Right next door to the Costa del Sol is not where I expected to find a relatively quiet beach side town and an almost entirely foreigner free population, however on our recent Easter holiday to the coast of Almería in Andalusia I was surprised to find myself holidaying mostly, in fact almost exclusively, with Spanish families.
While Spain’s ubiquitous coastal developments do line much of the Almerian coast, smaller communities without high-rise or sprawling apartment developments can be found if you look carefully enough. In the small resort of Puerto Rey, where we stayed, stylish houses with white washed walls set behind bright right red bougainvilleas line the path to the beach. There are no rows of British and German bars.
The bright flowers and green lawns of the towns close to the beach contrast with the surrounding desert landscapes and in the background of this particular area the omnipresent Mojácar, a Moorish hilltop fortress, reminds the visitor of the long Arab occupation of the region, influences of which can be seen and enjoyed throughout Andalusia.
I guess I gathered that at some stage around the age of two years toddlers could get a bit difficult, given the existence of the ‘Terrible Twos’ phrase, but on the scant occasions I contemplated that there might be worse to come, I thought, “how much more difficult could it really be than the first 18 months?” Well. JAAAAYSUS Christ. Terrible was a diplomatic choice of adjective. My son is nudging two and, BAM, no sooner were we beginning to contemplate the impending loss of his free flying status than he goes from being a fairly frequent pain in the arse to being a constantly screaming, tantrum-throwing, shouty, crying bi-polar maniac.
Maybe what we’re experiencing is not The Terrible Twos but some ‘acting out’ (are we still using that phrase?) in response to the arrival of his new sister. It doesn’t really matter, it all falls nicely into the category of Terrible.
Last week when I was writing about mental women in waiting rooms talking to their children, I looked and looked for a post I remembered from a great blog but couldn’t find it anywhere. Tonight I did. And I have to post it. Because it is HILARIOUS. And if you don’t think it is funny-stroke-extraordinary, perhaps we need to rethink our friendship. So the following was stolen from the blog Jenn But Never Jenn….
I don’t dislike kids, but I can admit that I’m not really a child-drawn person. My friends’ kids are all cool, but the average baby or kid I pass on the street? I’m sure they’re lovely, but I’m not really interested. Just as I’m not going to run over to an adult I don’t know and start chatting with them, I’m not going to bend over and start making idiotic sing-songy noises at your kid. I don’t even particularly notice them, to be honest. It’s nothing personal.
Similarly, I’m not going to crap myself when a random child is in my presence at a restaurant, on an airplane, or hogging up valuable aisle space with his or her stroller. They have the right to be there just as I do. It’s not a big deal. I imagine a lot of people feel the same way.
I have one important question I keep coming back to this week – does having a new-born baby mean you automatically go mental?
The standard cliché suggests that all mothers go a bit doolally. Which could be true. Apart from me obviously. And readers of this blog. But personally I think it’s just those who are inherently loopy to start with – I mean, I am sure I have my mad moments as a parent – but I SWEAR for some people, the meeting of sperm and egg totally rouses their inner craziness until it bursts out loud and proud at about the same time as their placenta.
I sat in an antenatal clinic this week for an hour. When sizing up the waiting room prior to taking my seat (something I like to do at length from a secret vantage point, such is my fear of a stranger smiling at me, or god forbid, striking up a conversation), I decided against the slightly ferocious looking grey-haired 50 year old woman (I’m not sure what she was doing in an antenatal clinic either) and chose the very normal looking woman in her gym clothes with a McLaren buggy at her side.
We’re back! Refreshed and ready to go. Well, kind of still a bit sleep deprived and distracted, but less so and relatively speaking. I’m at the highest point of my game possible for the foreseeable future. I’m past the dreaded first three months of the second baby so I’m back on easy street – as easy as they get in the suburb of Two Kids (under two) on The Block. New baby is, by the way, completely objectively, very beautiful.
Kate on the other hand is about to pass through the choppy waters of another newborn. In case you missed it she and Captain Sensible have number three on the way. I haven’t told Kate yet but when a mother of three saw another mother of two cooing over my baby at the playground the other day, she warned ominously that a third was a whole other ball game. Two was difficult. Three was utter chaos. On the upside, after that, they say it can’t get any more difficult. Three, ten, all the same . We’ll see – Kate will be telling us all about it. In the meantime, I can report that for me two is on the one hand, not double the trouble, but not filled with many moments that permit you to gaze lovingly and tranquilly on the children that are your joyous good fortune to have.
NEWS JUST IN – JACQUI FINALLY POPS! GORGEOUS BABY GIRL BORN ON CHRISTMAS EVE.
I’ve seen the pictures – she’s Jacqui with massive cheeks. Divine. I’m afraid the epidural plan didn’t go quite to plan but no doubt she’ll be able to get some good gags out of it when she’s repressed the memories… From all of us at ODYTM (that would be me), lots of love and congrats to Jac and the Spaniard. x
And here is something she prepared the day before….
If you are reading this I am in hospital or looking after a newborn child. Oooh, that felt JUST like a line from a Murder, She Wrote. If I wasn’t feeling so completely haggard (and I say that writing this BEFORE labour) I’d do a video blog so that it could be just like one of those episodes where the family are sitting around watching a video that starts “if you are watching this I have been murdered”. Obviously with somewhat less drama. While labour may feel like murder it isn’t quite, especially if the epidural administration goes according to plan this time. But alas I am not prepared to let anyone see the fantastical proportions that (what I hope) is water retention has added to my face. If it’s not water retention, the cookie eating regime has quite suddenly decided to make itself noticed. Either way it’s not good. So no video. Also, I’m not sure, because I’ve never really tested it, but I think perhaps I can’t act. So I probably couldn’t pull off the appropriate level of mock seriousness for the “If you are watching this..” video.
I saw this great post the other day on a website. It was all about the traditions this mother is starting with her family. Some of them were a bit ummm full on (compulsory family hikes are not really going to cut it in our family) but some of them got me thinking about what we’re doing in our house. I’ve covered some of these in earlier posts but for those of you who don’t immediately memorise and take notes (what is WRONG with you people? Don’t you know this stuff is gold?), here are some ideas we are planning on taking up in our little family. (OK, not so little our family as we currently stand at four and are soon to be five but DON’T REMIND ME, I HAVE THE FEAR.)
- Sunday family roasts – as per last week’s post, I am loving this new tradition. Granted, following the first week’s massive success, we can only go backwards from there (witness tonight’s event where daughter refused to eat anything but individual peas. One at a time. Very slowly. Until you wanted to throw each and every pea at the wall), but I am still loving it. Perhaps in warmer times it will become Sunday barbeque night. I love any excuse to break out the tomato sauce.
Things that child does to entertain himself when he has bronchitis and it’s 5 degrees outside, making you both completely housebound:
Empty all the cupboards parents have deemed “safe” and therefore are in toddlers’ reach: Tupperware, pots (child will bang lid on floor once extracted from drawer or cupboard), sieve, grater (parent forced to cross room in single leap in frantic realisation that grater shouldn’t be in reach), blender (good grief, blade is in there – parent will again run across room again and ply from child’s iron clad grasp), Tupperware (take each smaller size from larger size containers in which they have been carefully stacked), kitchen paper (removed from child only after has rolled half out over floor), plastic kitchen wrap (removed from child’s grasp as they run tongue along serrated box edge), all recycling to be strewn across the floor of the entire house, coke cans stored behind the door clearly should not be kept on the floor so load in to front-loading washing machine (follow by closing machine door and pressing buttons).
Empty all books from Bookshelves
There are a lot of goodbyes when you’re an expat. When you’re a young thing backpacking and travelling, it seems there is always
someone new arriving in town – ready to replace the last ones out. But as I drift towards my mid-30s (until I reach 38 I am in my MID THIRTIES so bugger off the lot of you), circles seem to shrink and getting replacements becomes trickier.
We said goodbye last week to two of the core members of our gang. I’m feeling very melancholy about it. I know their time was up. They arrived in this wonderful city single (ish) and fancy free 12 years ago and left married, with two children, home owners and undoubtedly with a dog in their future. (I predict a golden retriever and another child, but no-one has ever accused me of being Nostradamus so don’t hold me to it.) The leaving was painful – selfishly, I think those of left behind in the minus three degree slush are feeling it more than those of us headed to a couple of months off to play beach cricket. Slackers.