N Touch
Sunday 18 August 2019
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Hooray for school days

Today begins my transformation from zombie mommy, also known as mombie, back to my regular amazing self. After the hectic and physically/ emotionally/ financially draining school holidays, I finally get to sit down and take a breath. I love my progeny to death but when did regular children turn into little emperors?

I remember school holidays when my sister and I would spend the two months reading our schoolbooks in advance or watching the two channels available. But the most exciting event was Vacation Bible School. In order to offset the cost of our books, we ate a lot of dumplings and callaloo bush bhaji (my mother avoided debt when possible). The worst part is we eagerly looked forward to the numbing ennui every year. So now that my sister and I have children of our own, school holidays have evolved into an exercise in perfecting soccer mommyhood. Shuttling these little lords to their holiday activities was beyond tiring.

My 'I am' and his sophisticated palate had me stuck in a hot kitchen making snacks from scratch. Does it make sense to make marshmallows at home when it is so cheap in the grocery? Well the six-year-old gourmand I have, won't eat store-bought anymore. He left the best for last: the last weekend, he just had to have custard tarts (of course made with fresh eggs, milk and no custard powder). Poor me! Imagine me scouring the internet for a good custard tart recipe and when I finally had success with Macanese custard tarts, only to be told I need to make them more often (you mean I have to go through that again?).

If you have ever tried to make Chinese puff pastry you would understand my suffering. In the last two months, I've become quite skilled in both French and Asian baking techniques (croissants and savoury moon cakes anyone?). If he didn't say he is going to become a paediatrician, I would start researching culinary schools for him. After all, he can already tell the difference between Jasmine and Basmati rice (if only I was joking).

Whatever happened to children entertaining themselves? For God's sake, I have like a thousand channels and my son was still bored out of his wits. I guess he didn't inherit my couch potato tendencies. When I was a child, we had two choices, TTT or Channel 9, and that was iffy, and I could zone out on just those. When I got older there was AVM, so we had three stations instead of just two, which was revolutionary! Now this little scamp has the world of entertainment and he's still bored. At his age, I would have given my right arm for Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, but he's bored.

Now there is no time for parents to rest, or even get a little ease to catch their breath. In spite of my having to shuttle my little lord and master halfway across the island for his autism camp, after a month of extra music classes, I still had a better time of it than my sister. There are two swimmers in her family so her mornings, evenings and weekends are spent shuttling them to and from practice, special training and meets.

I'm griping but I feel privileged that my son and nephews have the support and resources to fulfil their potential, many children don't. I know of other parents that struggled to get their children equipped and suited for this new school year. Things are extremely difficult financially for me but with careful planning and lots of penny pinching I am able to facilitate my son's dreams. Many parents can't even do that much.

Now that a new school term has started and I can hand my precious little emperor over to his teachers, I look forward to returning to more than a shadow of my former self. There is time again to take a breather and to have a conversation with someone other than a six-year-old. Because my son attends a special school, I only get a five-hour window but it's more precious than you can imagine. In that time, I can write a paragraph or two, get some housework done, do a load of laundry, prepare a meal, and catch up on the news and my manga (don't judge me, manga is a legitimate form of art), all before the little dictator – I mean, my beloved son – comes home from school.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my son's company. Like me, he is a real character and like his deceased grandfather, he is a real clown and can be guaranteed to make you laugh. It's just two months of being surgically attached to him can really drain a girl. His return to school is something I've really been looking forward to. Although I will miss snuggling under the sheets and watching cartoons during rainy weather while we gorge on nachos and popcorn, we can still do those things on weekends.

I see pictures of mothers online celebrating the beginning of the school year. My favourite was one lady relaxing in the pool with a glass of wine in hand, while her sullen children, dressed for school, look on. I wouldn't go that far but I totally get it. I've never seen a zombie regenerate in any of the cheesy sci-fi flicks I watch but I'll see it over the next few weeks as I relinquish my mombie status. See you on the other side.

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