Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back at work #1. Nelson's playgroup is off for January so I am on part time baby-sitting duty as Rachel works in the morning. I'm actually really enjoying it - it's demanding and involves a lot of walking around in circles but I get to play with dinky cars again, paddle in swimming pools and go to the arcades and toy shops with a smashing young man. I was thinking the other day about the different roles a Dad of an 18-month-old is expected to fulfil. Some of these are mechanic (of broken toy cars), constructor (of ramps), technician (of DVD player to watch Cars film), doctor/nurse (of scraped knees and banged heads), luggage carrier (of stuff - you should see what ends up in my pocket at the end of the day), lifeguard, fridge opener, teacher, supplier of coconut water, cleaner, cook, driver, stylist, dentist etc.

I think on balance I am probably an OK Dad - I spend a lot of time with Nelsinho and try my best to involve myself in what he likes to do but of course I make some schoolboy errors and sometimes run out of things to talk about to a boy with a vocabulary of less than 25 words. (You should see Rach though, I don't know how she does it - she and Nelson rabbit on all afternoon!). However, I know that despite my best efforts I will never really be up to scratch in the eyes of Brazil's women. They are already suspicious that as a guy I would be spending so much time doing what traditionally is the role of women. And as a male GRINGO they are convinced I am a liability at best in my parenting. Ever since we got to Brazil, I have had to get used to a barrage of comments coming from every other woman I pass during the day that Nelson is too cold, too hot, too sweaty (but it is 40C!), not sweaty enough, sleeping too much, not sleeping enough, doesn't have shoes on but should, does have shoes on but shouldn't, needs a shirt, take off his trousers, give him some cake, why not have a bath. Occasionally, I have had him pulled straight out my arms and shipped straight to the nearest sink for a hosedown via the kitchen for some cookies by some well-meaning Brazilian grandmother.

Anyway, today the Brazilian women had something to write home about and were no doubt left wondering how Nelson would survive another 10 minutes in my care. This morning at the house, my son and I were all set for a game of cars on the step outside the front. I turn my back for half a second to bolt the gate open only to find the guy has flung himself from the top of the third step and is lying spreadagled on the pavement with a menacing shiner on his forehead. If my guilt wasn't enough I have had to endure the non-stop tutting of the Natalense female populace... But, I guess I am not the victim here: Nelson dusted himself off pretty well and once the DVD of Cars was on he had forgotten all about it.

Back at work #2. I'm also doing some English lessons although the semester doesn't start for real until February. This week I've been giving a crash course in TOEFL to half a dozen students. I asked one of them about her extended family during a lesson. "I have an enormous family", she said. "I am one of 56 grandchildren that my grandmother has". Astonishing! I'll note that on my blog, I thought to myself...

Danny and Caz and Gracie to visit Natal. This is unspeakably good news! For a week at the end of January more great buddies will be out here to visit us.

Siasen's video. I have a good pal who is studying Film in London. Here is one of his creations on YouTube. Please leave constructive comments for Siasen about what you think of his short film. Siasen also seems to be the principal actor - the dude has talent!

Leckenby Pics. Ruth, some of your pics are revolving nicely in the little slideshow to the right.

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