My mother recently informed our neighbour that I'm an alcoholic. We were walking home after a particularly enjoyable dinner at which I had imbibed the dangerously excessive amount of two glasses of red wine, and a small port. The port was a freebie from the Portuguese restaurant manager, and who was I to say no to port? Or a freebie for that matter? I mean, we are in a recession here no?
Anyway, so my mother and I are walking back from dinner. And by that single sentence you will know that we were not in South Africa at the time. No anecdote, set in South Africa in this decade, would start that way unless one were setting the scene for a crime story. But I digress. It was here in London and we were on my street. It was around 11.30pm and it was freezing cold. So cold that there was actual ice on the pavements. So I was holding onto my mother and slipping and sliding thanks to the ice. And we run into our neighbour who is walking his exceptionally small dog. This, despite the port, I found suspicious because they have a garden as big as a football field, and this dog, being the size that it is, could get sufficient exercise on a hamster wheel, but there you go. So my mother sees him and we greet each other and she thinks it's funny to yell out, 'Hello there, I'm just coming home with my daughter the alcoholic here!'
Anyone that drinks more than a glass of wine is an alcoholic in my mother's eyes. I probably don't need to say that she doesn't drink, at all. Another fact about my mother is that she thinks that everyone sees the world the same way that she does, and therefore finds the same things funny. This can be problematic, especially as she is fond of delivering these particular kinds of 'jokes' with a straight face. And the fact that they are often not particularly funny, well, not on the surface anyway. So here's my neighbour looking at me with a new found sense of caution in his eyes, and my mother is laughing her head off. I, as it happens, am a bit tipsy thanks to that free port on top of the two glasses of wine, and I'm laughing too and trying not to slip on the ice, and yelling back, 'No no, I'm not an alcoholic, really I'm not.' And in the middle of all of this, he takes the opportunity to slip into his house with his absurdly small dog.
Me: Mom! You can't be telling the neighbours that I'm an alcoholic. (This is especially true of this guy as he indirectly employs my husband. Oh, and even more importantly, he regularly sees me with a small child in my care.)
Mom: Don't be silly. He knew I was only joking!
Yes, of course he did. Having never met her before in his life, and seeing me slipping and sliding like that, and both of us laughing our heads off like maniacs. My mother doesn't need a drink to come across as drunk at times. She's naturally gregarious, full of energy and fun and, to be frank, is a bit nuts. But then aren't we all?
I am convinced our neighbour and said small dog is now avoiding me. Thank you mother.
I bought a pair of shoes yesterday for 17 pounds, reduced from 60. That's what a recession combined with the pre-January sales does. As in, things get sold for their actual worth. Brent Cross was absolute Bedlam today, and I did wonder: What recession? But with shops selling things reduced by 50 and even 70 percent, nice shops that is, I can understand why people want to stock up while the going is good. Hell, I wanted to stock up too, but I was under the watchful eye of Roberto who's patience is extremely limited when it comes to shoe and handbag shops that are filled with sale-crazed women. I know, downer huh?
Julia has started feeding herself. Not just holding the spoon and putting it in her mouth, but the whole scooping up of stuff and putting it into her mouth. Today, for the very first time, we went to a restaurant for lunch, ordered her something off of the kiddies menu, and she sat at the table with us and we all ate together. I don't know much about children, but this strikes me as rather grand for a one-year-old. Since we've been encouraging this new-sense of culinary independence, she's gone from a little kid that turns her head and resolutely refuses the spoon you are offering her regardless of what's on it, to hungrily enjoying her food. Evidently she craves a sense of autonomy, something which increasingly appears to be the case.
I'm sounding all-knowing here, but it was actually reading a passage in Gina Ford's 'The contented toddler years' that tipped us off that Julia's refusal to eat may have something to do with her wanting to do it herself.
I love Gina Ford. She has saved my arse three times. The first was in the form of an amazing Gina-Ford versed maternity nurse called Elizabeth who taught us how to care for this tiny, strange, lovely, disruptive person who came into our lives. The second time was when I randomly read a passage in Ford's baby book about what to do when your baby is choking, and later found myself in a frightening situation where I actually needed this information. And thirdly, this whole thing about why your 12-month-old may not want to eat and why every meal becomes this massive battle of wills. Seriously, meal times have gone from something I absolutely dreaded to moments that fill me with pride and joy watching my daughter feeding herself with relish.
Gina has got a lot of stick, mostly from people who have never read her books. Funny that? We went online to buy one and there was this review by a person calling herself a child health worker and she was going on about how wrong GF was about this, that, and the other. It had potential to be a convincing argument until she admitted that she hadn't even read anything Ford had written. The fact is, even if you don't buy into the whole routine method, this woman has been working with babies and small children long enough that she has learnt a thing or two. And pretty much everything she has suggested or recommended has turned out to be the case with Julia.
Anyway, it's almost New Year's and I'm already thinking of a few resolutions. One of them is to be better at responding to emails in a timely fashion. The other is to convince our neighbour that I am not alcoholic. Evidently I have my work cut out for myself.