When my niece, Renee, was just a baby, I used to leave work and go straight to my brother's place so that I could just hold her and play with her. She always filled my heart with so much joy and then, I would tell her my troubles. She couldn't talk, but she seemed to get me and I guess it was just what I needed. And even though she was just a little thing, I knew that if given the opportunity she would slay the world for me. I once told my mom that she had a strong spirit and while she wasn't the type to start confrontations, she wasn't going to back down from any either.
Today, I had an appointment at the public clinic. I have a growth on my left hand that prompted me to be continuously visiting the clinic since January. Today, I made up my mind that I was going to tell the doctor that I needed to have a referral to get it removed. On my previous visits, he had not seemed keen on removing it. His attitude was a little nonchalant and he didn't believe it was the cause of some of the pain I explained I was having.
I busied myself with a book in the waiting room, feeling a sense of relief and excitement when my name was called at last. The nurse took my weight and then asked me to have a seat in a back room so she could take my blood pressure. I sat in that room alone for more than five minutes, but I didn't get upset. When she arrived, she strapped the blood pressure machine around my arm and asked me to excuse her again. She was gone for what felt like a lifetime, but was probably somewhere between five to ten minutes. She came back to discover that the machine was reading an error. She did it again and realised that the machine was not working. She took me to another room and I waited another minute or two while she retrieved a small strap for my arm. Again, she start the machine and left the room. This time, I saw the reading and sat waiting patiently for her return. After a long wait, the machine timed out and began resetting. Then, my grandmother-in-law called. We talked for less than a minute. All the while, the nurse hasn't returned and I am there trying to be patient and remain calm. Another few minutes passed and my phone rang again. This time, it was my husband. During our exchange, the nurse returned. She asked if the machine hadn't worked and I told her it had and she angrily jabbed her finger on the start button and left again. I promise you it is the honest truth. I end my call and look over at the machine to realise that it is reading an error. Shifting in my seat, I decided to try to get her attention to tell her it hadn't gone through. This time, she returns, presses the start button again and then starts to berate me for being on my phone and for the machine not working and tells me that I wasn't sitting still and she was trying to take my pressure from in the other room, blah, blah, blah.
In all honesty, I didn't immediately realise that she was seriously quarrelling with me. I tried to explain, but she kept cutting me off by loudly insisting, "you were on your phone!" I wasn't trying to deny that fact. I was just trying to explain what happened with the machine and let her know I had seen the reading. I figured if the machine is freaking out, she'd want to know. She stormed out of the room and proceeded to tell her version of events to another nurse, who chuckled. That's the precise moment that my blood began to boil. A couple seconds later, she stormed back in the room to realise that the machine had recorded another error and she decided that was the end of that. Released at last, I waited patiently for the doctor to call my name, but this time, I decided that if I didn't get what I wanted, I would not be returning.
Funny enough, for me, it wasn't about waiting long or the repeated visit where nothing got resolved and all the things I could list off, but the way this nurse felt she needed to behave. I don't know if she was having a bad day, but it was unfair to me. Why not take her frustrations out on the people who come to the clinic on a day-to-day basis and cuss them? Whenever I go, I sit and wait quietly and I don't even join in the conversations that bash them. And the thing is, while I was there strapped to the blood pressure machine, the nurses in the other room were going on and on about this particular nurse who was not well, but had shown up for work. One told her that if she knew she was sick, she should have stayed home. Another one started a conversation about some half day seminar on Thursday and Friday and I heard another say she was going on Friday because she is off on Thursday. These are the sort of conversations that are had in the presence of patients.
To put an end to a beautiful day, when I finally saw the doctor, my test results were not back yet and she offered to write a letter to allow me to collect them from the hospital myself. She was a pleasant woman and I know she tried her best to help me, but that was the final straw. I politely told her not to bother and that I would not be returning. I explained my reasons to her and she was very apologetic, but to keep my sanity, I think it best that I not go there again.
After everything, I still had to arrange with my mother to get Shakir from her, so I decided to pick my niece up for her and meet her halfway to sorta exchange kids. On the way down, I started to tell Renee about what had happened, just like old times. Her response: "what she quarrelling with you for? She should be sitting down in the room to make sure you don't move!" She summed it up nicely in two sentences and like I said, she would slay the world for me if she could.
If you've ever had the opportunity to see a wet cat, then you would have some idea of how I must have looked after the downpour we had today. The rain began around two this afternoon and I wished fervently that it would cease long enough to allow me to collect Shakir from school and get home. I had plans to cock my feet up and read a book, but the rain had other plans for me. My mother lent me her jacket, hat and umbrella and so I went to the school in disguise.
The peak of the hat pulled low to conceal my face and the jacket zipped up my chin, I clutched the umbrella and trekked through flooding waters to collect my son. There's something about the rain that I must admit relaxes me but I should have liked to be at home, dry and warm, peering at it through the window. Anyway, halfway to the school, the rain decided to step up its game by increasing its intensity about tenfold. "Let's see how much further this fool girl thinks she can get," it seemed to taunt, "feel she is a super hero, huh?" Up until that point, it hadn't even occurred to me that I could find temporary shelter until the rain slowed a little and so I was a mere hair's breadth away when I stupidly sought refuge under the shed of the nearby car dealership. I wrung what must have been a couple of glasses of water from my skirt. Don't ask what I was trying to prove because I'm sure I couldn't say. Anyhow, from my dry spot, I spotted a woman trying to urge traffic to stop to allow her to cross over to the other side of the street where the water was marginally shallow and I felt just a little arrogant thinking how smart I was to take a minute to catch my breadth and let a little of the water dry off.
You can laugh at me at this point. I certainly had to laugh at my own stupidity. The rain thundering down, showing little or no sign of abating and yours truly is stranded under a shed feeling proud and actually mocking someone else in a similar boat? To further illuminate my brilliance, when I finally decided to move, I discovered that I had trapped myself behind a shallow pool and I had no choice but to wade through the murky, dank water. If mine was a weaker spirit, I would have passed out at the very thought. Sucking in a deep breath and wearing a grimace of distaste, I did exactly that, never hesitating until I made my way up the stairs to enquire which class was Shak's.
You'll remember that I said I was disguised, so imagine my astonishment, when a teacher that I've seen around, who didn't realise had ever seen me before, asked if I was looking for my son. I nodded, half expecting that she had me mistaken for someone else, but sure enough she took me to the right class. His teacher took one look at me and called Shakir so I think its safe to say my disguise didn't work. Well, a minute later when my child realised that it was me there to pick him up, his greeting was a pout, rather than the smile I would have liked after all I had been through. But its okay. When you become a mom, you learn that even if they can't see the struggle, the end result is worth it. And you know what, someday they'll understand what sacrifices you've made for them.
I've always been a fan of Spider-Man, but it wasn't until today that I realised that he was a member of my household. I'm pleased to say that Stan Lee had very little to do with the rearing of this new Spider-Man, other than the inspiration he would have provided when he created Peter Parker and his alter ego. I wonder what he might say if he were to meet my Spider-Man.
On a peaceful and regular day, two year old Jaheim is a fun-loving, race car driver and stunt devil who is always ready for any kind of adventure. Not the type to run away from a fight, if there is real danger, he becomes Spider-Man. Unlike Aunt May, who believed Spider-Man to be a menace as portrayed by Jonah Jameson, who was also never aware that her own nephew was actually Spider-Man, I am blessed to have been told by my sweet loving son that he is Spider-Man. If I had any doubts, they were assuaged today when I saw him scaling a wall with the expertise of... well... Spider-Man.
What was amazing was that as he jumped from the his perch on the side of the building, landing with the agility of a cat, I heard him yell the fantastic four. That's right folks, this new version of Spider-Man is part of the fantastic four.
And if you happen to wondering who else is a member of the fantastic four, I'm sure my other super hero son, Cyborg, might be able to tell you.
I exhausted myself trying to tidy the small centre table in the living room. What was frustrating was that I've told Shakir that if he needs something from off the table to take his time and remove it carefully so nothing would fall off. I've often also advised him to carefully pack it back when he's finished with it. It has been weeks that I've been looking at the cluttered heap of books that fall at will and keep threatening punishment. Well, I've often said that threats are useless because they often fall on deaf ears and believe me when I tell you that often times your child can tell when you don't really want to punish them. They will ride on the promise of punishment until the second before your facial expression changes and your voice takes on that certain tone and they just know. Anyway, I was like a mad woman randomly grabbing things and tossing them on the floor so they could go into the garbage and every now and again, I'd yell at Shakir about how cluttered the table was. Meanwhile, there is not a peep from my husband.
It couldn't have been more than a few minutes later when, finished, I joined my husband in the back of the house. Checking to make sure that there is no lingering aggression in me, he slid closer to me with a smile. "I was about to ask you to please take out some food for me, but then I heard you quarrelling so I decided to wait until you were settled," he said, reminding me where the children get ALL of their tricks from. I take absolutely no responsibility in that aspect of their personalities. I will own the mouthiness. That is my own cross to bear.
"Food is an excellent idea, my love," I answer back with a face as serious as a judge. "When you go to take out yours, please be sure take mine out the same time."
"But baby, I'm tired. I had a gruelling drive on the road and in that sun..."
"Did you forget that I was there bearing it with you?" In truth, I only bore a part of it, but that's not important. "And that sun had me about ready to pass out so since you love me and you care about my wellbeing, its only fair that you should be the one to get us both some food." See, what I did there? I tossed the love card in there with a little well placed guilt and folks, let me be the one to break the bad news to you: THAT CRAP ONLY WORKS IN THE MOVIES.
What happened next was that Jaheim appeared trying to defend his father's honour. His brother offered to take the food out for his dad. When Tony politely refused, Shakir's response was a nonchalant shrug and, "you can't really want food then."
"Your mother have you trained!" Tony declared.
My response was a bright smile for my little protégé and a nod of encouragement. "Daddy?" Jaheim asked. "You want tea?"
"No," responded a disgruntled Tony.
"Well, he can get you tea," I advised as I made my way to the kitchen to grab the kettle. On the way, I picked up Jaheim and gave him a small kiss. "Should I take out food for daddy?"
"Ok. Only because you told me to, but I will make your tea first so daddy will have to wait."
"Right. Daddy gotta wait."
A few minutes later, after the water is boiled, I told Jaheim to put away the toys he had scattered across the floor while I mixed his tea. I explained that this had to be done in order for him to relax and drink his tea so off he went diligently putting everything away. When he was almost through, he looked at me and realised I was putting the food for his father into a plate.
"Mummy!" He shouted, his little voice thick with irritation and urgency. "Daddy gotta wait! Daddy gotta wait!"
"Yes baby, I know," I said, and quickly putting the food in the microwave to reheat, I finished the little boy's tea and gave it to him. All the while, poor daddy trying to understand what was really going on.
The water was off so the office was closed by the time I stumbled into the building, drenched in sweat and panting heavily from my morning trek. It didn't make sense going all the way back home when I had to travel back up that side to collect Shakir from school so I figured I'd spend a couple of hours catching up on some work in the silent stillness. It seemed a brilliant idea until the hunger pangs started in my stomach. I made up my mind to leave and spend the day chilling by my mother.
Slowly, excitement built inside me at the prospect of having a day free of the kids, free of work and free of stress, to allow myself a much needed period of relaxation. As you can imagine, what was planned and what actually happened were two totally different things as s often the case. The first problem was that I had got so accustomed to the air-conditioning that I forgot about the beast in the form of the broiling sun that waited outside. My mother's house has no air-conditioning and even with a fan, one often gets the feeling of trying to sit by the fireplace trying to stay warm. Now, I'm not bashing my mom's house. My house is the absolute same thing, I kid you not. You could probably bake a chicken or a turkey on my bed during the day, its so hot. That being said, I cranked the fan up to the highest speed, stripped down to almost nothing and made myself a make-shift bed on the floor. I put the TV on and since I couldn't get the remote to cooperate, I was subjected to the nonsense that was showing on the channel that was on. That's when I realised that my mom's bird was on the floor of her cage, wedge between the water bottle and appeared not to be moving.
Now, if you're tuning into this blog for the first time, you probably have no clue that I don't like birds, unless they happen to soaring in the distance on TV. I can admire them from on my couch, thank you very much. Anyway, the first thing that comes to mind is that the poor creature fell from her perch and is dead. I immediately started thinking how my mother's going to feel so bad, while simultaneously hoping she doesn't expect my help cleaning it up. I got up from my make-shift bed and peered at the creature, feeling so sorry for it and wondering if maybe there was something I could have done that might have saved it and then I realised that it was staring at me with the same intent scrutiny I was giving it. If I wasn't so squeamish, I would have killed it myself at this point. I all but had the damned bird's eulogy written and the creature wasn't even dead! Later, it occurred to me the poor creature is probably as listless and miserable in this blessed heat as I am and at my mother's suggestion, I turned the fan on her and forgot about her for the rest of the day.
Every super hero needs a sidekick and from almost as soon as Jaheim could speak, I knew he was mine. Don't misunderstand. This has nothing to do with the trouble he might give or his and Shakir's joint conspiracies to rule our little world. Instead, this has to do with when he wakes and decides to be my sweet boy. Last night was a classic example as I had left him, Shakir and Makayla to watch TV as I prepared dinner. I was in the kitchen washing up wares when I heard him scream loudly. I took a deep breath and made up my mind that the best way to handle whatever was going on was to go and take a look. When I got into the room, both Shakir and Makayla began to speak at once. I looked at Jaheim. "Mummy!" He said in a loud, strong voice that brooked no argument. "Shakir and Makayla was fighting!"
"Were they?" I asked.
"Yes!" He said.
I took the next step, which was to separate the two of them and I returned to my tasks, feeling a sense of pride. It was the kind of pride that comes from knowing that you've done something right in this crazy life we live. It was like I came to a kind of understanding in my mind that when this super hero mom retires, I will leave at least one super hero to carry the torch. So naturally, I was nodding and smiling this morning, when after I threatened Shakir with the promise of lashes, my little protégé chimed in. "Hurry and get in that bath, Shakir!" He said, his face stern, mimicking mine, in true sidekick fashion. "Me would cut you bottom. You feel me mekking sport? I is not you mummy!"
I was mid-nod when the last part sank in. What? "So, Jaheim?" I asked, mainly out of curiosity, more so than out of a need for further clarification. "Do I make sport?"
Giving me a bright smile that would likely melt the heart of other more easily manipulated minds, he said, "no, me just making a little joke with Shakir."
"And who is it that does say 'I'm not your mother!'?" I continued to probe.
"Granny!" He spat out as if it was so obvious.
So right there and then, I realised that my little protégé is actually my mother's protégé. SIGH! The trials and tribulations of a working super mom!
We all have that one friend that gives everyone a nickname. You could be sitting in the middle of Chefette stuffing your face with chicken and that friend would choose this particular time to point out someone sitting parallel to you and give them a name like flubber. And although you're trying your best not to choke on the meat that's wedged between your teeth, in an amazingly accurate way, the person actually appears to resemble flubber to you. Its worst when they pick on one of your friends or workmates to give them a nickname. I mean, how are you supposed to carry on a logical conversation without the name spilling from your lips.
I had a friend once that started referring to another of my friends as The Mop. The logic behind this name was that the person's hair fell around their head like a messy mop head and then the person was on the slim side, which didn't help at all. It got so bad that when I wanted to make a reference to my friend, I had to say The Mop or no one knew who I was referring to. I managed to hold it together though and I swear I never called the person anything other than their christened name. I eventually managed to shake the secret nickname for them as well. Now, its just a running joke every now and again.
Speaking of nicknames, have you ever noticed that children are extremely good at giving them to people? When I was just a few years old, I started calling a woman The Tall Red Woman. I don't know why. I supposed she looked tall to me and she was red, but by the time I got into junior school at primary school, I realised she wasn't tall at all. The woman was actually no taller than five feet flat. When Shakir was a little younger, he started calling a man from our district Red Nose. It didn't matter that the man was already nicknamed Fish. Shakir determined that Red Nose was a much better name for him and so that is what he called him. Also at a young age, my sister began calling one of my father's workmates No Teet because his front teeth were missing. In each instance, the person found it amusing and embraced it.
What if society was less sensitive and we gave people the names we felt were better suited to them upon meeting them. Can you think how may people who get called the B-word? Mine would have to be TV character related and today alone, I would have called one person Darth Vader from Star Wars, another one would have been Scrat from Ice Age, then Groot from The Guardians and Sméagol of The Lord of the Rings. But favourite in the batch would have to be the one who was given the name of Two-Face from Batman.
I had to get Shakir from school today so I sacrificed my lunch hour so I could leave work at half past three. My mother had to attend a funeral so she was unable to get him for me today. As I approached the school, I saw him running in the opposite direction with another boy and I hoped he wasn't too far out of sight by the time I got there. I need not have worried. The old gentleman, who seems to alternate between caretaker and watchman, spotted me and after showing me Shakir's bags neatly hanging on the fence by the gate, he was gracious enough to call him for me. As always, my heart always leaps by bounds when I see my smiling boy running toward me with a big grin that takes up about half his face. For the split second it lasts, I feel appreciated and loved and blessed all at once. By the time he reached me, his cheerful demeanour had evaporated and had been replaced by a dark scowl. "What's the matter with you?" I ask.
"I wanted granny to come," he said simply.
I didn't say the thing that sprang to mind first, but I have to admit that although I wasn't upset by his response, I wasn't totally thrilled either. I was lucky to get a ride to the top of the hill this evening, so I didn't have to walk up the long road. However, I still had a fairly long walk all the way to the school. The sun felt like it was trying to cook me. My skin literally felt like it was on fire. My feet felt like they wanted to give out, because they usually hurt anyway and the walk was an added strain. Toss in the fact that hadn't eaten anything really nourishing and the first words out of his mouth is he wanted his granny. The least he could have done is given me a hug. People don't tell you this, but sometimes you can think up some awful things to say to your kids, but most times you don't. "She couldn't make it," I said. "She had a funeral, but tomorrow things will be back to normal and she'll come for you."
"How come you were late?"
I wanted to scream, but I remained patient. Another thing they don't tell you is that kids are often ungrateful. And although my son is a blessing to me in several ways, he is no different. But he probably handled it better than I would have at his age. I'm fairly sure there wouldn't have been any running or any grin for my mother in the first place. I would probably have given her some monosyllabic answer and waited for her to explain herself. How dare she be late! In hindsight, my inflated sense of justifiable righteousness, is amusing, but seeing the lesser form of it mirrored in my son was not amusing. "I don't work for myself," I said. "And it didn't make sense to come early and then have to try to get back over the hill in this heat within the hour. You didn't have to stay too late though and now we can go home."
Just the other day, while at the clinic, I mentioned to him that I was bit hungry and he quite matter-of-factly told me to stop complaining. I didn't agree that was what I was doing, but it came to mind this evening when after we got to town, he asked me if we would be getting into another van. I told him we would walk and the complaining began. Truthfully, he was already drenched in perspiration and I wasn't too sure he wouldn't topple over in a high wind, but I made up in my mind not be deterred. Experience has taught me that in spite of exhaustion, he will get a second wind once we step through the house and he'll give me just as much trouble as if he hadn't just worn himself out walking, so trust me when I say I didn't feel sorry for him one bit. A little later, he looked at me with his most miserable face and declared that he was tired of walking and he wished he was already home, but even that didn't move me. I told him he should stop talking so he could conserve energy and also to walk a little faster. I should have told him stop complaining.
It seems that I have been lax the past few weeks. My alter ego, the Amazing Alli has mysteriously not reared her head in a while. During this time, it seems that my boys have taken it upon themselves to hone their skills of destruction and have somehow managed to incorporate miscreant behaviour, including but not limited to manipulation. It is time for me to take a much needed rest while my alter ego takes over. This is just so that order can be restored at last, you understand.
Tonight, I collected the boys from by their grandmother's house and I toyed with the idea of making bakes. Then, I got the brilliant idea to make some cookies instead. I had seen a recipe that could work in the microwave online that I was just dying to try. I put the boys to watch TV, but as can be expected, they kinda hovered around as I mixed up the batter. Feeling pleased with myself, I found a flat cover and laid them out on it and forgetting that the material was not microwavable, I set it in the microwave for seven minutes while I went to watch up the wares. A few minutes later, I smell something burning and when I go to investigate, the kitchen is engulfed in smoke. It took me a few seconds before I realised my error, which is more proof that I'm exhausted. But you know what was amazing? It wasn't until I was in the kitchen trying to deal with it that Shakir appeared to tell me that he could smell smoke. I bit my lip. Hard. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but this is information that I could have used a dew minutes earlier.
So anyway, I'm trying to get the mess cleaned up and in the corner of my eye, I can see two boys playing what appears to be a wrestling game, in the bed. "Settle down!" I yell and they are still for about twenty seconds before they go again. I actually feel like twenty seconds is me giving them more credit than they deserve, but I like to think that I'm at least moderately intimidating so it certainly can't be any less than twenty seconds . Anyway, I didn't storm into the bedroom and yank them up, feet first as much as I would have liked to. There's a skipping rope around here somewhere that could easily have doubled as a lasso tonight. But, as I shuffled around the kitchen on my aching leg, all I kept telling myself was not to lose my cool. So they continue jumping around and I begin to hear them giggling and I warned them that I would get my weapon. Did they listen? Nope. They kept wreaking havoc and laughing like it was the greatest feeling in the world, all the while, the poor bed groaning loudly as the children bounced around.
Now, personally, I know about having fun. On occasion, I decide to take part in my own bit of play and we all have a grand ole time. But, night has fallen and tomorrow is school so when I say its time to settle, it is time to settle down. I don't understand those parents that are content to have the children up playing until they wear themselves out and fall asleep. That nonsense wears me out and I'm sorry, I have work to get to tomorrow. Furthermore, the kids have got to be up by a certain time to get ready to be out of the house by a certain time and when you see morning break, the last thing I want to add to my long list of things to do, is stimulating the child so he can stay awake. That being said, when its time to sleep, go to sleep.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I'm trying to clean my mess up and I'm thinking how great it is that I didn't use all the batter in that first go, because now I can make the boys a treat. Wait... what? I'm not treating anyone who isn't listening to me. Forget that. I picked up my weapon of mass destruction and I gave it two powerful cracks. Quiet lasted all of five minutes this toss. Seriously, somebody either needs to wake up my alter ego or get that damned kryptonite out of here, because something is not right here.
Over the course of the next few weeks, keep your eye on this space. One sure way to rouse a sleeping alter ego is to write, but the other way is to... draw. I'm going to do both and you guys will be the first to read about it.
It has been a long and tiresome day. Seems that my boys decided I needed a workout and from the moment they rose from their sleep, I had to be talking. Funny enough, today I didn't feel quite like myself and would rather have had a quiet day. Isn't that just the way it always goes? So what do you do when you feel crappy and the kids won't settle down for the whole day? You make bedtime earlier than it usually is. If I could have gotten my boys in bed from six, I'm telling you, it would have happened. For those of you who think its mean, I dare you to take them both on for one whole day.
Well, I put my boys to lay down at half past six and turned on the TV to help them get settled. An hour later, thankfully they were sleeping. It is now time for 'me' time. As a kid did you ever wonder why your parents put you to bed by a certain time while they stayed awake? Trust me, when you get kids you find out. Though most nights I knock out a minute or two after they have gone down, tonight, I actually had the energy to play a few Facebook games and sketch. By morning, I'll have my poker face back on and be ready for whatever they dish out. Right now, I'm just grateful the break that bedtime provides.
Allison is mother to two active boys who challenge her on a day to day basis with their escapades. In her other life, Allison juggles a regular day job as a marketing executive in a health food organization. At night, when everyone is asleep, she dreams of being a fulltime writer and super hero.