Friday, 30 December 2011

Its a what??

So we are sitting around, enjoying the balmy weather, sipping our drinks, when all of a sudden there is a complete black out! The twinkling city lights we were watching suddenly disappeared.Tara , luckily was sitting next to me, and jumped on me knocking my drink over. A million thoughts ran through my head. Was it an air raid? Or an emergency? We were certainly not in a war torn area, Far from it. The only violence I had seen here was monkeys fighting for fruit.

Within seconds someone appeared with a few candles and placed them around with some smoky circles which let off grey smoke. These as I discovered later were to ward off sneaky mosquitoes who might want a piece of us in the dark.

"Its just a power cut" said my host calmly. "I will get the generator started in a minute".

As if on cue, Tara piped in, "It's a what?" 

Back where we live electricity supply is something we take for granted. The fridge always runs, we can read books at night, and basically have power on when we want to, even if it is wasteful.

"A power cut means no light my dear," explained our host. Before Tara could retort with a million 'whys' I interjected and asked to know more. Electricity in this country has more demand than supply. So occasionally, electricity supply is shut down for a few hours to prevent an over load on resources. Some luck few , like our hosts have their own personal 'generators' which are speedily turned on to ensure uninterrupted power.

Tara looked up at the night sky, and with a gasp pointed to the startling display of stars...millions and millions of stars shining on a clear night. It was an amazing sight.

Within seconds a little lad had the generator started. It made a loud sound like a motor but the lights came back on. A few streets down people without generators gathered in the front of the house, along with neighbours, catching up with each other and having a hearty laugh or two amid candles.

In a few hours the power was restored and life carried on... My mind did wander to home, wondering what would happen to the contents of my freezer if we had a power cut..I also made a resolve to save energy whenever I could. It is a precious resource, and many people make do without it.

We are returning home in ten days time. I will miss this place, power cuts and monkeys all included.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Driving through the city our airconditioned car stopped at a traffic signal. We were immediately surrounded by almost naked children, ranging from 2 to about 10 years old, pressing their noses against the car windows, asking for money.

Tara looked scared, but fell silent. Later she asked me who the children were, why they had no clothes on, and why did they not stay at home with their mummies and daddies. After a failed attempt at explaining that they were poor children, I had a further volley of questions, ranging from what does poor mean, why don't grown ups look after the children etc. etc.

What is poor? Isn't it perceived differently, by different people, in different countries? Loaded questions. I can't understand the situation myself, how can I explain it to a 4 year old.

What defines poor?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Of monkeys and bats!

Tara eyes are wide in wonder. What a lovely sight to see...her wonder I mean. What she saw were wild monkeys sitting on a tree, scratching each others backs while lounging in the sun. Then came the volley of questions about what monkeys eat, why they are sitting around doing nothing, why we don't have them back home etc. etc.

Later that evening just as we were sitting down for dinner a bat flew straight through the open doors and flew madly in circles in one of the rooms. Tara and I ran for cover while the rest of the people around us carried on as if nothing happened, as the bat was locked in the room while the meal was resumed. I hope someone let him/her/it out. Of course he wasn't in the room the next morning so maybe they did.

Another afternoon Tara stared at a towering banana tree and its magnificent pinkish-purple giant flower. She reluctantly touched a large petal that had fallen off the tree. It looked too big to be a 'friendly flower' she said. To be honest I never knew the banana tree had I know..

A big highlight was Tara riding a camel with her aunt. She was overjoyed. I refused pointblank to get on one. I'm not really adventurous, and clutched at my heart while Tara swayed amidst peals of excited laughter.

Tomorrow is another day. Who knows what we will find..

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Good and bad

Every country in this world has its good and its bad. When I travel I notice both but try not to dwell on the not-so-good aspects. It defeats the whole purpose of travelling to other places if we expect to see the same things as home.

I don't enjoy all aspects of countries, but do try to refrain from talking about the bad. Is it my place to make a change? Is it vital to convince others that my way is the better way? I'm not sure. Its complicated. What is not complicated is to appreciate and marvel at the majesty and goodness that's around me.

Planet Earth still mesmerizes me.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

In a place far, far away...

So we made the flight and emerged jet lagged and sleep deprived in another part of our beautiful planet. The sun is glorious but we are ill. Tara's ear was absolutely fine. But she's been vomiting all day yesterday. I also have had a nauseous feeling in my tummy that just won't go away. Tara's made a quick recovery today but Im still feeling ill.

It did make me reaffirm my belief. You can have all the money in the world, all the sunshine to bask in, everything....but if you don't have your health, you have nothing. So first and foremost I pray for good health, everything else is secondary.

Friday, 9 December 2011

And so we fly!

After all the health scares, we made it to Friday. The last day of school. We go on holiday tomorrow, Tara and I, leaving behind The Husband who battles valiantly on to secure a permanent job and provide for his Princess...that's Tara by the way, not I.

I don't think its selfish to go without him. We are travelling halfway across the planet to spend a few weeks with both sets of Tara's grandparents. Time with them is invaluable for her. It's a lot more work for me, so I don't get much of a holiday.

Everyone is getting older, and things don't stay the same for long. So I think we seize the moment...and don't look back in regret. It's far from ideal not having Tara's father with her, but we don't live in an ideal world. We enjoy what's good, and try and get past the not-so-good bits. The plan is that once he gets his permanent job, we save up and go to Disneyland together. That will be our first ever family holiday together.

Im tired, still have to finish packing...(big yawn). Come fly with me, fly, fly away......

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Nobody's listening

Tara has started not listening when I talk. While Im trying to say something to her, she is either jumping around talking about something else or totally disregarding what Im saying and putting in her tuppence first.

At first I was worried that her hearing was going, after all that worry about the glue ear problem that never was. Then I realized that maybe she has thoughts and neurons firing at great speeds in her developing brain, and she is in a hurry to get all her words out as her thoughts come up.

At first I exploded with, 'Why doesn't anyone listen to me anymore!' Then I realized I first need to slow her down, maybe sit her down, get her attention and talk in a calm voice. The Husband saw this behaviour first hand when he got back from his interview, which by the way went well, so we have to wait and see. He proceeded to reprimand Tara too, but I stopped him and later explained that when she is so excited, we need to calm her down then talk.

I have been yelling a lot the last few days, and I can't stand my own voice when I do that. But it seems a bit out of control at the moment. Maybe after Tara's doctor's appointment I will be the one feeling better!

Nativity flower

Last night was bliss. Tara went straight to bed, with no intention of talking on the steps. Since The Husband had to be out of town for the night, I went straight to bed too.

We all had to rest because today is Tara's class nativity play, and my little one is a flower. Its a whole different story how I struggled to find green leggings for her costume. I finally bought white ones and dyed them green. Why doesn't anyone manufacture green leggings for little girls anymore? Well someone in Hong Kong does, according to Ebay, but it was too expensive and would take 20 days to get to me, so no thank you.

Anyway, I was told this morning by Tara to :

Come on time
Wear a nice dress, not pants
Bring a video camera and 
Sit in front so I can get good shots

Okay, I think I can handle that.

Im trying to shake off a ton of other worries from my head to enjoy the nativity but Im afraid Im not able to. First, there is the doctor's appointment for Tara's ear tomorrow to make sure once and for all she is okay to travel. We fly on the 12th of this month. She was complaining of a tickly ear again this morning and since then my stomach's been feeling funny. Second, The Husband had to miss Tara's nativity play, after promising her he would attend, because of a job interview that cropped up today. Tara wasn't too pleased, and The Husband depressed. Third, The Husband's car packed up yesterday, and is in the garage. We don't know when it will be back or the big fat repair bill we have to deal with. That leaves my little inexperienced never-been-far-from-home runaround to take us to London airport.

With all this stress, the holiday doesn't seem like an enjoyable prospect. But the money is spent, Tara is excited and I just have to deal with it.

My stomach still feels funny. That little knot just won't leave me alone. Still, I will be there for Tara's play with camera in hand and a big smile when I see her. She's too little to deal with life's practicalities. For now she is just a little flower in a nativity play who is looking forward to seeing her Mum brandishing her camera in the front row. That reminds me I need to leave earlier than usual to get a decent place to sit in.

Till Later! 

Monday, 5 December 2011


So I kept my word, and arranged a meeting with Tara's teacher after school.

I made Tara sit next to me, as I spoke to her Miss. I started off saying that Tara had been very upset over the weekend about forgetting her hat and gloves, and she didn't know how to get through the various gates from the playground, right through to the glass doors of her classroom.

As I started talking, Tara got up and pointed to other things in her class, totally disregarding my talk. I told her to sit back down while I explained her 'problem' to her teacher. She looked totally disinterested and laid back, and started to walk around her classroom - a complete contrast to the broken down child over the weekend. Her teacher said that Tara had mentioned today that she kept forgetting her hat and gloves, and the teacher had agreed to stuff them in her pocket before they went out.

So the problem was in essence, 'solved'

I was piqued. Once again, my child made me look like the crazy, over concerned MUM, while she was the good little girl who could sort everything out herself. Thank goodness I had brought along a Christmas card and box of chocolates for her teacher. This meeting looked so foolish.

Back at home, I updated Tara with my solution to her great 'problem'. I had bought an extra pair of 'emergency' hat and gloves to keep in her coat pocket in case she forgot them in class. 'Oh okay,' said my pride and joy, adding that I had better sew on some name labels on them, and she skipped away to carry on with her life.

I felt totally under-appreciated, not for the first time in my life, and then I understood the meaning of a 'thankless job'. Being a Mum is indeed a thankless job. Solving problems is just a normal part of my job description. Tara's happy. Im not supposed to ever expect a thank you, or dramatic gestures of appreciation. All I want today is a good night's sleep.

Sweet Honey

I've tried something new for Tara's cough. Its Honey. Not just any honey but Manuka Honey. The higher the number written on the label on it, the more potent it is supposed to be. I think it has helped fend off a chesty cough in about a week. I have used it along with a saline nasal spray and am pleased to report positive results!

Some argue that her cold and cough had already run their course so its not the honey or saline spray. I choose to believe it is the honey and the spray.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Floods of tears

Another thing I noticed about Tara at school, and in general is that she is an overly sensitive child who gets anxious easily. I saw other children with the same issues as Tara, but they were more laid back and did not get worked up to the extent that they stressed themselves out. But then again, all children are different.

So last night on the steps, amidst huge floods of tears Tara told me about her two new problems.

First, was the school jumper that was inside out when she took it off. She struggled to put in back on again and did not know how to 'unbundle' it.

Second was, the classroom door. Whenever she was slow to get her 'bundled' jumper and gloves and hat on, the other children and teachers were already outside in the playground, and the classroom glass door shut itself, leaving Tara alone inside, and very scared.

Inspite of telling myself not to worry about these 'small' issues, I do think these things are a big deal for a little child, just over four years old, who clings to her mother and cries for a full 45 minutes, explaining between sobs how she just can't do it.

To my credit, I held it together and stayed the course with her. I was tired, and have been unwell for the last few days. But I hugged her, heard her, and we decided on two courses of action. First I got her jumper in, and showed her how to 'unbundle' it around five to six times. She had a couple of tries herself, and I promised her we would practice till she got it. I reminded her of past successes like, learning how to put on her socks, her shirt, her pinafore, her shoes and lunch time issues...all of which she couldn't do when she was little, but was successful in doing now.

By now Tara was exhausted. She clearly needed to sleep but her mind was heavy with issues she needed to off load. She wiped her face and asked me to write a card to her teacher explaining that she struggled with the doors. I promised her I would talk to her teachers, and we would tackle the door together on Monday. As I put her in bed, she did fall asleep, maybe not stress free but totally exhausted. I couldn't do much after that either so I just went to bed right away.

We both tossed and turned last night, and Tara didn't wake up smiling this morning. Childhood is supposed to be the best time in our lives. Mine wasn't, and I'd promised myself that I would make sure my child was happy. Im a bit emotional, but will still agree that Tara is by and large a happy child. She is safe, intelligent, well provided for and has all the opportunities ahead of her. To expect plain sailing all through one's life is living in fool's paradise. I will have to teach Tara to expect hurdles in life. I will also have to teach her to jump over the hurdles, or sometimes just walk around them.

I cant be a magician and magic away problems from Tara's life, I can be Mum and teach her how to handle life.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Mum the Volunteer

Tara's been excited all of last week. Her Mum has volunteered to help out at school this afternoon.

I walked into her school at 1:30 p.m. not knowing what was expected of me, or what exactly I was supposed to do. I was met at the playground by Tara who ran into my arms screaming 'MUMMY'. She was closely followed by a few other children who were looking at me, while Tara said, 'I told you my Mummy would come....I told you' She hugged me again with pride in her eyes that I hadn't let her down. I couldn't believe that children as young as four and five were so socially sensitive.

I excused myself and explained that I had to let her teacher know I was here. Formalities done, I was assigned the task of making something artsy-craftsy for Christmas for 16 children, four at a time. I really appreciated the fact that the teacher picked Tara for the first group, and also asked her to sit next to me while I started the activity. It was a sensitive thing to do,  almost like letting the child with a birthday sit on a special throne at their birthday party.

I was pretty impressed at how I handled the kids, as was Tara who periodically came up to me for a special hug... reassurance perhaps that she was still my special girl. There were additional perks for Tara as her Mum was allowed to help her with her coat and book bags etc. I of course helped the other children too. Needless to say Tara was very pleased with the whole experience and my performance. I also think she had climbed a notch or two in the popularity charts, as some of the girls asked if they could come over to Tara's house to play.

From my point of you, I got a chance to take a peek into Tara's world, from the inside. I observed some of Tara's routines, like changing coats, tidying up and finding their way around a school playground full of noisy, boisterous but reasonably well behaved children of varying ages. I also noticed the dynamics of children's groups, the survival of the fittest, and struggles of the weak.

Im glad I went in today, and recommend that every parent does it from time to time. Its a learning experience, that's well worth the time and effort. For me, my reward was the smile and pride I saw on Tara's face as she went home with her Mum, who 'wore a nice dress and shoes.' Tara's words not mine.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

All okay.....but is it?

So I went to the doctor's office with Tara and kept my fingers crossed through waves of nausea, which were probably stress related. Up to this point I have been battling one illness after the othe,r all the way from September, when Tara started school, Tara needs a break, I need a break.

The doctor switched off the lights and examined Tara's ears and heard her chest.

'No fluid in the ears, no chest infection, just a bit of redness in the ear, probably leftover from a previous ear infection that had been treated with ear drops 2 weeks ago.'

Instead of profound relief, strange feelings came over me. Wait a minute, the other doctor had said she was full of middle ear fluid, in other words glue ear. Now this one says she doesn't have it at all. I know which doctor I want to believe, but can I? Should I? Many times when we really want to hear something we tend to lean towards it, but I must keep a balanced head.

So we have the all clear to travel, but I still booked a third appointment to see a doctor on the 8th of December, 4 days before we fly. That would give me enough time to decide what I want to do.

Some might say Im over cautious, But in my opinion, a holiday that carries with it the smallest chance of my child losing her hearing is just not worth it. Im probably going to start packing, but not get too excited over it till I land safe and sound at my destination.

At the end of it all...Im deeply grateful, and would like to send out a thank you, to anything or anyone, at being granted the smallest hope that my child has been spared another ailment.