Wednesday 13 September 2006

Mummy on the Edge Families NW Magazine Sept/ Oct 2006

Families September October
Mummy sur l’edge

The expanse of the summer presented itself, unfurled before me like an endless, bare picnic rug, What tantalising and delicious prospect could I pull out of the basket for me and Mini-Me, aside from the predictable (but often satisfying) cheese sarnie of the local park? This was my challenge, and I rose to it…

We are lucky to live in a land that provides innumerable Teddy-Bear’s Picnics, Fun Days, and larger family festivals (at many of which I can be found doing my Sing and Sign thang). I took Mini-Me to Under One Sky, Harrow’s fantastic all-day multi-cultural festival which took place on the sun-baked Kodak recreation ground. Maybe it’s the hippy in me, but I love the idea of communities getting together and dissolving boundaries with music, dance and food (oh yes food, mmmm). This event in particular was a living, throbbing venn-diagram of multi-culture and even though we got there at 5 in the evening, there was still so much to absorb from 5 stages featuring Bollywood dancers, Jazz bands, Tribal Drummers, kiddy fairground attractions and not to mention the aromatic flavours of world cuisine.

We ventured further, Mini-Me and I; she, like a bloodhound for merry-go-rounds and me for food, sun and music (and food, mmmm). The Taste of London food fair in Regents Park was a personal disappointment. My fault entirely for taking Mini-Me and vegetarian Best Friend the Fashion Buyer (who was dressed as though she’d been invited to a private viewing at the Serpentine Gallery). Can you imagine how problematic it is to navigate your way between 100s of fine restaurant stalls in the quest for food suitable and sharable for our spectrum of diverse palates, within the purchased token range. All the more so in between moans of “This is boring!! I want to go to the playground, mummy!!” and “I think it’s gonna rain. Do you think it’s gonna rain? I can’t stay if it rains; my hair”… BFFB ended up with a Mozzarella salad from Jamie Oliver’s 15teen that I could have made at home (no wild mushroom risotto in sight). I am still tearfully salivating over Aldo Zilli’s Lobster Ravioli which never passed my lips. Next year, for maximum enjoyment, I shall go on my own!

Deciding that we needed a proper break, I took Mini-Me on a Eurostar adventure to Paris where we stayed with “Auntie Annie” for four days in the suburbs with her children Xavier (2 and a half) and Audrey (8 months). This provided an outlet for Mini-Me’s (presently impractical) big-sisterly hankerings and precious catch-up time with one of my oldest schoolfriends. We then spent a couple of days in the centre of Paris on our own and behaved like proper, annoying tourists.
“Mummy, I
want to go to the top of the Irish Tower!” (What would Monsieur Eiffel say about that?)
“It’s taking a long time to find the loo, Mummy!” having told her we were on our way to the Louvre. Mini-Me went on her first rollercoaster and rode a horse for the first time at Le Jardin De Acclimatation (a beautiful park with loads of attractions for all ages). We found our way on the bus and on the Metro without getting lost. I impressed Mini with my impeccable French accent and hoped that a grasp of the same would reach her through cultural osmosis. All in all, I felt a huge sense of achievement because the week passed without major incident (aside from a hot chocolate puking incident at a cafĂ©, but we were very discrete), Mini-Me was happy and we didn’t even miss the Eurostar home.

Last term, Mini-Me enjoyed Ballet (so cute in her too-big hand-me-down leotard) and Speech and Drama classes. No, I’m not some crazed pushy mother, it’s more about giving her confidence. She recited a poem on her own and in a group on stage in front of a hall full of people, something I never thought she would ever do. As the little ones filed on stage in their uniform of white buttoned up shirt and black trousers (giving the impression of a league of midget waiters queuing up to collect their payslips) I couldn’t help but shed a tear when she gave me a little wave and smile of confidence. I’d better get my act together and finalise September enrolments.

And now, picnic rug well and truly rolled up and shoved in the back of the cupboard, it is the start of the Autumn Term. Time for Mini-Me to enter Reception (gulp!) and for me to begin a new term of teaching. About time too, because I’m all picnicked out!