Regan's blog

Slapped

On the way home our friendly neighbourhood handyman slapped me on the back. Why? Because he was so thrilled with Obama's election. Clearly he was impressed by my part in it.

The reaction on this side of the pond has been overwhelming. Overwhelmingly one-sided. One American mom was greeted with spontaneous applause and cheers of "Obama!" Americans are greeting each other with "Didn't we do well?", not even knowing the other's political persuasion.

It's amazing.

And, yes, we are so pleased!

1,000 a Day - and Not One More!

It is commonly understood in our family that I am the outgoing social one and Andrew is the grumpy misantrhope. While I regularly subscribe to this view, I have a conflicting theory. My theory is in two parts: 1. My husband is friendly, social and very funny. 2. We each have 1,000 decent human interactions in us per day.

The thing is, until very recently, I never reached my daily quota of friendly interactions. Maybe on the way up to school I'd pass a few neighbours and some familiar commuter faces. Smile, smile, wave, wave. Then at school I'd get to meet up with friends and we'd catch up quickly on our evenings and anything else that might be brewing. A mention of brewing would then stir our souls in the direction of a coffee shop, where we'd encounter a few more familiar and friendly faces. Then Buffy and I would go home, usually passing no one along the way. Repeat for the afternoon and by evening, I was at 200 interactions, tops. The bulk of them with friends.

Andrew's commute gives him a far different perspective on the world. By the time he squeezes onto his train at 8:30, he has had 200 interactions with, at best, indifferent strangers. A further mile's walk to work and he's at 400 before he's reached the safety of his desk. Out for lunch? 200 more. He's tapped out his 1,000 before he gets the evening train. I get back a curmudgeonly ghost of the sunny husband I know I have.

So, when invitations come up to go back into town for the evening, while I am excited, Andrew is more like a snapping turtle that has been relentlessly teased by a gang of pre-teen boys. Not exactly keen to come out.

Please keep all of this in mind as I tell you about our Saturday.

Yesterday was the Lord Mayor's Show. The Lord Mayor of London is not the Mayor of London. Lord Mayor is largely a figurehead role, complete with gilt carriage and lacy bib. Shortly afterwards we headed to for a banquet and tour. Katie was particularly charmed by all the "royal-looking chairs". She asked to have her photo taken in each of them, with her best royal expression on her face. Buffy, predictably, just ran around like a loony.

Ah, but the day wasn't over yet! We walked to St Paul's for an organ recital, taking in the second run of the procession along the way. The rain had lifted and crowds dispersed, so we were able to see much more. It was all a bit much for Buffy, who fell asleep along the way. Fearing an organ recital might disturb her rest, I continued on to Tate Modern, leaving Katie and Andrew to enjoy the music (including percussion by someone Andrew knew at university).

Buffy slept all the way across the Millennium Bridge, through the new exhibition in Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, and most of the walk along the Thames to the Royal Festival Hall. She woke up just in time for us to order some scrummy takeaway from Giraffe and haul it upstairs to the balcony from which we were perfectly situated to watch the fireworks. Except the stupid Thames is an old river that likes to wend its way around London, and the fireworks were just on the other side of the bend. We left the building and watched the fireworks as we headed towards the train station.

It was a HUGE day, and there were absolutely zillions of interactions to be had. The absolutely best, most amazing bit? Andrew planned the WHOLE THING! It was entirely his idea and his schedule. And it he did it all for the girls.

Definitely Daddy of the Year!

Put Your Best Foot Forward

I just came into the living room where I thought Katie was watching a DVD. She had it paused and was hopping. I said my usual, "If you're not gonna watch that, may I turn it off?"

Unusually, she didn't rush back to the sofa, but kept hopping. She said something like, "I just have to see..."

I asked what she meant, but she just kept hopping. I asked again and she collapsed on the sofa and complained, "I just lost track!" So, I asked again what on earth she was doing.

Katie explained, "On there [the DVD] they said, 'put your best foot forward', but I didn't know what that meant. So I'm counting to see which foot is better, so I can know which is my best foot!"

Atta girl!

Sunshine, Lollipops and Roses

My mom just sent me this:

I don't care if you lick windows,
take the special bus
or occasionally pee on yourself..
You hang in there sunshine, you're friggin' special
Every sixty seconds you spend angry, upset or mad, is a full minute of happiness
you'll never get back.

How bitterly appropriate to our day with Buffy. It was a wonderful day, full of family, good food and laughter. And then there was the ride home. I should say here, it was not my ride home, because Katie and I dashed off to another party. It was Andrew and my mother's ride home with Buffy. During the ride Andrew found himself telling Buffy to stop licking the train. It would be frustrating enough to have to tell your three-year-old to stop licking something so obviously disgusting. It would also be frustrating enough had we told her repeatedly not to lick disgusting things. Imagine our frustration in having told her on at least four separate occassions, specificially to STOP LICKING THE TRAIN!

Oh, and she peed on herself today when we got home. The way she recounted it to Gramma was, "I came home and I changed all of my clothes then I decided to pee in the corner and then Daddy got cross and I had to have a bath."

Yeah, pretty frigging special!

Pondering the Nature of Friendship

It's been several weeks since my birthday. It was, in the words of one friend, the birthday that kept giving. I celebrated the day with my wonderful family, had cake with the ILs at the weekend, lunch out with Jean, had dinner at a anotehr friend's house the following week, and finally went to the London Fashion Weekend event with a group of friends. My birthday gave and gave and gave until it could give no more!

The actual day of my birthday was rotten. I got into a tangle with a teacher at school for dropping Buffy off too early. I understand, she can't be expected to look after thirty children on her own. It's not even legal. I promised to stay whenever I could, but for right then, I had to dash off. I caught my train in the nick of time. Except I didn't. I caught the train before my train. The fast train that doesn't stop at New Cross. It doesn't even stop at Lewisham. I had to stay on that blooming train all the way to London Bridge where I had to run across the platforms to head back out of London.

By the time I hobbled into the lecture theatre, it was teeming with students and the lecturer stopped to let me sit down. The lesson progressed as normal (a very interesting lesson about learning Luxembourgish), but finished with a lengthy and tetchy speech on lateness and rudeness. Dangit!

So, my birthday itself did not start out well. Ah, but the truth of my birthday is in the length. I celebrated in so many ways with so many people, it was a bit overwhelming. At lunch after the Fashion Weekend it hit me: I have never had so many friends as I do right now. My heart felt so full it could burst - of course it could have also been the four courses of Chinese food sitting in my stomach. I prefer to think I was feeling the love.

It stands to reason that, following the Girl Scouts' sage advice, if you keep your old friends and make new ones, every year should mean more friends than the one before. Makes sense, but it still feels great. I started my course feeling like my address book was closed, no more spaces. I met a few people I found interesting and thought I'd skip the rest. Then the people I'd initially found interesting turned out to be pretty bland, all thesaurus and no solid prose. And, wouldn'tcha know it, the others have turned out pretty great. Ones I'd written off as too young or too different are becoming fast friends.

Two groups are forming in our seminar group, and it feels pretty divisive. I hope I am old enough not to get sucked into it, but I am seeing some hurt feelings particularly on behalf of the younger ones. I know so well how that feels. It sucks. I don't know how to fix it, except to get older, change priorities and get some new friends. Seriously, the friends thing rocks. I'd recommend them to anyone!

Rather obviously, I am keenly interested in how my girls' friendships develop. This weekend Katie played with a neighbourhood boy for hours and had an absolute ball. Despite keeping primarily to her own crowd of friends, she is expanding her circle. These girls have been together for three years now, so I was afraid the friendship groups were fixed. They're not. Katie has known one girl since Nursery, and has only just now started playing with her.

It's lovely to reflect on Katie's Nursery friendships and how they have grown while watching Buffy form her first friendships without me. She is taking a very different route to Katie's. Katie has had a few firm friends for years. Buffy has at least two new best friends every day. Some names seem to pop up more than others, but I like the variety. I know Buffy needs that. Katie's way can be both more rewarding and more disasterous. Those intense, tight, in-love friendships can explode and leave decades of hurt in their wake.

My only advice to that is to hang in there, keep the faith, and remember what you loved about that person. Because someday you may find yourself idly joining Facebook and finding your friends again. It's a great big giant circle, that can take ages to go around, but it is a full circle. Most of all, keep your heart open to new friends. You really never can have too many.

Pushy Parents

We are not pushy parents. Really, we're not. Sure, Katie has gymnastics, German, dance and piano during the week, but that's just because she wants to do those activities. They're all in school, and except for piano, all take place outside of class time. So, we're not pushy parents.

Okay, okay, so we like to visit her classroom and get to know her teachers. Only one of her former teachers is in my phone, though. See? Not pushy at all.

And does it really matter that we're a month into school and we've already met with her teacher AND the headmistress? Of course not! Just displaying a normal, healthy interest in the progress of our child.

Whether our interests are healthy or normal or not is frankly beside the point. We are entitled to be interested in our child's progress at school. If she says she's bored, we have to look into it. I don't think anyone should take the opportunity to portray us as pushy parents. Because we're not. Not really.

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