“Do you have a baby in your tummy?”

Four (and a half!)-year-old Tim asked me curiously.  He and younger brother Teddy were looking at me intently.  I resisted the urge to glance down at my shirt to see if my stomach was pooching through.

“No,” I replied smiling.

“But…but…but…Do you?”

“No,” I replied, with a weaker smile.  (But I’ll never wear this shirt again.)

“Do you have any children?”

“No.”

“Are you still a kid?”

I wanted very badly to answer affirmatively, but didn’t.  Instead I turned the questions around on him (Journalism training ftw).

“Do you have any children?”

As it turns out, Tim had a 29-year-old son named Caleb and Teddy had a 22-year-old son named Penny (his mom’s name).  Tim asked if Caleb was older than I and I assured him he was.  I’m not at a point in my life where I feel the need to be set up with imaginary boyfriends.  Especially when the father is so nosy about the state of my tummy.

**

Thailand was an absolutely marvelous experience.  Koh Samet is the type of place you don’t want to brag too much about because you don’t want an influx of tourists jacking up prices and booking out hotel rooms.  Still, it’s hard to refrain from mentioning a few things in Thailand/Koh Samet that I could have gotten used to:

1) CHEAP stuff.  Not just knickknacks: restaurants, accommodation, grocery stores.  My Thai main course at one of the beach restaurants was 80 Baht (less than $3.00).  Our double room (spacious with bathroom) was $25 a night (per person).

2) FOOD everywhere.  Everywhere.  At one of the giant malls I went to, every floor had some form of food court (international food court, Thai food court, random food stalls, grocery stores etc.).  There were at least eight floors.

3) Fresh fruit.  Yummy, cheap, in all the stalls.

4) Roti.  This is a thin Indian bread that can be found at outdoor stalls in Bangkok and Koh Samet.  They cook it in front of you and top it with deliciousness.  My favorite topping was sweetened condensed milk.

5) Sunshine.  I imagine it can be unbearably hot during the summer, but Thai winter weather is perfect, especially if you’re visiting from the icy tundra (Sweden). 80 degree January?  Yes please.

While I enjoyed all of these things about Bangkok, Koh Samet had its own particular charms.  White, soft beaches with vividly blue water.  Vendors wandering the beaches with henna tattoos, sarongs, souvenirs, fresh fruit, meats, etc.  Nightlife that is extremely affordable and relaxed.  Affordable: No entry fee, crazy deals on drinks (flip a coin to see if you pay or not).  Relaxed: jean shorts and tank tops.  People wandering in and off from the beach.

The one visual mar on the whole experience was the plethora of large European men in tiny speedos.  Natalia and I discussed this eyesore at great length.  Our conclusion: Neither of us has ever met a female who finds speedos attractive.  Girls don’t work like that.

Dear Men Who Wear Speedos,

I am not sure who created the concept of using a tiny piece of stretchy material to cover your special area.  I know that there are probably many reasons for wearing a speedo: better tan lines, faster swimming, etc.  However, if you are wearing yours because you think women find it attractive to see such a barely hidden display of your bits, you are mistaken.

Women have varied physical tastes when it comes to men: some like hairy chests, some like bare.  Some like tall, some like short.  Some like skinny, some would prefer a little extra.  BUT, I have never met a woman who finds speedos attractive.   In fact, we generally find them repulsive.  Perhaps, as a man, you think that because you prefer less to more, women feel the same way.  We don’t.  Even if you have Matthew McConaughey’s body, we don’t want to see your area bulging like badly packaged meat in saran wrap.  Please stop assaulting our eyes.

Sincerely,

Women

P.S. Animal print is NEVER alright.

Men at grocery store in Koh Samet.

“Once there was a king called Teddy and a pirate called Tim” –

“No!  The king is Tim and the pirate is Teddy!” Tim interjected, sitting up in bed.

“Right.  One day King Tim saw the Ice King –”

“And – and that’s Shebon.  The Ice King is you!” came the agitated voice.

“OK.  The ice queen started chasing King Tim.  She wanted him to go to bed, but he said “No! You’re stupid!” and ran away.  But she caught up with him and turned him into ice.”

“No! No.  King Tim turns into a dragon and flies away and breathes fire.”

“Tim, this is my story.”

“You’re saying it wrong.”

“Fine.  Then King Tim turns into a dragon and melts the Ice Queen with his fire.  And I’ll have to tell you the rest next time.”

“No!  I’ll tell the rest!”

“Fine.”  It was never my story anyways.

I had been trying to lull him to sleep with my soothing story-telling voice (it works on my boyfriend in broad daylight), but, as it turns out, this is ineffective when the child views nighttime stories as interactive, choose your own adventure affairs.

I’m not really sure how authors like J.M. Barrie create actual novels based on stories they had been telling children.  Stories off the top of my head tend to be rather derivative and usually involve bunnies.  (“There were two brother bunnies.  They loved to eat grass.”  “No! Rabbits eat carrots, not grass.”  “Right.  Anyways, they loved going to Farmer Joe’s garden…”).

I’ve learned that when I introduce Teddy and Tim (aged 3 and 4 respectively) to new ideas that they like, I need to be prepared for the consequences: obsessive repetition.  They don’t get tired of watching the same movies, listening to the same stories, or playing the same games.  Which is possibly why I shouldn’t have introduced them to the world of imaginary crocodiles living around the playground.  I had to use sea dwellers, because when I pointed and pretended to see lions or tigers, they got confused.  Crocs were less confusing.

We then spent several afternoons throwing imaginary weapons at crocodiles and clambering onto the slide area where they couldn’t follow us.

A few days ago I looked at my phone: three missed calls from my older brother who was watching the kids.  I called him back.  He and the boys had gotten themselves locked out on the balcony.  The boys wouldn’t tell him how to open the automatically locked door “because they didn’t want the crocodiles to get us.”  His tone was frustrated, not accusatory and I was content to let him believe the crocodiles were of their own doing.

The boys have also taught me valuable mothering lessons.  Namely, potty training a boy involves more casualties than potty training a girl.  Boys have a much bigger range of fire/splash zone.

**

Here’s a bit of Christmas cheer: