In which Amnesiac turns six, and I give thanks for his almost-effortless transition to expat life.
A while back a family member asked me why there was ‘so much drama’ in my blog posts.
Kid A knows (bien sur; she’s got an answer for everything just now).
She’s learning about story structure in English class – something I don’t think I was ever explicitly taught at school, let alone in Year 4 – so when she writes a tale, she already knows to include a set-up, a conflict and a resolution.
I weave the disparate threads of my experience into stories (complete with conflict, aka drama) because it helps me make sense of things and hopefully gives you a more interesting read.
Because let’s face it, a daily diary would get very repetitive, very quickly:
There’d be traffic, camels, construction, roadworks, dust, queuing for something; Olympic-standard tutting from me as that queue is repeatedly jumped; forgetting to have lunch again; thinking about complaining about the Arctic temperature of the compound pool, before deciding this will make me sound like a whining, over-privileged arse.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
And that’s probably one of the reasons why I don’t write about Amnesiac too much. He rarely features in my posts because right now he’s living a very happy, drama-free life.
It was his sixth birthday this week, which is a great excuse to give a public airing to my private introspection, mainly on the theme of how did we get here?
Did I look down at that screaming bundle and imagine we’d be living in Qatar, with me the trailing-spouse-house-husband, on his sixth birthday? I might have put some money on ‘living abroad’ but beyond that, your guess would have been as good as mine.
At his birthday dinner we helped him remember what he’s achieved this year. Learning to ride a bike, the stunt double-esque improvement in his swimming; in reading, writing and spelling. All of it borne out of confidence, which has been the biggest change in the past year.
Not to mention the areas where he’s ahead of his sister at the same age: sport, maths, the jokes.
His transition to expat life has been so effortless that when we asked him where we used to live (all of eight months ago) he replied, “Newbury, Qatar.” I think he thinks he’s always lived here, and that’s just brilliant.
Right now, he’s in an incredibly low maintenance phase and I’m trying to appreciate it while he is, because it won’t last; the sulks and smells years are not so far away.
Teaching cats to ice skate
You know that phrase, ‘If you’re happy, tell your face’? Amnesiac gets it. Give him a bottle of bubble mixture and he’s the happiest boy in Doha.
Of course it helps if your world view only extends to the next piece of toast, and the only thoughts in your head are a loop of Lego, dinosaurs, cars and Cars, like any other young boy.
And of course that can also be exasperating. He can’t concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds (he’s not called Amnesiac for nothing).
Getting him to write out his spellings every day is like trying to teach a cat to ice skate. Theoretically possible, yes, but you’ll die of exhaustion from trying.
But these are minor quibbles. A birthday affords us a natural opportunity to reflect and appreciate people. So here I am, stopping to give thanks that he’s a happy, healthy little menace, all dirty fingernails and missing buttons.
To enjoy these days while he still wants me to flip him at the pool, help him with jigsaws or take him on bike rides.
Long may the drama-free days continue.
* * *
When they were here a few weeks ago, my brother and sister-in-law bought Amnesiac a pack of sunflower seeds because he wanted to see what happened if he planted them.
And after an anxious wait, some of the seeds have taken root and poked their way out into the scalding desert air.
Now, every morning just before we head off to school, he pops outside to check on their progress. The enjoyment he gets from spotting some minute overnight change – and sharing that news with us all – is infectious.
They’re tiny right now. But if we can stop the neighbourhood cats from using the grobag as a litter tray; if we feed them regularly and remember to water them, they’ll get stronger, be able to stand on their own and start to thrive.
And he can point to something he made and watched grow and cared for and nurtured and say: I did that.
And hopefully he’ll feel as proud as I do.