Friday, November 15, 2013

Pure Imagination

Forbidden from leaping tall buildings, Superboy contents himself with watching over his little city.

From about ages two to four, most little girls live in their Disney princess costumes. I've seen it countless times over the past two decades, beginning with my now 18 year old niece. She even had Disney names for all of the members of my family. She was Cinderella, my mum was Fairy Godmother, my dad Prince Charming, her mum was Snow White, my other sister was Sleeping Beauty, and I, possibly because I always had a book in my hands, was Belle.

My other nieces, goddaughters and Little A's classmates all went through the same phase. Boys, though, not so much. Yes, there was the occasional classmate who came to school in Spiderman pajamas, but this was an exception rather than the norm.

Little A was never one for costumes. Lately though, he has been insisting on wearing swim trunks around the house and sometimes to bed. Perhaps because they are comfortable, perhaps because he knows he can jump into the pool at any time, or perhaps this is simply his version of perpetually wearing a Princess costume.

Since he refuses to wear a shirt with his swim trunks (and I can see the logic, because one does not swim in a t-shirt, after all), we've convinced him to wear his swim towels, which are designed like ponchos. He agrees to this, as they do go together.

Now if only I could get him to wear "real" costumes as easily.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

London Life

For 20 years, my parents co-owned a flat just off Sloane Square in London. As a boarding school student, I would spend half term breaks here, and when I was at university, my sister, best friend and I spent alternate summers using the flat as home base and visiting different cities in Western Europe.

It was very sad news when my parents decided to sell their share to my British foster father, but good to know it is still "in the family," so to speak, and may be available for use if a visit coincides with there being no tenant in residence.

Since then, my parents have been staying in the area still on their UK visits, since Sloane Square is very much our home on that side of the world. This trip, I walked by the old flat nostalgically and was glad to see that, like the rest of London over the past 12 years, much had remained the same, although there were very obvious things that had changed.

I mourned the absence of post offices and high street bookshops, which appeared to have been replaced by ubiquitous Patisserie Valeries. Even the book department at Selfridges, once a little piece of heaven on earth for me, was shrunken and modernised and now utterly bereft of charm. The Puffin bookshop at Covent Garden had gone altogther, though its neighbours remained the same.

For the first time in my memory, there were empty shopfronts in central London commercial areas, and very few supermarkets left on the high street, but Marks & Spencer food shops now appeared adjacent to nearly every large Tube station.

The best change was that the former military barracks on the King's Road, which we would walk past daily, had become a set of shops, cafes, and home to the Saatchi Gallery. It was at a lovely restaurant next to this gallery that I caught up with friends I had not seen in 21 years.

At home, Big A came down with the flu midway through the week, but Little A managed wonderfully in my absence, since my dad took him out trick or treating or just to swim at their house. We would chat via Facetime, or rather, I would watch as Little A ran around and jumped around.

In eight days, I managed to squeeze in six theatre performances. The new shows did not have the magic of the old ones, but it was wonderful to see the talent and the full audiences at every one.

All in all, an amazing break for me. I look forward to the next visit, whether it be five, ten, or another twelve years from now. And perhaps one day Big A, Little A and I can visit this wonderful city together. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fair Weather Friends

When Little A was just born, and I would take him to the playground to get some sun, there was a toddling little girl often there who refused to wear shoes. She walked unassisted at 9 months, and was a bundle of energy.

I never forgot this little girl, even though I stopped seeing her around, because my son too walked early, and also hated to wear shoes.

As the only mum on the playground amidst a sea of nannies, I never got this little girl's contact details, but presumed she had moved away, as many families do in our building.

Recently though, she was back for an afternoon, and she and Little A enjoyed each other's company at the pool.

Now seven and at big school, the little girl's nanny told our Au Pair that she only started speaking at age three or so, after therapy. With Little A, though, she was chatty and very sociable. At first my son ignored her and did his own thing as he tends to do, but she was insistent and kept bugging him to interact with her, until he discovered he enjoyed it. It was heartwarming to watch, as this is may be only the second time ever that any child has made an effort to play with my son.

While I was away, they swam together once more. Unfortunately, I still wasn't able to meet her mum or get her contact details. I would love to invite her over regularly, as this is the type of friend Little A really needs, one who is insistent and slightly forceful. There is a Filipino term for this that is perfect. Little A needs a friend who is makulit, someone who will pester him without giving up into interacting and sustaining interaction.

I look out at the pool every afternoon and hope to see her there. With a little bit of luck, she will come visit again before the year is out.