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Travelling to the Old Country with an 18 month old was traumatic in many ways that travelling with a 9 month old wasn't. Certainly as an infant he had a shorter attention span and was more difficult to contain and entertain, but he was also happy to be taken whenever, however, like a more or less sentient piece of hand luggage.

But last week was a Tale of Terror, starting with checking in the baggage (he watched the bags being loaded, tagged with a sticker and sent off to the Dark Unknown) which was all fine until he saw the attendant put stickers on his buggy and burst into immediate tears of terror that he was also going to be sent off to the Dark Unknown. Then he failed to understand why Daddy was not coming with us (cue more crying and pitiful holding out of arms and long mournful wailing of Daaa....Daaaaaa). The biggest insult of all was security, where the entire procedure (from having his shoes removed and being removed from the buggy) caused him to shriek with indignation and anxiety, which only increased when he and I were frisked. While he considered being felt up by a perfect stranger merely hateful, being separated from me and held by strangers while I was touched by strangers was not something he was prepared to tolerate and defended me with desperate body flipping and his most piercing screams.

I had expected to do a lot of running after him on the plane, but actually he was so traumatised by the entire experience of getting there that he clung to me with all the power in his body and all the determination of a Capricorn and (so long as I did not attempt to do anything outrageous like shift position) he was impeccably behaved.

In the 5 days since he has adapted to the Old Country and stopped being terrified of everyone and everything (the dog! the people! the elevator!) and has for the most part un-grafted himself from my person. Nonetheless there are still many things that worry him and if he loses sight of me or his grandmother he becomes very upset - as though only his vigilance is holding the family in place and without constant monitoring we might all dissappear.

You can imagine how good this makes me feel since I am effectively dissapearing tomorrow for a month and a half (although I'm confident he'll settle down within a day since he is left with beloved and familiar carers).I don't want to think about walking out of the house tomorrow, so mostly I don't (and what better time to indulge a pent-up crying jag than a plane journey?)

The novelty of toddler worship still hasn't worn off. Mostly he shows this in two ways:
1)Singling me out for attention and special tasks
2)Trying to defend me from perceived dangers and slights.

The three most common manifestations of 1 are

a)having him want to involve me in whatever he is doing, usually by coming and tugging at my arm while chanting (Za! Za! - from zajedno meaning together in our language) and then either assigning me special tasks (cleaning spiderwebs from the top of the shed) or going for a stroll around the house or showing me points of interest (some spilled water, a ladybird, an ant).

b)selecting me as the recepient of gifts (usually stray pens, socks, his books and toys) or asking whether he can draw on me with his pens (this is my favourite as it involves so much studious scribbling and standing back to admire his handiwork).

c) demanding my company during important moments (he will only agree to have a bath if I have one with him. I'm only allowed to wash his belly if he pours water on my head).

2. Defending me from insults is a noble gesture and a full-time job, since the world contains so many things that Matei considers objectionable and dangerous, particularly: bedcovers, toothbrushes and unaccompanied stays in the bathroom.

A solo bathroom visit invariably ends with a toddler weeping brokenly in front of the door: Maaaaaa.... maaaaaaaa. Any visitor who expresses a desire to bathe is met usually by a furious toddler who informs him that the bath is No! Maaa maa's! and the terrifying sight of me brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush has made him burst into tears and run to all available peopče in hysterics sobbing about Maaaa! In Peril! Help! Anyone attempting to take anything of mine is met with a particular firewall of fury and loud shrieks of No! Maaamaaa's! and currently no one is allowed to drink, eat, smoke, phone or watch television without Matei in some way trying to secure my share (usually by stealing the object in question and bringing it to me).

I'm enjoying him so much now, and the thought of leaving him tomorrow and being apart from him for the next three months feels like a loss so vivid it might as well be a hole in space.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 30th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
I think I'm missing something--where are you going?

And Matei sounds so cute. Cute/annoying, maybe, but overall cute.
Jun. 30th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
I'm going back to England. He's staying in Yugoslavia and going to the seaside with his grandparents and assorted fans for the next three months. I took him to Belgrade to help him settle, but my time is up and I need to go back to work. :((((
Jun. 30th, 2009 07:32 pm (UTC)
And Matei sounds so cute. Cute/annoying, maybe, but overall cute.
Haha! Yes, I agree with this comment.

It sounds like your relationship is really becoming something very wonderful now, great to hear after the difficult times you've had.
Jul. 1st, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
Poor you - I still remember being sedated by airport officials (in good old soviet times) for causing scenes as 3 years old...
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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