards I let them choose between cake and burgers, and we had – burgers and fries.
I know, this sounds like it couldn’t have been fun but that’s only the way I’m writing this. As proof I quote my son’s best friend who said on our way back home (exciting train ride) that she wants to celebrate her birthday at that museum too. Ha! The museum does offer real birthday parties as well but, well, that would have required planning ahead. Also more costly than train tickets and fast food. I didn’t really have to pay for the museum because I had bought a 10-block-ticket years ago, and it is still valid.
My son also wanted to celebrate with another friend, one that he knows from kindergarten and never sees these days. He wants to have a pajama party. I dropped an invitation at his place (very late), and still have to hear back. I think this was all too near Christmas so I’ll phone his mother after the holidays to arrange something. That was the deal, two birthday celebrations. But I’m good with that.
So now it’s only two more days until Christmas (we celebrate on the 24th, of course), and I still have to get a tree and a lot of the food. But we decided to make Christmas even more low key than usual, no big fancy cooking either, and so I hope that everything will be nice and quiet. I already go all the presents (yay me!) but I haven’t wrapped anything, and I think I will leave that for Wednesday evening. We’ll have to work until then, quite late in my case unless my students don’t show up as happened today (the three last students canceled and the one before that just didn’t show up). Then on Thursday we’ll get up late, and then put up the tree, and then make some music or knit or something, and then decorate the tree, and then make our special Christmas food that’s supposed to be dinner but I think we’ll just have it for lunch, and then lazily unwrap presents so that my son doesn’t drive us all crazy. You see, in my husband’s family you have to wait for the unwrapping of gifts until after dinner. First dinner, and then the singing of Christmas Carols, and by then the child is totally freaking out. Since I have a very impatient father we used to unwrap the presents at some time in the early afternoon so you could play with your new toys before having dinner. I hope we’ll do it a bit more like this this year. And then he can put together his Lego for hours and hours and the next day and the next, and I will be sitting next to him, help him read the manual and sort the pieces. That’s one of my favorite memories from last year, spending two days building a ultrasonic space ship or something.
As for the next year I have decided to start the new year right now and my goal is to become happy again. That will be interesting. I have already started, and I hope to gather momentum even before New Year’s Eve. What about you, did you have a good year? A bad one? Something in between? Usually it’s something in between, isn’t it?