It's the holiday season. Well, when I say 'holiday' what I actually mean is the Expat Summer Shuffle which, rather than time lying on a beach with a pina-colada to-hand as you wade through the latest paperback block-buster, is in fact solo-parenting time spent moving from one long-suffering family member or friend to the next, packing, unpacking, repacking, buying extra suitcases to contain the supplies of school uniform and clothes for the kids that you've bought along the way in the UK sales, and of course taking any opportunity you can to squeeze in the odd load of laundry when possible.
It's great to catch up with our nearest and dearest, but this lifestyle is not conducive to writing long posts - or, it seems, looking back on the last week or so on The Potty Diaries, any posts - so please bear with me for the moment whilst the Potski familiski makes their summer progress through Northern Europe.
On the plus side, I have come up with a killer concept for my next novel. Never mind that I have yet to finish my first, or indeed that the 60K words I have already written require some fairly extensive editing; at least I know what I'm going to be doing next.
Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding that a friend (mother to her own boys 1 and 2; B & H) had recently with the landlord of her holiday let, I had the opportunity to overhear today what my sons consider the correct appearance for any kind of landlord...
Boy #1: "B said, when they checked into the apartment, that the landlord was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops, so they (B and his younger brother) knew that he couldn't be a proper landlord..."
Boy #2: "Yes. Because that is no way for a landlord to dress."
Me (suddenly interested in what was previously only a 2 way conversation between my children): "So, what do you think a landlord should be wearing?"
Boy #1: "Well. They should be handsome. Smart. Tidy hair. With proper shoes."
Boy #2: "And they should be wearing a top suit."
Me (confused): "A 'top suit'?"
Boy #1 (very definitely): "Yes. A top suit."
Me: "Okaaaay. What is a 'top suit', exactly?"
Boy #2: "You know. Very smart."
Boy #1: "Yes, with a bow tie. Oh. I mean, a toxic-suit. No, I mean a tuxedo. A tuxedo..."
So now we know, folks. If your landlord is not dressed to the nines when he pops by to collect the rent, and is not wearing 'proper' shoes, he is no damn good. Consider yourselves warned.
One of my sons is nearly half way through a week of such an IMMENSELY cool sport-related activity that even I - the queen of no sporting ability - get excited about it when I think about it.
Imagine your child getting the chance to spend a week being coached in a sport he likes, but at which he will never be a world beater, by luminaries who's names send grown men into awed revery. Like, for example, being shown how to ride a bike by Chris Hoy. Or how to score a goal by David Beckham. Or how hit a tennis ball by Jimmy Connor. You get the picture.
Well, we got the opportunity for Boy #? to do something along those lines, for a week. He jumped at it, so we made it happen. He's having a great time, hanging out and playing a sport he likes, being coached in how to improve his performance, and being outdoors all day, every day, in top-class facilities.
There's just one thing.
He has no idea how amazing this experience is.
On the one hand this freaks me out a little. It's like training at Anfield and treating it like the local rec, or knocking a few balls about at Wimbledon and acting as if it's your back garden. It's as if you're treating Lawrence Dallaglio like your dad showing you how to score a try, or back-chatting Freddie Flintoff - showing you how to bowl a cricket ball - like you would a visiting uncle. It's just. Plain. Wrong.
But on the other, I'm quite glad my son has no idea how cool this opportunity is. He just gets to hang out with the other kids in his class, enjoying the experience, with no thought of being intimidated by who the coach is or the location he's standing in. Mainly because - if I'm honest - as an expat with limited exposure to sports events on tv, he has no idea of who the coach is, or the historical significance of the location he's standing in. This situation would be impossible to achieve if we lived in the UK given the exposure afforded to this sport, but due to the fact that whilst we like it we cherry pick the games we watch, and then add to that the fact that where we live most of those games aren't screened at times we would be interested in, his opportunities to soak up background knowledge about this sport are thin on the ground. The result is a child who is simply there this week to learn and have fun, rather than to impress his heroes.
Husband, who was here for the first day of this activity, is delighted by how good a time Boy #? is having, and more than a little envious of the opportunity (as is every other man we've mentioned it to). He told me that he would never even have considered doing this at our son's age. He would have been too scared; his exact words were 'I wouldn't have dared...'
But there's time enough for hero-worship in our son's future. For now, here he is: Daring. Making us proud, doing the things we never got the opportunity to do, taking them in his stride, just getting on with it. Learning from it, enjoying it, and not wasting time worrying what anyone else thinks of his choices or performance.
And actually, now I think about it, that in itself may just be the coolest part of the whole experience...