Monday, March 24, 2008

Year of the Prawn

When documenting the passage of time, especially in regards to the growing process of children, it’s easy for details to start leaking out of your ears. I’m fairly sure that if I didn’t have pictures of the Prawn as a tiny blob, I would have a difficult time remembering that she did not spring from my womb fully formed, toddling, demanding cheese and shouting “geetar!” Have I forgotten enough to try to start the whole process again, complete with possible complications and disappointments? Possibly. Traitorous swine brain.

At any rate, our little crustacean has now been with us for a whole year. Both to celebrate her birthday and spend some time with their trans-Atlantic granddaughter, my parents flew in last Monday. From stories that have been passed down to me of my babyhood, I’m fairly certain that The Prawn is a far more charming child than I was. Luckily, this innate charm has completely won my parents over; I don’t believe there is any residual resentment that I haven’t yet had what’s coming to me in the baby karma stakes. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed forever, though; I imagine that the wheel of retribution is turning slowly but surely my way.

While we spent most of the week pleasantly sipping tea on the couch, reading and watching the Prawn discover new concepts like, “clock”, “duck” and “cow” (her cow impression, which is a strangled roar, is not to be missed) we decided that we should complete my parents' London Landmark tour by going to the Tower. The Tower is one of the more pricey attractions in the city’s tourist arsenal, but to my mind, well worth the expense for such a lot of history in one place.

Since we live 45 minutes outside of the city, the question is, To Drive or Not to Drive. Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone would much rather that we took the train, but Ken Livingstone is not in possession of a pre-toddler who would much rather be spelunking in carriage trash bin for Burger King remnants than sitting in her seat. Also, he’d need to lend me the 25 quid in fare, so he can politely sit and spin. Neither Mr. DD nor I object to the congestion charge (which is only 8 pounds) and neither of my parents were particularly keen to ride the Tube, so driving won hands down.

Our TomTom, which we rely on rather heavily when venturing city-wards, is obviously having some sort of elicit affair with the M1, which is not at all the way to get where we were going. While it has made our lives easier in a lot of respects, TomTom has yet to learn a rather elementary navigation lesson; that the shortest distance between two points might not necessarily be the FASTEST, especially in a city. For the second time in as many weeks, we resolved to next time ignore TomTom until we got to some part of the London that we recognized. Long story short, the 1 and a quarter hours journey actually took closer to 2.5 hours due to route diversions and roadworks. Lucky for us that we brought several pounds of Cheerios with which to distract the Prawn. (The US kind, without the sugar coating. If she ate as many of the British variety, we would have needed a sedative of some kind. As it was, we’ll still be hoovering those things out of the car for weeks.)

Upon our arrival at the Tower, we congratulated ourselves for bringing the new backpack-style Prawn transportation device instead of the traditional buggy, which works fine in the local shopping centre, but does not have shocks capable of withstanding 10th century cobbles. She seems quite content to let Mr. DD haul her around like a load of camping gear.

I quite like the Tower. It’s an extraordinary mish-mash of architectural styles resulting from it’s myriad of uses over the years, including prison, execution site, royal quarters and military station. It’s always quite something to come face to face with very old things, no matter how commercialized they’ve become. Apart from the several gift shops (which I have to say are tastefully incorporated into the scenery) the Tower has not yet needed to resort to Madame Tussaud type tactics to bring in visitors. The sheer weight of past events is sufficient to draw a crowd.

After the obligatory tour of the jewel house, the Prawn began to become restless, so we let her out of her pack to stretch her legs. The problem being, of course, that she doesn’t regularly use them yet, so after tiring of my attempts to help her navigate the cobblestones, she took off crawling towards the scaffolding site. Human nature dictates that we’re grimly intrigued by the gruesome. However, on the site of the scaffold where a good many nobles including Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey lost their collective heads, an artist has attempted to create a dignified memorial in metal and glass. I think this disappointed some visitors, as they much RATHER would have had a Madame Tussaud type re-constructed scaffold complete with re-enactments on the 12, 3 and 5. But instead, the memorial squashes our morbid fascination and makes the viewer feel just a little bit guilty. This was not the case for the Prawn however, who was all like, “Whee! Heads!” as she gleefully scooted around the edge of the memorial as fast as humanly possible, staying just out of the reach of Mr. DD, who was dodging German high school students to get to her.

My mother’s favorite part of the day hands down was getting a picture of Wren with Moira Cameron, the first female Yeoman Warder in the regiment’s 523 year history. Right on, strangely dressed sister, thought the Prawn.

The Prawn’s birthday fell on Good Friday this year, despite being born on a Wednesday. This had me vaguely confused until I remember that we experienced Leap Year calendar tomfoolery just about a month ago. Both my mother and I (and now The Prawn) have often had birthdays on Easter weekend due to whatever bizarro solstice related system is used to determine when the holiday falls. It was convenient, however, when planning a party for a day that everyone had off. My mother and I spent the evening before making a small cupcake army in lieu of a traditional birthday confectionary; who can argue with a self contained cake that, in a pinch, you can shove in your mouth at one go? My father and Mr. DD helpfully did the manly chores which involved hanging bunting and scrubbing mildew off of the bathroom tiles that I’ve been trying to ignore for the last few months.

Everyone knows that birthday parties for very young children are pretty much an excuse for a lot of grown ups to get together, eat junk food and finish off a couple bottles of Pino Grigio. Occasionally, the birthday boy/girl is the only child present at said gathering and earns his or her keep by pulling amusing faces in exchange for Cheetos. However, there were in fact 5 other children of various ages and at varying stages of mobility present at the Prawn’s natal festivities, so there was quite a lot of “omigodwhathaveyougotalloveryourshirt?” going on. The mountain of food that I had purchased the day before and was having sinking feelings about the chances of it getting eaten pretty much all DID, which was a relief for both me and my refrigerator. A hugely pleasant time was had by all, despite the fairly major space restrictions. The Prawn’s birthday dress was covered in strawberry juice within the first hour. And there were remarkably few tears considering the critical mass of rampaging children and adults balancing plates of food on their laps. A roaring success.

My parents departed this morning. I’m always terribly sad to see them go, but I think the Prawn will be even more bereft to have lost her two constant companions who filled every spare moment of the day with learning, tickling and funny faces. I imagine that she’ll wake up tomorrow and be like, “YOU two again? What happened to the older models? THEY didn’t have to work on laptops, cook or do the laundry! I DEMAND THAT YOU SIT DOWN HERE AND THROW THAT BALL TO ME 250 TIMES IN A ROW! AND IF YOU DON’T, I’LL CLING TO YOUR LEG AND GO EEEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH UNTIL YOU DO!” Such is the nature of grandparents.

Before I try to rescue my house from the disarray of the past week, I leave you with some gratuitous Prawn-related imagery.


Suzie said...

Congratulations on her birthday. I just left after spent the week with Grandparents too. It hard to live up to all that non stop attention thing. It must be wonderful to have some Grandparents who live close by.

Brooke said...

Happy birthday, beautiful little Prawn!

Keira sends big hugs and hopes to meet you one of these days!

Becky said...

Alex says, "What's up, Baby Prawn?"

He joins The Prawn in One-ness on Sunday. I can hardly believe that he's turning one already.

katty said...

great pictures. lovely child.
i see you too have the red stripe john lewis dress. i have in my cupboard... um... four of those at the moment, including the blue one. i'm a john lewis junkie when it comes to clothes.

Margaret said...

I really enjoy your blog and have been reading it for a while now. Thought it was time to say Hi and wish your little one a Happy Birthday! She's just gorgeous. And those cupcakes look absolutely delicious!

rockmama said...

Katty- I'm a huge JL fan. Let me loose in there or in Next and it's disaster for my wallet.

Suzie said...

I tagged you for some meme thing. I thought it might be fun or you might hate me and block all my comments from now on. Anyway go to my blog and it will tell you how to play.

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