One foot in front of the other 7 – On Friendship

by Tina Hofman

This blog is not dedicated to theatre, or arts, or working parents. It is dedicated to old friendships: those that date from the time of crooked teeth and falling of our bicycles, over the first experiments with vodka and tears spilled over the first love.

There is a friend I have known since we were seven. She is one of the closest friends I have. I don’t get to see her very often; we live in different countries and lead very different lives. When time permits we talk on the phone, and we are very efficient in that: considering the amount of topics we touch on, an hour of conversation equates to good three hours of seeing each other (we have 4 kids between us ages ranging from 2 to 6 years old).

These phone conversations date from early Nineties, or precisely from the time we were permitted to use our home phones. Although we lived very near each other, our phone conversations could be so long that our mothers used to shout at us to “ for goodness sake hang up, you could have met each other in the park during this time!!”.

My friend makes no attempt in searching for peace and quiet from her kids (2 and 4) during our phone calls. In all honesty, if she did, we would only ever be able talk on very, very rare occasions. Like this, she would call me when she thinks her kids have settled into some sort of an activity. With me on the phone, she is still quite actively involved in their activity, whether by guiding, supporting or chiding them. Often I can barely distinguish whether the remark is directed at me or at her children. She simultaneously talks to all of us.

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For instance, I took part in her elder son’s potty training. During one of our conversations I witnessed his failed attempt at getting it right. The upshot was that we managed to keep the conversation going. The downshot was that her younger boy felt desperately excluded and made even greater mess of his elder brother’s accident. All this did not stop our phone conversation, but the accident got sorted and cleaned.

My friend never expresses frustration at not being able to lead a calm conversation and does multi-tasking, multi-talking thing up with natural ease. She makes no issue of her circumstances. Yet, during another particular conversation she has:

  • Changed a very soiled nappy
  • Breastfed the younger child
  • Took her older child to the toilet and supervised
  • Made sure they finished their breakfasts
  • Prepared hot cocoa for them
  • Started waking up her partner gently (he works nights)
  • Put me on hold, sorted her childminding
  • Nursed again
  • Went again to wake up her partner. This time she was not as gentle. At all.
  • Helped the older child to dress
  • Dressed the younger child
  • Helped the younger build a Duplo gun
  • Put their shoes on ready for their weekend walk in the park.

We finally stopped out conversation when it was time for them to go out.

My friend and I have a 31-year-long friendship. It sounds amazing. I look today at her face, as to me she is still that same face I met at English language classes at the age of 7. We have lived through a lot together: an earthquake, numerous air-raids, homework, getting drunk together for the first time, we both shared anxieties around our parents’ divorces, she carried me when she though I broke my hip, we climbed mountains and picked mushrooms, we talked sex, love, pain, and worry in depth.  I was by her bed in a hospital when she woke up from a general anaesthetic, she helped me handle my Dad during his worst depressions, and when I decided to leave my previous partner and came home to Zagreb she held me for long time and stayed overnight to give support and comfort. We buried our fathers in space of 3 months from each other, both at late stages of our pregnancies.

Children have come only in the last 6 years. This has added a new dynamic between us, no doubt, but change is the only constant thing. This dynamic is so eclectic and rich and real. It the best reminder of the stuff we are all made of.

Part of the inspiration for our show ‘Wonderwoman: the Naked truth” was friendship and it’s endurance and strength. The show is going on a UK tour in Spring 2017, and we need a little help in making the staging that will tour in the back of our car. This is the link for our Crowdfunding campaign, if you feel like chipping in.

 

 

 

 

 

I am a dinosaur

guest blog post by Marcus Fernando

Character enters, taking giant steps.

Today, I’m a dinosaur. I wasn’t always a dinosaur…but today I am. Being a parent does that to you. I think I’m a stegosaurus. Yes, I’m pretty sure I am.

Character hops from leg to leg.

I’m glad…I can be at home with them.

I’m sad…I don’t always have time for their games.

I’m glad…I work from home.

I’m sad…I have to be on a computer so often.

I’m glad…they want me to play with them.

I’m sad…I’m no longer a child.

When you become a parent you suddenly realise how fragile we all are. You become more aware of your own limited mortality. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that at that exact moment of realisation, you find yourself in the company of little people who think you’re indestructible? Yes, to my boys I am Captain Scarlet….or more usually Captain Black…or maybe a Mysteron. I’m always the Baddie. To them, I can never die. Will never die. But to me…I just want to last for as much of their lives as possible.

Character hops again.

I’m glad…they sometimes call me by my first name.

I’m sad…that as an adult I’m a different species.

I’m glad…I can teach them things.

I’m sad…that I don’t know enough to fill their minds.

I’m glad…that I’m their friend.

I’m sad…that I’m the person they must one day defeat.

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I play a variety of Baddies: Darth Vader from Star Wars, The Hood from Thunderbirds (apparently I have the right hair style), or maybe Bloefeld from James Bond. Come to think of it, none of them have hair, do they? Probably just a coincidence.

The other day they decided I was Superman. A superhero. Not a Baddie. This was a surprise. At last, my chance to shine. (character adopts Superman pose and hums theme tune) Then I found out why: they had endless supplies of Kryptonite…apparently. Sofa cushions. So…Batman and Spiderman demolished Superman using Kryptonite sofa cushions. I fought well…like any good superhero. But I lost. I always have to lose.

Today I wanted to be a raptor. You know, something with teeth and claws. But they wouldn’t let me. That would give me too much of an edge. So I’m a stegosaurus. Of course, they’ll be raptors. Maybe even a Tyrannosaurus. But me?…How am I going to win when I’m a vegetarian?!!…With a brain the size of a walnut?

Character hops

I’m glad….I can be with them.

I’m sad…I won’t be there for them for ever.

I’m sad…they won’t want me to be there for them for ever.

I’m sad…I haven’t got the energy to keep up with their games.

Yes, today I’m a dinosaur.

But yesterday…I was a Superhero.

 

  • Notnow Collective are taking “Wonderwoman The Naked Truth” on a national tour, we just have to re-shape the show a bit to fit it in our car. If you want to help us travel more easily, you can support our crowdfunding campaign here.

 

Traveling with children

By Kristina Gavran

Traveling with children can be great fun, it can be a necessity, it can be easy and enjoyable, and it can be the worst experience you ever had. It all depends. On what? Well….. so many things: their mood, their sleep pattern, food….. I still don’t have an answer how to solve this problem.

My son is not even two years old and he already has more stamps in his passport than I had before I turned twenty. When he was 3 days old he took his first car journey, when he was 2 months he went for the first time from Birmingham to London by train, at the age of 3 months he was on a plane to Croatia, when he was 4 months he went under the sea – via Eurotunnel to Paris. And at the age of 6 months he had his first cross continental flight traveling to India.

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Sometimes it all goes smooth and well, but sometimes traveling with him is a disaster.

Here are some of my experiences…

Bad, worse, terrible

  1. The scream when we are trying to put him into car seat. It seems like we are the worst parents in the world, and the car seat is a torture machine.
  2. That itchy feeling on your back when you know everybody on the bus is looking at you and your screaming baby. You are singing, rocking, cuddling, but nothing is helping. He is screaming from top of his voice and the other passengers feel disturbed at reading newspapers/typing on their mobiles/listening to music….all you want is to be in their place.
  3. Same situation, but this time on a plane – much worse. Specially because everyone wants to sleep. They put you with other families who have babies, and the moment you manage to put your baby to sleep, the baby sitting next to you will start crying, waking your baby up, and the circle continues.
  4. That moment when a lovely stewardess in her lovely uniform comes to check if you have put the baby seat belt. Of course I haven’t! And she is kindly asking you to do it with her lovely voice as if she can not see the wild cat (baby) that you have in your lap who is refusing to stay still and be locked.
  5. When you realise that all those amazing movies on Emirates flight will be unwatched as you have to run after your toddler.
  6. Breastfeeding while on bus/train/airplane, squashed by other passengers, trying to cover yourself with a scarf and just hoping he will fall asleep.
  7. He is licking everything he sees on the train, even the bag handle of the lady sitting next to you.
  8. Changing nappies in airplane/train toilet. You need special skills for that – ninja mother!

The good moments 

  1. Driving in the car is pure pleasure because he is fast asleep in his car seat, gently rocked by all the humps and holes on the road (thank you numerous Councils for not fixing them!)
  2. His smile is so charming that all the stewardesses are coming to him bringing extra snacks, sweets, even the captain’s cap!
  3. The moment you enter overcrowded bus and there is somebody giving you their seat so that your baby can sit on your lap. Heaven! Thank you stranger, this is so appreciated.
  4. He is sharing his snacks with all the passengers on the train and you just feel the world could be a better place.
  5. Observing his expression when he sees things for the first time.
  6. Enjoying all the facilities on modern airports. You should see the luxury they have in those baby changing unites, play areas, feeding points!
  7. Feeling great because you packed so well – snacks, books, wipes…. you are organized and completely in control. Nothing can surprise you and you just admire yourself and your organisation skills (one day I will put that on my CV)

There are so many moments that I will cherish from our travels. Every stage brought different joys and different difficulties. But we are dealing with them and not allowing them to prevent us from traveling. At the moment I can’t wait until he starts talking and asking questions! (although everyone says I will regret after his hundredth question – “Mummy, how does airplane work?”,  “I don’t know! Ask daddy!”)

Have I mentioned we are planning more traveling for next year? Get ready, we are going on a tour!

Yes, we are taking “Wonderwoman” around England. Notnow Collective are super excited that the show will reach new audiences, we just have to re-shape the show a bit to fit it in our car.

If you want to help us travel more easily, you can support our crowdfunding campaign here.