How an Addict Copes without their Fix.

I had wild n weird sugar withdrawal symptoms today. The shakes. Jittery hands and dizzy brain.

Which surprised me because I’ve been so busy making yummy #eatClean meals that I havent had the time or stomach space to miss my sugar fixes of…cookies, a lamington from Mynas store, a sugar donut or german bun from Luckys Foodtown, a thick crusty peanut butter n jam sandwich, a bowl of sweet granola WITH extra sugar added!

You dont realize how hooked you are on refined sugar and processed carbs – until you cut them from your life.

Which is why I love my breakfast ice-cream. Think of it as an extra thick, extra whipped, extra delicious smoothie. Reduce the liquid and pile on the fruit and vegetables so it has the consistency of ice cream. Then eat quick – and get brain freeze. Its worth it.

Last week I chopped and froze an assortment of local fruit and vegies in individual sandwich bags. Easy to grab and make for breakfast.

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Every morning I start with the juice of one niu (young coconut), then add the frozen pack. I have different variations – theres an endless variety of options. Today I made one with all frozen bananas, esi (papaya), soursop, mandarins, lime, laupele and threw in some fresh basil at the end.

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It was beautiful. Like a tub of divine sorbet but with a creamy richness from the coconut and the bananas. It was so good that I was forced to share with my children who decided Mum’s “special ice cream” was special enough for their refined tastebuds.

Other variations to blend with a niu are:
* Reeses Dream – frozen bananas, esi, grated Koko Samoa, a spoon of peanut butter. Gives you the perfect blend of chocolate and peanut butter.
* Tropical Delight – frozen bananas/esi/mandarins/soursop/carrots/pineapple/laupele/kale.  Add 2tbspns of raw oatmeal. Juice of a Tahitian lime. Or two! Filling and fabulous.
* Pina Colada – frozen bananas/pineapple. 1/2 tspn vanilla.

Im not a vegetable juice person so I only put vegetables into my smoothie ice-creams that dont have a strong taste. A vegetable with a higher water content is usually going to have a strong taste thats hard to mask. Thats why I dont put cucumbers or celery into my smoothies. Yuck. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, laupele, lettuce, brocoli etc are good ‘tasteless’ vegies. I like eating raw carrots so lots of em go into the mix. I read that zucchini doesnt have a taste in a smoothie so Im going to try it. Im also slowly experimenting with fresh herbs. Cautiously because Im still a little freaked out by the concept of a HERB with my fruits!

As a hardcore sugar addict whos cut out processed foods and refined sugars – a breakfast fruit and vegie smoothie is perfect. It gives me a hit of good sugar and it tastes like ice cream so it cancels out the dessert craving. And I can disguise lots of vegetables in there. Living in Samoa with all its fresh fruit and coconuts is great for smoothies. Especially when you make the most of fruit thats in season and put in the time to chop it all up for freezer smoothie packs.

Whats YOUR favorite smoothie combo?

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Let Food Be Thy Medicine

I’ve been struggling with rubbish health issues over the last two years. Everything from killer anemia to a mutant uterus to inexplicable fatigue to photodermatitis to a foggy brain that cant seem to process stuff easily to being a bloated whale all the time to WHAT THE F IS WRONG WITH MEEEEEE???!!!

Doctors have proposed several different things and some stuff has helped while others havent. I’ve seen one specialist and am seeing another one next month about possible auto-immune disease. The worst thing about it all tho, is the not knowing what exactly is wrong. Its frustrating and makes me feel helpless. For a control freak like me – thats not a good thing! I want answers! I want a gameplan! I want a list of THINGS TO DO SO I DONT SUDDENLY DROP DEAD.And I want them all now!

So Im taking back some control of this mess. Instead of just waiting for a diagnosis, my little sister suggested “let food be thy medicine”. She’s a pro nutritionist (and pole dancing chemical engineer) so she knows what she’s talking about.

Food for healing, food for nurturing means eating “clean”. Im also aiming for including lots of anti-inflammation foods, cutting out red meat and going easy on dairy products. To help me be more accountable and because Im excited about making this work, Im going to be sharing my attempts (and failures) on here. If youve got any good tips, please share them!

Day One
A trip to the market hunting for fruits and vegies that I will actually eat. No point wasting money and fridge space on things that look good on the nutritional scale…but make me want to throwup. That means those purple things? Isalaelu (eggplant) are a YUCK NO. Everything else? Good.
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Fish is a fab clean food. Especially when its super fresh here in Samoa. I got some tuna fillets from Lucky Foodtown, soaked them in lime juice (Tahitian limes from the Tauese drive thru market) and then grilled them with a sprinkling of black pepper, paprika, cumin and rock salt. Green beans are a fave vegetable of mine, and I particularly like them covered in grated cheese…but I made do with a generous squeeze of lime. Added mushrooms cooked with onions and garlic and lunch was complete!
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It was actually delicious and surprised me by being so filling that I could hardly finish it all. Or maybe it was the ten glasses of water I’d consumed??

#DayOne of #eating Clean was a success. I felt good. And theres something quite satisfying about shopping for fresh ingredients and cooking your own food – without a single label or box or packaged processed thing in sight. The control freak in me? Rejoiced.

What did I learn from day one?
1. Fish is my friend. Its quick to cook and relatively easy. Blessed to live in Samoa with lots of fresh seafood.
2. Bulking up my plate with vegies that I actually like is a good way to enjoy my food and not feel like this is suffering.
3. Lime juice makes everything taste nicer.

Bring on the rest of my (healthy) life!

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“I love you – no matter what.”

I’m honored to have Phineas Hartson as a guest on this blog in the first of a new series of guest-posts from (what the palagi would call) our ‘LGBTI’ Pasifika community. This is an #OwnVoices series. I first ‘met’ Phineas via her powerful and honest writing online as she shared insights into her experience as a fa’afafine living in Australia and more recently, her journey of transition. Last week, she wrote a particularly poignant piece about her father and I asked if she would be willing to share on this blog. Her response – “If it can inspire other parents to just Love their children and children to just trust their parents than my job is done…”

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My name is Phineas Hartson.

I was born the second son of Mr & Mrs Matautia T Hartson. My mother passed away in 1995. I have four sisters and a younger brother who died only a few days old. I have a growing set of nephews and nieces with one grand nephew. Not forgetting the hundreds of extended family all over the globe.

Me and my Mum when I was four.

Me and my Mum when I was four.

I was born Fa’afafine. My story is not that unique in the Samoan context.

I wasnt raised “Fa’afafine” I was just Phineas, a sensitive, intuitive, feminine little boy who loved to sing, dance, draw and daydream, who had an affinity with animals and who loved his family more than Life itself.

I was born and Educated in New Zealand, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a failed attempt at being a High-school Teacher.

I was accepted into Law school in Sydney and became the first Samoan Fa’afafine to be admitted to the Australian bar as a Solicitor. However this blessing came with long-term unemployment. Being open came at a price.

But last year I was very fortunate to be given full time work as a solicitor at the Central Coast Community Law Centre as an open trans woman.

As a young adult, I identified as Fa’afafine, even though I tried to distance myself from “it”, lost in the bland, black and white landscape of New Zealand in the 80’s. The only option available I thought was “Gay”. Being “Fa’afafine, was unheard of in my small country town and the word “Transgender Woman” wasn’t even in my vocabulary.

For years I thought “Gay” was me, until the break up of a long term relationship last year which brought me to the realisation that I had been living as a Woman for years and that I was not Gay.

So at 49, I decided to live my life as the real me, the life that I had suppressed for many years. Suppression that resulted in harmful addictions and dark thoughts of suicide.

A few weeks ago, I sent a letter that I had written months earlier detailing my transition from male to female, to my Dad. I added a photo of my “new” self and waited.

Last night, I received a Facebook message from my youngest sister in Samoa, “Ring Dad”.

I told her, to tell Dad that I would call him tomorrow.

Now my Father is 85 years old. He’s also a Pastor of a Evangelist Christian Church.

The next day I rang home in New Zealand and after a few rings I heard Dads familiar voice answer the phone; “Hello?”

I said “Hi Dad”, as I always did.

Without pause, my Father said that he wanted me to hear these words directly from his own mouth; through tears and emotion, he said “Son, I Love you…”

He said he Loved me unconditionally,  “No matter what…”

My soul rejoiced.

My Dad said that God had given all of us free will in this life and he said to ‘be happy living my life and not to worry or listen to anything, anyone else said.’ He had heard secret whispers from within the “extended” family, but had waited to hear word from me.

We talked for 30 minutes about how I didnt want there to be any secrets between us and talked about my thoughts of suicide last year because of not living my authentic self. He told me “don’t ever think those thoughts”, that I am never alone and that he wanted me to be happy. I told him that I was “Very Happy now!”, the happiest I had ever been in my whole life.

During our conversation I told my Dad that I loved him and it was because I loved him, that I wanted to include him in my life: knowing everything, about my life, the good, the bad and the ugly.

We talked about my late Mum and how she had changed my Dads life, giving him a wonderful life and children.

My father told me that he supported me and that he knew that my sisters supported me too. I told him that I felt the same way too.

I am now over flowing with Love for my Father and my siblings right now.

Three simple words set me free “I Love you” the chains of self doubt, pain, fear, dissolved in an instant like salt with water.

I feel now, I can achieve anything, knowing that I have my Father’s Love.
I’m very lucky to have this Family. Very lucky.

Thank you God! XXX

My parents. My Dad is holding my oldest sister in her polka dot dress. I wasnt born yet but I Love these old photos.

My parents. My Dad is holding my oldest sister in her polka dot dress. I wasnt born yet but I Love these old photos.

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Deadpool, Vampires and Hats in Samoa

I recently developed sun poisoning, otherwise known as photodermatitis, meaning Im allergic to UV rays. (Maybe Im a vampire?) Which makes life in tropical sunny Samoa a bit tricky.

It doesnt even have to be direct sunlight. I drive the kids to school in the morning and if its not raining, then by the time I get back home, my arms are covered with an itchy red rash from the sunlight thats come in through the windscreen. I sit in the shade when I take the kids to the pool and my face is stinging and swollen like I’ve poured nail polish remover over it. It doesnt help that Im also allergic to most sunblock lotions and face creams. The worst episode thus far, happened in NZ last month. The entire top layer of skin on my face peeled off after first puffing up so badly that, according to my rotten children – I looked like Deadpool. Minus the mask.

My wonderful family are full of helpful suggestions for what I should do to avoid exposure to the sun.

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1. An umbrella hat. Was the Hot Man’s brilliant idea. Like this one in the picture, only much BIGGER. Thankfully, he has yet to find one in any stores here in Samoa.

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2. A Deadpool mask – Because as Big Son said (with much excitement), “Since your face looks so much like his, it makes perfect sense that you would go all the way and wear his mask!” Perhaps with this matching hat?

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3. Wear a veil. An elei lavalava wrapped around my face. And another one to envelop my body like a tent. – This was my idea. But i tried going for a walk draped in flowing lavalavas and nearly expired from lack of oxygen, and heatstroke. And the Hot Man said I looked like Evaliga. So I chucked that idea.
4. Never leave the house. Go nowhere. Wait for the Apocalypse. – While this is my most preferred option, its impossible because I have children who cant drive themselves to school, or take themselves to sports or beaches, or forage for nuts and berries and hunt for wild beasts to eat. (Theyre rather useless, these children. Eh.)
5. Wear big hats.

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This is now the most attractive option. I have wasted a disgusting amount of time perused Pinterest looking for hats and I’ve come to certain conclusions.
A. Hats make you look skinny. (I have yet to see a single fat woman wearing a hat on Pinterest.)

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B. Hats make you look cool. Elegant. Chic. As we all know I aspire to be all those things. Plus, hats make you look richly bored and vaguely weary of the trivialities of life. Like, you dont have time or energy to worry about the little things. Just LOOK at this woman and her hat. Does she look like a woman who’s worried about what to put in her kid’s lunchbox? Or when she last scrubbed the toilet? Or whether or not she has enough Doritos to make it through the day? No.

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C. Hats cover lots of stuff you dont want people to see. You got a bald spot? Wear a hat. You havent brushed your hair for a week? Wear a hat. You got a face thats had the skin peeled off by sun poisoning? Wear a hat! Even better, you can use your hat to ignore people. See this royal Princess in the pic? You cant even see her face. You can use your big hat to pretend that you cant see people. Or to hide your eye rolling when they say something stupid. Your big hat can even conceal you saying lots of swear words if necessary.

I am now on a mission to acquire amazing hats that will make me skinny, elegant, cool, chic, flawless and that will allow me to hide from people, or roll my eyes and swear at them as needed. In the meantime, Im trying my best to stay indoors and only venture forth when the other vampires are out and about.

P.S If youve got any experience with photodermatitis, I would love to get your tips for keeping your face intact. Or suggestions for where to get a great hat?

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Bella Wants a Baby.

Bella is devoted to insect repellent and refuses to leave the house without it. Today I found out why. – Because she wants to have a baby. (Don’t worry if you cant see the connection. I couldn’t see it either. We are only mere mortals struggling to catch up with an 8yro’s leaps of reasoning and fantastical thought.)
Me – What do mosquitos have to do with babies?
Her – The TV news said that Zika virus can make babies not grow good in your tummy.
Me – But you don’t have any babies in your tummy.
Her – Not yet. But I will one day. And I want to be a good mum so I have to make sure I dont get Zika because it might hurt my baby. (Duh)

I reassured her that the effects of Zika on a pregnancy (supposedly) only last for 2yrs so she doesn’t need to worry because she won’t be having (ANY SEX) any babies for AT LEAST twenty years. She didn’t look totally convinced because hey, I’m not a TV news announcer, or a doctor, or a Zika scientist. I’m only her mother. Who’s a dreadful planner. I don’t know what I’m doing next week, let alone next year. The only thing I’ve planned for certain about my day tomorrow – is that there will be Diet Coke in it somewhere. While this child?  Is already taking steps to prep for her future babies.

So then I asked her the million dollar question. – “Why do you want a baby anyway??!! Has this child learned nothing from my whinging, ranting and complaining?? I thought you said you want to be a engineer builder like your Dad? And go exploring in the Amazon with your friend Violani? And be a vet and look after sick animals in the jungle?”

She gave me that sigh look, the one that said, Oh mum you’re so clueless. Then she said – “Of course I’m going to do all those other things. I can be a mum and a engineer and explore the Amazon and a vet. You’re more than one thing, aren’t you?”

Well, that shut me up right there.

Then she finished with – “I want a girl baby. Because I want to love her, and hug her and talk to her like what you do with me. You’re happy being my mum.” A suspicious look. “Aren’t you?”

And in that moment, all of me – even the complaining bits – was in complete unwavering agreement. “Yes, yes I am happy.”

“Good.” And off she went to slop on some more coconut oil insect repellent.

 

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Time to BE with your Child.

As a mum of five, I know that parenting is often about being forever-tired, yelling at kids to do stuff and to move faster as we chase the clock – and then when the day ends, being riddled with guilt as you look back at just how often you were mean or impatient with them that day…

I dont know about you, but in my last twenty years of being a mum, there have been definite moments when I couldnt stand the sight of my children and wished I could run away to Asgard with Thor.

We only have two left at home now and that means part of every day is spent missing the #BigKids who arent here. And slowing down to appreciate more, the time I have with my #SmallKids.

Like today, stopping at Krush Cafe after school for a delish icy fruit smoothie with Bella. We talked about school, her friends and teachers. Did some of her homework and laughed over some of her stories. It was a precious reminder to me what a genuine delight it can be to BE with one’s child. To enjoy their company. When we arent swept away and busy with the busyness of being their parents!

I left the cafe happy and uplifted. Maybe because we’d had a smoothie-date, Bella was on a high for the rest of the day, helpful and chatty. Today was a good day to be a mum.

So to all the parents out there, if youre struggling to make it through a day with your kids – youre not alone. We all have moments when being a parent IS a chore (and maybe you too are wishing you could run away to Asgard with Thor Hemsworth…)

But this I know. In amidst all the mess and stress, there are pockets of peace and even precious bursts of joy – if you look for them. If you slow down, take a breath and just BE with that small human who’s growing up with lightning speed. Who will one day, all too soon, be a #BigKid moving out into the big world. Leaving you to miss them.

(And to book your flight to Hemsworth’s Australia Asgard??….)

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How You Know You’re a Failure as a Samoan Mother.

We’ve been back home for two years now, after three years living in New Zealand, so I can confidently tell you what makes you a #BadMother. According to the Samoan estimation of Bad Motherness.

Ironing.

You dont iron your children’s school uniforms and you dont make your children iron their school uniforms. Even worse, you DONT CARE that their uniforms are wrinkly.

How do I know this? A month after we got back, this happened.

Middle Daughter asked – Can we please get an iron that actually works?

I said – Why? This one works sometimes.

This is where I explain that I believe ironing is overrated. And wrinkly clothes are not the end of the world.

She said – Because my teacher will put me on detention if I keep wearing a wrinkly uniform.

I said – Thats ridiculous! Thats not in the school rules! Im going to write a letter of complaint. You go to school to learn, not to wear nonwrinkly clothes.

She said – Please dont. Im just going to iron my uniform every night.

I said – NO. As a matter of principle, i forbid you to iron your uniform. I will tell your teacher its my fault.

She said – The teacher already knows. When she saw my wrinkly uniform, she asked me why didnt my mother iron it?

I said – Why didnt she ask about your Dad ironing your uniform? You should tell your teacher that ironing is not a requirement for being a mother. Or a woman. And its sexist of her to expect your mum to be ironing uniforms.

She rolled her eyes at me. – Whatever Mum. Like I want to get into a debate with my teacher over feminism and man jobs and woman jobs. Even my friends ask me how come my mum doesnt iron my uniform? Not everybodys house is like ours. And not everybodys mum is like you.

because other peoples mums either iron their kids uniforms. Or actually care about ironing and making their kids iron their uniforms.

There you have it. (As if we needed reminding.) I am not like other people’s mums.

And if youre thinking of moving to Samoa and sending your kids to school here?

Iron their uniforms first. Or you too will join me in the loser mothers club.

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I Got Orchid Scammed

I got scammed. Well and truly conned. Because I was a derwit. Lazy. And prideful. I’m sharing my scam story in all its lazy prideful derwitness because I care about you my fabulous three readers, and if you live in Samoa, then you will be warned and not get scammed yourself.

I was outside Lucky Foodtown when a woman with a bag full of plants approached me. Did I want to buy an orchid plant? For only ten tala? Twelve different amazing colors and kinds of orchid plants? She told me they were  easy to grow and keep alive. She told me they were splendid plants with splendid colors. She named them, pink, black, purple, yellow, red, tie-dye. Did you know there was an orchid that was color ‘tie dye’?? Me neither!! How cool was that?!!  and ONLY TEN TALA FOR ONE!!!

My first instinct was to say no thanks. Because as you all know, I have no gardening skills, I have nothing of worth growing in my front yard and I sort of don’t care that the outside of my house looks like a barren wasteland. Kind people who drive past our house every day keep offering to give us plants and making suggestions of what I can do to make our yard halfway decent. (So in other words, my yard looks awful and they’re  taking pity on me and trying to help save me from myself.)

But, instead of saying no thanks, I hesitated. A tempting thought seductively swayed into my mind. Imagine how stunning your garden would look like with lots of amazing orchids in it. People would drive by and see an array of colors and they would be so impressed with you. They would think WOW that Lani sure knows how to grow stuff. She’s so clever she grew a whole rainbow of exotic rare plants! Black orchids! Tie dye orchids even!! And then they would covet my garden and my orchid growing skills. I wouldn’t get the pitying looks anymore from the plant experts, oh no! I would be invited to join their gang. I would be known far and wide for my orchid garden. And without having to do any work at all!!! and for only ten tala each!!!

So I bought ten plants. With the Hot Man’s money that he gave me to go pay his  workshop water bill.  Sacrifices had to be made. I was sure he would understand. Especially once he too lived in a house with a garden that was famous for its orchids.

I was feeling pretty good about myself and my orchid garden until I got home and asked my brother for advice on how to plant them properly. When I started telling him about my purchase, he interrupted me and laughed. ‘a woman with plants in bags? And they all had labels on them? For only ten tala each? And she said one was black and one was tie-dye? But none of them had any flowers?  Umm, how did you know?

Turns out this woman is a regular around town, selling orchid cuttings to derwits. No, they aren’t an array of fabulous colors – they’re all the same plant. A common bush orchid plant that has tiny yellow flowers. Sort of like weeds. Nobody notices them. Nobody loves them. Nobody is in awe of them.  My brother said, “You derwit. An actual black orchid plant would never be ten tala. It would cost eighty or one hundred plus tala. Couldn’t you tell they were all the same plant by looking at the cuttings? If they were really different colored orchid plants, then the cuttings wouldn’t be all the same.” He told me he knows other derwit people who thought they were getting a great deal – but they weren’t. And he laughed some more.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

This is where I tell you that whoever all those OTHER derwits are out there who got scammed by this woman? They’re partly responsible for my situation. Dammit. They should have said something. Gone on Facebook like any other faikala ragey rant’y individual, and told everybody in the WORLD about this scammer. Written a letter to the newspaper. Or a blog. Eh.

But no, they kept quiet about it, probably because they didn’t want anyone to know they were derwits. Like me. See how much I care about you readers? I hope I get some blessings in heaven for this selfless act of service…Of course those of you who are wise in the ways of plants and orchids, and those of you are not lazy and prideful like me – you would never be conned by something like this.

But for those who are orchid-clueless? When a sly orchid seller approaches you outside Lucky Foodtown, you will know not to be tempted. Please yell at her. Real loud.

Because I’m sad. Because I  really wanted a tie-dye orchid in my garden.  (For only ten tala.)

 

 

 

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You Don’t Own your Leg. I DO.

Sometimes, being a mum makes you a horrible person.  Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. Truly. Sometimes,  I hear things coming outta of my mouth that have me thinking, ‘What did I just say?!!”  Like this beauty –

“I got news for you girl. That’s not your leg. It’s mine. I own it. Until you have a job to pay for your own trip to the hospital and the car to take you there, until you can take your bleeding dying self to the emergency room and get stitched up all by your damn self – then NO, it’s not your leg. It belongs to me. And until you can handle ALL BY YOURSELF having your leg chopped off because it’s infected – you will do as I damn well tell you, when I tell you.”

In the interest of full disclosure, the conversation wasn’t finished. I also said this, “I don’t care how grown up you think you are. You still live under my roof and eat my food and use my cashpower. I say when your leg is allowed to rot, y’hear me?! When you move out, THEN you can hack your own leg off if you want to, I don’t care. But until then, you aren’t the boss of anything. I am.”

What brought this on?

Big Daughter got injured at work. She fell and cut a chunk out of her leg. I took her to the hospital and went through the waiting, the injections and the stiches with her. I was calm, cool and collected as a parent is supposed to be in an emergency. Reassuring, patient and NICE are all words that can best describe my #GoodMother persona on that day. Inside, I was crying and praying for her. Wishing I could take her stitches for her. Parents everywhere – you can relate right?

Fast forward a few days. Big Daughter is supposed to clean her wound and change the dressing daily. She does it fine the first few days. But then she slacks off and I have to keep reminding her. Slacking off in this country is bad. Very bad. It’s stupid. Very stupid. I’ve seen people with a tiny scratch that turned into an infection so bizarre and so dangerous that they had to get air lifted out of here and admitted into a critical care ward where everybody wears suits and masks. Like they live on Mars. Or like you have ebola. Big Daughter could not afford to slack off. More importantly (because it’s all about me) I did not want to have to be that worry-stricken devastated parent selling my soul to pay for a medivac plane and then spending days/weeks/months praying over my kid who’s in a coma.

I’m trying to be patient and nice, but the pressure is building.

One morning I remind her sternly to fix her dressing. Another reminder again in the afternoon. Then late at night after picking her up from a friend’s house, I ask, “Did you fix your leg today?”

“No,” she says. “I was too busy.”

“What do you mean, you were too busy?” She was lying in bed most of the day. On her phone. Doing nuthin useful because her leg had gotten her out of work and chores and making a useful contribution to Lani’s society. “I told you this morning to clean your leg. And again in the afternoon.”

“I didn’t want to,” she says. Nonchalant.  “I didn’t feel like it. I can do it later.”

“It’s ten o’clock at night. How much later were you planning on?” My voice is razor calm. The kind of calm that most people would recognize as a warning sign that I’m about to. Lose. My. Shit. Danger, danger, red alert…

But because Big Daughter is often quite clueless about social cues for impending death and destruction, she doesn’t notice.

Or, she doesn’t care. (Knowing Big Daughter the way I do, this is much more likely.)

“I can fix my leg when I want to. When it’s convenient for me,” she says. Then she adds this nugget of wisdom, “It’s my leg, y’know. My body.”

I almost drive off the road and kill us both.

Is this child really trying to play the feminist I-own-my-body-card with me? Me, the kickass feminist mother who’s been teaching her that her vulva belongs to her since she was two? Every body-empowerment conversation I’ve ever had with this child flashes before my eyes. How dare she throw them back in my face now? When I’m trying to save her from a flesh-eating bacteria that will get her leg amputated? And maybe fry half her brain too? Which will mean (because it’s all about me. Of course.) that then I will have to cry and pray and wish I could take her place. And then I’ll have to look after her forever and I’ll never get to escape this motherlife servitude.

Rage. “DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME THAT ITS YOUR LEG. Not after I took you to the hospital and had my heart cut out watching you get stitched up, wishing that I could take your place. You SPOILT ROTTEN BRAT!!!”

The I said alllllll those words up there from the beginning. And some more that I’m embarrassed to tell you about. Ending with, “If you’re going to be so flippant about looking after it, then I will cut your leg off myself.”

It’s moments like these that a time-out is necessary. For the parent who has Lost It. So she can breathe. Eat some ice-cream. Reflect on the conversation. And cringe as she realizes that maybe, just maybe, she went a little overboard? Which usually means she needs to apologize and make an ice-cream peace offering.

Please tell me I’m not the only parent who’s Lost It with their kid?  And said some strange things?

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Ants in my Damn Pants

Every country has its predators and pests. Like lions, piranhas, crocodiles and Donald Trump. But here in Samoa?

We have ants.

Hordes of tiny determined ants that just wont die even when you spray them, smack them or sweep them out. Ants that REALLY want to come inside and be best friends with you. Eat your food, live in your cupboards, hang out in all your clothes, and have massive parties where you least expect them to.

These ants are biters and they bite waaaaay above their weight class, leaving angry red welts all over your body that have you scratching furiously all day.

Now, you may be scoffing, ‘Ants?? Who cares about a few little ants Lani! Whats wrong with ants?’

If youre a scoffer, then you clearly havent experienced an Ant Shower Attack. Like what happened the other day when I got out of the shower, grabbed my towel from the rail and started drying my hair, face and body. A few minutes later, fiery pinpricks of pain everywhere had me yelping and leaping about frantically. I had ants all over me, even in my hair biting my scalp and on my face. Brushing them off didnt work so I leapt back in the shower to wash them off. Even then some wouldnt give up the fight, they were that determined to cover me in splotchy blotches of misery. By the time I THOUGHT I had gotten rid of them all, my face had puffy bumps on it and around one eye was swollen. It looked like a bad case of acne combined with mumps. And maybe a punch in the face.

I didnt want to leave the house looking like that but I had no choice. I was teaching a class at church and it was too late to find a sub. So I slathered on lots of makeup and hoped for the best.

The best didnt happen. Instead I got the worst. Because I hadntgotten all of them.

There I was, sitting in church with my head bowed reverently. (And strategically. Hiding my ant attack trauma.) When suddenly, pin pricks of hot pain had me wriggling in discomfort.

Ouch!

Several minutes more of ouch and my suspicions were confirmed.

I had ants in my pants. Literally. And they were trying their best to inflict the most pain possible on my backside.

Quickly, I excused myself and slipped away to the restroom where a hasty search revealed two tiny creatures with a whole lot of biting power. Only two ants but daaayuum they could bite!

I went back to teach but it was difficult to focus on being spiritual when I had a scattering of itchy bites in a place I couldnt scratch at while I was in front of the class…It gave new meaning to the terms – discipline and self-mastery, and suffering for one’s religion.

So to all you visitors planning a trip to Samoa – yes this is a beautiful peaceful place. But dont be fooled. We have our predators too. Check your towels and clothes. And whatever you do, dont go to church with ants in your pants.

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