Home again


Going to school was the worst part. La Serpiente had woken me early in the morning, coming into my room distressed and lying on top of me, stretching herself out along my entire torso. I would have let it lie, but a glance at my phone told me it was 3am and not 6am, and so I took her back to her bed, and then had to sleep on the floor next to her, because every time I got up and left, she woke up and cried out. With the air conditioning on a baltic (for Singapore) 25 degrees, and me shirtless, I was resorting to wrapping myself in a towel to keep warm in the wee small hours before it was time to get up.

Of course that meant that La Serpiente then overslept, and only crawled from her bed at 7:45, refusing most offers of cereal and being difficult to get into her school uniform. I got her down to the bus stop just in time to see the number 75 depart, and had to wait fifteen minutes for the next one. La Serpiente refused to walk more than a few yards, so I had to carry her to the bus, on the bus, off the bus, all the way up to the school, and then deposited her at the top of the stairs.

Because we were late, there was a scrum of crying children at the entrance, and La Serpiente joined in, howling that she wanted her mummy, which was something I couldn’t produce out of a spare pocket. I rapidly retreated, the shrieks of my daughter following me down the stairs and out into the courtyard and then into the street, a constant siren wail of despair.

Which was just the thing to get me in the mood for the office.

At twelve, I ran down seven flights of stairs, jumped in a taxi and then panicked all the way to the school, worried I’d be late and my daughter would be howling at her abandonment. This is the second taxi ride I’ve had of pure terror in the past 7 days, after Friday’s long slow odyssey to Tokyo Central. I was surprised to be in a red taxi and not also terrified of the driver, although after a calm and careful drive to Tiong Bahru, he took the shine off things slightly by putting the rear wheel of his car into the drainage ditch as he parked up. But you can’t have everything.

La Serpiente was inordinately happy to see me, rushing out of her classroom for a hug. But then she refused to walk, and so I had to carry her to the bus stop (strangely much further on the return journey) and then from the bus stop all the way to our flat, and then if she could she probably would have made me carry her to the fridge and pour milk down her throat for her.

Still, she went down for her nap fairly quickly, and then I handed off to our babysitter. On the way out to the office for another four hours, I encountered a man at our front door. He looked at me and asked if I wanted to buy some durians. I said no, and off he went.

Now that is fairly suspicious, because he showed no signs of having any fruit with him, and how many itinerant durian sellers are wandering the fortieth floor of a block of flats. Am I getting too untrusting in my old age, or is there some kind of scam that he was running? Or was he hoping to case the joint? Maybe I should have asked for his durian selling credentials, just to be sure.

I had a rush of work to get through at the office, before running back home, again worried that my babysitter would decide to wander off at 5:30 (as if such a thing would happen). About an hour later my wife and Destroyer finally came back into my life, after having been delayed at the hospital by the wonderful wait for paperwork. Now we could calmly relax together.

It’s been a tough year so far, and a tough week. I can’t believe it’s still only Tuesday, but perhaps the next three days will be easier. Now that neither of our children have vomitted in the last twelve hours or so, things could be looking up.

Except La Serpiente was shouting at the top of her voice. I’m not sure if she was acting out because she was tired, or envious of her sister for getting special treatment (there’s nothing kids like as much as an intravenous drip) or just out of sorts from that stomach bug, but she was being as loud as she could, and then took over an hour to get to sleep, which again, doesn’t bode well for tonight, or for tomorrow morning.

Finally, in a huff I went out for a run, and did four rather slow kilometres. I did also try out the twenty pound pair of Bluetooth headphones that I bought in Sainsbury’s after Christmas, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they worked, and didn’t fall out of my ears after five paces. So that was nice. I got home to find everyone asleep, and then remembered I’d gone out to buy some milk, so I had to go back out again. Looking for something positive in this, walking around an air conditioned supermarket is a great way to lose some of the sweatiness that a twenty minute run in Singapore incurs. So that was good.


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