We have those ‘special’ places we go to unwind or to give ourselves a treat …a local coffee shop that knows exactly how we like our coffee. …a favorite bakery that makes a jam donut that has twice as much jam than other bakeries can seem to squeeze into their donut.
You get the idea.
These small treats in our life become part of our routine and we draw such comfort and security from them.
Today we picked up Tobi from kinder and within moments he started having a total meltdown. It started with Tobi giving Andie a relatively simple request ‘Can I have a sandwich when I get home?’
Andie and I have had heard this request many times before, but as we were about to find out…today was different. She answered with the same response we always do, ‘No Tobi. You just had lunch at kinder.’
Now most times this response answers his question and the conversation moves on to a different topic. But, not today! Andrea’s simple response was like putting a pin in a balloon. The balloon had obviously been filling with small breaths of uncertainty and today it went BANG!
After the outburst had subsided a quite, sad little boy came down the stairs and Andrea and I started to try to unpack what was really the matter.
The conversation slowly turned from Tobi wanting a second lunch to the very specific nature of what he wanted for lunch. You see Tobi and Eli both have their snack and lunch provided at kinder but, the lunches in Thailand seldom include sandwiches.
The lunch provided at kinder is the envy of most adults. It’s a hot lunch, generally consisting of some steamed rice/noodles with chicken, pork or fish. They also get a soup entrée and generally some fruit for dessert! Yes, it’s very good food! However, Tobi was not looking for nutritional value in his lunch, rather he was just searching for that special “comfort” food that he was missing. He wanted a taste of his life back home.
He wanted something that was associated with a memory... the good old ham and cheese toasted sandwich!
Now, those of you with kids have probably consumed a few of these this week. I know when we lived in Australia we ate plenty of them. In the summer months we would have our lunch outside on our deck. The sun would shine through the laserlite roof and we would often sit sharing a plate of toasted sandwiches.
Cheese is not something that is consumed in Thailand. They only stock cheese for the foreigners, so it (like Vegemite) attracts quite a price tag!
As we started to discuss the toasted sandwich, we asked Tobi ‘What else do you miss from back home?…’
It was like, at the moment, we flicked a ‘switch’ on and so Tobi begun. He began to talk about very specific things from our house that he missed. As Tobi started to give us his list, Andrea and I sat there amazed. It’s been over six months since we left our family home and a great deal has happened since then, yet Tobi could remember it all so clearly.
This was a very special moment. He was giving us an insight into his world. He was sharing those ‘things’ that were special to him. The special moments that he enjoyed in his daily life.
A small tear began to roll down my cheek. ‘What have we done?’ I thought. Taking this small boy away from the things he loved that provided him so much security.
As Tobi continued to talk, Eli’s eyes lit up and she began to add to the conversation with her own list of very detailed things that she missed from Australia.
They listed games we had played in our backyard, our cubby house, a book we read before bed, throwing balls into our ball pit on the deck, riding their bikes….just to name a few.
Tears were now streaming down our faces as we heard our two little children so sweetly articulate all these wonderful memories of our life back in Australia.
As if that wasn’t enough they then, totally unprompted, started to talk about their grandparents and cousins and the people they played with….oh dear me! Talk about pulling at Andie and my heart strings.
All because of a toasted sandwich!
We know that we have a significant work to do here in Thailand. I look forward to making many memories here and the children finding their new ‘special’ favourites.
So we got off the couch and headed to the kitchen.
Tobi and Eli have just enjoyed a toasted cheese sandwich!
A little slice of home and yes, Tobi does have a point, it is the perfect lunch!