Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dubai Mothers

It's getting very hot here now. I have to drive around with the air con jets arranged so they blow directly into my armpits. Otherwise there is serious danger of combustion (not to mention severe deodorant failure). I'm a far cry from the more seasoned Dubai-ites who swank around in their Swarovski-encrusted jeans in the 40C heat. Personally, I'm all over baggy cotton and elasticated waistbands right now as anything else makes me feel like a sausage about to burst out of its too-tight skin.

Who ever said Dubai is glamorous?

I've been doing a lot of people watching lately, mainly while sweating in the shade waiting for the school bell to ring, which has been a fascinating exercise in socio-cultural something or other. Basically, Dubai mothers can be loosely split into the following categories:

THE HUMMER MOM - Hummer Mom's heroine is Angelina in her Tomb Raider days. Gym honed and super-toned, she pours herself into tight black outfits and fixes a 'don't mess with me' expression on her face at all times. HM swings herself out of the driving seat of her gleaming Hummer and strides purposefully to the school gates, gym bags, lunch pails and school rucksacks slung effortlessly over one sleek shoulder, kids trotting obediently behind her. Lesser mothers are flung aside as she plows through the crowds, determined that nothing will impede her path. What she does during the day is a mystery as nobody is brave enough to engage her in polite chit-chat, but it's got to include lengthy sessions at the gym and regular protein shakes.

THE GLAMAZON - Glamazon has never been seen without a full face of make-up and professionally blow-dried hair. Glossy of leg and lip, she has the art of walking across a playing field and navigating stretches of sand in 5-inch heels down to a fine art. Like a magpie, she loves anything with a bit of sparkle and is often encrusted with gems, real and fake, on every visible surface. Looking this remarkable takes a lot of work, so G's days are spent at Dubai's most swanky salons, the gym, the mall or picking at salad for 'lunch' while complaining about the laziness of her latest maid(s). Glamazon's children have complicated hair and are often coated with a light dusting of glitter.

THE DUBAI SLOANE - blonde and rangy, the Dubai Sloane is straight out of London's King's Road, just with a better tan and a slightly more dazed expression. Her highlights are always salon-perfect, she favours safari style separates (her favorite film is Out of Africa) and she would much prefer a Colonial lifestyle - Dubai is much too obvious for her. Her days are filled with tennis, lunch at the Club and planning her summer escape back to their weekend 'bolthole' in Sussex. Her dearest wish is for Hughey to get a transfer back to the London office so they can all live in glorious Blighty again, away from all this foreign nonsense, which frankly she finds quite baffling.

Duty calls (i.e. rugrats are shouting for dinner). More to come.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Is dyslexia a dirty word?

I'm turning into a grumpy old woman. Alpha claims this is a good thing, saying that I'm far too nice to people and I might as well wear a sign saying "walk all over me". But surely turning into an uber-bitch is a step too far?

What's really making me feel the rage at the moment is certain people (you know who you are) trying to deny that Firstborn is dyslexic. These naysayers seem to think that I'm doing something really bad in allowing such a label to be applied to her. Like I'm making it up or something. Erm, why would I do that? Do they think I'm insane?

Here are the main 'arguments':
  • "But Firstborn seems so normal..."
  • "She's obviously intelligent and she speaks well, she can't be dyslexic!"
  • "Some children are just slower than others, it doesn't mean she's dyslexic. Why don't you just wait a few years and see what happens?"
  • "Dyslexia is a load of rubbish, it's one of those trendy words they use for kids who aren't academic. Not everyone can be top of the class, can they? Anyway, there's more to life than being clever."

I should probably add that these people have not witnessed the struggle Firstborn has in trying to get words down on to paper, do a simple sum or read words phonetically. They've never seen her break down in tears after school because she's failed yet another spelling or maths test and learn something by rote. Most of them don't know about the two years of rubbish we went through trying to get help for her at her old school in London; all it resulted in was Firstborn being put into a learning support programme which just made her feel even more stupid and different. She ended up with zero confidence - a sad thing to witness in a 6 year old.

Then we came to Dubai and enrolled Firstborn in a brilliant school with a dedicated dyslexic unit and guess what? Her reading and writing are improving so much I'm constantly amazed, she doesn't feel sick to her stomach before school any more and never, ever feels stupid. That's enough for me.

So, is dyslexia a dirty word or are these people merely badly-informed, meddling idiots?

Anyone else in Dubai with a dyslexic child, please feel free to get in touch on or off-blog.

Embracing the downturn

It was Alpha's birthday last week so we used it as an excuse to get out the city for the weekend and head up the coast for a bit of beach-and-snorkelling action.

Here's where we ended up.

Anyone out there still thinking that Dubai is all super-bling and uber-luxury?

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Pays How Much?

Losing teeth is a major conversation topic in our house right now. This is because my 6-and-a-half-year-old daughter has not lost any yet, despite nearly all of her friends proudly sporting holes in their mouth.

Assuming that at some point these baby teeth will depart (the front one is possibly wiggling, according to The Rabbit) I have started asking parents what the going rate is for the tooth fairy. Now when I was little (cue the squeaking rocking chair), I firmly remember getting a silver dollar for each tooth. And I felt at the time that was sizeable.

Of course I assumed inflation would play some part in what today’s pay scale, but I had no idea by how much. Grab yourself a seat in your own rocker and read on.

A child at her school got $20 for the first tooth. (And yes, this was verified with the mother.) Another got just $5 — of course that came along with a new Wii title as a bonus. (And I was assured she got $3 from then on. Right.) But $5? For a first tooth? How about for every tooth — that’s what another little girl I know is getting.

Other moms I know had given their kids gifts as well. Had the Tooth Fairy turned in Santa somewhere and I missed the news release? Because apparently everyone now gives a gift with the loss of the first tooth — like some sort of Communion or Bat Mitzvah event. I get celebrating the transition into adulthood — it just feels a bit odd, to me, to exchange a body part for a present.

Luckily The Rabbit has yet to glean any of this. Her biggest worry is if she’ll even get to see the Tooth Fairy. She’s already built a little bed, and has plans to write the magical creature a card when she comes to visit. I think the idea that a fairy is going to wing down while she sleeps is far more thrilling than the idea of any financial reward. But then again, she has yet to dig into her piggy bank for any real purchases.

For me? I know firmly that silver dollars are going to be our tooth fairy’s payment of choice — along with some tiny flowers from her garden and maybe even some pixie dust footprints. I suppose that’s a gift. But I like to think I’m gifting The Rabbit more for her imagination — rather than a sawbuck for a Sponge Bob game.