Our eldest little terrorist turned 2 last week so we threw him a bitchin pool party. Nothing fancy, just bbq, swimming, cake and booze for the grown ups because I don’t know a parent of any toddler that doesn’t need to indulge in a little daytime drinking to get them through a party with children.
Nowadays, with two kids, I am not the hostess with the mostess so elaborate kids parties are not my thing but with people coming over some effort on my part is required, like buying rice, a cake etc. You know, the easy things. However, every day here is an education. On an almost daily basis life throws me little bastard curve balls that I choose to see as opportunities to learn and grow as a mother and person in this crazy place as opposed to what they really are – contributing factors to the nervous breakdown that will one day soon see me institutionalised. This last week has been no different. Let me share with you some of the little #BaliLife lessons I’ve picked up recently.
Lesson number 1. Rice in Indonesian is nasi. Or so I thought. It turns out that ‘cooked’ rice in Indonesian is nasi, uncooked rice is beras. And while we’re on the subject, rice that’s still growing in the ground is padi as in ‘padi field’ but in Indonesian its actually called a sawa. Still with me? So going to the market and asking for nasi is like walking in to Tesco and asking for toast. My exchange with the shop keeper went like this. Sidebar – I’ve translated my simple yet poor Indonesian into English to avoid further confusion.
Me: Hello sir, do you have nasi?
Me: Yes, nasi.
Me: Nasi. To eat. I’m now ignorantly making the action for eating rice with my hands.
Him: Ah, you want beras?
Me: No, not brass. Nasi. Internal dialogue – whats wrong with this guy. You’re one of the biggest rice eating/exporting countries in the world, how can you not know what I mean?!
Him: *more silence but now he’s looking at me as if I’m a moron*
He walks away. Am I supposed to follow? I do.
Him: Here *points to huge sacks of rice* Beras.
Ah! The penny drops. How could I be with an Indonesian for almost 15 years and not know this!!!! I say terimah kasi pak (thank you sir!) but its to his back, he’s already lost interest in this stupid bule (foreigner). Fair enough.
Lesson number 2. Last year, I made Arlo, from scratch, a two tier blue and green fondant icing covered sponge cake complete with handmade fondant icing jungle figures. In hindsight it was probably a wasted effort for his first birthday but I instagrammed the shit outta that cake and the shower of compliments I received made me feel like a rockstar mum so screw it, I’m still proud of that masterpiece. Thats 21st century parenting for ya eh! However, this year, I have neither oven nor fondant and f**k knows what ‘flour’ is in Indonesian, probably ‘bread’, so this year its shop bought. But in Bali, childrens novelty cakes are not available in bakery’s at short notice or in supermarkets period. You must order in advance. Hmm, that’s a problem since I’m now standing in the bakery on the day of his ‘party’ with my visions of a car themed cake going up in clouds of icing sugar. They don’t have much and they don’t have anything for kids. So its a ‘manly’ brown Oreo cheesecake or a ‘girly’, maraschino cherry decorated pink red velvet cake. Mummy likes red velvet cake so red velvet cake it is! I did manage to get them to write a little chocolate sign for the cake – Happy 2nd birthday Arlo – but I’m not sure the lady understood Arlo was a boy so that too is pink but f**k it, gender neutrality is all the rage nowadays and cake is cake at the end of the day. Before all the hippies give me a hard time about the gender neutrality issue I’ve made here, I should point out that my problem wasn’t entirely with a pink cake (we’re all for not gender stereotyping in our house!) but more that I wanted to get him a cake with characters I knew he’d love and it just so happens that currently he loves cars, trucks and any type of moving vehicle. So I stuck one of his Hot Wheels in the cream cheese icing and called it a job well done! Happy birthday baby!
Lesson number 3. Pants are not a suitable substitute for swimming nappies. It’s a pool party so kids in the pool is a give in, right. Problem is, we’re all out of swimming nappies. The few we brought with us from the UK I’ve already used at the beach club playdates where a requirement of using the pool is that you bring your own swimming nappies. They might as well ask you to bring your own unicorn because the blasted things are impossible to find here! So I’ve been sticking pants on him under his shorts and playing ‘swimming poo-l (see what I did there?) roulette’ for the past 2 months. My luck was bound to run out. At least it ran out in our pool and not someone else’s! I caught it quickly (thank god because I think he had a dose of the runs!) and thankfully most of it was still contained in his pants. Still, I’ve never seen a swimming pool empty so fast on such a hot day. My bad.
Lesson number 4. Don’t let your kid eat tempe at breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’ll give them the runs. See lesson number 3 above.
Lesson number 5. If you spill anything, food or liquid, clean it up. Immediately. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200,000 rupiah. Do not wait. In the tropics, you are under constant stealth assault from ants. Even when it appears like you are alone, you are not. They come from everywhere at the drop of a crumb so we’ve practically laid out a buffet for them following a party of little mess makers whose ringleader, my son, has smeared cream cheese icing on pretty much every surface on the terrace, the dog and my breast pump. Argh, I don’t even….Nevermind, I don’t wanna know!
While we’re on ants, something else I’ve learned. Lesson number 5a. If you have an itch, its probably an ant. The teeny tiny ones are blown in the breeze onto you’re sticky sweaty skin. Thats fun! And when you stand in one place too long the big ones will crawl up your legs, yay! They are mostly harmless, except when they bite (oh yeh, they bite here!) and they are super useful. We’d be drowning in a sea of dead leaves and spent frangipane flowers if it wasn’t for the little f**kers so they’re not all bad. Except when it rains and they grow wings and fly. Then its very very bad.
Lesson number 6. Spray your room before bed time. Every. Single. Night. It keeps the mozzies away but more importantly in my house, it seems to deter our bastard resident tokeh, Allan, from crapping on our bed. As if its not bad enough that I have to fish my kids crap outta the pool, I regularly have to clean lizard poo off the bed and/or floor. The other night I forgot to spray the room and the baby woke. I ran upstairs and the instant I opened the door I could smell Allan’s distinctive toilet odour. Its bizarrely chemical, not what you’d expect for a number 2. My brain registered it as being particularly strong, and therefore close by, at almost the exact same moment that I realised I’d stepped in it, in my sodding bare feet, upon entering the room – the little beastie had gone right beside the door frame! If he wasn’t so bloody fast, he’d already be a purse!
Mostly what I’ve learned so far is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable in this magical land – the heat, the humidity, the creepy crawlies, my embarrassment over my failures at communicating in Indonesian to name a few. Note to self. Kotor means dirty. Kontol means d**k. So shouting at your kid ‘don’t touch that sweetheart, its kontol‘ does not go down well with the locals! Or my mortified husband for that matter.