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July 3, 2013

Coping With a 2-Year-Old Son

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – They said he would keep me young. He will be the death of me yet. Dementia plus a two year old. What a combination!


I usually awaken early – around five. An hour before sunrise. Open the door to let cool air in. Here “cool” is about 81F.


Work on my job as a grader of essays for Japanese students trying to enter the States for graduate work. Finally found a coffee maker. Here most coffee is sold pre-mixed. Nestle calls their product 3 + 1. Coffee plus sugar plus creamer. So sweet teeth start to melt.


I have been drinking instant. I finally found a coffee maker like we have in the States. Have tried Java and Bali coffee. Made it too strong the first time. Half a cup gave me the shakes.


Next morning. Was that two or three scoops in the coffee maker? Dementia! Put note on jar. Thought I would be cute and write it in Malay. Dua equals two. Next morning. Can’t remember the why the hell I wrote dua on the jar. What was I supposed to do this morning? Oh, two scoops. Dementia!


I have had two hours of peace before my tornado, two year old Dzul, wakes up. So cute! Walks out half asleep. Smiles. I rush to finish marking the essays. He plops down in front of the DVD player we bought him. I purchased many educational DVD’s from the States. All in English. I wanted him to become bilingual in English and Malay. English gone by the way side. All his little friends and 27 cousins, aunts and uncles and mom speak to him in Malay. Have gotten to the point where I have to ask my wife “What did he say? because he now talks in a dialect of Malay I don’t understand.


Duduk! I yell as he balances himself on the edge of chair. (Translation: Sit down!) Then I remember I am supposed to speak in English! Dementia. Sit! Looks at me. Duduk! Gets the message.


Try liberal approach to child rearing. “Now Dzul, please don’t walk on the edge of the chair as you will fall and hurt yourself.” Understand? Nod head. Nano second later. Back to walking on edge of chair.


Try conservative child rearing. “Get the hell off that chair or I will whack that diapered bum!” Quizzical look. Back to Malay with a string of words which probably meant “get the cow off the balcony or the goat will fly in. “Can’t remember the correct sequence of Malay words. Dementia. Gets message from the tone in my voice.


My computer table is in the corner of a room. It has a great view of the Sarawak River and from a large side window I can see the kampungs. However, we have suitcases under the table to block off Dzul from walking in under the table. A large suit case standing on end is my “door.” I push it aside. Then push it back. Bladder calls. Walk to bathroom. Forget to close suitcase to block entrance. Dementia. Return. Dzul has managed to press every key. article gone. Put him outside of my space.


Return to try and salvage writing. “Now what was I writing about?


Dementia. Toilet flushes. Forgot to close the door. What has he put down the hopper now? Rush to bathroom. Fall over suitcase I closed but forgot I closed. Sprawled on floor. Water from toilet running into living room. Race to retrieve two small yellow plastic ducks with red lips and blue eyes bobbing in the bowl. Dzul goes back to the computer climbing over the suitcase I forgot to put back in my rush to try and unclog toilet. Story remembered, gone again.


This sequence plays out every morning, just the scenes change and always when my wife, Suriani, has a call of nature, cooking breakfast on the balcony, or washing clothes. I can watch him while I type because he is in the same great room which includes a galley kitchen.


Settle him down to watch Tom and Jerry cartoons in English. Start article again. Notice Dzul is not in front of his DVD player. Pleeeeeeze let me finish this paragraph! Pleeeeeeeeeze. Hear fridge door open. Ignore to finish article. Frantically typing. Juice container falls onto floor. Dzul on tummy licking juice off floor. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Jump up. Grab Dzul! Shower him off to get sticky apple juice off his chest. Mop floor. Take shower. Dzul at computer because I forgot to close suitcase door again. article gone.




. . . . .Life is good…


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