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An old country interlude

Helena and I are in Belgrade (Matei joining us later on today) where we have been frolicking in the heat and having a wonderful time despite watching Djokovic painful loss at Wimbledon yesterday. Helena incidentally only proved what astar she was by entertaining herself while adults were glued to tennis, and then going around patting us on the head and saying “Don’t worry, everything is going to be all right”.truly spoken child, truly spoken

My mother’s dog has had six puppies (now a month old) and Helena has been bowled over by this in-house petting zoo. The puppies are submitting to her non-stop love with good grace and appear to have no objection to getting carried around all over the place, having their mouths wiped with paper towels after meal times, or being treated to many rousing rounds of wheels on the bus and hop little bunnies hop hop hop.

I always find it hard to talk about the sheer joy, the heart-bursting delight of my daughter because I fear it reads as a critique of my son. My children are both wonderful in very different ways and I am equally proud of both. Matei might be a challenging kid but he is my challenging kid, and although being on the receiving end of that termendous will and brain is a great trial to me when I am tired it is also what I adore about him. I should also probably start paying him for providing me with so many years of rigorous training in the practices of Family Therapy, Advance Negotiation and Non-Violent Resistance.

Helena on the other hand has provided me with almost non-stop training in playfulness and joy. Her self-contained, self-generating sunniness begetsbwolescale adoration from people around her. She makes people happy and relaxed and her tantrums (though impressive in volume and dramatic execution) are few and far between.

I always dreamed of having a daughter, but I never would havebdared dream I eould have one as naturally delightful as her.


10 years and counting

10 years ago : I was living in Liverpool, struggling with my MSc and with my flatmates habit of having raucous parties weekly and loudly singing melancholic Greek songs (daily). I was deeply deeply depressed walking a precipice so steep that it's only by the grace of God that I managed to keep putting one foot in front of the other. And while it was a depressing year, filled with aimlessness and joblessness and confusion and me not being able to see a way forward at all, a mere year later brought the beginnings of all the good things that have crept up and bloomed in my life since then.

5 years ago : I was still incredibly stressed and pained looking after Matei, but after several months of staying with my mother had entered a "swimming not drowning" stage of new parenthood. Though I still felt quite traumatised by looking after my son and inadequate as a mother, things were slowly starting to look up and I could see glimmers of hope on the horizon.

3 years ago: I was hugely pregnant, incredibly hot and almost completely housebound due to crippling ligament woes. I was preparing for my final exam of the Family Therapy course despite the fact that the institution which had been educating me had gone into bankruptcy several months previously.

1 year ago: I was a few intense months in to my first NHS job, and thrilled to be there despite the daily 3 hour commute. I was feeling some apprehension about managing the Conduct Disorder cases coming my way, not realising how deeply attached I would grow to them and how well many of them would do.

1 week ago: I was handing in my notice at NHS job and accepting an offer of employment at FutureJob, feeling the same mixture of thrill and anticipation as I have before every job. I was also beginning to say goodbye to my clients and make plans to either discharge or transfer to the care of others which has been somewhat emotional. In some ways it is a relief (no more CAFs and TACs and sodding paperwork!) and in others a profound loss (saying goodbye to all the lovely families and colleagues I worked with; feeling like I am reading a gripping book I have to set down in the middle of the story and never get to know the end of).

yesterday has felt odd and strangely jarring, like having my mind sandpapered and my normally respectable fuse melt to nothing which had me escalate into episodes of profound and completely irrational rage over relatively minor inconveniences and offences by the children. A sense of being crammed into my skin like a tiger into a cage and feeling peculiarly oppressed by nature (pollen; skewering pains in my stomach and foot) and the irrepressible nature of my offspring and then finding myself back within profound happiness at the weight and warmth of their small bodies, at their ideas and conversation. Feeling a joy that's bright and visceral and fierce as comets in the dark; understanding that I was not built to feel things mildly and that whatever has been we have survived, and that tomorrow always brings another chance.
Z: "I would really like a Samurai Sword. They look cool and also in case of the Zombie Apocalypse."


Z: "You know, ever since we have been watching Hannibal I have really been feeling inspired to cook."


It is 2am. I'm sitting up in bed reading and weeping so hard that it startles Z into consciousness.

Z: What's wrong? Why are you crying?

Me: Because this book rips my heart to pieces.

Z: You are a lunatic.

Me: Well I challenge you to read about kids with cancer and not cry.

Z: I challenge you not to read about kids with cancer at 2am.

But I still would. Because the book is funny and wrenching and amazing, and manages to do it all without cliche or self pity.

It is an interesting book to read as a teenager, and a devastating book to read as a parent. However, Green's portrayal of the parent characters is also one of the things I liked best in the story and I admire Green's ability to create characters that are both highly memorable and ordinary.

I loved the story so much that I literally couldn't put it down until I stopped and as soon as I finished I wanted to read it again from the beginning.

Highly recommended.
In an uncharacteristic bout of trend-setting I managed to do in the ligaments of my left-leg just before the snows and have since been fighting for priority seats on public transport with a seasonal drove of other crippled ones. This only reinforces my earlier suspicions that I am not made for running and that no good comes of it.

Now that the running question is settled I continue to learn the distinction between determination and stupidity in other areas of my life, as a combination of my Socialist work-ethic and my employer's disinclination to give me sick pay mean that I am daily continuing to wheeze, hobble and cough to South London and back to the despair of my immune system and the horror and pity of my colleagues. On the other hand, thanks to all that crutching around is doing wonders for my upper body strength. I may get those taut biceps yet!

Like a Communist-block car my body is equal parts thing of wonder and shoddy workmanship. It runs perpetually on a quarter tank of gas, and makes alarming noises while flashing random warning lights, but it runs despite all the odds and keeps on running. At last count my most recent wretchednesses include: orthostatic hypotension, asthma, arthritis, cystitis, sinus, throat and chest infections, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and rip of the anteriror left ankle ligaments. Or, in the words of my loving spouse (who is not merely content with calling me Tiny Tim): "Wow, an ENT wouldn't even start addressing all your ills; they should invent a new medical specialty just for people like you".On the other hand since I have got significantly more mileage out of the "in sickness and in health" aspect of our marriage over the last 7 years I may have the last laugh yet.

When not absconding with my crutches (or MIIIIINE crutches as my daughter calls them with a possessive gleam in her eye), the children have been attempting to be helpful. Helena likes to pat me on the head and go: "Okay, Mommy?" while Matei prefers to follow me around with his new favourite book** in an effort to better understand my broken self. He has also presented me with a thoughtful drawing of what he believes is happening inside my asthmatic lungs***, as well as this get-well card which depicts myself, a caterpillar and a rainbow (and not as I first thought the anatomically correct drawing of a lady's special area).


*I am seriously considering inventing a better story. Something about derring-do and tigers and bears and fire.

** The book singlehandedly responsible for Matei's newfound passion for biology and the twitch I have started to develop when asked to read about the circulatory system for as many times a day as he can bully me into it.

*** He presented it to me with a flourish, and the words: "I have been thinking about you." I thought the vivid green in which he had rendered the mucus was an especially nice touch.

The Pictoral Book of Grievances

In the absence of being able to write* Matei has been turning to drawing in order to document the violations of order and propriety he witnesses on a daily basis (mostly ones done by his sister). He has taken to this project with the commitment and dedication of a Stasi and usually collates the evidence and presents it to me on a daily basis.

So here are some extracts from his Burn Book:

Helena stealing Matei's Spiderman toy

Here the young artist has pictured the theft of his Spiderman toy by his own sister. I believe her extra-long legs convey something of the speed of this act through her extra-long legs, and fiendish intent through her gloating smile.

Helena jumping on the beanbag

Here Helena has been caught repeatedly causing havoc and disorder by jumping on the beanbag. I like how the artist has depicted action.

Helena trying to pick up the cat

Here the young artist has shown his sister attempting to pick up the cat. The cat's fatness is evident, as is his sister's complex manual manoevering.

Helena picking flowers

And here the young ruffian is caught picking the petals from flowers. Her debonair smile testifies to her lack of remorse.

Overall a bleak and damning portrait of character I am sure you will agree.

*Aside from wishing his teachers a "Meri Krismas"


greetings fiends!
i have a thrilling new phone and tbe possibilkty of social connectivity if i manage to overcome the multiple choice russian that is the lj app

Опубликовано с помощью приложения LiveJournal для WP7

Applied mathematics

Today my mum accompanied Matei while she fruitlessly attempted to get her prescription filled, and returned home very impressed by the new vocabulary he had heard.

"We met so many wankers today!" he informed us brightly. "First we met two, and then we went to another shop and met another one!"
"How many wankers was that in total?"
"Well done."
Well, it turns out that despite my best intentions working 45+ hour weeks continues to be the death of my internet habit.

On the other hand, fainting for the third time in as many weeks and spending the afternoon in St. Mary's and essentially getting told by your work to spend the next day at home because you are less of a liability to them that way, breathes new life into my relationship with social media.

In other news, no one really knows why I keep losing my ability to maintain verticality - best guess being that my blood pressure drops when I am standing and there isn't a plan in place for how to manage this other than drinking water and eating salt and using my assertive voice when hustling for seats on the train. I wish there was an easier fix, something that can be pointed at and corrected because while having me hit the ground like a sack of grain livened up Colleague Pete's afternoon, it would traumatise my children.

I have already offered Z the option of dissolving our union on the grounds of spousal defectiveness, but so far he is refusing to take me up on it.

In the meantime as I contemplate a future of holding up transport, frightening pedestrians and lying still until my head stops spinning I am considering investing in some discreet portable cushions, smelling salts and perhaps some helpful signage:

Perhaps cross-stitched on a scarf.

the happy hour

When Z and I remember the antics of Bedtimes Past (featuring one Matei who did not begin sleeping on his own in his own bed until the age of 4) we look at each other in the disbelieving way of two people who have come through a wartime and shake our heads as we reminsce over anecdotes.

"Do you remember when it would take Matei an hour to fall asleep on a good night and one of us would always have to keep him company?"
"Do you remember how he would get up every 1.5-2 hours and then demand we keep him company again?"
"Do you remember how it took us three days to watch a single movie what with his bedtime and the interruptions?"

Crazy times.

Nowadays life is pretty good, almost easy in fact. I've decided that although there is much to enjoy about the pure animalistic appeal of babies (hazy memories of little bodies that hunt you like heat-seeking missiles; that cling like adorable monkeys) I am much fonder of the walking, talking set. Helena has so far been a spectacularly compliant two-year old, and the nearly five-year old Matei (the fool! mwahahahaha!) has abandoned what was surely his best negotiating strategy (screaming hysterically) in favour of reason and negotiation.

Nowadays I kiss them both good night, and then exit the room at 9pm. What they do between that time and when they fall asleep is up to them (usually I hear laughter and chatter, and then Helena calling out 'Matei? Matei? Maaaaaaateeeeei' while he conks out). He still gets up most nights for a cuddle, but then silently goes back to his bed on his own when prodded to do so despite ingenious cuddle-lengthening tactics ("Mummy, I've realised that I've just beed cuddling with daddy so I think I should snuggle with you too just to show you how much I love you.")

Leaving two awake children in one room is a predictable recipe for mayhem - last night I had to confiscate their shared joy, the toy microwave after I could hear it pinging at 10pm and each morning the place looks like they invited the Rolling Stones for a party- but I am prepared to ignore much in favour of children whose slide into sleep does not require hands-on invigilating. My girl thinks duvets are instruments of repression and my boy has a charming tendency to pile about 20 books on his bed and sleep contorted around them, half of his body hanging in the air - but overall I have evenings again. Evenings which I can theoretically devote to charming leisure pursuits, and not just to conking out while watching Fringe as I have been doing.


deep sky, firefly

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