Children: what I want to do exactly the same as my mom

Your mother is the woman who carried you, birthed you and nursed you. No matter what happens, she’ll always stay very close to you. I have to admit I was a father’s child, but I connected with my mom at a completely different level. We were so alike! We could talk about korfball, we could both lose ourselves in books and we both didn’t really care about how other people saw us. Of course we were also different. My mother had a terrible fear of heights, and I loved climbing trees…

When I was younger, I experienced my mother as being overprotective at times. Climbing trees was something she definitely didn’t allow if she saw it, she believed it was way too dangerous (she has never known I fell out once… which is good). At all times, she was afraid we might get hurt. She once took me out of a match when I was injured, but after I screamed and yelled and cried she decided to let me handle injuries and stepping out of matches by myself. My brother never had anything to handle anything by himself. He was always in trouble, often through his own mistakes, but my mother was the one protecting him, making amends and saying that it were often the other boys as well, but he was the only one to get caught. As a mother’s child and being protected like that all his life, it was really hard on him when she died, cause he’d never learned to handle his own things.

This protective behaviour was not only about dangers, it was an expression of her caring. She wanted to take care of us so much, I always felt cared for and soothed. Up until I was 15 and told her I could do it myself, she made my sandwiches for lunch at school. It was hard for her to let go.

Most of all, I experienced my mother as happy. Quite a few embarrassing moments have occurred because  she just did what she liked. Dancing in the middle of the room (any idea how embarrassing that is when you have friends over?!). Running over the field, chased by a teammate who wanted to throw lemonade over her (as a repercussion, she started it). Close, sexy dancing with my dad when my brother and I were present (ieuw). Enjoying a glass of wine every now and then (once leading to her standing drunkenly and sick at the front door after mixing different wines…). She enjoyed life to the full.

And that’s what I want to do exactly the same when my husband and I have kids. Teach them they can freely express themselves, showing them that life is fun and full of opportunities. Enjoy every single day. Thanks mom, for teaching me that.

Early morning or late night?

Early morning, sitting crouched in a corner of the couch reading a book or listening to a soft tv. I’ve put the newspaper on the dining table and skipped through the stories and, most importantly, the comics. After sitting downstairs quietly for an hour, my dad comes down for a morning coffee and the morning paper. We’re both silent. He puts on his coat and unlocks the door. “Will you watch the house till mommy wakes up?”, he asks. I nod. I always nod. When he waves goodbye I stick my nose to the glass and wave back to watch him leave. I return to my corner, quietly, waiting for mommy to come down in another half hour.

I must have been about five years old, cause this is one of my earliest memories. Clearly I loved the quiet time of early morning, watching the sunrise and waiting for the world to wake up. Even when I was older and attended secondary school, I got up earlier so I could see everyone coming into the school, see the school starting to buzz with activity (I was there at least half an hour before classes started).

Lately, I’m having trouble getting up early because my husband and I tend to stay up late. Am I now a night person? No. I don’t feel as invigorated by sunset as I feel by sunrise, and I don’t stay up because I’m not sleepy. Why do I do it? To get things done, perhaps. Usually, growing up, I’d wake earlier to get things done, but I enjoy the together time of early morning, cuddling in bed, as well, and just now I want to keep that.

Not everybody functions like this. Some people get their best work done after 11 pm. They feel alive at night and seem to be absent minded all morning until they’ve had their morning coffee… Or even then they remain sluggish. But it certainly has it’s advantages.

I’m a morning person, without a doubt. Which one are you?

The thrill of a rollercoaster

It must have been years since I went to an amusement park, though I always enjoy them very much. I have soothing childhood memories of going to Drievliet and the Efteling with my mom and dad and little brother. My mother was afraid of heights – she once saw me climb a tree out back and I’d never seen her that angry – let alone rollercoaster rides. So my brother and I used to fight over who could sit next to dad, as there were usually only two seats together. Most of the time we went twice or my dad ended the discussion in a fair way: I was older, so I could sit alone. After a while I was actually proud of that and didn’t mind so much.
It was a joy when we found something mom was willing to do as well. A water track (where we were all soaked, naturally) or slower moving attractions were things she could fortunately stomach. We were so very different! My brother and I wanted to try everything, though he also backed out when I wanted to try bungee jumping. Not that I was allowed to do it, but I thought about it.

Goliath, the fastest rollercoaster in Walibi Holland

Goliath, the fastest rollercoaster in Walibi Holland

The same happened today. My husband and I went to Walibi and decided to try out all the rollercoasters. Goliath, which reaches 104 km/h peak speed was most exciting, despite the lack of loops. The Condor, where you are in a hanging seat was most intense, and the Speed of Sound which also goes backwards was very enjoyable. Apart from the roller coasters and water attractions, however, my husband refused to join me for some other rides. He claimed he would be nauseous.
Admittedly, he is afraid of heights, though less than mom used to be, but enough for parts of the rollercoaster rides to be very scary. We don’t get into the same ride twice, also for that reason. But we enjoy the exhillarating rides together, and when we have kids, they won’t have to fight, because they won’t have to sit alone. We will enjoy the thrill of rollercoaster rides together, as a family.

One little mouse

Huismuis

One little mouse came out to play
Gathering crumbs along the way

I think mice are among the cutest animals to look at. When I was younger, my brother and I kept mice as pets. I used to cuddle with them whilst my brother, as boys tend to do, believed his mouse was a circus animal and let him do ‘tricks’. His kind of tricks usually involved letting him dangle from his tail and dropping him to the ground of his cage: “Look, it’s an acrobat!”. Yes, we were very young then… and I wasn’t much better than him. I was sad when my first mouse, with the very innovative name of Grey, died of old age. And I can say I was devastated when my second mouse, Blackie (no, I was not very good at coming up with interesting names), had to be put to sleep after what seems to have been a cerebral hemorrhage. Nothing, however, compares to how I felt when my third and last mouse (Whitey, you’d never have guessed) died.

He/she was still very young, and though the pet store claimed he (?) was old enough to leave his mother, I had my doubts. He refused to use the drink bottle attached to the cage and wouldn’t drink from a bowl either.  To keep him from dehydration, I had to hold him and sort of force him to drink water using a small syringe I kept at his mouth. Perhaps the pet store keeper or my mother wouldn’t have had any trouble doing that. But for an eight-year-old girl with small hands having to keep an even smaller, wriggling mouse still while giving him water, it was a challenge. Whitey didn’t like it at all and kept trying to wriggle himself free. But he had to drink, or he would die, so I held him a bit tighter… and a bit tighter… and a bit tighter… and then he stopped wriggling. He stopped drinking too. And breathing. I remember I screamed, tears starting to flow down my cheeks, running to my mom yelling “He no longer works! He tried to escape, but I tried to keep him still so I could give him some water, but he kept trying to escape, and now he doesn’t breath anymore!”. My mother tried to console me, but I kept sobbing. Without meaning to, I had killed my pet, my mouse, my Whitey.

We kept a funeral for him in the yard, where he joined Grey and Blackie and my brother’s mice and half a frog he had once found near the stream and decided to bury. It was the last pet we ever had.

Now we have a mouse again, my husband and I. Last night he was there all of a sudden, scaring both of us to death as he walked inches from our heads when we we’re sleeping. An hour earlier I thought I had seen something move in the study room. Well, then we were certain. We tried for an hour to chase him away from underneath the closet where he had taken refuge when we put on the light, and managed to capture him. Only to let him escape seconds later. As he is still in our bedroom and we don’t like the thought of that (were not scared of the tiny creature, but letting him walk so close to us while were sleeping is a bit too much), we hired someone to take care of it and to make sure no mice can get through any holes in our house. And I’m ashamed to admit: he’s not getting rid of the mouse humanely. I know it can be done. For a biology project we spent 3 nights catching mice, marking them and releasing them again to estimate the mice population. Easy traps to use with a bit of peanut butter to lure the mice. We’re using peanut butter as well, and the traps are simple too, but the mouse will be no longer working when he’s caught… Poison lure boxes and back-snapping traps. Dharma would hate us! And I don’t like myself either… But we have to get rid of the mouse (or mice, if we’re unlucky). We’ll see how it turns out…

Out came pussycat sleek and fat
No little mice go scampering back…

Kat en muis

The art of collecting

When I was younger, during primary school, I think, I was an avid collector. I have collected flowers, pressing them between books. No clue about the specific names of the plants, except for very common ones such as dandelion or poppy, I mainly wanted flowers I thought pretty. And I forgot about them after I put them in the books to press and dry. My mother laughed at my surprise when, a year later, I opened a book and a dry, discoloured flower fell out.

My little brother and I decided to collect stamps next, and quarreled a lot about it, as siblings tend to do. “This map was mine!” “Liar, it’s mine”. Mom and dad wisely got us differently coloured maps after a few of those incidents. My brother had blue ones, obviously, and I had red ones. We often went to a fair in a church nearby and got to choose a sheet of stamps from one of the filatelists usually standing there. My parents were very supportive.

And we changed our interests again, for me it was for the last time. Dad made us both a big case to display our collection. My brother’s stood in his room filled with Harry Potter lego he got or saved for. Mine? I had it hanging on the wall of my room, showing off my stone collection to everyone who entered my room. I even had a subscription to a collecting magazine called ‘Schatten van de Aarde’ (treasures of the earth), which came with two stones every issue. My prized posession, and I still have everything. I have awfully neglected it, though, for years and years, until I took it from my dad’s home last Friday. A helluva job lies ahead, because the gems and minerals in the boxes have been tossed about quite a bit and I have to determine them again. And learn about their qualities, both magical and mundane, though I won’t keep a very good pace, I’m afraid… I’m always quick to lose interests in my collections.

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So I’ve collected flowers, stamps, stones, coins (especially when the Euro was first introduced we collected the coins from different countries all together) and even keys because I aspired to be one of those smart kids I read about in Enid Blyton’s books and it would come in handy to have many different keys. I was so unnerved I went round my neighbourhood asking people for their old keys… I can’t imagine what they thought.

And my brother? He enjoyed the lego and still has it. After a while he took the red stamp books as his (but that’s fine, since I took his stones from Naturalis, a museum) but he has forgotten about them. Now he collects hoods and empty liquor bottles (not that he drinks them all by himself, I think). But nothing more.

So what did you collect as a child and what do you do with it now?