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Making It Easy In A World Gone Crazy

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Sure, 11 year old Chili to the right and 10 year old Wasabi to the left—who have grown up in the Si Sa Ket and Surin neighboring provinces of Thailand—have some experience with Western food, but only to the extent of crap in bags from 7/11. Neither have been to a McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, or anything related.

Not once in their lives.

…The two daughters of my girlfriend are a simple delight in my life. And it’s that simple. They are sweet girls, so eat your heart out if you have entitled teenage bitches for daughters. Yes, I know that Wasabi is a chow hound and overweight, not my fault. But, she hasn’t hit puberty and I see no sense in creating drama before we know how the hormonal sea change manifests.

Patience.

They were out of school for a few weeks so I rented a car and took mom and them on a holiday, about 2,000 kilometers driven.

We first went the 7-hr drive to my work studio in Pattaya where I had to scramble to get sleeping arrangements sorted; mattresses and blankets. But we only spent a night there, before taking the ferry over to Koh Larn.

I’d already begun teaching them to swim during a previous family excursion to Pattaya Beach where I rented a mini-villa with a private pool, and they love the water. But they are are irrationally scared. This is foreign to me. My own mom floated me in lake Tahoe long before I walked. I do not understand what visceral fear of water feels like.

Another thousand words.

My role is modest but simple. I’m the farang out of nowhere who changes the lives of these sweethearts beyond wildest dreams. Before Richard Nikoley isn’t done with them, they’ll have college educations, speak English fluently, and will be marketable for jobs anywhere in the world. In their home province, scraping by for life is the norm. I’m pushing them gently.

You might be aware that I fly the more rigid wing version of that, hang gliders; but the point is, I tried to get even one of the girls to take a tandem flight and no sale. Work to do, still. I’m dealing with Thai general superstition and fear. I don’t insist that they push every boundary (God No!) but I nudge and encourage them to push a few of their own.

I haven’t figured out how to get them to compartmentalize fear, yet, something Westerners are generally good at. Plus, Thais, generally, have no sense of relative risk. They ride motorbikes on highways with no helmets, but with masks.

I’m also dealing with farang food, with children never exposed to anything but Isan food, a particular category of Thai food. They sincerely take it as foreign and suspect. That’s hard to work with because suspicion of the foreign is natural for them.

They never saw any such thing.

Imagine, if you will, a coupla kids from out in the deep rural who know that when it rains, they will feast on bugs, and frogs—because when it rains, you can drive along the roads and see all the “headlights” out and about; folks opportunistically gathering the food from the lands with those headband LED flashlights. When it rains and rains, they can fish from almost anywhere.

That’s proud Isan and I embrace it and partake, but I do not tolerate fear or hubris about other food. I try to gently convey that while this is their way of life, it might not be the best, or what they might prefer.

My rather philosophical problem is in reconciling the essential differences between the formation of people who can not starve to death, juxtaposed with those who can starve to death—if they sleep in too much.

You have to be gentle, but firm. I told them, when they didn’t even want to try any of the Italian food on offer in the banner photo, that I understand, but would not be taking them further. We’ll drive back to the province and they can eat Isan food to heart’s desire rather than continue the trek and go to Koh Chang, with farang food…

Of course they found a will to at least try. Results accrued.

Yea, they tried everything. The pizza, spaghetti & meatballs, lasagna, green salad…

You don’t claim victory against children. What you do is to be gentle but firm with them, trust in their essential humanity, and watch what happens.

You can also trust that spaghetti and meatballs is a good bet.

That’s what she ordered of her own accord when she could have anything from the substantial Thai menu.

My adopted country of Thailand does make things easy for me. So, I can say, “let’s go snorkeling, you’ll see lots of fish.” Thanks, Buddha.

…I’m not quite sure what to think about that, coming from the rigid Christian West. There is no notion of a personal God, one who gives a shit about your prayers, etc. In that respect, the youngest Thai children have it over many typical mature Christians with the hubris to imagine themselves important in Jehovah’s Universe. Although, that obviously works too.

Thais, by and large, just strike me as joyful and grateful with respect to their religion and they don’t seem to expect much of it. They don’t seem to feel owed or see themselves as unworthy, guilty sinners. I get a contrasting sense that they simply have a joy of life and Buddha is a common, vastly communal means of expressing it.

In the end, we reach detente about food and often have a mix of Thai and farang. It is not and will never be my intention to create nefarious outcomes but rather, to expose and enjoy a little bit. They will go from deep rural village to international girls. Then, the world is their oyster.

One thousand words.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

3 Comments

  1. John B on January 27, 2021 at 06:08

    Richard,
    I’ve been reading your blog for over a decade and have never commented. I was an early #paleofollower and lost 85 pounds and love/share your views on politics to any and everyone with a fucking halfway brain. Regardless, for some reason this article touched me. I am the father of three kids (5, 3, 1.5) and am trying to break my wife’s genetic soup of living in fear. She was raised by parents that have never left their ethnically homogenous Polish/Italian neighborhood of Cleveland. When she was offered softball scholarships her parents feared it was a scam and encouraged her to ignore them, nonetheless I’m still paying off her fucking student loans. Her parents wont travel, you could die. Wont try any food outside of their own, it taste bad and they could die. Worked the same miserable job for 40 years and complained about it for all 40. And never gave their three kids the confidence to take any chances. My wife broke the mold when she married me and moved across the country with me (she couldn’t resist my High T!). In many ways, my family is the antithesis of hers. A family is of risk takers from the small, trying any and every food, to the big, starting businesses, taking promotions across the country, and failing A LOT. Regardless, I am noticing that as our kids get older and are reluctant to try anything out of their comfort zone she is starting to reset to what she knew for 20 plus years living in a house of fear. As an aside, my son is the youngest and may have avoided these genetics as he is fucking crazy, that High T again! So… long story short what are your suggestions in pushing my wife outside of her comfort zone as well? It is clearly obvious when the girls are with me, they are more willing to take risks, but when with Mom they cower behind her shell of nervousness. We are heading to Key Largo in two weeks and I’d love for them to swim in the ocean, snorkel, and try some of the best sea food on the eastern seaboard, but they won’t if Mommy won’t try it! Also, I’d LOVE to get your views on the diversity, inclusion bullshit that is running rampant in the public schools like the one I’m an administrator in! keep it up!

    • Richard Nikoley on January 27, 2021 at 17:18

      Well, it’s very difficult to get anyone to overcome fears by exposing them to what they’re afraid of. With my ex-wife friend, to this days she’ll talk about how over the course of 20 years she gradually got accustomed to all sorts of stuff she was conditioned to be afraid of. Her mom is a notorious scaredy cat. But that was a slow, natural process, not something I set out to do purposely. I essentially just did what I do, some of it rubbed off.

      This is particularly hard with women, I suspect. Partly, because of the buck-stops-here burden of children, they are naturally hyped up sensory wise and very risk averse. Wish I had a dollar for every time Beatrice said “better safe than sorry” over 20 years.

      I would guess that to make a purposeful project of it, you have to look beyond the fear itself and find those things she’s interested in, curious about, or would love to do BUT for the fear. For example, I had fear of flying hang gliders, but wanted to do it so much that I overcame it by engaging in a long, thoughtful, intense training program that took well over a year before I was a free bird. Conversely, I have a visceral fear of snakes, but I care nothing about curing that. I’m fine looking at them behind glass.

      ….You know my views on the whole inclusion, diversity, SJW, virtue signalling crap I’m sure. Given with what has happened with Covid, proving that people will submit to anything so that abject voter fraud in the open and in your face was a cinch, I’d say the only way forward is to give them everything they want. At this point, nobody is going to modify their fear-based advocacy because they don’t want to be called a name, so they virtue signal all the time, etc. … is to stop fighting them and leave them to it. Let them get what they wished for, never being careful about it.

      You cannot change them, any more than you can stop a parasite from acting in accordance with its nature. But, if the incentives go away, there’s nothing to parasitize, anymore.

    • John B on January 28, 2021 at 09:36

      Good advice for the wife and even better advice with the SJW hell… I have lost sleep since our diversity training and find myself moving with each education promotion to places in the country where the diversity tends to be based on which pick up truck you prefer! The idea to suffocate them of willing ears seems appropriate. Keep up the thought provoking convo!

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