The 8 True Days of Christmas
December 22nd Saturday
Unearth best Bargain of The Year, and the following year. 20 coloured
flower lights for £1.49 at Woolies. Go mad, leave shop armed with
4 sets. Bedroom now transformed into tarts fairy-lit boudoir for
the festive season.
Son declares he needs to go to hospital.
Cos he cant walk.
Hes hurt his foot.
Fighting with his brother. He kicked him.
Presented with one grubby right foot. Minute red mark to be seen on a
50p-size bruise, half-way down outer side. Old favourite injury location.
In mothers esteemed opinion, no major swelling plus the ability
to hobble equals no damage done. That old adage about not trying to mend
whats not broken springs to mind.
Why not try resting your foot?
Undeterred, son insists on going to hospital. I cant walk.
True. Mind you, he can hop.
We can just ask for a pair of crutches and go.
Seems very concerned about maintaining mobility.
Well be back by 10.
More like 5 (am). in brothers opinion whose last sojourn
at A&E lasted eight hours.
Oh, and can we just drop Muki off? And stop off at Macdonalds
on the way? Thanks Mum.
I have to admit, A&E looking remarkably quiet for a Saturday evening
before Xmas. Actually, pretty quiet for any Saturday evening. Try to convince
triage nurse that nothing appears to be broken and we may as well go home.
However, nurse seems keen to err on the side of caution - must be part
of her job description.
Sit back down to wait. Whats on telly? How appropriate, its
the Xmas episode of Casualty. Theres more action up there than down
here. Six out of a dozen bodies in the real A&E lie prone, including
son who has now adopted favourite viewing position in front of larger,
flat screen set; after drinking hot chocolate that, due to some previous
precedent, mother always seems obliged to buy.
Finally seen by jolly, junior doctor. I inform him that I have absolutely
no sympathy for battle-injured child. Doc glances at sons notes
which state Kicked brother.
So, did you think your name was Jackie?
Son cocks eyebrows upwards and then pretends, out of good manners, that
docs been dead witty.
Right, go and have your foot X-rayed.
Aha, the moment son has been waiting for.
Mum, its lo-ong
go get the wheelchair.
But darling, youre getting so proficient at hopping..
Son gives a look of long-suffering. Why is it his lot to be surrounded
by dead wits?
(By the way, a helpful hint from an A&E old timer. Never attempt to
push a hospital wheelchair as the damn things are only steerable by pulling.)
We return with two pictures of beloveds foot. Mother tips son out
of the wheelchair into the childrens unit. Doc peruses x-rays for
no more than five seconds. Nothing broken, not even a hair-line fracture.
The sooner child starts excercising foot, soonest mended. No treatment
is required. Son receives a mock cuff on the head from mother.
The Chinese nurse on duty is an expert at kick-boxing. How would son like
to learn to do it properly? I firmly interject Er, no. Thank you.
Familys already averaging four visits a year. Son makes his last
pathetic request. Can I have some crutches?
Doc says its okay by him but nurse and I think its quite unnecessary,
thereby creating a division of the sexes. Females decide on a compromise
to humour the wimpish opposition and nurse goes off to get one crutch.
Son looks exasperated and says he cant use just one. Doc must feel
need for male solidarity and digs out a pressie from Santas box,
apologising that its probably a bit young for him and his brother.
Two yards beyond hospital doors, wrapping paper is ripped off. Animated
version of "A Christmas Carol"- certificate U.
Aww, how nice. I say.
Son excercises his eyebrow once again. In the twenty yards between hospital
building and parked car, he exaggerates his ineptness at utilising single
crutch and insists I return and ask for its mate.
Back in the car, mother and son display admirable restraint and refrain
from the I-told-you-sos, in regard to state of foot and brief(ish)
time spent in A&E.
Arrive home. Mothers stomach thinks her throats been cut.
Brother heard calling, Si, come ere. Child espied, through
kitchen doorway, hobbling without crutches or major speed impairment from
toilet to bedroom. Am suddenly possessed by vivid fantasy of throttling
24th Dec 2001
Decide to have a winter spring clean and test out ancient Scottish belief
that whatever state ones affairs (and abode) are in at midnight
on last day of the year, will remain the case for the next 52 weeks. Only
7 cleaning days left to go - must make a start.
Boys have decided this year to do their own present purchasing in the
sales and so am thankfully spared the frantic wrapping of gifts. This
must herald the end of childhood
25th Dec 2001
Arise and cook a roast dinner for 1 Taoist, 1 Muslim and 2 Havent-a-clues.
Actually, its just as well its the oven that does 90% of the
cooking, as what took 3 and a quarter hours to cook is demolished in 12
minutes. Oh well, back to the cleaning.
26th Dec 2001
Manage to do traditional today and go for a freeze-your-toes-off walk
along the River Lea - or was that supposed to be traditional yesterday,
post-lunch? Can never remember the order of these English customs. Anyway,
end up in the pub to find brisk trade being conducted within so this
must be a trad-today. Thaw out with a couple of G&Ts. Friend hungover
and opts for caffeine chased by a shot of Vitamin C. Serves her right.
29th Dec 2001
First ice-hockey match with boys new A league team.
Only one child playing in the match, other child playing at being disaffected
teenager. For a change, theres no Blackwall tunnel pile-up, am
totally rhapsodic at reaching Kent in 50 minutes.
To show willing in new club, I agree to be a goal judge for the match.
After two seasons of having been a scorer in previous club, this is
a doddle. And you get to press red light switch when goal is scored.
(Although, in my past observations, nervous, novice GJs are renowned
for forgetting cos theyre so busy worrying about what does
and what doesnt constitute a "shot on goal". Or seeing
what they can get away with calling a "shot on goal" and thereby
grossly inflating the teams netminder statistics.) Clamber up
into what resembles a 7 foot high love-seat for tennis umpires. Could
do with a lover up here for body warmth but thought it might be considered
early days yet for hockey mum to be making such requests. Initial pace
of game is slow. Jack Frost begins to creep off the ice and up the rungs
of my love-seat. Am idly swinging leg in order to prevent numbed foot
from dropping off. Nearly succeed in beheading half a dozen passers-by
during first period. Ho hum.
Ends up a "closely contested", as they always say in match
reports, 7-6 win and newest member of team gets Spirit of the
Match award. Ye-esss!!
30 th Dec 2001
Bitterly cold afternoon down West End. T. and I do National Portrait
Gallery, followed by tea and buns in Chinatown, followed by a G&T
in the ghost of often frequented, in my glorious pre-mother days, but
now, sadly departed Wag Club. In its place we have a branch of
that horrible shamrock and shillelaghs chain of pubs. Beloved Wag
may you rest in peace.
31st Dec 2001
My dear children do not bother to inform me till yesterday evening that
they may be off to a NYs party in fellow hockey players
home, obviously assuming that their mothers too old and sad to
have appreciated a bit more forewarning to enable her to make arrangements
to go out partying herself. Hmph!
End up in nearby house at mignight, in the company of 9 strange women
plus friend, 3 men and various hyped-up offspring, glass of champers
in one hand, joint in the other, party popper between my teeth. And
mobile phone jammed between my knees, as am determined to send pre-composed
NYs text message to best mate in Scotland at 12, precisely.
So, lets see, according to the Scots, its going to be a
surplus of women, not enough men, and screaming kids for the next 52
weeks. Already reminding me of the old year, and the one before that,
and the one
No, this is not true. As us Toaists believe, all is
impermanence. Life does move on. Screaming kids will now be replaced
by grunting adolescents and bobbing eyebrows. Funny though, that drunken
urge to make contact with nearest and dearest or current unrequited
fancy, (depending on how far gone I am by that point) which inevitably
descends upon me just after the bells, (and never succeeding cos
all lines of communication are jammed) hasnt appeared to have
altered one iota in 20 years.
1st Jan 2002
Off to friends annual New Years brunch gathering. Theres
nothing like toasted muffins with scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon,
washed down with loads of steaming hot coffee, for dealing with hangovers.
Keep being approached and asked Are you with St. Marys?
Appears half the church congregation is gathered here.
Oh no, ice-hockey actually.
Become involved in conversation with couple about Agas and archery.
Cant pretend to be at all clued-up on either topic. Ho hum. At
half twelve, over hearty traditionalists disassociate themselves from
hungover hedonists, or the just plainly not into masochism types. Adopting
the guise of the former, albeit with underlying motives, I join in the
customary, post-feed, Epping Forest walk. Well, quite frankly, Ill
do anything to escape the clutches of my havent-slept, over-tired
and over-fractious, and probably by now, warring offspring left behind
at home. Who wouldnt? So heigh-ho, its off we go, freeze-your-toes-off
Actually, Ive never quite fully understood why the English so
love to subject themselves to thermometer shattering tortures under
the pretext of tradition? After all, its not as if red noses become
the English rose complexion. And, to all my past accusers of wimpishness,
it has now been scientifically proven that any Oriental body (yes, even
this one brought up in Glasgow), is genetically more sensitive to the
cold than the thick blood of you hardy British. So there. And thankfully,
my nose never glows.
Its all very pretty up in the forest. Hoar-frost blankets the
grass and fringes the leaves of the evergreens. At the end of a tree-lined
path, we have a breathtaking vista of a pond, completely frozen over
and attired in a mantle of lightly dusted snow, all twinkling and glittering
sugar-white and tutu-pink in the pale afternoon sunlight. Very large
pond, I hasten to add. Squeals and shrieks of utter delight leap forth
from the lips of the little ones and soar through the clear air. Alongside
strident, parental cries of No Oliver/Alicia, I absolutely forbid
you to go anywhere near that ice. Get Back, Right Now! OLIVER!!!
Feel almost immorally carefree at not having to grapple with abandoned
wellies, stuck in mud, or have to deal with soggy gloves. Or even worse,
ultimate horror of horrors, forced to sacrifice ones own gloves.
Later back in London.
I purchase a fridge magnet just in case those old Scottish adages arent
infallible. It pictures your 1950s American housewife on her knees,
scrubbing the bath, and reads -
"A clean house is a sign of a wasted life."
My sentiments exactly. Do have a happy new year, everyone.
© Amy Chan 2002
Part One of Amy Chan's witty 'child raising' novel in-progress
< Reply to this Article