Thursday, September 28, 2006

Home Alone...

I’m starting to suffer from insomnia-induced senility. Tobi left for Johannesburg on Tuesday morning, so I checked myself into a nearby spa for the morning, using Bianca (the 15-year-old from next door) as a babysitter. I thought, “Hey, if I go pamper myself for a few hours, I’ll feel so relaxed, and that will probably last me a few weeks!” Little did I know…

I got home shortly after lunch, and Lukas was in pretty good spirits, despite the fact that it was nap time AND he was hungry. He was actually over at the neighbors’, laughing and playing with Madeline (Bianca’s Mom) and her family. We got home, and the “security guard” was waiting (Tobi and I thought it would be a good idea while he was gone during the day – until Felix gets here this weekend). If I sound a bit skeptical about the security guard, that’s because I AM. He’s been provided with a two-way radio, so should anything happen, he will call for help (super – just in case I forget how to use the panic button of my alarm). Or maybe he could use the two-way radio to hit the burglar over the head. Anyway, it will have only cost us about $40 bucks to have him here for a day and a half, which is pretty cheap… and we think the company will reimburse us for that.

But the day got more interesting. The realtor brought her maid’s daughter by (Rijanah), who has worked in a day-care and offered to look after Lukas a few mornings a week. And the realtor also asked me for some paperwork, which I thought was in the trunk (or “boot”) of the car (according to Tobi). Well, I inspected the trunk, and found nothing of the sort. In the meantime, I decided that the neighbors’ Labrador retriever, Nikita, was not going to be happy until she returned home (we had planned on keeping her for the night). So I called Madeline, and gathered Nikita’s stuff up so she could head home.

And then it was just me and Lukas, in an otherwise empty house. I grabbed some dinner from the fridge, tried a desert that I had prepared in the afternoon (“warm chocolate cake served with custard and a cherry sauce”), and plopped down in front of the TV.Suddenly I wasn’t feeling very relaxed at all. My muscles ached and I had a splitting headache. We decided to make our way to bed with some reading material… which I never even got close to reading. Instead, I fell into a deep sleep, until the next feeding, and then again at around 2 AM, when Lukas began breathing very shallow. It sounded as though he had just had a nightmare, but when I picked him up he continued doing it, despite the fact that he appeared to be awake. I thought I might have to rush him to the emergency room (little did I know that I had locked the car key in the trunk earlier that evening). Fortunately, a bit of breast-feeding seemed to help him relax and forget about whatever nightmare had his little hyperventilating spell… but I stayed awake for a while afterwards, just to be sure that everything was ok.

After waking up, I spent a couple of hours getting ready for our big field trip. We were meeting some friends for a picnic, so I needed to get him dressed, feed him, eat breakfast, and then get his diapers, food, the Baby Björn, and the camera together. And then I began the following internal dialog:

“Ok.Everything’s ready, the baby’s in his car seat, and now I just need the car key. Where did I leave the key? When did I use it last? The baby’s crying. I guess I need to get him out of the car seat and carry him around the house while I turn everything upside-down looking for that damned key. Ok, Lukas is really tired, so he doesn’t seem content being carried around the house on this wild goose chase. And it just occurred to me that I’m really tired too. And frustrated. I think I want to cry. This is hopeless. [sit down] It must be in the trunk. Everything’s ready, Dioni’s waiting for us, and the key is locked in the trunk. This is too much for me. [Began to feel sorry for myself – Lukas was playing on the floor and wondering why I was making strange noises and squirting water from my eyes.] Ok, let me call Dioni. “Hi, Dioni, everything’s ready, but I seemed to have locked the key in the trunk. Yes, that’s right, in the trunk. Pick me up? Are you sure? Oh, that’s so nice of you. Thanks. Ok, see you soon.”

So Dioni picked us up and brought us to (our friend) Antoinette’s for tea. I’m so glad I went (rather than sitting at home feeling sorry for myself or trying - in vain - to catch up on sleep). As soon as we got there I forgot about my absentmindedness. We sat on the grass and had tea with Dioni, Antoinette, their friend Linda, and all the kids. South Africans are wonderful. They’re so unpretentious. They’re most comfortable bare-foot and if the house is a mess, it’s because the maid hasn’t been around for a few days… and who cares? We had the much-loved South African Rooibos tea with some home-made rusks (the South African version of Biscotti). And then it was off to the mountains (a beautiful area called Leeukloof) for a picnic. We set up camp right next to a stream, which was miles and miles down a gravel road. The water was ice cold, but the older kids had fun playing in it, and the babies loved having their feet dunked into it. Dioni grew up in that area, so she knows nearly everyone there, and pointed out lots of little farms and the native flora as we drove along. We talked about why the word “God” is always bleeped off of South African television – apparently, they take the Third Commandment (thank Gosh for Internet search engines) very seriously here. They were shocked to hear that much of the world has begun using this word as a common Exclamation. Later discussed how the word “titty” is not used interchangeably with “breast” in American English. These are interesting little linguistic differences that can lead to big cultural misunderstandings in conversations!

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