The Mermaid and the Rocket

Father forgive me, it has been two days since my last confession. I am a terrible person. I have psychologically scared my daughter for life. I have committed the most dreadful and heinous crime any parent can inflict on a small girl. I inadvertently ripped the tail of Mermaid Barbie. She is now dead in the water. A paraplegic mermaid. I shall have to do penance at Toy R Us.

Tomorrow marks the end of her father’s pre-birthday birthday week. At his age birthdays can’t be contained in a day or a single week, but stretch for a fortnight, maybe longer. He is turning forty tomorrow, which came as a bit of shock because until a few months ago he still firmly believed he was 37.

Wife: “Darling, it is your 40th this year, would you like to do something special for it?”
Husband: “It is not my 40th. I think I would remember that. How can you say that? I’m only turning 38.”
Wife, gently, “Um, no darling, it is definitely 40.”
Husband: “It can’t be. I was born 1971.”
Wife: “Yes. And if you take 2011 and minus 1971 what would you get?”
Husband, shocked: “Good God! How did that happen?”

I have to concur, I feel that way every time my birthday rolls around.

In honour of this birthday and my recession induced bank account I had to come up with a creative present this year. Usually I’d treat myself to a spa day and some online shopping at Victoria Secret, but this year desperate times called for desperate measures. I had to downscale. La Sensa it had to be.

Actually I asked around and a colleague suggested Artjamming. Artjamming is was. Artjamming is awesome. Artjamming ( is a walk-in art studio based in the Blu Bird Centre in Illovo. Apparently there is one in Lonehill too, but I can’t vouch for that one. My plans were thrown a bit when the husband decided he needed the car on Friday, but I managed some creative scheming and eventually set off with three children in tow.

Secrets to small children are an anathema. As a result I only caved to one child and pinkie swore her to secrecy. You can’t break a pinkie swear. It is a sacred oath. Unfortunately she found a loophole.

Small girl aged 5: “Daddy it is your birthday on Sunday.”
Daddy, unimpressed at the reminder: “Yes.”
Small girl aged 5: “Mummy is taking us somewhere for your birthday now, but you can’t come.”

This conversation served to pique his interest, so when I asked for the car I was met by: “Why?”
Me: “Because I need the car.”
Him: “To go where?”
Me: “Nowhere.”
Him: “Then you don’t need the car?”

ARGH! This irritating conversation continued with his two male offspring once I had them in the car on the way. Testosterone is a bitch.

So, back to Artjamming. Whoever owns it obviously understands the importance of location, location, location. It is beautifully positioned next door to a Col C’acchios. This means you can happily enjoy a pizza while your children paint the town red. However, we were there on a mission. One that did not involve pizza, but a family artistic collaboration in honour of the 40th birthday. We each grabbed a canvas and started painting.

Getting three small children to all paint the same thing is an organisational nightmare. However, we ended up with four parts of a whole, which when placed together create one fantastic space rocket worthy of Captain Kirk. Damn, I should have had a caricature done of him as Captain Kirk. Next year. I managed to persuade Small boys aged 6 and 9 to paint large blocks of colour, but Small girl aged 5 had other ideas and her quarter is wildly striped rainbow. Still, I hope he likes it. I think it’s kind of cool.

It wasn’t the cheapest excursion in the world, but well worth a visit. It isn’t only for small people either, aside from the parents getting cheerfully covered in paint, there were a few serious adults painting great landscapes in swirling oranges. It certainly inspired me. I am no Picasso, as everyone who knows me will attest, actually Picasso’s cubist phase maybe, so no Michelangelo then. Still, I can’t wait to go back and paint some more. It’s very cathartic, although not perhaps with three small children in tow.

I wonder if they’d do an evening party for grown-ups with loads of red wine?
Hey, it’s worth asking.

PS: Just called away from this very important task to mediate blood curdling horror. Small boy aged 9 slipped and inadvertently knocked out Small boy aged 5’s front tooth. The tooth was on its way out anyway, but not in a manner this ghastly. Blood is pouring from his mouth and he refuses to let me pluck the offending object from his jaw. I tried bribery. I tried coercion. I’m now going with, Daddy will deal with it when he gets home.

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