Big Shoe, Little Shoe



I thought I’d blog about the power. And the weather. About the huge storm that roared through here last night, ripping the fetching United Nations-blue tarpaulin from our roof (because attempts to fix leaks have failed, so that from the air we look like a small refugee camp) and scattering it as confetti across the lawn.

I thought I’d tell you about the subsequent and erratic electricity, which, with the wind and the rain and the lightening went up and down like the proverbial whore’s drawers until – like those drawers – it was whipped away until morning.

I thought I might describe the consequent and energetic campaign by one (me) to collar the national power company to come and fix things. They took too long, so I prevailed upon an independent electrician who’d won my affections the week previously as he’d rectified whatever short it was that meant we were being electrocuted by the taps. The taps?! He gazed at the circuit breaker and shook his head sadly and said he couldn’t help this time: this time it was a job for the national team: Tanesco, which turned up eventually and observed the not-quite non-existent power, for by this time it was leaching in from somewhere but so meanly that the lights were dull as candles. I suggested it might be wise to measure the voltage. They agreed heartily, ‘Can we use your voltmeter?’ they asked my New Best Friend, the electrician who saved us from certain death-by-taps. My NBF shook his head sadly (and pointedly), again, and said he didn’t have one. Tanesco team looked askance and asked in evident outrage, ‘you are an electrician without a voltmeter?!’. And now it was my turn to look askance and demand in even more evident outrage, ‘Where’s yours? YOU’RE THE NATIONAL POWER SUPPLIER.’. They drove off then, in a huff, and so I sit listening to the generator splitting the silence and pounding as if in urgent irritation behind me, and trying to ignore the ceiling which, because the roof is now bare of its courtesy-of-the-UN raincoat, is stained by the recent downpour and has begun to belly like a fat drunk’s tummy.

But then I thought I might tell you, because a cyber friend observed I had been quiet on the subject, about my Big Kids.

Big Kids are more difficult to blog about than Littler Ones. They’re awkward. And – unlike their look-at-me-mummy-look-at-me younger selves, they don’t like being written about. (Which makes you feel a fraud when you’re a Mummy Blogger). My Big Kids begged me to keep them out of my Blogs. That I mentioned on a long-ago post that my son possessed Living with a Willy didn’t help my case.

‘Aaaaaaaaaaagh Mum! Stop writing about me. Please’.

So in the main, mostly, I resist.

So I shall be brief. I shall tell you about my son’s shoes. Which are huge. Size 12.

Could you, he wrote, whilst I was in England, get me two pairs of trainers?

I did. And then I looked forlornly into my suitcase as enormous shoes, like boats, occupied almost half the space. And I remembered the day I first tied my son’s small, small shoes securely onto fat two year old feet. He grinned, delighted at new and unfamiliar footwear and then he hoisted himself up and stood, firmly rooted to the spot.

Come on, I coaxed, let’s see you walk. And so he did: he waded towards me as if mired in treacle.

He’s faster than that now: much faster.

Selected to play rugby because the team was a man short (my son’s a cricketer) he reluctantly agreed and found himself, even more reluctantly, with the ball. He outran the opposing team’s fastest winger.

Gosh, darling, I said gushing maternal pride, that’s wonderful!

If my son were that kind of boy, he’d have given me a withering look, instead he gave me a pitying smile: ‘Mum, it was fear, pure fear: I could hear those footsteps pounding up behind me and I fled.’

And I shall tell you about my older daughter’s glasses. Which she lost. So that a trip to London was an exercise in self preservation – or peer protection perhaps? – as her companion whipped her out of the way of oncoming traffic in the nick of time.

She hunted high – which must be difficult when you can’t see – and she swore blind (no really, she did) that she had absolutely, no question about it, left her glasses in the library and they had been stolen (like the debit card which was, no question about it, in her wallet but was in fact discovered several weeks later in a coat pocket).

And then she hunted low and discovered them nestled beneath her bed along with the odd sock and stray, stale Hula Hoop.

Her euphoria was palpable. She was elated.

And I am relieved, for next week she must negotiate her way through Terminal Five to come home and she really, really needs to see for that.

As I really, really need to see her.

10 Responses to “Big Shoe, Little Shoe”

  1. nuttycow Says:

    You must miss them so much when they’re away but how lovely for them (although embarrassing of course!) to be able to read up on what you’re doing when they can’t be with you. And how lovely for us to be given a little insight into their personalities.

    But don’t worry, all teenagers are embarrassed about their parents – blog or not.

  2. Mwa Says:

    Now that they’ve driven off in a huff, are they going to come back or leave you to it in punishment?

  3. Says:

    How can your Big Kids object to your writing about them when you write with such humour & sensitivity & the ‘hard to decry’ maternal knowledgeable observation that tells them they are known & loved for themselves. A lovely read, thnx!

  4. Voyager Says:

    Write on! Your kids will treasure your words some day, even perhaps now, though secretly.

  5. Iota Says:

    Yes, a lovely read. Life in Africa AND big kids. Something for everyone.

    I remember putting shoes on small feet, but my son didn’t wade through treacle, he set off round the shoe shop lifting his feet up to knee height – over-compensating for the unfamiliar weight – like an unusual military march.

  6. Muddling Along Mummy Says:

    My Mr was like that with rugby – but he majored rather more in passing the ball away in the hope he wouldn’t get flattened

  7. Plan B Says:

    We are still in the small shoes stage (first steps from A yesterday, she can’t stop now, still nothing from S). I find it heartbreaking to realise how quickly they will be in size 12s… (although as they’re all girls, I hope they’ll stop before they get to that point).

  8. Mama B Says:

    Saw this book, and reviews, on Amazon today and thought of your mum…

  9. Five Things … « Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] Reluctant Memsahib the diary of wife, mother and failed domestic goddess in Africa « Big Shoe, Little Shoe […]

  10. RebaLu Says:

    Very funny story about Tanesco (although not at the time, I’m sure!). I too live in Tanzania and have to deal with Tanesco. Just the other day I was at their main office buying luku – which relies on computers generating a unique code for each customer – and wouldn’t you know it, the power went out and, as you say, the NATIONAL POWER SUPPLIER did not have a generator to sustain operations!

    Love your blog and esp the title! Am curious to know where in TZ you’re located. I am in Arusha.

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