School has finished for summer and the temperature is steadily climbing to unbearable. The girls are playing in the sandpit and I am sitting nearby examining various canisters. It is a hot sunny day and the bugs are out. I have sunblock and bug spray before me. Last year I was awash with guilt when my daughters’ scalps were reduced to a bloodied mess by some blood sucking vampire gnats. I did have bug spray last year, but I kept forgetting to use it until it was too late – this year I am determined to be better.
I squint horribly, trying to read the black writing on the dark green background of the can of bug spray. I briefly consider using a magnifying glass, but that is too close to admitting I need to wear the bifocals I was prescribed six months ago (and have never worn). I give up trying to read what materials shouldn’t be sprayed and give the girls a good all over squirt. I watch with interest to see if their clothes start to melt, but nothing happens.
I can read the sunblock directions easily, but I am uneasy about the mix of chemicals. I wonder what sort of toxic mess I might unwittingly create if I spray them with sunblock too. Will they grow extra limbs, or even worse, an extra mouth? Perhaps they might melt into a pool of slime. I abandon the sunblock. Today they can burn, tomorrow they can be bitten.
It was a winter morning and we had been in America for less than a month. So far we had only met our neighbours. I am sitting with my daughters, aged two and three years. They are both on their potties doing a stinky-winky poo (their words not mine). I curse the fact that they seem to take after their father in this respect and perhaps they might like to read a book while they puuuush! Suddenly the doorbell goes (which is the highlight of the week). Before I can say “Let me wipe your bums” they have run off and opened the door, naked from the waist down. I finally arrive to find a traumatized Fed-Ex man hiding behind a big bouquet of flowers while my half naked, smelly children dance around him shouting “SNIFFFFF” because they like flowers!
Rebekah, my older daughter, was potty trained before we came to America, but she regressed badly for several months. Many an hour was spent on or near the potty with Hannah (my younger daughter) quivering with curiosity nearby. A pattern developed. Rebekah would be on the potty and Hannah would toddle up and say “Sniff?” Rebekah would then lean forward so Hannah could sniff the contents of the potty. If it was a wee, Hannah would look disappointed and go off to investigate more interesting things. If there was a poo Hannah would shriek “PHEWOARRRRRR” and stagger backwards. Rebekah (and I) would be in gales of laughter, which of course, encouraged her. This little routine included me and my husband which wasn’t a problem, until the day she added to her routine by saying “Wipe?” NOOOOOO! I will not have my bum wiped by my daughter for at least another 40 years I hope.
When Hannah was newborn Rebekah had a bad cold and a very blocked nose. She spent about three weeks with one finger permanently up her nose. One day I was changing Hannah’s nappy when Rebekah toddled up, finger in air with green attachment. “Bogey” she cooed. I wiped her finger and continued to clean Hannah. “Bogey!” stated Rebekah and I cleaned her finger. I tickled Hannah’s tummy “BOGEY” shouted Rebekah and I wiped her clean again. “BOGEYYYYYY” she yelled as I dressed Hannah. I cleaned her finger yet again while praying her cold wasn’t getting worse. This time I watched her … as she went to Hannah’s dirty nappy and scooped … “BOGEY!”