Thursday, September 07, 2006

25 Tears of saudades and cookie robbery

Child number 2 is really struggling with the move from Bangkok to Seoul. She misses all her friends and teachers and our maid dreadfully, and is very tearful. It is completely gutting to see her tiny face crinkled up in a deep sob, gasping out the names of the friends she wants to see, begging to go back to Bangkok.

After a particularly harrowing session of this, I took her up to bed and lay with her on her lower bunk while her small body shook with her sobs. Child 1 sat up in bed,
"What's the matter with her, Mummy?" she asked.
"She's missing all her friends in Bangkok and she is feeling a bit upset," I said.
"God, Sxxxxx, I'm missing my friends in Bangkok too, but I'm not crying" she spat.

Child 2 sniffed and tried hard to control herself, but failed and descended into yet more wailing, flailing about and general misery. Eventually she was soothed by the promise by Child 1 to sing her a funny Wiggles song, preferably including Captain Feathersword. (We are yet to break the news to them both that Wiggles Best Friend and star of Wiggles Safari, the Crocodile Hunter Steve Urwin was killed by a sting ray this week. How will they handle the grief of that?)

But during the wailing hour with child 2, I had noticed some frenetic activity going on in the background. Cartoonlike in the speed of floor covered, a joke as far as subtlety was concerned. While Child 2 was crying in my arms, Child 1 was taking the opportunity to rob some cookies from the kitchen and sneak them back upstairs.

Depositing Child 2 back into bed, I noticed some debris, well, crumbs actually, falling from the top bunk.
"What is that falling out of your bed?" I asked.
"Nothing Mummy, well actually they are crumbs but I haven't been eating anything" she replied.
"Are you sure? You know that if you eat in bed the ants will come," I countered - ants being one of the children's biggest fears having lived in places where vicious red and black ants would appear all over the place, even, to stereotype, in our pants!
"No, nothing Mummy," she said, "now can you go downstairs and do your work now please. I want to sing the funny Wiggles song to Sxxxxx."

As I left I leaned up to look through to the top bunk, where Child 1 (let her henceforward be known as sneaky sod) was lying in a perfect impression of a child trying to go to sleep: thumb in mouth, tucked into bed, eyes gently closing.

Since Sneaky Sod is the daughter of the original sneaky sod (aka me), I decided to test out her capabilities to date. So as I made to leave the room, I leant up and gently whispered "Do you think you are being a good girl or a little bit of a naughty girl tonight?".
"A GOOD girl Mummy" she insisted (to her credit, without a hint of delay in the response - very convincing).
"Are you sure there isn't anything you might like to tell me?" I probed, not wishing of course to challenge her if she was telling the truth, but as sure as hell that whatever she had up there was for eating.
"No, Mummy, will you just go and do your work now, please. I want to go to sleep, " she said. "Ok, I'll just come up there and give you a cuddle", I countered.
"No, umm, no, Mummy I don't want you to come up in my bed today. I will come down and give you a kiss"
"It's OK," I said, foot lightly on the bottom rung of the ladder, "I want to give my special girl a BIG cuddle tonight" I said, and saw her visibly shrink.

As my head came above the top bunk, she knew she couldn't be seen to lunge for the loot and hide it, she just had to lie still and hope that the stupid blind numpty (which she obviously thinks I am) wouldn't notice the box of chocolate filled wafers lying at the side of her bed.

"Night night, darling" I cooed. "Shall I just take those biscuits downstairs with me so that you don't get ants in your bed, then?" I asked.

"Yes, please," She groaned, "Sorry for lying, Mummy".

"Night night, sweet heart. Don't do it again," I murmured, already mentally preparing a weekend of truth teaching to our cheeky little sneakster. Talk about Cat and Mouse - the more she knows we are on to her, the sneakier she will become. The sneakier she will become, the less we will find out or the more extreme our detection methods will have to be. And, luckily I am not a paranoid mother, but it is obviously a short step from cookies in bed to mainlining heroin....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

24 Fish fish fish

Our weekend sort of disaapeared in a whirl of busy days and evenings. Friday night we stayed out too late with friends from here and a mate who was at uni with us, and who we saw a lot of in Hong Kong - he know lives in Beijing but was over for a conference in Seoul. Subsequently, we woke too late to be bothered to rush to cacth the buses taking everyone to the US American Chamber summer picnic which was a couple of hours out of town. Not to be put off, we jumped in the car and headed off with a tourist map of Seoul to guide us! Miraculously we found the place but by 1pm all the food had gone and they were packing up so it effectively cost us $100 for four slices of disgusting Pizza Hut pumpkin pizza which was the only food left. It then took us 3 hours to get back because we got hideously lost, but all quite enjoyed spending some time together!On the way back, husband called one of his colleagues who was stuck in the office to join us for an early supper barbecue, but he then got rather entrenched and didn’t leave until after midnight!

And then on Sunday we went on an exciting (not!) trip to CostCo followed by a 1 year birthday party for one of husband's colleagues kids. It was really interesting since 1 year is a big one for Koreans. The birthday child gets dolled up in traditional dress which is very sweet and colourful and then has to choose from a range of items placed in front to show his destiny: Rice = contented life (never hungry), String = longevity, money = money (this is Asia after all), pencil = scholar and these days they all have a computer mouse as well = geek I suppose! It all came with a very nice buffet brunch so we were happy, and it was an interesting experience all round. Fortuantely the hostess spotted us heading into the wrong party in a room next to hers and managed to rescue us before we sat down at the wrong party and started tucking to their food! The chances are that both families were called Kim or Park or something, so there was a hgh chance that we could have gone to the wrong party and never realised.

Today I went with my next door neighbour to the wholesale fish market and brought a rather fine looking snapper to bbq for the girls for tea. It is a really great market and I think we may be eating a lot more fish on the back of that visit. We had lunch there as well in a cafĂ©, sitting on the floor (as was everyone else) with our legs crossed under the table. We had a big bowl of fish soup with fried seaweed and some gloopy stuff which we identified as vegetable of some kind, maybe aubergine, and the ubiquitous Kimchi (fermented cabbage). It was surprisingly good. I am not a big fan of fish soups but we couldn’t understand the menu and so had to point at something that looked appetizing on another table and there was a lot of raw fish around, so the soup looked like the safest option.

The weather is terrific. Bright sunny skies and cool mornings and evenings. Happy with! Cannot wait for my first autumn in 9 years!!!

Daughter 2 has been off school with a heavy cold and VERY SLIGHT temp but we had parent teacher conference on Friday and they threatened us with the wrath of god if we send a child to school sick, so I thought I had better not do my usual : dose her up with Calpol and take her anyway!! She WILL go back tomorrow.

There is a man cleaning our windows at the moment who is rather unnervingly having a pretty lengthy conversation with himself in Korean as I speak. He is definitely not on the phone to anyone! How funny is that? Ha ha.