Wednesday 21 March 2012

On safari

‘Mama,’ Tijm calls. ‘We are going on safari.’
His rug sack is ready. The binoculars are in, the book of plants, some biscuits. From the handle bar of his scooter the tent dangles.
‘Come on,’ he calls, scooting on.
‘Where are we going?’ I ask.
‘Exploring,’ he answers. ‘To find the waterfall.’
Just before the bridge we turn left, into the wilderness, and the mud.
Tijm gets his binoculars. He peers over the water, then at me.
‘Mama, you are very small. You are very far away.’
‘You need to turn it around,’ I point out. ‘What is far will become big and close.’
‘No,’ he yells. ‘It is right like this. Look, everything looks far away now.’
What can I say? In Dutch we call binoculars “far-looker”. So I nod.
Satisfied, Tijm looks around him. He spots something, far away, next to his foot.
Little flowers, like stars. We look them up in his book of plants.
Linde laughs at the name, speenkruid.
‘For Jasmijn,’ she grins, as speen means dummy.
She has found something too. Little brown balls, in the muddy water.
‘Frogspawn,’ Tijm tells us. ‘We must to take some home. Then we can make frogs. Just like at school.’
‘Maybe on the way back,’ I answer. ‘We haven’t found the waterfall yet.’
‘O. Yes,’ says Tijm and pulls Linde’s hand. I follow, drudgingly, with the buggy through the mud. Tijm and Linde run over the narrow sluice. The buggy won’t fit.
‘Mama,’ Tijm points at a wobbly bridge. ‘That is for you.’
Step by step I stagger over the boards. We have to, as we must find the waterfall. Tijm and Linde found it already. The water swishes over the stones, foaming, and roaring softly. Tijm climbs down, onto the stepping-stones.
Linde reaches out, ‘Mama, help.’
I help her over and look back, to the heavy buggy, and suddenly I do not know how to do this. Yet I do it. I step back, get Jasmijn and park her, behind a fence, as far away from the water as I can.
‘Tijm,’ I order, ‘watch your sister. Make sure she does not get near the water.’
As fast as I can I hop back, from stone to stone, looking back over my shoulder, to fetch the empty buggy. On the way back I look at my feet for just a moment, and when I look back up Linde and Jasmijn are in a tree. Jasmijn is nowhere.
My heart stops and I jump on land.
‘Where is Jasmijn?’ I scream, ‘you were watching her!’
‘There,’ Tijm points, calmly.
A bit further down I see Jasmijn’s back disappear into the park. Safely at the field we put up the tent, eat biscuits and pick flowers for our tea. Jasmijn keeps running away and on the way home Tijm falls in the rivers while scooping up frogspawn.
With wet wellies he screams the whole way home.
‘Mama,’ he yells.
‘Stop it,’ I grumble, ‘are you a tough explorer?’
‘But mama, there is a frog in my wellie.’
We poor it out, not once, not twice, but three times, until we are home and ready for bath.

On my facebook page you can find pictures of our exciting trip!

Mama tea

She needs to be dealt with, this shouting, stressed out mummy. I need to relax. Pondering behind my laptop I know what I need. A week at a spa, with yoga, massage and steamrooms. Me, enveloped in a chocolate-lavender wrap, listening to soothing muzak, nibbling on celery stalks and sushi. And daddy at home with the kids. That will add to my relaxation, revelling in the idea of him struggling, handling a toddler, a pre-schooler and a baby on his own. With two loads of laundry a day, three healthy meals, and a house where you can put one foot in front of the other without stumbling. I picture it, blissfully, until the bubble pops with a bang. He’ll laugh, say it will take the new and relaxed me five minutes at home to be her old angry self. And he is right, off course. I need a better plan. I think again, and if a personal masseuse won’t be an option either, what will? Pills, no. Homeopathy, I don’t know. Herbal concoctions, those I like. Herbs contain enough molecules to satisfy my scientific brain and enough magic to warm my heart. I sigh with relief. Finally, a plan. And how useful I named my children after herbs.

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Monday 5 March 2012

Growing up

I no longer have a baby. On wobbly legs she toddles, round and round.
Zigzagging she sways through rooms, to where big sister catches her in widespread arms.
They leave the the hall door open, and before I can blink, she is up the stairs. From the top step she waves down, cooing triumphantly.
Tijm and Linde trek up as well, rug sacks on, to play in their room. Jasmijn follows, quick as a dart. Tijm clicks the stair gate, safely shut behind her.
I want to get her, take her down, secure under my watchful eyes.
‘No,’ Tijm shouts. ‘You can’t come up.’
Three a row, they grin at me from behind the gate.
‘I just want to get Jasmijn,’ I try.
‘No,’ says Tijm. ‘Jasmijn has to stay here. She is our friend.’
Linde nods. ‘Our fliend.’
I go back down, my heart in my mouth. Upstairs I hear clattering, laughing, bumping. Only a few screams. When I go up to check, around the edge of the door, six eyes eye me indignantly. Defeated I retreat.

I no longer have a toddler boy. With his tongue between his lips, in utmost concentration, he writes. Tijm, he writes. And 4. Linde, papa, mama and Jasmijn. Tom is easy, that is just like Tijm. In mass production he draws trains, trees, monsters giraffes and people with heads, bodies and feet.
Then, he rushes to the laptop, ‘type, mama, can I type?’
His fingers dance over the keys. Opa, oma. Opi. Omi. Omama, Roos, Bas and Maas. Others are more difficult and mama spells it out. An F, an R and an E. Slowly Frederiek appears on the screen. Then the A, for Anneke.
Later he nestles in the corner of the sofa with the Ipad, hidden under a plaid. He plays Sonic, Agry Birds, until I catch him on You Tube, staring at blazing guns and bombs, and I hide it on top of the fridge. Were we living back home, in the Netherlands, he’d have started school. He is so ready, my big boy.

And then there is Linde. The most incredible 2 year old ever. With bold, big eyes she defies me, staring over her plate.
‘Don’t want it,’ she pushes it away.
Where Tijm, who is so handy, refuses to put on his shoes, she needs to do everything herself. Everywhere dolls sleep, under blankets, tea towels and dishcloths. Everywhere Linde goes the dolls go too. On the Ipad she plays doctor, cooking and colouring. With felt tips she draws circles and curls, on paper, her head and her hands. She draws the L, for Linde, which she loves so much she uses it everywhere, in warking and rovely. Mole kisses, she demands, in bed, until she decides no, mama, enough, now she will teep.
Linde knows what she wants. And when she looks at me, from under her spotted hat, with those steel-blue eyes, I know one thing will never change. She will always stay my wilful child.