Monday, 19 July 2010

The moth effect

We found a moth in Hamish's wardrobe. Orla said we should "set it free using Daddy's shoe" , but I managed to blow on it several times and encourage it out of the window. Not before it had batted it's little wings and set off a chain of events that added up to one of my best days yet in Berlin.

The day started off uneventfully enough. Just the usual: kids going mental, me going spare, them not listening, me thinking I AM GOING TO LOSE MY MIND. So it was, that I decided to just get them out of the house before they knocked anything else over, broke bones, made their mother have them adopted. My thoughts turned to the play place at KaDeWe. A little creche of sorts where you can leave your children in their care for up to 3 hours for FREE as long as you don't leave the shop. They give you a nice mobile phone and promise to interrupt your calm-regaining browse, should anything happen.

So as I rushed to get us ready for this, I had all the usual interruptions to contend with along with a new one - Hamish's new love of brie. 3 minutes from departure I have them both fully covered in sun lotion. 1 minute from departure Orla knocks over a crate of our friends belongings "just because", which has been standing on top of 2 other crates. 30 seconds from departure Orla appears out of the naughty corner, naked. Race, race, race. We finally leave the house. Dor closed. Hamish requests more cheese. Flappetty, flappetty, go the wings of the moth. I realise I don't have my keys.

I go downstairs to get a signal on my phone and ask Stevie what time he'll be back from work. Of course this is the day he chose to take his bike instead of the car so he'll probably be later. Fair enough, I have my new bank card anyway, so I can go and get money out and we can just spend the afternoon somewhere. Flappetty, flappetty, go the wings of the moth. I turn to look at the kids who are in the sand pit. I let out a (possibly) external scream as I realise that the sun lotion has adhered them with a good even coating of sand. I try a wipe on a leg. Much squealing and also I don't have the lotion out with me to reapply so I give up and hope that it will fall off of its own accord before we get to KaDeWe and they will accept my grotty children.

First the bank. I got one card, two pin numbers. I figured that I would go into the bank and ask them about this. But of course the moth has flapped it's wings and the bank is already closed for the weekend. Never mind. I figure the latest pin number they have sent me will be the most likely correct one. Flappetty, flappetty, I put the card in, look for the (no) option for English language, and put the pin number in. End of transaction is what I guess it tells me. Either way my card has been swallowed. Not even a chance to try the other pin. I am close to tears. I phone Stevie. He offers these words of comfort - "Didn't you see the option for English?"

I have a few Euros, but I am going to have to be careful not to spend them too frivolously because I might have to wander around Berlin for quite a few hours before Stevie comes back with the keys. But wait, I'm forgetting! I have KaDeWe! I take the kids up, and it's different people from the last time I used it and they want either my passport (which I didn't bring) or my bank card for ID. Oh, that old thing. Well...

So once again, I have to present my Berlin Zoo Card as my only form of ID, and once again it is accepted, though grudgingly. I explain that Orla might ask to go for a "wee wee" and I show Orla the toilets so she knows where to go this time without them having to phone me. I take myself off to the 6th floor to check out the food and start to relax. Then the phone rings. I hear a babble of German. To my ear it sounds fast and a little frantic, and I say "Ein minuten! Ich komme!!". I race down the escalators and get there in under a minute. Orla has done a wee wee, and they explain has managed to do it all the way from the front of the creche through to the toilet area. I find her sat on a toilet looking quite happy. "The wee-wee just came". Fair enough. These things happen. But how am I going to spend an afternoon in Berlin with a child who is naked from the waist down and definetly doesn't have lotion on her bum?

I haven't got enough money to buy her anything from KaDeWe, but still they come to my rescue. They give me a loan of a pair of trousers in exchange for 5 euros. My cash is depleting. I am thankful that I didn't have time for a drink. It seems that it is time to leave the KaDeWe. Stevie phones. I am going to leave early so I can get back to help you. GREAT!!!!

Of course this is the day he decides it would be best to see what it's like getting the train back with his bike. Do I need to tell you that it takes longer? He phones as I am feeling a little better. I have found the Hugendubbel (like Waterstones) that I have been wanting to go to, and have found that they also have a great English book section and an English book group that meets once a month. I am going to go to that I decide. Stevie phones again. He is back and has checked the mailbox and there is a new bankcard for me. He will walk down to meet me with it and we will try it together. I tell him I will walk up to meet him as I have nothing better to do. I walk and walk and I am nearly home, literally round the corner from the apartment when he appears. I have dark, secret thoughts that he has probably been having a nice lie down with a cold coke, in a flat that he has keys for. He hands me my keys and we head back to the Ku'Damm and the bank. We try my card and my second pin and this time I get money. But there is no option for English. Stevie is adamant that I have got it wrong and tries his card. Same, but I was half expecting his card to get eaten. It was that sort of day, but it didn't.

The kids are getting fractious and feel they have been out for far too long. We race home and Stevie notices that they are both coated in sand and starving. Up in the lift he starts getting frantic as the noise coming from the kids is getting increasingly loud, whiney, and annoying. Just get the door opened and get them straight into the bathroom, he demands. Right, right! It's funny. He always thinks that it's incredulous that I should get frustrated and annoyed by the kids when I have them all day every day and usually through the night, yet it's perfectly normal for him to be the same after just an hour in their company. I open the door, hustle them in, run a bath, strip them off, get them cleaned and make the dinner. Then ready for bed and then I can relax and moan to my mum about my horrible day on the phone.

Saturday comes. It takes us most of the morning to get ourselves organised enough to go out. Stevie starts making a song and dance about me making sure I have everything. Do you have your keys? Actually, as it happens, I can't find them. Flappetty, flappetty, Stevie opens the front door while I am frantically searching the flat. There's a clink as he does so: I had left my keys in the lock on the outside of the door.

We found another moth in the bathroom on Sunday. This time we helped it with Daddy's shoe.


  1. Oh how awfully tiring. That book club sounds excellent! I want to join, too.

  2. Another day, yet another bank card arrives.

  3. Phew! Aren't you glad life is so simple?!


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