Friday, 27 July 2007

Sammy Shrimp

It’s an old-fashioned holiday: cloudless skies, constant, lazy, heat, while at home the skies are crumbling into huge slabs of rain.

We are sitting next to an umbrella by the pool, my daughter and I. My wife is inside the villa, sleeping perhaps, or doing something unremarkable. It’s easy when you’re away for little things to expand to fill great chunks of holiday time. It is all perfect, apart from the road the other side of the hedge, but I don’t mind that as much as my wife or our friends do. We have just emerged from the shiny coolness of the water and I lie steaming in the sun with my head and shoulders propped up, while my daughter sits in the shade with her knees drawn to her chin, wrapped in a towel. I put my hand absent-mindedly on her head and feel the warmth below my palm. She smiles and puts her hand on mine. Just her and me under the umbrella. Stillness around us. The breeze and the rustle of palm leaves. I am in my own world of heat and memories and she is in her own. But our worlds overlap. Is that what makes for a happy childhood I wonder? Not too much togetherness, not too much separation.

In the evening we go to dinner in the old town. We find a restaurant on the beach, where the children can run on the sand while we sample a range of wines of different hues. The giant prawns are the hit of the night. Not least with my daughter who wraps a discarded head in a napkin and christens it Sammy Shrimp. Sammy accompanies her everywhere for the rest of the evening. She looks at him adoringly. And I think he feels the same about her too.

On the way home in the taxi I am vaguely wondering what the pungent smell is and realise it is Sammy. I remove him from my sleeping daughter’s grasp and when we arrive home I toss him in the bin.

The next morning my daughter wakes up and asks simultaneously “Where’s Sammy Shrimp?”
“Er, he’s gone to back to see all his other shrimp friends” I say.
She looks crestfallen.
“But I love him.” She says, lips quivering and tears squeezing their way out.
We hug her and reassure her, as if a beloved pet has had to be put down.
She soon recovers but I fervently hope she doesn’t decide to look inside the rubbish bin.

43 comments:

Suki said...

LMAO! Poor little kid, and poor parents!

Sometimes you just have to break baby's heart, sadly.

Stay at home dad said...

Yes, you're very right. It did stink though!

Becky said...

Oh no! I was talking to some friends recently about odd childhood friends you have. We discovered that amongst us were people who had a rope for a friend, a piece of hessian and a small plastic mexican (which it was believe came as a giveaway with a bottle of tequila). Kids fall in love with the strangest things! Sounds like a lovely holiday, feeling jealous under the grey skies of England!

Stay at home dad said...

Becky that's a story in itself! Very amusing...

The Good Woman said...

May I suggest you guide her towards less odorous friends - a seashell perhaps?

Stay at home dad said...

Good thinking, TGW. Less odorous friends are always the best ones.

Marianne said...

Lovely post. Sounds idyllic. Hope you can persuade your daughter that hamsters or rabbits make better pets.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

What I find incredible is how a childs' grip becomes adamant once sleep is apparent. Your holiday sounds restful. I always think a villa with pool is the perfect retreat.

Crystal xx

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Marianne, yes (apart from the road). Nothing animate please!

Yes, I agree CJ. And you're right about the grip. Very good point. I wonder why...

mutterings and meanderings said...

I had a large potato that I dug up myself .. it had a purple jacket ...

Jan said...

I can remember tears over the demise of a sad, cracked (decorated ) egg shell that had to accompany a certain little boy everywhere...
Hope the holiday was lovely.

@themill said...

Beware of TGW's recommendation. Baggy bottomed second son found a beautiful white shell on the beach which he carrried proudly for days. I became increasingly concerned about the smell he was emitting, believing him to have some sort of deadly internal decay, until I found the shell in his pocket, complete with dead hermit crab. Presumabley was alive when he found it.
Love the hand on head - I still do it to mine, but only when they're sitting down, otherwise I can't reach.

Stay at home dad said...

These are all worthy of their own posts!

M&M, I bet it was purple by the time you'd finished with it...

Jan - how lovely you remember that.

Likewise, @TM. You were right about the internal decay then...

creative-type dad said...

OK - that has to be one of the funniest things I've ever heard (or, uh, read)

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you, C-TD. High praise indeed!

Omega Mum said...

LOL. Very, very funny. Particularly liked head in napkin bit. Did you start doing voices for it, too? V impressed by holiday blogging activity. My blog will be stopping for a while in a week or so I fear as don't have laptop.

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks OM. High praise indeed from you too! Yes, a high-pitched Sammy voice was utilised.

We're back now. It's all just done by smoke and the historic present ...

merry weather said...

Sounds a lovely holiday and a memorable moment - your two separate worlds overlap - I like that.

My two year old was crestfallen today, I don't know if your daughter does this, mine drops his shoulders forwards and bows his head - he is only missing the actual crest. It was in disappointment at having to hand over a very attractive Noddy birthday card at a friend's party... luckily it was a silent protest!

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Merry. Yes, very nice, but then things get easier with a 3 1/2 year old...

I like your point on the crestfallen, which I hadn't thought of literally. Yes, she does, frequently!

patsy said...

Three years ago my elder boy who loves all sorts of creepy crawlies, was devoted to a waterboatman beetle called Leggy. It was then I knew I really had to give in and get another dog!

But forget hamsters; odorous, nippy and could power a small village if we hitched up their wheels to the National Grid but I do feel very regretful about their caged lives, however cosseted!

Stay at home dad said...

Hi Patsy. Fascinating though beetles are, I understand your point (and the name)!

We will have to get onto pets at some point, but like tax returns and Christmas I'm pretending it's a long way in the future...

DJ Kirkby said...

Oh how sweet and how hilarious. I could just picture the expression on yours and your wifes' faces! I loved the bit about you and your little 'un sitting under the umbrella too.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

ahhh, lovely holiday, were you in Skegness? Glad you had a good one...but you could have let Sammy live a little longer. I once cried over a fish we'd caught. whilst we ate lunch in a restaurant, the birds pecked its eyes out. It's a bad world out there.
Pigx

rilly super said...

I remember when my eldest daughter Hilly went through a similar phase SAHD. It was in those years that the Spice Girls had a firm grip on impressionable girls' imaginations and I well remember my daughter being inseperable from Scary Scampi for the whole holiday. It was only by telling her that scary couldn't go to home with us because he didn't have a passport that I persuaded her to leave him behind, sigh

Elsie Button said...

oh my god you are so cruel - you threw away your daughter's pet prawn head - unbelievable. your poor daughter. she will never forget that prawn, i bet you anything.

Sparx said...

Aw, sweetie! I was attached to an earthworm at one point. I can't remember it's name but it lived in a jar for a while until my Mum made me set 'him' free...

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you DJK. It seems so long ago already...

No, Pig, we were in Bournemouth again. The eye-pecking would have taken some explaining.

Good grief Rilly, there must have been a fair old pong by that time!

Elsie, I dread to think what she will remember...

Nice gentle, friendly pets worms I imagine Sparx.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Your poor child! Why don't you get her a proper pet so she doesn't have to make one out of her dinner? Seriously, though, most children I know, mine included, would not go near a Sammy Shrimp head, let alone make a pet out of it.

Stay at home dad said...

Really Wakeup...? That's interesting. These ones were huge...

A pet will come in due course (when she's about 18).

Gwen said...

Your poor daughter. However, hard as it is, it's a good lesson. If you love somehing set it free (or at least take it out to the bin if it stinks)!

Omega Mum said...

This is going to sound very silly but I just wanted to have a look at the title again because it makes me giggle. Sorry. Just wanted to share that.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Ha! And that 'pet' when she is 18 will be called 'a boyfriend' and will scare the living daylights out of you.
ho ho ho, am i chuckling alone? One should never drink and blog i think.

Stay at home dad said...

My thoughts exactly Gwen!

Not at all, OM; I am having the same problem with your crumhorn ...

You're chuckling alone; but that's no bad thing... at least at 18 she can do all that somewhere else!

Rebecca said...

hee hee. Luckily kids are fickle and can fall OUT OF love as quickly as they fall IN love!

She's probably already found some'thing' to replace sammy shrimp already?

Stay at home dad said...

Rebecca, you're right. Unfortunately it's her cousins' Barbies ...

Mike said...

I've just gone onto your blog from a link on WITN. This is great. I LOVED your piece about the farm outing; have often felt sorry for Dad's left out in the cold. We women stay in our comfort zone, and don't include them, and that's not fair. I'm guilty too, and reading your blog,realised it's our loss. Wish I'd had the relationship with my dad that your daughter has with you.

Stay at home dad said...

Hello Mike. That's very kind of you to say, thanks. I'm not sure if it's unfair, it's just the way things are at the moment. I'm hoping over time it will change for men... but they have to make it happen too.

lady macleod said...

Brilliant! as always.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you your ladyship. Such high praise. Most kind.

dulwichmum said...

I always feel rather romantic about childhood when I read your lovely blog, but you have just reminded me how the world is full of discoveries, bad as well as good for these little ones. The poor baby.

Stay at home dad said...

Thank you Dulwich Mum. You are a sensitive soul indeed... Amazing how maturity equips you to deal with things that are really bad as time goes on ...

beta mum said...

When we were in France a few years ago with a house full of children bringing back treasures from the beach it took us days to work out where the stench was coming from.
They'd stored all their shells (many containing creatures) in the corner of the sitting room.
They went directly into the bin.

Stay at home dad said...

Ewwww! I remember not understanding that shells frequently had inhabitants.