The girl next door

When I joined DH in Dubai – LB a six-week-old newborn, BB a just-turned three tear-away and me blinking in the sunshine with sleep deprivation and the newness of it all – we moved into a small compound that was bright orange in colour with disco lights on the gate and goats round the corner.

Our temporary company accommodation, the complex was quickly renamed The Pumpkin Patch and wasn’t popular, partly because of the goldfish-bowl-style living. The villas were so close together you knew your neighbours’ comings and goings better than they did.

Despite the fact we now all own orange beer coolers emblazoned with “I survived Al-Badi”, I have blurred but fond memories of this compound as it’s where I made my first friends in Dubai – friendships that remain firm today.

By chance, our opposite neighbours hailed from the same part of the US that we’d recently moved from and had a daughter just a bit younger than BB, giving us an instant connection. Within days I’d made a lovely Dubai BF. And, what’s more, the kids hit it off too.

Today, in our permanent compound, I’m lucky enough to have Dubai BF right next door, and our children, who are in the same class at school, play together all the time.

BB calls round for his gorgeous Girl Next Door at least three times a day, and I’m sure they must at times want to disconnect their doorbell as he’s quite persistent.

Little girls are made of sugar and spice!

Inevitably there are boy/girl differences – which, at a later age, make you wonder if your partner could possibly be from another planet – and watching our two lovebirds together has proved to me that these characteristics are hardwired into the brain at birth. Men and women, boys and girls really do think differently.

The sweetest conversation that took place yesterday morning made me more sure about this in-built brain circuitry than ever.

“I just know I’m going to marry BB,” Girl Next Door confided to her mom. “When we went to the playground I told him I was going to marry him, but he told me he was going to marry a toilet [she laughs]. Mommy, can I marry BB?”

“Of course you can sweetie,” Dubai BF replied.

Girl Next Door: [closing her eyes and smiling] “Mommy, are there hearts coming out of me?”

My verdict: girls are from Venus, boys are from Pluto.

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