08 Jun

The Mother-in-Law ‘saves the day’

It isn’t often one receives a phone call at 00:40, the very early hours of Monday.

imageI needed to do some thinking and get rid of some negative energy. One way I do so is by writing. Another is by cleaning, my choice if it’s heavy stuff. I chose cleaning. I felt there were aspects of my life I had left unattended to and now the chickens were coming home to roost. Cleaning and decluttering my kitchen wasn’t just expending the bad energy, it was symbolic too. As I tossed one old newspaper or expired birthday greeting card, I was removing old information and expired viewpoints. The icing on the cake would be using the scented solution I just happened on to wash the kitchen floor, hmm!!

Imagine my surprise when the home phone rang. At 00:40. I stared at it, I didn’t have my glasses on so couldn’t see the number display from where I stood. I said a quick prayer as my mind flew to my parents in Nigeria.

It was a UK mobile phone, a familiar number that I’ve refused to memorise. I picked it up.

“Toks!”

“Yes mum, are you ok?”

“They say a cosmic wave is coming. Don’t sleep with your mobile phone next to you. It will happen tonight between 12 midnight and 3am.”

“Mum?” I know she’s ok physically, I’m now wondering about her mental state. She was fine when I spoke to her this morning so where is this coming from?

“Yes, did you hear me? Don’t put your phone near your body tonight even if it’s off, cosmic waves are being released and it is very dangerous. I just got the text.” She delivers that last sentence with an air of importance, the type that’s used when one has been privy to classified government information.

My mind instantly becomes a war zone. Should I enjoy the pleasure of telling mother-in-law that she is seriously mistaken? That this is a hoax that’s been going around- I later find out- for a year? Or should I give her the pleasure of knowing she saved our lives by feigning relief and gratitude that she delivered us from death by planetary explosion?

I decide to try a third unrehearsed route;

“Mum! You scared me, I thought something had happened!” That way I come across like the caring daughter-in-law

“Is this not something? This is the something that has happened now! You don’t think this is serious enough?” She has now taken on a condescending tone, but carries on; “Do you think I should call your sister-in-law to warn her?”

“No, no, no”, I toss in a chuckle. “Don’t mum, you can tell her tomorrow”

“But it’s happening tonight! That’s what I’m trying to tell you Toks, the cosmic waves are coming tonight.”

“Mum it’s not real, these things are circulated often, it’s a hoax.”

“Anyway please go round to all the boys” (like there are 10 of them) “and check their phones, you hear?”

“Yes mum.”

She didn’t hear that part, she’d already hung up.

There are several reasons why this is worrying. If the hoax creators have taken to spreading their messages by text, then they have just discovered their PR candidate. This means there’ll be many more middle of the night phone calls.

And it’s not like I can switch off the phones in case there’s a real emergency.

On the one hand I want to set her straight in case she falls for a riskier scam, but on the other hand why take away the feeling of martyrdom that swaddles her as she saves our lives, one hoax after another?

Tell me, what should I do?

02 May

Own Clothes’ Day and other Developments

I don’t think it’s fair that I share how my day went with you, but you don’t tell me about yours. Tell me what you’ve been up to in the comments box at the end of the post 😉

It’s ok Toks, breathe. You look like you’ve got it all together, you run a business and have a husband and four sons all adorable in every sense of the word. Your boys look well looked after, no one can tell that you scream at them like a mad woman indoors, you can handle this.

This was my pep talk as I made my way to #4’s school for the second time this morning. Now I know why when we first arrived, the headteacher looked at him until he disappeared into the school gates, but never looked back at me to smile as she usually does. Every child was in yellow. Every. Except mine. Yes, it was yellow own clothes day for Alzheimer’s or whooping cough- or some disease. I started to mentally go through his drawer as I drove back home for a yellow top. Nada. Then I went through each of his brothers wardrobes and recalled #3 used to have a yellow T-shirt which I hated. Did I toss it? Did hubby? That man! Always tossing stuff!!!

I arrive home and find a black shirt with orange stripes. I look at it from every angle each time convincing myself it would pass for yellow, it simply depends on how much of a fault-finder you are. I find a black cap with a bit of yellow threading. I contemplate rushing to Primark for a yellow t-shirt, but I don’t see the time logic in that.

Back in the car, I slowly déjàvu myself down Elm road to his school. I draw comfort from the fact that at least the school hasn’t called me, I noticed first. It could have been worse. I could have remained oblivious to the glaring yellow dresses and shirts, but I didn’t. Surely observation and swift action must score me some points?  A quick glance at my phone reveals 2 missed calls. One is from my tradesman who keeps calling me Tosk, and the other is from the school. The voice message denies me any sense of pride as it tells me #4 is crying, he told his teacher it was because he bumped his head on Chloe’s, but the teacher just knows it’s because he’s not wearing yellow. And can I please bring him something if I’m not far? That last ‘please’ concocts 2 emotions in me.

1) Renewed love for the school he attends. They care so much for the kids and play the role of mummy very well.

2) I’m the mummy here, why does this voicemail make me feel like they’re doing a better job at being mum than I am?

I walk into the school dragging behind me the carcass of my dignity and rehearse my nonchalant speech as to why for the second time in as many weeks I forgot own clothes day. I survive the knowing smiles they offer me.

The mother in law has had minor surgery on her foot and is at my home, she would like to go back to her house today, she announced yesterday and again this morning. As I make my way back home I contemplate my options. I have a busy day ahead and driving through the overcrowded streets of South London is absent from my list. Each morning when I arrive at work I do the most dreaded task first. It’s called eating the frog. The drive to my mother-in-law’s house is my frog. Should I give the juiciest part of my day to frog eating & get it out of the way or keep the pulsating creature in full view to address it at the end of the day? I decide I don’t want it breathing heavily over my mind all day so off we go.

In the car, she informs me that ‘the corpse’ of her club secretary is being flown back to Nigeria. She says ‘corpse’ at the exact moment I shove a sausage roll into my mouth. I manage to swallow the unbroken bits hurriedly. Why do Nigerians talk like that? Couldn’t she simply have simply said he was flown home? Or even the body was taken home? As if that isn’t enough she goes on to explain how the corpse was ‘butchered’, read has stab wounds, and the viewing won’t be done during the wake keeping since it is unsightly. This part of the conversation happens while I’m swallowing a mouthful of pineapple juice. My mind, insistent as it is, conjures up neat, even cuts like you see on grilled tilapia- with yellow liquid oozing out. I swallow my juice, which tastes like blood and make a mental note not to eat and drive with her in the car again.

The Nigerian elections got me super excited, I was on a roll and I apologise to the friends I kept texting even in the middle of the night. The highlight for me was when the Rivers state election results were being read by the guy who introduced himself with several titles. Add to that the sign language interpreter whose actions bore a striking resemblance to that of the Mandela funeral interpreter’s. Then there were the memes that followed:

jegaThis one was in reference to the cool and calm manner displayed by the INEC chairman following another bit of drama.

#4 has advanced in many ways but sadly has regressed in others. The last 4 nights have had him creeping into our bed in the middle of the night. If he curled up on a spot and remained quiet through the night I wouldn’t say a word. I’ll simply cuddle him and enjoy the last few years of having a pre-tween. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. He fights and argues in his sleep. Snatching toys or whatever it is from his brothers. He holds full conversations. I hope it isn’t the watching of too much TV that’s got his mind wide awake at 2am while his body sleeps. I have reduced his TV time sha and he isn’t happy. But I don’t care, I just want to sleep. And raise a sane and successful child. And remember when it’s yellow, red or green t-shirt day.

How about you, what have you been up to?