Monday, September 27, 2010

Discusssion about parenting

So, let’s not talk about Bali, bali, bali for a second. Let’s take a different subject. Parenting, and all it’s high and low points, for example.

So, what do you do, when you are away for the weekend, in the North East of Bali, staying in a simple bamboo bungalow, with thatched roof, at the water’s edge, the waves so loud, there could be cause for complaint; the shower is a bamboo pipe coming out of the wall outside, but what more do you need? and the hammock on the front porch is in popular demand. Okay, so Bali is involved, just a little, the point being; you are in the middle of nowhere. It is night. You are a single parent, this weekend.

So, what do you do, if your eight year old, already well-known for stubbornness, who most certainly has a fever and is rocking back and forth, red-faced, tears dripping down his face, hands in his lap, moaning because he generally feels miserable, refuses your offer of a Panadol, which you know will, at least, bring his temperature down and help him sleep? Help you sleep.

First, you may try and explain in a soothing voice what the benefits are of taking a Panadol. You explain that, if he does not want to swallow, you can squash the tablet and mix it in water, to make it easier. You explain the disgusting taste, he is objecting to, only last a few seconds, if that, and that it seriously does not outweigh a night of sleep.

What do you do, when he still refuses?

“No, no, no”, he moans.

The bamboo bungalows stand close to each other. You hear your neighbors rustle.

When your eight-year old son wails;

“Are you going to force me, Mama?”

you can’t help but think of the scene in the movie Der Untergang (The Downfall) about the last ten days of Hitler and friends, in the bunker in Berlin, when Mrs Goebbels offers her ten children a deadly potion. One child looks her mother in the eye and asks if they really have to drink the potion.
“Yes” their mother says, stroking the child’s back, “drink up, my dear,” and the girl does just that, full of trust, because her mother says it is good for her.

That is how you remember it, anyway.

So what do you do?

When you feel his head, and it feels hotter than ever, actually it suddenly feels very, very hot to you, and you remember, but not quite clearly, there is an illness, a serious complication, that starts with a fever and a cough, which is often mistaken for flu - and suddenly you wonder what you will do if he becomes sicker during the night, and you see yourself waking the resort management and finding a driver and driving three hours to the nearest hospital.

Remember, there is no second parent to put all this into perspective.

“Yes, I am going to force you”; you might say, pushing Mrs Goebbels out of your mind.

“You must take it! “ a little loud, perhaps. (this may be the moment your five year old moves to the bed upstairs to sleep on her own.)

And then, when he starts no, no, no-ing again, rocking back and forth, a little faster, you may say that he is so hot now, it is dangerous. If his temperature does not drop, you will have to take him to the hospital.

This may persuade him. He may drink the mango juice, you have managed to find, mixed with a crushed Panadol and lie down, defeated, after you hugged him tight, saying: “Thank you, good boy, thank you”. (This may be when you hear a five-year old cheer from above.) Your son may fall asleep very soon after that.

The next morning your eight-year old could feel better, although the hospital may still haunt him and he spends the rest of the day asking about that, and what happens if a fever gets too high. You may have caused something, you realize, perhaps the beginnings of a fine hypochondriac.

So, what would you do?

With love S1

Sunday, September 12, 2010

There is a T-shirt: no one gives a #***! what you did on the playa, but I will give you a glimpse anyway, and then forever hold my peace.

Dear sisters,

We have returned to Bali where it rains every day and a Starbucks has opened on the Ubud high street, much to the dismay of the expat community.

Nevertheless, the traffic seems to have died down some, and the temperature is good. The butterflies are out and the swallows still dip the pool at dusk. It is only three months before our Bali adventure is over and we shall return to the homeland. The realization is here.

The children have told us the two weeks were too long for us to be away and they may be right, although the weeks flew by on our side.

San Francisco was beautiful and Burning Man second year round was better.

My husband and I found a good modus vivendi for our different ways of expressing appreciation of the event (You might be surprised, but my husband likes to jump around, shouting "I love it!", while I am more of the smiling and walking type.)

After communicating as much on the first day, we let each other express however, and whichever way, each one felt was necessary for their enjoyment, meeting at intersections, which worked out wonderfully. Couples together at BM are not necessarily a success, so this is a breakthrough.

Our camp was named Camp Zardoz after a movie by John Boorman (1974), involving Sean Connery running through the movie in a red leather diaper as a "barbarian" called Zed and Charlot Rampling playing a character called Consuella, an "immortal". The immortals eat green bread.

The New York times critic Roger Ebert called it a "genuinely quirky movie, a trip into a future that seems ruled by perpetually stoned set decorators....The movie is an exercise in self-indulgence.."

We watched it twice before we went out to the desert, once with the director's commentary which did nothing to clarify the plot. In both instances, it served well as a sleep-aid. Even John, in his commentary, admitted that here and there, it may have been a bit much.

It involves, amongst others, a giant floating head. You need to know that you can only enter the vortex through the head and Zardoz is derived from 'The Wizard of Oz".

At 8.50 and Jakarta, we built four yurts made of foam board and reflective insulating tape, developed by Dutch students for refugee camps, and they were luxurious and spacious by Playa standards, especially after we installed our own air-conditioning units. We made a shower, which you could use kneeling down, and set up a small vertical privacy -tent, set back a little from the rest of the camp, so the men could pee in a bottle without walking all the way to the porta potties at night. Yes, you wanted to know that. We had a chill dome, a kitchen dome and shade for hanging during the day.

Our fellow Zardozians, all 13 of us, blended beautifully this year and made the event.

We shared meals at sunset, followed blinking hearts Deep into the Playa, complimented each others' outfits, played petang in a park at midnight, clustered close together in dust storms, shouted "ZARDOZ! across the sands, sat cross-legged in a circle, observing the lights from a distance and were always relieved to see a Zardoz rescue team find missing persons, especially if we were the ones missing.

Music camps played very loud music this year. I can only describe it as sawing metal to random beats - A. can do a good impression, you could ask him. We do not know what style it is; punk house, metal house? I know not, but I think the general idea is to avoid melody. We tried to get away from it, if we could. The art cars were the ones we went to for dancing.

When it was done, breaking down camp on Sunday only took 5 hours, we hugged and kissed, and promised to bring camp Zardoz back again.

Right, that was it.

S3 and friend are currently escaping the Ubud rain with a trip to the Gilli islands for a few days, with a bag so small, my toilet bag wouldn't fit in it. I have respect for this kind of light traveling.

Love S1