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Advertise on the Tentacle

July 10, 2013

If It Works, Repeat It

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – I recalled raising my daughters 25 years ago in Salisbury, MD. As a school teacher, I was so fortunate to have school holidays and summers off to spend with them.


I have no regrets for having earned so little money. I was rewarded by just being with them. All these years later, I know it was the best decision of my life.


Now in my early sixties and the father of a two-year-old son, I can’t help but compare those days with these. My daughters and I took long walks on the sidewalks in front of my house. We learned the names of trees and watched the squirrels chatter and scamper around. Salisbury had – and still has – the best small town zoo in the states with a collection of animals native to South America.


We walked the premises many times talking to the monkeys (I used to tell them they were relatives on their mother’s side of the family, which is probably one reason for the divorce), teased the infamous spitting llama and marveled at the colorful tropical birds. Rainy days were spent walking around a small mall, one line of stores anchored by a Sears and a Hecht’s. These morning outings always resulted in two-plus hour naps in the afternoon.


Fast forward 25 years and Malaysian Borneo and a son.


I decided I would use the same tactics I used on my daughters for my son. After all, I have two brilliant, beautiful and charming ladies who have taken their place in their own world marching onward as it has been and always will be. Why couldn’t I repeat this award winning formula?


The major goal of these outings is to tire him so he will take an afternoon nap so I can have some time to write my articles.


The sidewalks here are not as well maintained as in the states. There are 50 cm deep (20 inches for the Americans) monsoon drains on one side and if one is not careful, it is very easy to take a fall into one. They are used to carry off vast quantities of rain during the monsoon season which would otherwise flood the town. To try to comprehend how much rain we receive, it pours about 380 cm (150 inches) a year here, and about 105 cm (42 inches) in Ocean City with 95 cm (38 inches) or so in western Maryland. Walking with Dzul on sidewalks is a bit of a menace as I balance myself next to the drains to try to stop him from stumbling in. This is a difficult task because I already have balance problem contributed by a rare neurological disease. I often find myself hopping over the drain and hopping back on the sidewalk as I adjust to regain my balance. Dzul thinks this is absolutely hilarious.


There is a relatively safe walk way along the river front except for the ramps leading down to the river to board the sampans. I have learned to jog ahead and stand in front of the ramps as Dzul and Suriani walk by. The problem is that the sampan men all call out to us because they are aware I am one of the few white men that speak the language and they also shout out Dzul’s name for a wave as they have seen him since he was first born. As I turn to return their greetings, Dzul manages to scamper between my legs to give a loud hello! I often have to grab him by the back of the shirt to keep him out of the river.


I have the river walk down pat knowing exactly where the pitfalls are to guard against any calamity. Or so I thought.


Then there was time a nest of ants fell from a tree after a particularly violent thunderstorm. We walked right through the bundle of leaves where they were housed and they scrambled up our legs. Before we realized it we and had about 10 each of the damn biting things on us. Flailing our arms we managed to kill most of them sustaining only a few bites.


However, Dzul began to howl after we thought we had rid him of the nasty creatures. He pointed to his diaper and we immediately stripped him down, flung off the diaper and found the biting insect from hell. We finger nail killed a couple of them and only after we showed Dzul the corpses would he allow us to re dress him. People stood and around wondered why this white guy would allow his son to stand around naked with just his shoes on.


Between the ramps, watching for insects and the monsoon drains our nerves. We are usually frazzled by the time we return home.


There is a small western type mall across the street from our condo. I thought we could just let Dzul loose in there. However, he managed to find all of the unguarded electrical outlets which, instead of being slits like in the states, they are round, perfect for little fingers. Then there are the kiosks which have their wares at his level, soon to be scattered by busy hands. Not to mention the escalators which always attract him.


Still, we take him along the riverfront and into malls for exercise even thought we need vast quantities of valium or alcohol to calm ourselves down after near misses of what perceived as possible death traps.


No matter how much we exercise him to the point where I need oxygen and suffer from extreme exhaustion, Dzul is still going strong. He hasn’t taken an afternoon nap in many, many months. But that’s okay. Things can wait.


I am lucky again to be able to spend so much time with my son as I did my daughters so long ago. The Lord has seen fit to truly bless me again and I am thankful every evening on my knees for this miracle He has brought forth in my life.


. . . . .Life is good…


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