We are back – dare I say it – home. Yes! It feels something akin to home! At least to the extent that home is where the packing of suitcases is not, nor the wiping of vomit from a carseat, nor the managing of three children on far too many plane journeys. Remarkably, the Baby slept for the bones of the final – and longest – flight. Although not before putting The Fear in the man next to her that her shouting NO!NO!NO! would go on all night, and not just for the two hours it did; as did the Girl, which is fairly standard – she’s a fabulous traveller. The Boy however... Sweet Jesus. He HATES planes, and when he hates, he shares. LOUDLY. The twelve-hour pattern went as follows: 30 mins excitement; 2 hours tv; 30 mins boredom (loud, loud, boredom); 30 mins arguing (I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SLEEP, I HATE SLEEP, I HATE THIS PLANE, etc etc): 2 hours sleeping (on me, pinning me to the teeny tiny chair, terrified to breathe in case I woke him, wondering when – if ever – the feeling in my left buttock would return); 1 hour thrashing about, crying and growling, like a rabid dog (I had moved, tentatively, to examine the remote possibility of actually getting up and going for a pee. Big Mistake); 2 hours sleeping (again, on me); 15 mins demanding tv; 2 hours tv; 45 mins COMPLAINING about feeling sick / tired / uncomfortable; 30 mins DEMANDING that the entertainment system be put back on. That I managed to arrive in Singapore without having pulled an emergency eject button (for me or him) – or at least having stuffed a miniature pillow
his face in his mouth – is something I am quite proud of.
Anyway. It’s all over now. The unpacking is done, the jetlag has been survived. School restarts in TWO DAYS! Although another – my other – way of looking at it is as two more long, drawn-out days of hell and torture – because honestly people, I am at the end of my parenting tether here. Europe was wonderful and all, but nine weeks (and some) of fairly constant solo parenting has wiped me out. However! In an effort to get the most from it, I have drawn up a list of Things I Learnt This Summer:
- If you have several long car journeys and two flights ahead of you in the forthcoming week, try not to fall on your arse on a rock.
- If you want children to understand the cycle of life –particularly the final (very final) stage of said cycle –allow them to bring whatever unfortunate sea creature they have caught home in a bucket, whereupon they should place said bucket in direct sunlight and ignore it for three days. Repeatedly.
- When flying with small children, don’t both being friendly to anyone on the plane (including staff). They all hate you, regardless of how much you smile.
- Persil is very good for removing the smell of vomit.
- Gin is very good for removing the memory of the smell of vomit.
- The Boy’s social tourettes continues hasn’t gone away. (Example: "My daddy has very hairy testicles” to my relatives. Lovely.)
- Hearing a 4 year old implore the Divinity to save her from the pain of water on a cut (“NO-NO-NO-OH-JESUS-CHRIST-NO”) is disturbing and amusing in equal measure.
- If you’ve had three children, bouncing on a sofa with your off-spring isn’t the best idea.
- Although everyone believes you if you blame a non-toilet-trained child who can’t speak to defend herself.
And most usefully:
- Pasta with cream, lemon and prawns is heavenly, and piss easy.
Yes! A recipe. There has, I concede, been a dearth of recipes since we moved to Singapore. I wish this was because I have a team of chefs (or even just one of anything) creating all my meals for me – but in fact it’s largely because I haven’t gotten around to making anything new in ages. BUT – here is something fabulous. Ready in the time it takes to boil pasta, and you can slip in all manner of vegetables without offending your children’s sense of culinary decency. (Also, you don’t even need prawns. I made it the other day with just garlic, lemon, courgette and cream and it was fantastic. But for fanciness, some prawns are great. Also, protein to go with the oodles of fat is a good thing, no?)
Creamy Prawn Pasta
Makes: enough for 2 grown ups, or 3-4 kids
- Pasta – Linguini or Spaghetti preferably; about 250g (or as much as you usually make for yourself / your kids)
- Medium-sized tub of thick creamy stuff (I use 300ml crème fraiche; you can also use sour cream, or double cream. As long as the fat content is in the seriously unhealthy range.)
- Juice of one lemon
- Frozen prawns, shelled (cooked or uncooked, makes no real difference) – as many as you want / have
- One small courgette
- One clove garlic, peeled and crushed / sliced
- Oil, for cooking.
Put the pasta on to cook.
Place the oil and the garlic in a deepish pan and heat over a gentle heat. Once the garlic starts to sizzle, grate the courgette directly into the pan. Stir well and leave to cook for a few minutes.
If it starts to stick to the pan before it’s had a chance to cook and go soft, add a splash of water and stir.
Add the lemon juice and cream, stirring well. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, put the lid on and leave to simmer for a few minutes.
Add the prawns (I just chuck em in frozen, which is probably really bad for you, but we’re all still alive here) and
let them defrost warm through (or
cook, if using uncooked ones).
If you want to be all Swedish about it, chuck in a table-spoonful of chopped dill at the end. Mint is good too. But in my VAST (ahem) experience, kids prefer it without herbs.
Add the cooked, drained pasta, stir well to combine, and serve.
Gobble up, allowing your body to be infused with the joy of knowing it’s only 36 more hours until you get something akin to your life back again...
(Update: Because I got called away on some urgent parenting business (bum-wiping, most likely), I wrote this a couple of days before posting it. The kids have now gone back to school, and I celebrated by standing in a supermarket gazing at the mad mad produce and wondering just what Singaporeans must think of us if they put marmite in the baby-food section: