One of the absolute joys of living in Thailand is how much the Thai people adore kids, especially blonde-haired farang toddlers.
Apart from the innate sense of paternal pride at watching your youngster being doted on by numerous people it has a number of benefits.
Firstly, for a brief moment in time the boy is preoccupied with being all cute and attracting the attentions of pretty Thai ladies allowing the wife and I to actually drink a cup of coffee or have a brief chat without having to prevent the boy hurting himself.
This time is so special if only because it is so rare.
Secondly, it gives us something of a carte blanche when it comes to creating a mess. So enamoured are the serving staff of a coffee shop or restaurant with his cutesy smile, gurgling chatter and gifts of soft toys and bits of food that they completely overlook the god awful mess that he’s made.
The other day we were in one of the big posh mega-malls on the Sukhumvit Road. Prada and Gucci shops nestled together, their gaudy wares displayed with high-society exactitude.
We popped into a high-end American bistro for coffee and cake and some kind of sandwich for the boy. The place was one of those coffee shop/restaurant/epicurean delicatessen – all imported chocolate bon bons and hand cured salmon.
The boy did his ‘come here pretty Thai ladies’ routine and we breathed a sigh of momentary, apple-crumble-fuelled, relief as the serving staff crowded around him and pinched his cheeks and tickled his under arms.
What they failed to notice was that every few seconds prior to them being there, he was picking half masticated food from his mouth and launching it across the shop floor; scattering bits of soggy bread shrapnel in a three metre radius.
Obviously we don’t encourage this kind of behaviour and said ‘no’ in a stern and commanding tone of voice. The boy paused for a moment, said ‘no’ back to us and shook his head closing his eyes as he did so as if gently agreeing with our proclamation. He even put down the bit of ham he was in the process of weighing up for yet another parabolic assault on cleanliness.
The wife and I looked at each other nodding with our eye-brows raised in self-congratulation. At last we had made a positive contribution to his interactions with the wider world.
Obviously, this was the exact moment the boy sent a piece of melted cheese pinwheeling across the room. I think it landed in a display of expensive biscuits. If you happen to be purchasing something from Dean and Deluca in the Central Embassy mall then I apologise in advance if you happen upon any kind of partly consumed food stuck with toddler saliva to the packaging. We did our best.
After paying up and making a hasty and food covered exit we wondered around the far-too-exensive-for-our-salaries shops and saw a huge range of designer baby clothes.
This is something I don’t get. Baby clothes have three predetermined fates: 1) to get covered in food, bodily extrusions and mud, 2) to be worn for precisely one month before the child is too big, and 3) to be passed on to someone you know who has just had kids. Why anyone would spend several hundred pounds on a Baby Gautier t-shirt is beyond me.
The same goes for parents. At some point in the average day you will be covered in a variety of stuff, most of it unpleasantly sticky, and will have to navigate the rest of said day wearing a shirt that smells of sick or jam or both.
Wearing a silk pashmina that cost more than most people’s cars means you’ve not really understood the whole children/mess paradigm and probably have a car that cost more than most people’s homes.
I suppose the logical outcome of this is that if you are more concerned about maintaining expensive clothes rather than letting your child inadvertently cover themselves and you in what they should be eating then you might well have your priorities wrong. Kids are supposed to be intermittently covered from head to toe in grot. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
Most of my clothes have had at least some small trophy of parenthood deposited on them. I go through t-shirts like street food goes through the gut of a newly arrived tourist. I have more tops than Lady Gaga has ironically gauche dresses. I spend a fortune on buying replacement clothing.
It was therefore a pleasant surprise when I was contacted by Zalora, an online fashion brand in Thailand, and asked if I wanted to collaborate. Having looked at my current range of clothes, besmirched by the free-flow mess generator that is my son, I gladly accepted.
I picked out a rather natty blue shirt which arrived today. Of course, this being Thailand it was slightly too small but the wife said that it made me look hot. It might well just have been the late pregnancy hormones speaking but a man can’t ignore a compliment like that. I flexed a little bit in my slightly too tight shirt.
“Well maybe your hot husband can take you out to dinner” I said cocking an eyebrow in what I thought was a George Clooney-esque fashion.
“Oh god, are you having a stroke?” my wife asked concerned.
I relaxed and sighed.
The boy padded over to me and put both arms in the air for a hug. He’s been feeling a bit poorly recently and demanding cuddles all the time.
As I picked him up he threw up all over my new shirt. I looked at him levelly. He smiled and patted my head with a sick covered hand.
I sighed again.
One day I’ll be able to keep nice things nice.
Obviously, this post has affiliate links in it.
Zalora Men Website (with a pretty extensive sale):
The now icky (but originally very nice) shirt: