On Saturday we went to Planckendael again – it’s like a safari park but less glamourous. I have had it with Planckendael. The Princess said that she would rather go to the supermarket and conducted herself accordingly throughout the trip. We paid 50 euros to get in (and the boys were free) and they spent their time looking at frogs in the river and playing in the elaborate playgrounds. “Will we go and see the giraffes?” “No!” The Princess mortified me by going into meltdown at the entrance to the cafeteria where she wanted to stay watching television. She lay on the ground, blocking the door and screeching. This loud screaming in public is a very recent development and I am desperate to stop it. We then climbed up a rope yoke which the Princess loved but the boys were scared and had to be carried. It is hard to walk up a rope surrounded by netting carrying a small boy. We got down eventually, the Princess did not get down. There were words. We lost her at one point and I was terrified. There were further words. We instructed her that, in future, if she ever got lost and could not find someone who worked in the establishment, she was to ask a Mummy to help her. Yes, yes, picture the scene, there you are having a nice time with your family in Flemish and a weeping lost little girl attaches herself to your group – fabulous eh?
On Sunday, we had our upstairs neighbours and some friends around for coffee. Our upstairs neighbours are lovely Italians. There are only two of them and every time I go into their flat which is the same dimensions as ours but oh so different, I am convulsed with envy. They have white furniture (no children, obviously). She is finishing a PhD in art history and has acquired all kinds of lovely furniture at auctions and flea markets over the years. It looks lovely in our 19th century building, unlike, say, my self constructed coffee table from Habitat. Anyhow, over coffee yesterday the talk was all of our return to Dublin (with the occasional digression into how the recent NATO war training exercise went, from my friend C – she who combines defence work and orchestra management in her portfolio of activity – good news, we won). They were all curious about what our house in Dublin is like and I, with my fondness for histrionics, put my head in my hands and said “hideous, absolutely hideous”. I had, alas, completely forgotten that the Princess was there and she looked up at me, shocked and tearful and said “But Mummy, you said that our house was lovely.” Much furious and, I fear, ineffective backpedalling followed. I could kick myself.
The house isn’t really hideous, it’s just small and in need of some work. I was talking to the heart surgeon about it last night and she put her finger on the problem: just as all our friends are settling in the houses they are going to be living in for the rest of their lives, we are moving backwards. That is exactly the problem. All our friends are moving in to nice big houses and we are going back to a starter home. It’s not hideous, it’s relatively hideous. I hope that in 3 or 4 years we’ll be able to move somewhere nicer but, for the moment, we will have to make the best of it.
Meanwhile, the heart surgeon is back at work after a mere three months (she does live in America so this is extraordinary luxury by their standards) and working weekends and nights and so on (as is her doctor husband) with a 3 year old, a two year old and a three month old. She is expressing four times a day. She’s also decided to renovate her kitchen. I can’t quite imagine how tired she must be. She told me, in tones of great glee, that, as she had a couple of tough procedures today, her husband was going to mind the baby last night and she was decamping to the third floor for a full night’s sleep.
Just a note of empathy. My family just moved from South Carolina back to our hometown of Salt Lake City. It was a necessity because of my husband’s job, but we’ve also planned on moving back eventually for reasons similar to yours–so that our two year old can grow up near her grandparents, cousins, etc.
Our situation sounds very similar to yours–the salary my husband was able to get to come back here is about one third of what he’s made for the last two years. So I moved from a beautiful home that I had poured my heart into with decorating, painting, gardening, etc., into. . . my mother’s home. Within a few months we’ll be able to get something of our own, but it will most likely be an apartment or a condo, nothing approaching what we had in South Carolina. Sigh. We just keep telling ourselves it’s worth it to be back near family, and to not have to spend around $1200 for the three of us to fly home to visit.
Hmm. I wanted to comment with a vote of confidence, that you’re not alone, but I’m not mustering much enthusiasm for the situation, am I? Oh well. If misery loves comany then maybe at the least you’ll be glad of a friend. 🙂
Yes, Kara, I am glad of company, thank you!
this feeling comes over me every time i go to a birthday party for someone in the wee one’s class. her classmates’ parents are either well into their second families or still in their first, and barring one or two, they all have the houses i had myself before leaving the HH and starting over in a townhouse that’s very nice, but not exactly where i want to spend the rest of my life. i know i did the right thing, but i feel like i’ve DONE this part already.
I don’t have children, but I worked at a children’s museum for awhile and just so you know, as mortifying as I’m sure it is, I think ALL children go through a phase of throwing tantrums in public (length of phase may vary). Rest assured that when you go to a place frequently patronized by families, screaming children are nothing new either to the staff or fellow customers. Maybe you’ll get a glare or two from the childless or judgmental moms, but who cares, they probably did it themselves at the Princess’ age. Being out at big overstimulating places where children can get lost is stressful for the kids and the parents even if they do end up having fun, and kids end up taking it out in the only way they know how. Nobody’s fault really. When I worked at the museum I used to tell parents “Don’t worry, I used to do the exact same thing but look! I hardly ever do now.” Hope you don’t mind an ill-informed lecture on child development from a childless person 🙂
Oh dear. You going to have to let her paint her bedroom in Ireland bright pink with sparkles now. You do know that, don’t you?
IG, it is nice to have company. Niz, I find this most comforting, thank you very much for commenting.
Pog, funnily enough, you and the nice Italian neighbours are on the same wavelength. He immediately followed my gaffe by telling the Princess that it would be nice once she painted it and she could choose the colours for her bedroom. She instantly said that she wanted pink and purple.