It was a night like any other (except we were in Cambodia), we were going through the mundane dance of what we wanted for dinner. We were limited on what we could cook as we only had a stove and the idea of rice wasn’t thrilling either of us and we’d had an awful first attempt at tofu and noodles the night before. I know Tofu can be made to taste okay, however we had smothered it in soy sauce and hoped for the best. Conclusion? It was not the best. Not even close. So tonight we settled on somebody else making us dinner. We’d become quite fond of a place called Jungle Burger, half down to the owner Clayton – a ball of warmth and joy from New Zealand who was really passionate about Cambodia and the food/drink he was offering – his bar stools were always full with people wanting to talk to him because he’d always make that bit of time to make you feel welcome and that he was genuinely happy to see you. The other half of the reason being – the food was just delicious! So Jungle Burger it was, Sam went off to get the food and I stayed in with the girls.
Now, what Cambodia has made very apparent to me is that I have developed certain processes to deal with situations, this night had seven stages.
- Blind Optimism – Sam leaves, I naively wave him off with a pocket full of parenting confidence and a belly excited for the treats ahead. Of course the girls will be easy to get ready for bed, Dylan wants to watch an episode of Paw Patrol, Dotty needs some milk. Jammies everybody – Mummy has got this.
- Initial Wobble – Okay, Dylan is now watching other children unpack toys in German and has decided she can’t take her nappy off because of the monsters (?!) Dotty is in her jammies, but refusing milk. That’s fine, I’ll put Dotty on the bed for a little bit to roll around and Dylan is now watching Tayo the Little Bus in Vietnamese. Everybody is happy.
- Panic – Nobody is happy, Dotty wants to eat a baby wipe – Dylan is angry because of adverts. The monsters are still preventing me from changing her bum and Sam isn’t due back for twenty minutes.
- Unreasonable Anger (at the time, I will convince myself it’s very reasonable and grounds for divorce) – Oh, I get it. He’s done this for some ‘space’, he needs some time alone – well, that’s great for him isn’t it. I bet he’s drinking beer, I bet he’s drinking two beers with other adults that don’t have children. I bet he’s drinking three beers with a table of other adults laughing about the fact he’s out without the children. ‘FREEDOM’ they will all shout, ‘Shots all round’ – I bet they are all currently doing a whole bar cheers whilst I’m here with the nappy change preventing monsters watching a lady make a Playdoh fry up in Korean.
- Challenge accepted – This is a test, it’s a test to see if I am a good mother. If he comes back and both of them are asleep, I don’t have to tell him about any of this. I’ll welcome him home with a smile and a hug and a suggestion that I’ll go and pick up the food tomorrow. LITTLE WILL HE KNOW. Now, How many baby wafers is too many baby wafers? I open pack three.
- Unease – Dotty is asleep, I haven’t given her a milk but she has eaten six baby wafers and possibly a corner of baby wipe. I make a fort of pillows around her and check her breathing every couple of minutes as I’m convinced she maybe in a food coma. Dylan is now waving her nappy around, I would be angry but at least it isn’t a poo and this must mean the monsters have vacated the premises.
- The cover up – I get Dylan’s nappy on, she convinces me she’ll go to sleep after a juice and another episode of various children playing with slime. I tuck her into bed and she smiles sweetly. This isn’t over.
At this point Sam returned, out of breath and with no colour in his face. I checked he had food before I invested in the story, after the antics of the evening I could have only mustered up the energy to listen if there was a promise of food at the end.
‘I’ve been chased by wild dogs’
‘Did they get my burger?’
‘No, really I’ve never had to run so fast and seven people had to get them away’
Where we live there is a row of shops where each has a few dogs outside, in the day time you can walk past happily and the dogs will not pay any attention to you at all. However, of a night they can get a little spooked and Sam was apparently extra spooky and they took an interest. A big interest and chased him. The culprit was a pirate dog, big and black with one eye and he had a pregnant friend, we’d already presumed they were an item. He ran down an alley way and then realised he didn’t have any way out, which is when a bunch of Khmer men came to his rescue and got the dogs back. This was on the way to get food so by the time he was passing them on the way back he was convinced his time had come and this was the end but he was greeted with apoligetic waves and head shake and the dogs had dozed off.
That meal tasted extra great, maybe it was because for that night Sam was the Indiana Jones of 27th St. Scaling walls, fighting off dogs all in the name of feeding his family.
What a guy!
(He did have two beers though and although I didn’t ask about the whole bar ‘cheers’ I’m pretty convinced it happened).
note: Dylan fell to sleep during an episode of a grown man making a lunch for dolls out of Playdoh.
next note: I will be going to collect tomorrows dinner via a different route to pirate dog.