Well, it looks like I’m going to have to buy this boy a ping pong table (table tennis table?). Luckily, it looks like used ones go for 1/3 the price of a new one here…. but they’re mostly down in Bangkok. Wonder how much shipping will cost.
Fact: There is no space at our house for all of our stuff.
Also: Mina and Max will eventually need their own rooms, which we did not plan for when designing this house (when we didn’t yet have kids). In retrospect: Duh!
My little grillmasters – their basic protein education is already mapped out: Beef, then pork, then fish, and finally, chicken. Although utilizing local food sources means the syllabus can be expanded to rat, snake, bugs, dog, ant eggs, pond scum, mongoose, lizard, etc.
Max is at his first night away from home (away from family) on a school trip to the nearby town of Kut Lan. Meanwhile, Mina is getting over a fever and has reverted into a baby. Luckily, Nam found an old Dora bottle.
We pulled both the kids from Tae Kwon Do a few years ago a while after we realized their teacher was unworthy and his dojo was basically a colored belt factory. After that, we tried Thai kick boxing as a family at the gym we were going to at the time, but the kids weren’t ready yet – too young and not coordinated enough.
So this year, I worked a long plan of swimming (for stamina) and catch (for hand/eye coordination). Max went from playing soccer every day to playing table tennis everyday, and he improved in both, although I suspect he dropped soccer because he realized being the smallest on the field is too hard to overcome (at his age). Last week, Max suddenly expressed an interest in muay thai again, saying that he doesn’t want to be bullied anymore.
This is exactly what I was waiting for, because no matter how hard I trained him at home from around five years old or so, he never really showed an interest in standing up for himself. He was born a month early, is the smallest boy in his class, and is a bully magnet because he’s so nice – so people take care of him. His teachers, his sister, his friends, and his parents all take care of him. But still, bullies are good at finding when you’re unprotected, so I guess he’s just had enough… and his body and coordination are now catching up to his mind. Because when I watch this video I took today at his first session back at boxing, there is a snap that wasn’t there before in his punches, and concentration that I’ve never seen before.
This might be fucked up, but I can’t wait for him to surprise someone who tries picking on him after his transformation. In the meantime, I will be constantly telling him that fighting is a last resort and to walk away from people trying to mess with him. The thing is, we have been telling him the same thing since he started school, and there’s always someone who wants to mess with the little guy.
A decent breakfast is generally hard to find in the far provinces. Grilled pork skewers and sticky rice is the de facto breakfast of choice, with rice porridge or soup being available most of the time. If you really want other choices, best to head for a market or nearby university canteen.
We dropped off the kids at their Saturday tutoring session and are having breakfast at Nam’s university. Later, we’ll go check out a Muay Thai gym around the back entrance of the campus since Max wants to start up again.
A three day weekend is something special, but especially so when you’re a little kid. Mommy was off at graduation practice for her uni, so the kids and I got in the Crown and cruised around lazy Sunday style, picked up some fries at Mickey D’s, and went to some shaded outdoor courts across from their school for a picnic and some basketball.
These days, Max is trying out all kinds of sports to see what he likes. He was into football only for a couple years, but has gotten into ping pong more recently. He’s expressed interested interest in starting up muay thai again, so we will start on that at Nam’s uni next week if we can. Just the past couple of days he’s been dribbling around a basketball, so today was the day to find out if he could get the ball up to the basket yet:
This was his very first unassisted basket, and there was much celebration. All in all, he got in three baskets today and wore the hell out of his arms. As I remember, this is an important growth marker for kids – playing until you’re worn out, then playing some more on top of that. So I pushed him some more for good measure.
As we were leaving, some high school girls came around to play in their green team uniforms and we watched them start practicing. Max asked if I could dunk, and I said no, but he should ask the girls if they could.
He asked why, and I told him it might be a good pick up line. He asked what a pick up line was, and when I explained, he got pretty annoyed with me and asked why I wanted him to have such an old (!) girlfriend. I told him it would make all the little girls in his class jealous, after which Max got angry and stopped talking to me for a while. But we listened to trap on the way home, and even Gucci agreed with me.
When we play catch or practice hitting balls around the vacant lots and parks around here, people stop to watch. Hmm… I’ve never seen anyone else playing baseball in Thailand, either! I’m not a big baseball fan or anything, but it’s great for kids’ hand-eye coordination.
I found the equipment for sale at a secondhand Japanese goods store in town. This was a very popular business until very recently – you could buy containers of household stuff from Japan at various Thai shipping ports for around 70,000 baht and up. A lot of people started used Japanese good shops with stuff from a single container. You couldn’t see what was in the container before you bought it, so there would be some new stores opening with tons of old clothes, others loaded with baby strollers and rice cookers (the wrong voltage for TH), and many with just worthless crap. The best containers were probably the ones loaded with wooden furniture and bicycles. Many of the products were packed in similar moving company boxes, which led to speculation as to where this stuff was coming from.
It all started out with French toast and banana milkshakes for breakfast, and continued into lunch at our friend’s nearby restaurant where the kids had noodles and fried rice, and we had various curries and braised meats.
We made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with walnuts in the late afternoon, then I went to my Turkish pal’s house to get continued instruction on various salads, sauces, and kebab. I took a big bag of food home and the kids chowed down. Tomorrow is school for them, so the sad silence before bed has begun.
Uncle Andreas got us a bottle of malt vinegar, so we decided to make beer batter and fry up some fish. Unfortunately, the local Makro didn’t have much of a fish selection, so we settled on (ahem!) Issan cod.
Max and Mina did most of the prep, and I was on fry duty.
Today’s cooking vocabulary included: Deboning, scaling, pin bones, fins, gills, gutting, ounces, even spoonful, heaping spoonful, all purpose flour, sodium bicarbonate, sifting, dredging, frying oil, and fire extinguisher.
There’s this girl from school that likes Max. He’s chatting online with her right now in the other room; I can hear their little voices as they talk about whatever kids talk about. They’re only 10 years old. It feels… strange. Very cute but kinda funny?
Mina brought a hamburger bun stuffed with a fried duck egg over to my desk and said, “try some.” I was just waking up, so I told her I needed a minute. In that minute, the sandwich disappeared and I jokingly asked Mina why she didn’t save me any.
“Cuz it was sooo gooood.”
I fried up one of the duck eggs Nam’s sister gave us from her egg factory (she makes salted duck eggs out on her resort in the country) and threw it in a toasted burger bun with a slice of processed cheddar… UMAMI. BOMB.
It was the best, messiest, umamiest egg sandwich, ever.