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A Brief Report About Nothing

I first awoke at 5:36am. Some days I wake up twice. And I don’t mean postpone waking up by 5 or 10 minutes with the snooze button. No. I actually go back to sleep, the sort of sleep you embark on at 11pm, having left home at 4am to go to work in a factory with faulty machinery. That sort of sleep.

My second wave of sleep was accompanied by a dream in which I was driving. In India. Ladies and gentlemen I’ll have you know that the only time I’ve been to India was in conversation with my friend Tanya who makes Luxury Leather Fairtrade bags there.
I haven’t got ‘go to India‘ on my bucket list. I haven’t even got ‘perhaps go to India‘ on the list.
I woke up again at 9:32am, and thankfully remembered #4 had a birthday party to attend  exactly 18 minutes from that moment. I had my day planned out- and it didn’t include hanging out waiting for him at a party. I wanted to read, blog and do some outstanding work  that’s been outstanding. The double emphasis is not an error. The single good thing about that party is that it was in the shopping centre that housed my favourite cafe.
I arrive looking like the coolest mum in town, no one knows what’s happening underneath; that my insides are carefully knitting themselves back together again, the way it does after you’ve done something as drastic as getting yourself ready and out of the door in 18 minutes, with #4, the one who has Mafia mannerisms, not the one who has a story for every word. That’ll be #3.
I say ‘Hi‘ to the other mums and will forever remain baffled yet stand respectfully in awe of those supreme women who choose 20 or more children, over their own company.
Why would I? When I can go for a Chocolate Viennese and toasted baguette all by myself? The Chocolate Viennese is a steaming mug of chocolate drink topped with a generous swirl of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. I barely finish taking off #4’s coat and escape from the scene like I’m being pursued.
I make my way to the cafe and place my order. I scope out the joint to find my favourite table, the one by the window. That spot is perfect for observing. It is from that seat that I will later swing effortlessly and in perfect rhythm between guilt and justification, as I watch mother after mother arrive for a special time of breakfast with their children . While Toks ran away left hers behind so she could be by herself. That feeling will occur in due course, because like my sleep, I arrive at the cafe twice. Meanwhile I go to pay. My wallet isn’t there. Yes Toks, how can your wallet be there when it’s in your other bag?
I brace myself as I prepare the speech for the security guys as to why I can’t pay for my ticket. At that point I remember a few years ago when I lost my parking ticket . It was the second time in as many days. So I buzzed the help button at the exit barrier to let them know I needed their kind assistance to please let me out. OK I didn’t quite put it like that. They were not ecstatic.
”Madam, did you not use the same excuse just yesterday?”
”Yes I did. Because I actually lost my ticket”
”Sorry madam, but you have to pay a lost ticket fine of £10”
”Ok, but how do I do so when I don’t have my wallet on me?”
By this time a long line of cars had started to form behind me. Some drivers were already craning their necks to see who was holding up traffic.
”Well there’s nothing I can do, I offered. No ticket, no wallet.”
Defiance was starting to set in . Life for me was hard so some drama to punctuate my sadness was welcome.
”I’ll come down to sort it out”.
The security guard sounded like he couldn’t wait to let this woman out. I was wrong. I think what he really said was I’ll sort you out. He came for a fight. He proceeded to erect a temporary barrier behind me and direct traffic to exit on the oncoming lane, effectively locking me between the exit barrier and the makeshift one.
I switched off my engine and got on the phone to hubby. After a few unsuccessful minutes of role-playing as a traffic warden,  he let me through. Hubby’s concern was more for my emotional well-being as I had become rather forgetful and distracted, and it was starting to look like a ‘pattern’.
Thankfully on this occasion I was treated with grace and sympathy and was immediately allowed out without any drama.
My drive home to get my wallet was uneventful, besides nearly running through a red light. I am later seated with my mug and baguette, by the window where I pick up a rhythm; observe, guilty; observe, guilty. 
I picked #4 up from the party, this is #4 who never has enough of parties. This time there were no mild tantrums about leaving. Instead he had a look on his face like something was bothering him.
”Mum, can I ask you a question?”
”Of course sweetie!”
”Are we vegetarian?”
I laugh in amazement at his perfect pronunciation of a word (I think) he has never heard before.
”No darling we’re not. Why do..”
”Oh crumbs! I think we have a big problem mama!”
”Why?”
”I was asked and said we were and I was given chicken nuggets for vegetarians!”
He sounded like being classed wrongly as one meant certain doom for he and his family. Like he had unknowingly initiated us into some kind of cult. I assured him that we were both vegetarian and not vegetarian, we ate everything. I confused him more I think.
I went on to explain that vegetarians didn’t eat anything that was once alive, like chickens or cows.
The next day and I decided to buy some fish, I rarely eat fish but I decided some grilled fish and roast plantains sounded exotic and yummy so fish it was. Blame it on Aji who doesn’t stop going on about her hubby’s grilled fish and plantains. And you know there are some people who would beautify an unsightly item just by the way they describe it? She’s one of those. I had them gutted and cleaned but according to Mustapha ‘we don’t fillet fish here’. And yes he may or may not be called Mustapha.
I showed the whole, gutted, headless fish to #4 and he promptly asked; ”Is it dead? Why did they kill it?”

About now I’m blinking rapidly, wondering if I’m prepared for what might come next. I have never imagined living the vegetarian lifestyle- nothing against them but you can almost say it’s against my religion not to eat meat.

I think I may have created my first vegetarian. And since it’s this particular child, we’re all in trouble. Big trouble.

Do share some words of support. Please!

Operating Manual of Number 4

”I can’t wait to meet #4” He is so cute!!

I write a lot about #4 because, well I figure that by the time he’s old enough to read my blog the world would have moved on from blogging to another oddly-named fetish, yooking- or some other term- unintelligibly sounding, yet life changing on a global scale. It’s not like we knew twittering would ever become a verb used by humans.

I feel sorry for those who have expressed innocent interest in wanting to meet #4. Like Kemi- formerly justjoxy’s friend but now mine. She kindly invited us to her daughter’s birthday party and ended her invitation with; ”I can’t wait to meet #4”.

Let this be a quiet, but sound warning to all who wish to meet him.

1) He would not ‘greet’ properly. It’s not like I haven’t tried with him. Now he says ”Good afternoon, evening” but he doesn’t look up when he does. Unlike Tolu’s boys. Those boys can greeeet!!!

2) He hates being woken up every morning. He rants and raves about how his day has been ‘ruined’ by the one who woke him up. ” You have ruined my day”. ”Now my day is spoiled”. One day I picked him up after school and he asked; ”anything fun after school today mum?” He looked so hopeful, his deer-like eyes staring expectantly at my hardened ones. I replied with a steeliness that matched my eyes; ”no, we’re going home”. His response? Flaps arms about in frustration and says; ”you ruined my day in the morning, in the middle it was fine, and now you ruined it again at the end”. I had to call a friend to share this episode, it was too much for me to handle on my own

3) He believes blood comes from the devil. Because it hurts when he bleeds. Our most recent conversation on blood went something like this;

”What happens to Batman’s blood when he gets cut with the silver thing and he doesn’t bleed? Mum, why did God make blood then? How do you make silver? Like batman’s silver? How do you make gold? I know, you make lellow (yellow) dark and it becomes gold”. As you can see it wasn’t a conversation as such, I could barely get a word in. Okay truth be told, I had no answers for the child.

4) He is incredibly good with words.  A little wordsmyth he is. He makes up words too like putted. ”I putted it in the kitchen”. And inexpection. All my friends play football, inexpection of George. He likes Tennis”.

5) He wants another brother. Three is apparently not enough and his mother is clearly a child making machine. A Factory.

6) He is irresistibly cute and knows it. Be prepared to be extra affectionate with him. Bear in mind that giving affection to him will not result in you getting any back- in fact you wont even get an acknowledgement. To be completely honest your affectionate moves will be met with deep frowning and resistance. Ignore it all. That’s just how the child chooses to show love.

7) He loves his teacher. This one is quite annoying- and I can feel myself getting rather annoyed as I type this. He honours his teacher’s words above mine. If I tell him to do his homework on lined paper for instance, my request will be met with first an incredulous glance, then a condescending look as he shakes his big head stating the words; ”that’s not how you do it mama, my teacher said…”

I was going to carry on but don’t want to ruin any chances of actual adoption of this child. Unlike #3 who has so won the hearts of the Family *Smith, they literally beg to take him home constantly. Like here. We have been known to forget him with them and I am now certain the reason they bought a larger car was for #3. And that one knows how to charm the socks off them. When we pick him up he walks out with words of praise bathing him; ”He is incredibly polite, he is so sweet”.  ”He loves the baby”. ”The dogs just love him”.

Today is going to be a good day, I can just feel it. I might even come back and add another post that’s been brewing!

Have a lovely Sunday and thank you for reading.

May I shamelessly beg that you add a comment in the box below? It helps me to breathe easy 🙂

Growth

Disclaimer: While it may appear I’m trying to shove down an epistle of the last 3 months down your throats or minds as it were, this isn’t my intention.

Child #3 made £6.00 yesterday. He also got to sign autographs. I’ll explain.

We were invited to a photo shoot by The Voice newspaper for mothers day. It was to be a picture-led feature, lots of pictures and an interview. I’ll point out that I behaved in a dignified manner throughout.

Child #1 got some telling off from me because I insisted that he dressed formally, with a shirt and cardigan and chinos. No jeans, no T-shirts and certainly no hoodies. I got irritated with him as it was the umpteenth time (ok actually the 4th) I had addressed his dressing as it relates to race and stereotypes which he still doesn’t fully get- or rather he chooses not to understand.

Child #2 was elated. He has always considered himself a fashionista. This shoot to him had nothing to do with mothers day, (after all his mum knows he loves her) and everything to do with the catwalk. It was his moment. Finally his opportunity to become a model despite the fact that mummy said ‘over her dead body’ (whatever that meant).

Child #3 was as cheerful as ever. We were served chocolate drink with chilli pepper (no lie) and some moreish brownies. Child #3’s telling-off needless to say came down to; ‘stop stuffing your mouth!, ‘ come on! wipe those crumbs off your face‘. ‘you’ve had enough‘. ‘Anyone would think we were starving in our own home’.

Child #4. The one called Josh. This one, my conversation with him boiled down to; ‘stand still‘, ‘smile‘, ‘look at the camera‘, ‘no MacDonald’s for you when we leave this place’. ‘‘That’s it, no x-box either’. ‘In fact you’ll be facing the wall once we step indoors‘.

Each threat to my boys was accompanied with my already big eyes widening and my mouth twisted in more ways than I could count. It was important to me that we were seen as refined, well-groomed folks. I don’t know how well it went down with Child #4’s answer to the question; ‘what makes a good mum?

His response; ”A good mum lets me watch TV”.

Child #3 made some money because he told his friends he was featured in the papers and they didn’t believe him. So the savvy business man-child that he is, made bets with his friends and promptly asked them to pay up once he produced the newspaper the following day. He hasn’t stopped smiling.  He decided to stretch the truth by telling them he would be starring in a movie. His classmates (who by now believed every word he said), proceeded to ask for his autograph. Which he gave.

He isn’t starring in a movie, but he did do an audition (another gist which I will share).

I got an email from a casting agency looking for 9-10 year old boys of colour for an upcoming movie, a biopic of a Motown singer. Like any other mother who wants their child to go far in life, I quickly suggested my son (with pride and confidence as the boy is talented- like all our children are). I have learned to GRAB opportunity with both hands when I see it. We were asked to send in a single recording of him singing. As far as hubby and I and even his god-mother is aware, the boy has an angelic voice, he can sing. I hasten to say but between you and me, when he did the recording, it wasn’t the same voice. Lets just say I became increasingly uneasy as we recorded song after song after song. I am yet to hear back from the agency. ‘Nuff said.

The children are on Easter break. I warned them from the start that it would be an ‘indoor break’. No going out for us as it’s just too cold and I’ve reached my quota for cold days in 2012/13.

Talking about cold, I organised a seminar. It was to be a relaxing brunch with about 6 to 10 friends at my house, and a speaker sharing some wisdom with us. But it grew out of my home and into a lovely hotel close to where I live. I got into event-planning mode and very excitedly had it all down to a T. I had room for 30 and sold all 30 spaces with a couple on the waiting list. On the morning of the event we awoke to heavy snow. I had just enough time to cancel and inform all the guests. The postponement and my ensuing reaction showed me how much I’ve evolved as I was not in the least bit disappointed. It had crossed my mind to pray for the snow to stop, but I felt the Lord telling me to use common sense instead. I am glad that I did. I’m glad that I did not fret or panic, I’m glad that I saw the weather as something outside my control and therefore not to be angry at, I am so glad I made a sensible decision without dilly-dallying. For you it may be the norm, but for Toks, trust me, it’s a sign of growth.

Thanks so much for keeping up with me, I’m working on growing in frequency of my blog posts!

I also blog at http://www.inspiremeinc.wordpress.com. A blog for the faint-hearted.

50 Shades of Blue

Shantung & Tulle Dress by Shade Brielle

It’s been a busy last couple of months but I still found time to learn about the different shades of Blue, read a scandalous book on competition in black churches and ramp up my facebook activities on the business page.

On the home-front, hubby picked up his Blackberry this morning and went into the browser. Lo and behold, ‘someone’ had done a google search- how to fake being sick to your school nurse’.

We narrowed the culprit down to either child #2 or child #3. In cases like this I don’t believe in simply asking who did that. That’s too easy. They’ll admit and jump onto the emotional wagon as to the reasons they hate school. I prefer to use ‘small talk’ as my method. My first suspect was #2 because he’d been complaining of a runny tummy for the last week. I even gave him Imodium and Paracetamol. So I stole up to him in the bathroom and casually mentioned that I had been up for hours speaking to the doctor, because I didn’t realise that taking both Imodium and Paracetamol could lead to cancer. He stopped dead in his tracks:

#2: ”Mum, what do you mean?”

Me: Oh it’s only if it’s taken improperly, for example if you don’t have a tummy ache but you say you do, you know that sort of thing. Nothing to worry about.

#2: (Looking very worried); Did he say taking them together or taking them at different times?

I mumbled something incoherent and left him stewing. Five minutes later, he wanders up to me.

#2: Can children have cancer mum?

Me: of course, you know there are lots of Children at Great Ormond Street Hospital with cancer.

#2: What’s going to happen to them?

Me: Oh, some die, some survive you know the usual.

#2 Can cancer show up outside the body?

Me: (slightly confused as to what this has to do with anything) Not really, usually it’s too late by the time it is found out. But you have nothing to worry about, you have Jesus in your heart and you’re really ill. Now go get ready for school.

Then #3 shows up, “Mum, #2 just told me he has cancer.”

Mission accomplished. But I’ll let him stew all day before letting him know he’s been caught out.

#4, Josh has had his first days off sick at school, he had an eye infection. I picked him from school on Wednesday and he didn’t return till Monday. Here’s how the conversation went.

Josh: Mum do I have to go to school today?

Me: Of course darling, it’s Monday!

Josh: Ooooh! Flaps arms about in frustration. Why? Why do I have to go? Every single day I go to school why? Why do I have to go again? It’s not fair!

Me: Stunned into silence wondering what I did to deserve a drama king with mafioso style mannerisms.

I learned an important lesson on friendship this month. I am blessed to have some really good people as friends, that post on friends is coming up soon! But I also discovered something about a friend that revealed what they really thought about hubby and I. Not nice at all. We’re still friends but I’ve placed them neatly in a box labelled ‘one to watch’.

I’ve been nominated for an award- business of the year. I am chuffed about it and when I received the notification I didn’t ask who nominated me for fear of revealing the nagging thoughts that screamed; ‘you don’t deserve it!’. The award is given on merit by a panel of judges and not on votes. Sadly I don’t know the judges’ names as I would have asked my homies to go and ‘have a word with them’ complete with al qaeda threats. So all I can do is pray that their hearts are turned like a watercourse in my favour.

On the plus side I’ll be dining at the magnificent Savoy Hotel in London. That’s how come I got to know about the various shades of blue. I want to wear something in my company colours and ideally would be this navy blue dress by my good friend Shade, but since at $470.00 it’s ‘a little’ outside my budget, I thought I’d find an alternative. It was my search for something similar that led me on an adventure of becoming acquainted with ink blue, midnight blue, navy blue, ice blue, baby blue and kingfisher blue as relatives of the simple colour, blue.  I tried on this dress at Phase 8, but with the lacy bits I think it looks more like a party dress. I want to be taken seriously. So My options are down to a black dress with petrol blue accessories if  I can’t find the perfect blue dress. Which I won’t. Because the perfect blue dress is the one that’ll cost me $470.

I’ll keep you posted!

On the subject of black churches, my good friend Joxy is throwing it down with a series on how to run a black majority church. Please check it out here

And if you are looking for Christ-Centred Inspiration, check out my other blog, InspireMe.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Frazzled Belle in Love

One month. That’s how long it’s been since my last post. At this point I agree with Jim Rohn who said time is more valuable than money, money you can always make back. I refuse to look back and try to account for what transpired over the last month to the extent that I couldn’t or didn’t update my blog. Although so much has happened.

I celebrated my 15th wedding anniversary. It is scary to even type that number, I can’t believe hubby and I have been together for 15 years. Actually lets make that 17.5 since we dated for 2.5 years. Since we’re counting we’ll make that 20.5 years since we were best friends before then. Yes, I stole my best friend, lol! I remember the day I met him, it was at a mutual friend’s house. I had on my glasses and I got up to go to the kitchen. He said, ”take off your glasses let me see you without them” Can you imagine the cheek of him? I of course said no! In my mind thinking you are very bold, you barely know me and you’re making demands. He still thinks I have beautiful eyes but refuses to say they are my best feature, he believes all my features are best, awww!

Back in the day we all used to converge at Alex’s house on a Sunday to eat, gist and chill. There wasn’t much to our lives then, we were students and miles away from our parents or any sort of authority and life was good! It was there I also met Tinuke, along with Tola, Ronke and Tayo. I’m pleased to say that most of the friends I made in that house- which was  filled with Bobby Brown posters and weird haircuts- are still in my life today. And so many more wonderful people have been added over the years, including a certain blogger who will be the subject of my next post!

So Hubby and Alex along with Tinuke became my closest friends. As each dropped off the bandwagon dating their future spouses, hubby and I were increasingly left to go to the movies alone and spend hours on the phone. One day he asked who I saw myself with in the future, I realised then that we clearly had been spending so much time together that all I saw was him with his tiny eyes. Hmmm. Not good. I quickly made an excuse and got off the phone, which was the beginning of a week long of intense worry that I’d fallen in love with my best friend! I summoned reinforcements in the form of dear friends and a pastor’s wife to seek a way out of this dilemma. I couldn’t even speak to him the next day as I felt this was so wrong, plus I was convinced he would be able to see my thoughts through the phone- seeing him face to face was certainly out of the question. I guess I was that flustered as he was the first person I fell in love with, if you don’t count Blair Underwood, Johnny Gill and Babyface. He eventually told me how he felt about me- more than just friends. He told me how he hated the fact that I told everyone we were like brother and sister! The rest as they say is history, a beautiful one. That was all before I became a frazzled mama to 4 boys. Yes they are gorgeous. Yes they are adorable and sweet, but they also have major frazzling power!

Toddler J now talks. We already have a talker in the family- number 3 and we have been praying and confessing that he wouldn’t have a rival. Alas it wasn’t to be. I swear this boy just started talking on Monday. He has always chatted, don’t get me wrong but something happened on Sunday/Monday that turned on a switch in him. Today is Thursday and he hasn’t slowed down. He not only speaks in sentences, he speaks in paragraphs too! Please pray for me.

Number 3 is still as sweet as ever and learning the lesson of tolerance, tolerance that is of number 1, who has suddenly turned teaser-extraordinaire. Number 2, the sporty one decided he no longer wants to play football. One is unsure of whether to force him to carry on as he is very talented, or allow him to choose another sport so that he enjoys his childhood. Suggestions gladly welcome!

Spoiled Brat!

You’ll probably conclude by the end of this post that I was raised a spoiled brat, I wasn’t!

My worst Christmas as a child occurred when I was about 8. This was the year I saw my present before Christmas day. My parents went the extra mile at birthdays and Christmas to make sure those days were special. We usually had a party for our birthdays and we always celebrated the end of the year with an end-of-year party. It was huge. We’re talking stacks of chairs being delivered, tents put up and tons of kids from the neighborhood were invited. Our presents were usually grand too, nearly as grand as our tree which was decorated not in any particular theme or colour way but instead was a potpourri of every imaginable color, shape and size of bubble. Even wall decorations went on the tree, anything in fact so long as it was shiny and Christmassy.

So when Mr Michael showed mummy this unique brand new, must-have-since-no-one-else-had-it gift, mum was absolutely chuffed. On Christmas morning we rushed to the tree to open our presents. All we got was the white tee-shirt that said “Smile, it’s a happy New Year“. The same one I witnessed Mr. Michael showing mum days earlier. The large circle in the middle had the individual’s name on it. Smile Toks, it’s a Happy New Year. That was my Christmas present. I think what spoiled things wasn’t just the present but the fact that I saw it before the day, ruining any chance of  a surprise. Needless to say, I wasn’t smiling. Personalised tee-shirts were a fad that was just beginning, at least in my neck of the woods. I was miserable the whole day, it didn’t help that every member of our household and every worker had the same top, they were all very happy and wore their’s with pride.

Thankfully these days waking up alive is a present in itself, bigger and more valuable than any gift I can imagine. I am in good health and in my right mind. I am filled with joy, I believe the word of God, I have a great family and I’m blessed with good friends.

May your Christmases be many and blessed!

My Heart Skips a Beat

I don’t get on the trains or tubes a lot. As a matter of fact this year I’ve only been on it twice. Once on our trip to the Natural History Museumremember the post? And recently when we went to watch Sister Act. I think there was a time- yes Easter time as well on another outing.

Anyhoo, the last time I was on the train I noticed a pattern had been evolving. Whenever the ticket inspectors came around, my heart would skip a beat. There was no reason for this to happen as I always had a ticket.  After some digging, I realised that the reason I panicked was as a result of past journeys made when I didn’t have a ticket. This was as far back as when there were no ticket barriers and you could just walk right through and the ticket inspectors would wish you a pleasant rest of the day. I can’t believe I still suffer the effects of those years gone by. How much longer? I have to tell myself  that it is absolutely fine Toks, you bought a ticket, remember?

My heart skips a beat when a cop car is behind me. I start to wonder if my break lights are working correctly. What if I get pulled over because they suspected the threads on my tires are not 3mm deep? I mean do they really do that? I can’t afford any more points on my licence because I currently have 6 I think. Maybe the first 3 have expired. I trace that problem to the period I was driving without a licence. I remember how it all started too. I used to drive down to the stop on Finchley Road to catch my coach to Hatfield. One day I missed it, so I chased and overtook the coach to the next stop. Then I thought, hey I know the way, why not?

My heart skips a beat when I get a call from Nigeria. Can’t trace the root of that one except that in all the ethnic books I read, when someone comes all the way from ‘home’ it is to break bad news in person.

My heart skips a beat when  one of my boys give a blood curdling yell. I instantly think A&E, broken bones or worse.

My heart skips a beat when a friend says to me “we need to talk” I fear I have done something to offend them. These days I don’t get too bothered about that. I have over a hundred contacts on Facebook, never mind that I haven’t spoken to more than half of them in ages. I may just be able to live without you- just kidding! Seriously I hate being the cause of annoyance to people. I love to be a source of joy.

When hubby says “we need to talk” my heart skips a beat.  I immediately rehearse my lines on why the bank balance has shrunk to zero. But then he only does that to tell me that he loves me. Then my heart skips a beat again.