We’ve been back in Laos now for all of four hours. They’ve gone something like this…
- As I look out the window while we’re coming in to land, I think that if I couldn’t see any colour but green, this would be the place to come. The darkly forested mountains are stripped with lime because of the rice fields. The coconut trees burst up from the ground like emerald meringues. There’s every shade of green you can imagine on display here at the moment.
- We disembark into the humid heat with exhausted child. Child is generally exhausted because we have basically spent the last 26 hours in transit. Child is specifically exhausted because he spent much of his awake-time on both flights stiffening his spine and flinging his head back while we were holding him upright so that he could gaze, wide-eyed, at the ceiling of the plane. I have no idea what was so fascinating up there, but he looked exactly like a bald, chubby, blue-eyed meercat on high alert.
- We line up at immigration to get one-month tourist visas so that we can enter the country that we are legal residents of. Don’t ask.
- They grant us tourist visas. Hooray.
- We load eighty kilos of luggage and five pieces of carry on into a taxi. Exhausted child is sleeping, strapped to my chest. We are both sweating.
- At home after my five months absence, the plants have grown, we have new furniture, and Zulu the dog is beside himself to see us. Zulu runs in circles, licking everything he can reach, and then decides he’s far more interested in the peanut butter on toast we have for lunch than the brand new baby who is laughing and cooing as he lies in the pram that we have just unpacked.
- Exhausted child stops laughing at the ceiling fan and starts to wail without any warning of impending transition at all. Wailing rapidly progresses to red-faced screaming of the type I have only heard from him a handful of times.
- Dummies do not calm him, walking does not calm him, lying down on the bed with mama doesn’t calm him. The only thing that eventually works is boob. Despite the fact that I fed him less than an hour earlier, I feed exhausted child to sleep while Zulu the high-needs dog whines at the door because I have locked him out. I hold my breath as I ease exhausted child down into the bed.
- I sit beside exhausted child. Five minutes later exhausted child wakes up with a sudden scream. I pat him back to sleep. Ten minutes later, exhausted child wakes up and vomits a truly astounding quantity of milk all over himself. Do I get him up and clean him off? No. I wipe his face and tuck a towel under his cheek so he’s not lying directly in the puddles and pat him back to sleep.
- Forty minutes later exhausted child wakes up crying. I put the dummy in and rest my hand on him. He looks wide-awake and aggrieved that there are no fans or interesting things to look at on the ceiling in here. I tell him to listen to the roosters that are crowing at the ridiculous hour of 3pm, that they’re fun too (I don’t want to poison him so young with my own rooster hate, so I try for a cheery tone as I deliver this line). I debate whether to pick him up or leave him alone. I continue to lie here beside him and leave him alone. Then I debate whether this is maternal wisdom or maternal laziness. While I’m thinking this over exhausted child eventually drifts back to sleep.
Score one for wisdom or laziness. Now to wake him up in 15 minutes to walk down to the Khan River and introduce him (indirectly, of course) to lemongrass chicken grilled in bamboo and barbeque pork and tamarind sauce. It’s good to be back.